The bath numbers....

(Discuss the game)

The bath numbers....

Postby Rousseau » Nov 21, 2016 11:39 am

At various points in the game, Seb and Kidman come across STEM baths. There seem to be two STEM rooms (at least in the base game): Ruvik's prototype, which has 6 baths, and the full 12-bath STEM. The 12-bath STEM's baths are numbered CB201 - CB212. There are some interesting points to notice about the bath numbers, and I haven't seen them discussed much online, so I thought I'd write up some thoughts.

We see numbered stem baths in the following occasions:
  • In chapter 10 of the main game, when Jiminez tries to use Leslie to escape from STEM. The scene shifts between Jiminez's makeshift STEM bath inside STEM, which Leslie is hooked up to, and the 12-bath STEM. We can clearly see that in the 12-bath STEM, Leslie is in CB204.
  • At the beginning of chapter 10 there's a red-filtered first person cutscene from the POV of CB201, in which Seb shoots the POV character.
  • In chapter 15 when seb gets to the lighthouse he can see a blood-and-tendril covered STEM below the glass. If you walk round the baths clockwise, Seb comments on who is in each one:
    • CB201 - Dr Jiminez
    • CB202 - Empty
    • CB203 - Leslie
    • CB204 - Empty
    • CB205 - Joseph
    • CB206 - Kidman
    • CB207 - Empty
    • CB208 - Connelly
    • CB209 - Empty
    • CB210 - Seb himself!
    • CB211 - Empty
    • CB212 - Empty
    After the battle with the Amalgam core, Seb "wakes up" in this STEM. Unlike in the other waking scenes, he removes a cable from his neck. If you walk around the STEM room before splatting Ruvik's brain you can see that none of the baths have people in, but some of them are filled with fluid, corresponding to the ones that had people in when we viewed them from above.
  • After we splat Ruvik's brain, there's a brief first person POV cutscene from CB207 where we see Kidman tell us (presumably Seb, but we can be 100% sure as it's a first person view) to be quiet. She then turns off the vital signs read-out, presumably so Mobius won't notice that Seb's still alive.
  • In the final cutscene Seb wakes up in a STEM bath. We can see some other occupants:
    • 201 The corpse of Connelly (we can see he's in the bath to Seb's right)
    • 202 looks like it's got liquid in it. There is someone in it - we can see knees. Maybe this is Jiminez's corpse as it seems to be posed the same way.
    • 203 is empty but it has a plate on the side that says "Leslie Withers". We see that Seb walks out between 204 and 203. This bath has fluid in it (unlike the other empty baths), but the level is lower, as the former occupant has got out.
    • 204 has a mystery man in it. He seems to be dressed as an orderly and possibly he's the person who can be seen in the window of the Victoriano mansion in chapter 9. I think you see his a corpse that could be his inside STEM in The Assignment or The Consequence. We can see the number written on the floor as Seb walks out.
    • 212 - Seb. We can see this clearly in the longshot.
The ending of "The Consequence" will further complicate things, but we'll get to that in a minute.

One interpretation of all the above is that the only time we see the real world is when Seb wakes up in CB207 - this is the STEM bath that he's actually in. Possibly Leslie is in CB204 of the same real-world STEM system (as we see in chapter 10), but there's no evidence for this. Aside: Juli Kidman has unnatural violet eyes throughout the game (even before the first STEM signal is heard in the games' opening cutscene), however her missing person's poster says that she has brown eyes. It's also the only poster to mention eye colour. Additionally, there's a piece of concept art of her with brown eyes. I've seen it said online that in the CB207 cutscene she has brown eyes, but to me it seems that you can't see what colour her eyes are as there is a strong filter over the image to simulate Seb's half-awakeness.

If Seb's in CB207 in the real world, then this means that the final cutscene must still be in STEM as in that scene, Seb is in CB212 (I suppose Mobius could have moved him, but let's discount that possibility). This means that Seb's still in STEM at the end of the game, and Leslie's absence from the bath and disappearance could mean that either Ruvik-in-Leslie's body has escaped to the real world (when he disappears, he's basically saying "see ya" to Seb) OR Ruvik-in-Leslie is still in the same STEM as Seb, but thinks he's got into the real world. I'm not really going to go any further with these theories as they seem to be totally invalidated by the DLC, which I'm going to get to soon, but first let's consider the blood-and-tendril STEM in chapter 15. I'm not honestly sure what this is - my best guess is that it's something that the amalgamated consciousness at the core of STEM has added to the world to represent the fact that our heroes are still alive and connected to STEM rather than being assimilated. This isn't very satisfactory, but it's really difficult to explain - particularly the fact that Seb sees himself, and also that we see a shot of Seb sleeping juxtaposed with him flying through the air on the way to fight the Amalgam core.

Finally, the red-filtered scene from CB201. It seems pretty well accepted that the red-filtered scenes can be someone elses' memory and that they can include glimpses of the real world. I think that this scene is Seb's experience of Connelly's final moment before his death (Seb shot him, remember!). In the final cutscene Connelly is in CB201. There's a slight inconsistency here, as I've said that I don't think the final cutscene was intended to take place in the real world, but maybe Connelly is in CB201 in the real world as well.

