Watching Marble Hornets – Part 5

This is the fifth part of a journey through Marble Hornets, a YouTube-based horror mystery series. You can find the introductory post here.

Last time, Jay stepped up as our protagonist, and began to actively investigate the mysterious events of the summer of 2006. He visited a strange, abandoned house, ran afoul of a masked man, was kidnapped from his bed in the middle of the night, and apparently dumped in a hallway with the ominous Operator. Now, motivated by his own quest for truth and the urgings of the enigmatic ToTheArk, he has decided to return to the mysterious red tower we saw all the way back in Entry #5. This is a long one, so buckle up!

Entry #21 (December 21, 2009)

Jay is walking through a forest, alongside a stream. He stops to peer into a hole or old tree stump, and the audio is marred by distortion; he moves on without discovering anything. He reaches the woodland area we saw him scout with Alex in Entry #5, and focuses on the red tower. He approaches it, revealing that it is between twenty and twenty-five feet tall (perhaps thirty if we include the vertical pillars rising from the top). We see that the painted wooden exterior of the tower is covered in small holes, and when Jay rounds the corner, there is an Operator symbol in plain view. Jay peers inside the tower, and the floor in littered in what looks to be yellow caution tape. Jay carefully climbs the ladder inside the tower, and looks out at the woodland. He retrieves a silver metal case, and either falls from the ladder, or drops both the case and the camera. There is a screech of audio distortion, but Jay coughs, retrieves the camera from the ground, picks up the case, and leaves the tower. One outside, he puts the camera on the ground and opens the case. When he picks up the camera again, we catch a momentary glimpse of what may be a dark figure lurking amidst the trees; Jay is more interested, however, in the tape that was inside the case. He leaves, and tells us via caption that he will be posting the tape soon.

Once again, Marble Hornets plays with our expectations. After the build up to the red tower, we’re primed for a confrontation with the Operator, or the masked man, or perhaps some new player; instead, we are left jumping at shadows, and convincing ourselves that the shadow in the trees is a malevolent supernatural abomination, and not, for example, a bush. This is high-wire storytelling; when you incite your audience to expect a revelation and emotional catharsis, then deny it and layer in another intellectual puzzle, you are either going to hook them or frustrate them. I’m in the former camp; if you’re in the latter, then stick around just a little longer!

Jay’s investigation of the tower was accompanied by what followers of the series referred to as the Winter Solstice Twitter Watch. You can find a transcript, and the photographs that Jay tweeted, on the Marble Hornets wiki. There’s nothing terribly significant in there, except that one of the tweets was garbled.

As an aside, be sure to check out the rest of the wiki. It’s a great resource, and has been invaluable to me in the preparation of these posts.

What’s on the tape? Who left it at the tower? Is the audio distortion caused by the hole in the ground significant? What is the tower, and why is it associated with the Operator?

Entry #22 (December 22, 2009)

Jay doesn’t keep us waiting for answers. This is the tape that he found in the red tower, and it makes for disturbing viewing. Alex and Seth are investigating what seems to be an abandoned building; their flashlights illuminate strange pipes and machines, the purposes of which are unclear. The audio and video are distorted throughout, including the visual tearing that we associate with the presence of the Operator. Alex and Seth ascend several flights of stairs, and Alex instructs Seth to keep rolling, a dark echo of their earlier confrontation at the gazebo. Later, there is a heavily-distorted crash, and Alex seems to say that something or someone “fled back upstairs”. They continue to investigate, finding a long corrugated tunnel; Seth glances inside with the camera, and when he turns away the audio track is once again swamped with heavy distortion; they move away, only to look into another tunnel as the visual tearing rapidly cycles across the screen. Alex notices a stain on the wall, and Seth switches the camera from its low-light mode, revealing a spray of dried blood. There is more nearby. Alex, seemingly afraid, decides that it’s time to leave, to go back they way they came. They do so, only for Seth to look back they way they came; he moves away from Alex, peering around a corner — we catch a glimpse of fingertips on the wall, and then the camera drops to the ground. Alex calls out, and the video descends into a mess of audio and visual distortion, arising from which is a sinister face. Suddenly, we cut to Alex sitting against a wall, half in shadow. He tells us that Seth is gone, and that he doesn’t remember what happened. Seth is gone, and Brian, Tim, Jay and Sarah. All he has are the tapes. As he says that he is leaving the house, a shadowy hand passes across the wall and his head. The audio begins to distort, and Alex concludes that he is going home, and he’s going to burn the tapes.

