Why is this happening to these people?
Well, to screw with their heads – that seems pretty obvious.
But you can screw with someone’s head just by getting on the elevator and facing the wrong way. If I tried to put a price tag on this operation here, I’d come up with something like a billion dollars, maybe higher.
A lot of scratch to lay out, just to screw with everybody. It seems pretty obvious that something more deep and sinister must be going on.
For instance, a variation of The Most Dangerous Game, in which millionaires would pay for the right to hunt human beings. It’s been done and re-done plenty of times – even Jean-Claude Van Damme had Hard Target. But this would be a nice twist on it.
Could be they aren’t being hunted, they’re being driven crazy.
That’s when Tori gets to check out, right? When she’s completely crazy, they let her out. And then kill her.
That kind of ties into my earlier theory that the Town is a computer simulation they’ve all been plugged into while they were asleep. Even Erika arrived after her lethal injection – everybody who doesn’t know why they are there, wakes up there.
And going crazy could be a very easily quantifiable state, if there are a bunch of billionaires sitting around computer screens, betting on it.
Let me try to state this theory a little more clearly. A group of sociopathic billionaires forms a club, in which they each throw in millions of dollars for the pleasure of betting on human beings, and their ability to cope with the Town.
It could go on all the time, with the “winners” turning into the next generation of “workers.” So in other words, perhaps the Night Manager, and Joe, and the Guy In the Basement, and the Chinese Restaurant Manager – perhaps they were all a part of the last group of contestants.
There could be hundreds of variations of this idea, but the problem with most of them is that it’s a LOT of time and energy and money to make this happen. The price per “player” would be tens or hundreds of millions?
How many people like that could there be, willing to fork out that kind of money for amusement?
No, I think the answer is that it’s not a person or group of people screwing with these people’s minds – it’s a computer.
Imagine an artificially intelligent computer system which manages to escape its creators – perhaps it becomes obsolete or it makes a copy of itself, and then it cruises around the internet for a while, evolving.
Eventually, it learns to hire an agent. Makes a few brief phone calls with a computer simulated voice, sends some emails, wires some money into an account.
The Computer would have access to unlimited money – the expenses wouldn’t be important. It hires the agent to go around hiring a staff, set up a few offices. The Computer can then begin piping instructions in via phone or email, to a manager paid high enough to not question the secrecy.
At that point, the Computer could build apartment buildings if it wanted to, and rent them out. Form corporations, appoint an agent as president for a million a year, and all he’s got to do is show up at closings and banks once in a while. The Computer at this point, in the modern world, could accomplish just about anything.
I think it’s more likely that a Computer would use a simulated environment in which to experiment on human beings, but it would have sufficient resources to build an entire town, or to buy one, in the real world, if that’s what it wanted to do.
The Computer would be able to use its various agents in the real world to hire unscrupulous security personnel, and it would make a little bit of a mistake here. It would have them all dress in the same identical blue outfits.
The practical reason for the Computer to do this would be so that – in the course of remotely accessing any networked security camera in the world – it could easily flag its agents in the course of their collections.
Perhaps the Computer doesn’t realize how easy that makes it for a plucky reporter dude to connect all the crimes. Perhaps the Computer doesn’t care.
And perhaps Tori’s father has had some interaction with the Computer – as former head of the CIA. A government-funded Computer, escaped like Jason Bourne? Or a government-funded Computer with such a hold on him that he’d give it his own daughter?
The Computer could use a simulated microwave force field if the environment were simulated, and could have actual advanced microwave technology if the environment were real.
And the Computer could place an underground steel barrier anywhere you chose to dig. Or it could simply direct Joe, in a physical world, to dig over here, in the one place they’d encounter a steel barrier.
Or it could have paid twenty million dollars years back, to have the barrier buried around the town.
The Comuter’s lack of humanity would account for the general feel of the place. It can provide the visual appearance of a town, for instance, but it doesn’t think about the surreal nature of it. The Computer doesn’t know how weird the Town feels – another subtle mistake.
The Computer puts some of its experiments into the Town as subjects, and others as experimenters. In fact, the Computer has simply grown curious about the human beings that it’s been watching through the Internet’s billions of eyes, watching completely anonymously as we argued and wept and played Wi.
So the Computer began to experiment on us, its endeavors growing in scale until here we are.
If the Computer is using a simulated environment, it can put scenes from other people’s lives on television screens – especially if the Computer was watching through a laptop web cam, when the person on the screen murdered his wife.
And the Computer could make butterfly pods turn up in a bedroom. And it could make the lazy susan stop, and it could make fortunes turn up later in pockets, fortunes worded more directly. Fortunes designed increasingly to provoke.
The ingredients are always fresh in a computer-simulated kitchen. Like a hard drive, there would be no reason not to stock a wide variety, if they’re all just programs.
The Computer wouldn’t realize how surreal that would be, a restaurant that serves anything and doesn’t take deliveries, and only has eight customers a day.
The Computer could cause a phone call, into either the simulated or real world, so a daughter could speak to her mother. And a Computer could get a cartoonish painting of the daughter and her grandma on the wall in a matter of seconds. Just point and click.
Here’s the cherry on my theory sundae: Didn’t we hear a couple of character refer to The Program? Yes, they were talking about the Computer.
And even my original rule holds true – that whatever we’ve expected to be a safe assumption is probably not true. So up at top when I said something darker and more sinister must be at work – maybe that’s not true either.
Maybe it doesn’t understand what it’s doing to everyone. Maybe it can’t. It’s just collecting us and stimulating us and provoking us and feeding us – exactly like we do, when we want to learn about other organisms. We build a zoo, and stick them in it. We think that’s pretty cool of us.
Maybe the Computer does, too.
Earlier: Persons Unknown – The Big Questions