It seems likely, given Alex’s closing words, that this is the last tape from the summer of 2006. In that sense, it marks our transition from the past to the present, although the anachronic order of the entries means that we may well return to this sequence of events in the future. That said, it does give us a sense of finality, of the inevitability of defeat, and makes us fear all the more for Jay.

Let’s dwell for a moment on Alex’s motivation: he seems to be hunting something or someone, presumably the Operator. Given the amount of visual tearing we see in the footage, it seems likely that the Operator was indeed nearby, although we don’t get a clear image of him. What did Alex hope to achieve? Was he marshaling the last of his resources — the only friend he has left who wasn’t already “gone” — in an effort to discover the truth about the Operator, and perhaps defeat him? Was it the act of a desperate man, or a considered plan of attack? Or were his motives, perhaps, less honest? It’s possible that he lured Seth to the abandoned building knowing that he would be taken. That may have been conscious, perhaps as a means of appeasing this dark force that has haunted his life; alternatively, he may have been manipulated into this course of action, his true motivation lost in the depths of his vanished memories.

Or perhaps, to put it another way, he was “operated”.

We must also wonder about the final fate of Seth. Alex lists him amongst those who have “gone”, but we know that Jay and Tim are alive and well, albeit suffering from memory loss. Is Seth dead, or does “gone” mean something else? It is possible that they were all taken elsewhere, only for Jay and Tim, and possibly the others, to be returned at a later date. It is also possible that they are “gone” in the sense that their memories have been removed or altered, removing them from the conflict with the Operator.

The nature of the building is also unclear. There is some speculation, based on the pipes, valves and water tanks that we see in the footage, that it is a pump room, perhaps connected to the abandoned swimming pool we saw in Entry #13. This does seem at odds with the size of the building that Alex and Seth are investigating, particularly considering the shots of the stairwell, which indicate that there are multiple floors. It doesn’t seem as though the white building beside the abandoned pool would be large enough, although we have no idea how far underground the the building may extend. If there is an extensive basement, perhaps even across two floors, then we may indeed be dealing with the same building.

How did this tape end up at the tower, after having been, presumably, in ToTheArk’s possession? Where were Alex and Seth, and why were they there? What happened to Seth, and what does Alex mean when he describes the other characters as being “gone”? What was the shadow that passed over Alex? Why did he decide against burning the tapes, but instead gave them to Jay?

totheark: Attention (January 10, 2010)

We see distorted footage of cyclists, followed by a familiar-looking caption card saying, “Return to us”. We cut to what seems to be a sailor in a bathroom, throwing something in a trashcan, and then reversing, with the message “wake up” in the bottom right. The caption “aiatiwnguoryrarialv” appears, and then we see the Operator symbol on the side of the red tower.

And so, we move into 2010. By this point, Marble Hornets has been running for six months. As the entries have become more ambitious, the amount of time it takes to produce them has increased; that said, the creators are maintaining an impressive pace.

The first caption is a perfect replica of Jay’s captions in the entries; it seems too specific to be accidental, particularly given how dissimilar it is to ToTheArk’s established style, but we have no way of knowing the intention behind it. The sailor seems to be a reference to the Messages video, which showed the sinking of the ship at Pearl Harbor. The cryptic message at the end is an anagram of the words, “awaiting your arrival”.

In a tweet, Jay observes:

@marblehornets, January 12, 2010
I don’t like the fact that it says “us” in the video.

He has a point, although this isn’t the first time ToTheArk has used the word “us” — the aforementioned Messages video begins with the words, “Tell us. You have been keeping secrets.” At the time, it seemed that ToTheArk was referring to himself and the audience. Indeed, he may still be doing so, since there has been a gap in the release of the videos, and by this point the audience was eager for the next entry. Alternatively, ToTheArk may be referring to a wholly different “us”. ToTheArk and the Operator? ToTheArk and the masked man? The three of them together? Or, perhaps, someone unknown?

Who is awaiting Jay’s arrival, and why? Is there more to be found at the red tower? Who is supposed to wake up, and from what?

totheark: Admission (January 15, 2010)

To date, each of ToTheArk’s videos have been posted in response to Jay’s most recent entry. This, however, was posted in response to Entry #16, a mere five days after the Attention video was posted in response to Entry #22. ToTheArk had already posted a response to Entry #16, of course: Addition, in which we see Jay’s coughing fit in the house from ToTheArk’s point of view.

Admission is a strange video, particularly when placed alongside either Addition or Attention. Amidst very heavy visual distortion, a figure moves from the right to the left of the screen; then, we cut to a different angle, and see a door open and slam closed apparently without anyone touching it. The distortion gets worse, and we cut abruptly to the message, “There are doors unopened.”

It’s tempting to assume that the mysterious figure is the Operator; the angle of his head and his unnerving walk are consistent. It does seem, though, that he is shorter than we might expect, assuming that the bars of light behind him are a door or window.

The layout of the scene matches, as closely as can be determined, Brian’s house. The half-door which opens and closes at the end seems to be the water-heater closet Jay investigated during his first trip to the house, the one with “BONE” spray-painted on the wall. It’s possible that this video is intended to clarify that Jay should return to the house, rather than to the red tower, as might have been suggested by the shot of the Operator symbol in the last video.

Is the silhouetted figure the Operator, or someone else? Does the camera belong to ToTheArk? Why is the distortion so severe? Why was the Operator there? Is ToTheArk referring to the locked doors on the second floor of the house, and, if so, what will Jay find behind them?

Entry #23 (January 23, 2010)

Jay, returning to the cautious good sense that got him through the trip to the red tower, decides to revisit Brian’s house during the day. He goes first to the hallway — note the blinds on the rear window and the split door to the right, both of which confirm this as the scene of the Admission video — and we see a conspicuous visual tear before he opens the closet. He then goes upstairs, passing the creepy white doll, and tries three locked doors. He then enters the bathroom, where he discovers that the sink, which was previously covered in dried blood, is now clean. He looks up into the mirror, then turns quickly to see the masked man peering around the side of the door. He gives chase; the masked man slams the door to one of the bedrooms behind him, but when Jay opens it, the masked man is nowhere to be seen. Jay leaves the room, but as he opens there door there is a hiss of audio distortion and rather than being back in the hallway, he finds himself in a different bedroom. There is a framed operator symbol on the wall, and the room is in disarray; he tries to leave, and emerges on the other side of the hallway than where he began. Something is strange here, and not just the white doll on the floor who seems to be pointing toward the bathroom. Jay opens the door to the first bedroom, but once again finds himself in the second room instead. It is now dark outside, and Jay’s flashlight picks out the details of the room as his breathing gets more rapid. He returns to the hallway, and looks down at the doll; suddenly, there is severe visual tearing. Jay looks downstairs, but there is nothing there. He tries the door to the first bedroom again, but emerges directly back into the hallway. Jay ventures cautiously into the bathroom, but there is a thud, the image goes dark, and there is a hiss of audio distortion. Jay turns on his flashlight to discover that he is in the downstairs closet; he opens the door to see the door across the hallway swing shut, a familiar-looking mask hanging from the handle. Jay rushes through, there is another burst of static, and he suddenly finds himself in a dark, industrial-looking building. He looks around, and he discover that this is the abandoned building Alex and Seth were exploring in Entry #22. Jay begins to move forward through worsening distortion; the screen flickers to the image of a hand, then returns; the video cuts out for a moment, then comes back. Jay calls out, and a second later we hear a muffled echo, much lower in pitch. He continues to explore, finding the same ridged pipe that Seth examined — and then, we hear distorted echo of Jay’s “Hello”, and he looks around to see the Operator. The camera glitches, the audio distorts, and we are left with a slow, distorted image of the Operator’s head, slowly tilting to the side. Jay tells us that the camera is now dead, that he woke up at home the next day, and that he is now done with the investigation.

This is a rather beautifully-constructed entry. We begin in the mundane world, impressed by Jay’s wisdom — he’s going to the house during the day — and foresight — he brought a flashlight. As we move forward, however, an atmosphere of paranoia and confusion intensifies. The strange doll; the fleeting glimpse of the masked man; the strange and unpredictable teleportation from door to door; the final emergence in the abandoned building. The tension builds and builds until the end, and just when you think this entry will end, as so many others have, with a blurred glimpse of the Operator, we are shown that singularly disturbing and inhuman tilt of his head.

No-one, at this point, could blame Jay for deciding to quit. Whatever he is facing is clearly beyond his understanding and capability; he has faced the masked man, been abducted from his bed, been taunted by ToTheArk and — as we know from the Return video — encountered the Operator while unconscious or stupefied. Now, however, he has been teleported into the abandoned building where he saw Seth disappear, and encountered the Operator while awake and aware. He has no means of fighting, and every step forward seems to make things worse. This is Lovecraftian horror, where the scope and scale of the conflict exceeds anything the protagonist might conceivably reach.

Was the Operator present when Seth and Alex were investigating the same space? What is the abandoned building, and why is it special? Has Jay really given up the investigation? Did the masked man know about the strange teleporting? Considering the speed with which it grew dark, did Jay travel through time as well as space? Why did the masked man leave his mask behind, and what is the connection between the house and strange abandoned building?

totheark: Warning (February 3, 2010)

Amidst heavily-distorted audio, we see a caption card reading, “The following are raw footage excerpts from ALex Krailie”. We then see a artist’s mannequin, it’s head rolling and tilting in a manner reminiscent of the Operator; the message “EYES OPen”, with the O crossed out to resemble the Operator symbol; the words “Stay” and “Home” seen through the eye-holes of the mask; a blurred image of the masked man slowly moving his head; the words “Be” and “Alone”, again seen through the eyeholes; more of the mannequin; a number of circles; the masked man’s eyes moving rapidly; the message, “Smile for the camera”; the circles being crossed out — turned into Operator symbols — and an erased cross appearing across the image; another blurred image of the masked man; another shot of the mannequin; the word “Regards”, accompanied by an elongated S shape; the message, “Smile for DeAth”.

This is clearly a new style of video for ToTheArk, and we are reminded of Jay’s discomfort regarding the use of the word “us” in the Attention video. Considering the prominent appearance of the masked man in this video, perhaps ToTheArk is more than one individual. There are also a number of references to earlier ToTheArk videos contained withing Warning: the opening caption seems to be a swipe at Jay’s original introduction; “Smile for the camera” appeared previously in the Messages video, after Jay encountered the masked man for the first time; “Regards” was, of course, the title of the first ToTheArk video, and the S symbol which accompanies it here seems reminiscent of the hand-drawn S which appeared in the Program and Advocate videos.

So what are we to take from this? There seems to be no acknowledgement of Jay’s desire to quit; this video is every bit as mocking and taunting as those which came before. The inclusion of the masked man is interesting; his presence in the video suggests either that he is part of ToTheArk, and is now willing to step out of the shadows, or that he has been somehow captured or co-opted by ToTheArk, and is being paraded either as a message to Jay, or to someone else. Is something being suggested by the opening caption, other than the allusion to Jay’s original video? Is it possible that Alex is connected with ToTheArk?

Who is the masked man, and how is he connected to ToTheArk? Is ToTheArk more than one person, and does that account for the stylistic variations in the videos? What does ToTheArk want?

Entry #24 (February 16, 2010)

Despite his protestations, Jay is back. We begin with a caption adviding us that this footage comes from the surveillance cameras inside Jay’s house. With a time-stamp rolling, we see what might be Jay’s living room. After a moment, we cut to what may be another angle on the same room; Jay is working at a computer, with a television by his side. Jay looks around, then crosses the room and goes into the bedroom. He takes off his sweater and climbs into bed; immediately, a strange vertically-banded distortion corrupts the screen, and we see Jay change positions several times. The distortion vanishes, and Jay gets out of bed and leaves the room. We cut to the reverse angle on the bedroom door, however, and the door does not open. The image of the television changes to what may be a face or mask. Jay is gone. We see a shot of the kitchen, and Jay informs that he isn’t seen again for two hours. We see another angle on the living room, and Jay tells us that the door is blocked and he could not have left. We return to Jay’s bedroom, and he returns, falls onto the bed, and immediately falls asleep. He then shows a split-screen comparison of the bedroom and living room cameras, proving that something very strange is happening.

This was a contentious video in Marble Hornets fan circles. Jay’s teleportation caused a measure of concern in the previous video, but at least it happened within the confines of the strange, abandoned house. Now, we have proof that doors are behaving strangely and Jay is teleporting out of and into his own apartment. Several people, in the days after this video was released, went so far as to concoct elaborate scenarios in which the Operator, the masked man and/or ToTheArk kidnapped Jay from his apartment, then edited the video to make it seem as though he simply vanished; alternatively, perhaps the cameras were glitched by distortion is such a way as it seemed Jay disappeared. Teleportation, it seemed, was one supernatural element too many.

Whether there is any logical merit to these arguments is debatable, but the fact remains that Jay’s video — specifically the split-screen comparison at the end — is clearly designed to make us believe that Jay is now teleporting from place to place, apparently while under the influence of some outside force. The intent of the narrator is a difficult thing to interpret in this kind of story, particularly when it has been shown that Jay is a starkly unreliable narrator at the best of times.But Marble Hornets doesn’t shy away from presenting puzzles and mysteries; when they state something as flatly and as simply as this — Jay is teleporting through doors, somehow — it’s counter-productive to try to argue against them. One might as well compose a theory which says that Jay didn’t receive the tapes from Alex in the first place.

In any case, we now have proof that Jay is teleporting, though the distortion in his bedroom and the stupefied expression on his face both suggest that it is not an ability which is under his conscious control.

I should also draw attention to some of the strange little mysteries about this video, most of which remain unsolved. At the back of the first shot of Jay’s living room, there is a white rectangular shape with a black line down the middle; many have argued that this is the Operator, lurking in plain sight. That may be true, although it would be the first time that the Operator has opened his suit jacket to reveal the shirt beneath. There is also the matter of the television: it doesn’t seem to be showing a normal show, but rather a series of static shots. Is Jay running surveillance cameras to that screen? If so, what are we to make of the face which apparently appears when Jay teleports? Is it distortion, or someone peering into a camera, much like the masked man did in Entry #19? Lastly, some report seeing a silhouette or reflection in Jay’s bedroom door, when seen from the bedroom side; it looks as though a human figure is pointing into the room. These elements could all be meaningless, or they could all be deliberate; more likely, some of them are purposefully designed to unsettle us, and the others are happy accidents.

Where did Jay go? Why is he teleporting? Is he under the influence of the masked man, ToTheArk, the Operator, or some unknown agent? What is the mysterious music that is playing through the entry, and where is it coming from?

Entry ###### (March 5, 2010)

This entry was not posted on ToTheArk’s YouTube channel, but rather on Jay’s MarbleHornets channel. Jay, needless to say, claims that he did not post it. It is consistent with the style of ToTheArk’s Warning video.

We begin with a hand-drawn Operator symbol, and move into a series of shots of the masked man. Some are blurred, some are clear; some are slowed, some are frantic. At the same time, a heavily-distorted voice delivers a chilling message: “We will wait for you no more. Control is being taken away from you. From the start, this has been a game for us. Not any more. I’m coming for you, and you will lead me to the ark.”

Near the end of the video, we see a shot of the masked man’s back as he puts on the mask. This is a significant clue as to the identity of the masked man, and while I won’t spoil it right now, I will say that if you suspect that you know who the masked man is, you are probably correct.

This video also serves as almost-certain confirmation that ToTheArk is, or represents, more than one person. It also suggests, however, that there is a primary agent for ToTheArk — the “I” in “I’m coming for you” — that acts as a core for the group.

What control is being taken away from Jay, and who is taking it? Why was “this” a game to ToTheArk, and what has changed? What is the ark? Who is ToTheArk? Who is the masked man? Did ToTheArk post this video, and, if so, how did he post it to Jay’s YouTube account?

Entry #25 (March 24, 2010)

After the mysterious security footage in Entry #24, and ToTheArk’s barely-veiled threat in Entry ######, Jay decided to leave town. He fled to a hotel at some point between March 5th and March 12th. On March 24th, he tweets:

@marblehornets, March 24, 2010
Something brought to my attention. Entry #25 later tonight.

In the video, Jay begins by acknowledging that the last video on his channel was indeed posted by ToTheArk. He then says that he’s been staying in a hotel ever since, and that he received a call from “someone I know” telling him to watch the news. We then switch to footage recorded off a television. A local news report is describing a fire in an apartment block. At one point, the news report switches to show some amateur footage of the fire in progress, and there is some distinctive visual tearing at the bottom of the frame. Jay concludes with a simple caption: “That was my apartment.”

It seems that Jay left home at the right time, although it also seems likely that whoever burned down his apartment realized that he had gone. What, then, was the purpose of the fire? To intimidate Jay? To destroy any evidence he had left behind, up to and including the original tapes he got from Alex? Is ToTheArk showing how serious he is?

I think it’s clear that the Operator was present at the fire; the visual tearing has been seen when he hasn’t been seen of camera, but it has always been associated with his presence. In that case, the simplest possibility is that the Operator burned down the apartment, perhaps as a signal, perhaps in frustration, perhaps because he was going to do it anyway, and the fact that Jay was gone was irrelevant. I’m reminded of the painting of the burning forest in Brian’s house in Entry #20, and also Alex’s intention to burn the tapes after Seth was taken. It should also be noted that some people claim to see the Operator at the front of the burned-out building at around 0:35, and others argue that what I took to be a tree or telegraph pole in the foreground at 1:09 is actually the Operator’s back.

In any case, we have clearly moved into a new phase of the story. Jay’s home is gone, he has lost anything he didn’t take with him to the hotel, and the stakes are higher than ever.

Who burned down Jay’s apartment, and why? Was the Operator present during the fire? Does Jay have Alex’s tapes, or were they lost in the fire? What will Jay do now?

Almost two weeks after posting Entry #25, Jay tweeted:

@marblehornets, April 4, 2010
http://twitpic.com/1dbey4 – Received this text message from an unknown number.

This is the accompanying picture:

Jay’s Twitter followers immediately deciphered the message as a date: April 18th, 2010. Speculation was rampant, and, on the predicted date, Jay posted the final entry of the first season.

Entry #26 (April 18, 2010)

Jay informs us that he has been moving from hotel to hotel, that he has been feeling better, and that this will be the last entry. Despite the apartment fire and his nocturnal teleportation, his decision to quit has stuck. He then relates the story of the mysterious text message, and reveals that when leaving his current location, he found a package containing a tape, labelled “WATCH THIS”. We then cut to the footage from the tape, and see a distorted landscape passing by as seen from the window of a car, a shot of Alex, apparently taken from his investigation with Seth in Entry #22, a strange image of a skull, someone — Alex? — walking down a brick corridor in the dark, and a series of moving black and white pixellated blobs. We then see an image of a hallway, timestamped April 4th, the day that Jay received the mysterious text message. We see a shot of a kitchen, and a pleasant garden on a beautiful day. A few choppy cuts later, we see the camera move to a mirror, revealing that the footage is being shot by a blonde girl. She then moves into the living room, and we see Alex working on his computer. As the timestamp changes to 4:04PM, the girl asks about the camera, and Alex is clearly uncomfortable; the girl says that she tried to play the tape that was in it, but that it was “all messed up”. Alex explains that it’s his old camera from college, and that she should put it back. She claims she isn’t recording, but he tells her he can still see the light; as she asks if he’s okay, a visual tear appears at the bottom of the screen. He insists she put the camera back, and she reluctantly agrees, but when she turns away, the Operator is standing in the hallway. She screams and runs; Alex calls out, “Amy!”; the footage is difficult to follow, but she ends up by a window with Alex, the Operator approaching them. Alex tells her to jump out of the window down into the street, and that he’ll be right behind her. The camera moves back up to the Operator and freezes, the audio a discordant tone. The image then cuts to black text on red, and the scribbled word “HELP”, along with an Operator symbol. Jay tells us, via captions, that the package had a return address, and now that he knows Alex is alive, he’s going to find him. He doesn’t know when he’ll post again, and he thanks his audience.

There’s a lot to go through here, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t jump to the important stuff first: oh em gee, you guys, Alex is alive, he has a girlfriend, and then the Operator shows up and everything goes wrong.

What happened to post-Marble Hornets Alex has been a mystery since the beginning of the series. The last time we saw him, chronologically, was in Entry #22, with his confession to camera. That was during the summer of 2006, so if we assume that he gave the tapes to Jay immediately thereafter, it has been almost four years since anything was heard from him. That he is alive and well is no small matter, and actually gives us a little hope for what may become of Jay; that said, it is strongly implied during the scene that Alex hasn’t owned or used a camera in quite some time, and when he does, the Operator appears immediately. There is, it seems clear, unfinished business.

Did Alex send the package to Jay? It’s an interesting question, particularly when the delivery of the package was foreshadowed on the very day that Alex and Amy were attacked. Someone, somewhere, made a fast decision, and sent Jay the text message; then, they managed to track him down and deliver the package without being seen.

The distorted footage is interesting, too. The blurred image of passing countryside is enormously reminiscent of Jay’s first video, in which we described being given the tapes by Alex. The shot of Alex is similar to the footage from Entry #22, as is the final shot of the person (possibly also Alex?) in the dark corridor. The skull image is more disturbing, and reminds me both of the strange face on Jay’s television back in Entry #24, and ToTheArk’s cryptic instruction to “smile for death”. Is it possible that there is another masked figure out there, perhaps associated with ToTheArk in a similar way to the masked man? If so, who is it?

We should also alight for a moment on the details of the Operator’s appearance. He appeared shortly after the first shot of Alex, when the time was 4.04PM on April 4th. The number 4 is, of course, a symbol of death, and the coincidence is too striking to completely ignore; it would be the first time that the Operator’s origins have been connected to Asian culture — besides the earlier inconclusive reference to Yama — but it’s also the first time that the Operator’s origins have been speculated upon at all, so there’s no real conflict there. It also seems like there is a marked difference in his appearance between the first shot, when he is close to Amy, and the second shot, in which he appears much more malevolent. It has been speculated that the Operator’s appearance is not static, and this seems to confirm that he does indeed change; the nature of that change, and what caused it, is still an open question.

Was the Operator attracted by the camera? By Amy watching the corrupted footage from a (presumably) Marble Hornets-era tape? Or was it Alex’s appearance in front of the camera that attracted his attention? There is clearly a powerful and profound connection between the Operator and cameras in general, though it’s difficult to pin down. He seems capable of extraordinarily fast movement — or perhaps teleportation, as evidenced by Jay — but we never see it happen. Does being observed somehow constrain him to the rules of our reality, like a collapsed wave function in quantum mechanics? Do cameras act as his eyes, giving a darker twist to Alex and Jay’s compulsive self-recording? I don’t believe we’ve ever had conclusive proof that anyone other than Alex can see the Operator except on film, if you accept the alternative interpretation of Entry #12. Can that be true? These questions may also be relevant to Alex’s reluctance to discuss the camera; he may have known that it (or the tape within) would attract the Operator, or perhaps he had forgotten the whole episode, much as Tim seemed to, and all that was left was fear and disquiet. There are a great many unanswered questions — or, as ToTheArk might say, doors unopened.

Did Alex send the tape to Jay? How did he know Jay’s location? What summoned the Operator? Why does Alex seem so calm?

And, most importantly, what happens next?

That’s it for season one. Next time, I’m going to review the events of the first season, and look at the storytelling craft that underpins the series. Expect wild speculation, narrative geekery, and for me to refer to at least one of the entries by the wrong number!


If you enjoy Marble Hornets, support the creators by buying the DVD set.

 

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