OK, with me so far? Now let's look at the final cutscene of the consequence. This really screws things up!
Firstly, we see that Seb's in CB212, Connelly is in CB201. So far, this is the same as the final cutscene of the main game. However, we see Leslie get up out of CB202. In the main game, the bath with the "Leslie Withers" plate on was CB203. Then we see Juli turn off Sebs' STEM readout. When we saw this in the main game, it was from the point of view of CB207, but he's in CB212 here. Also, the design of the STEM baths is slightly different. In "The Consequence", each bath has a semi-circular gantry above it. In the main game, this gantry is not present. I don't think this is really significant though - in the concept art the gantry is present so it's not as if it was invented for "The Consequence".

I can't think of any good explanations for these differences. I suppose you could say that Leslie was always in CB202 and not CB203, and that the sign on the bath was wrong but I don't find this very satisfactory. Also, I really don't think there's any good way to account for the cutscene from the POV of CB207. Perhaps the original writer's intention was that Sebastian is in STEM at the end, but John Johanas wanted to change that to allow for the idea of a "blended reality" of STEM and the real world. He couldn't do that without ignoring the CB207 POV cutscene, so he ignored it. I bet they end up explaining it with "everyone sees the world differently from each other after they've been in STEM" which is the equivalent of "A wizard did it". It's a shame - I think the original story was quite a tight puzzle-plot with a real answer but Johanas seems to have gone the Damon Lindelof route of continually throwing in bigger mysteries.

I'd be really interested if someone can tell what colour Juli's eyes are in the CB207 cutscene, maybe using PC console commands.

Tl;dr There are inconsistencies in the CB bath numbers shown in The Consequence and the main game. What this means, I don't know!
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Re: The bath numbers....

Postby Autoignition » Nov 22, 2016 2:51 am

My friend Elsa drew up a few quick diagrams of this back in the day. We kicked around the idea of a multi-timeline multi-layer STEM theory and thought that maybe the placements of the bodies reflected the timeline/layer that the characters were currently in, but ultimately we couldn't substantiate it with facts from the canon itself.

If you find any actual evidence to explain this in some way, please do let us know. Because, right now, without anything from the text itself, we've chalked it up to being a developer error that doesn't actually mean anything. Johanas has admitted to overlooking things in the canon before, and he was the level designer for the main game. But, for example, there's a rack of glasses on Joseph's desk in The Consequence even though the item description for Joseph's glasses when you pick them up in chapter 7 of Sebastian's campaign says that he's only worn the one pair for as long as Sebastian has known him. When confronted about this on Twitter, Johanas surrendered a "my bad."

I can try to get that shot of Juli's eyes for you sometime later this week, hopefully. Just for clarity -- you're referring to the ending, right? In Sebastian's campaign?
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Re: The bath numbers....

Postby Rousseau » Nov 22, 2016 7:13 am

Thanks for the link - that's exactly what I was trying to describe. I initially thought about a multi-layer inception-style STEM, with subtly hidden points in the story where the characters go one layer deeper (maybe long elevator/ladder rides or perhaps the high-pitched noise accompanied with weird perspective distortion) but you're right, there's no evidence for this. On the other hand, STEM doesn't need to be layered to allow for "false waking". There's a scene in one of Juli's campaigns where she wakes in what is appears to be a hospital room in the real world before realizing that she's still actually in STEM.

I feel that discrepancies in the bath numbers are more major from the other discrepancies in the canon. The numbers are written high on the wall and on the floor so that they can be seen from first person POV and 3rd person cutscenes. The player is supposed to notice them and this makes them feel like a deliberate clue.

Autoignition wrote:I can try to get that shot of Juli's eyes for you sometime later this week, hopefully. Just for clarity -- you're referring to the ending, right? In Sebastian's campaign?

That would be great. Yes, the ending cutscene in Seb's campaign where we see Kidman lean over his STEM bath and a suited woman who looks like Nurse Tatiana walk past in the background.
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Re: The bath numbers....

Postby Autoignition » Nov 22, 2016 9:02 pm

The other option here is that it was relevant at some point, but that particular part of the story was cut from the final product. The art book tells us that the game's story went through a whole bunch of different variations before we got what we now know as The Evil Within. Sebastian was originally meant to be one of the villagers who helped burn down the Victoriano barn; Joseph and Kidman were originally designed as prisoners; Tatiana was nearly cut from the game entirely and only made it back in at the very last minute; the player was originally meant to go back to Elk River proper at some point in the game, implying that there was some real-world gameplay involved. Who knows what else was cut? As it stands, the mystery man in the Victoriano manor is also a red herring. I remember Johanas was asked about him once, and his only response was, "lol the biggest mystery in the game!" implying that there is no real answer/explanation for him -- at least, not one that exists in the final iteration of the game.
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Re: The bath numbers....

Postby Rousseau » Nov 23, 2016 12:42 pm

Yeah, sure. There's also the audio from the barn-burning scene where the ruvik-blood-monster says something like "you did this to us", presumably left over from the version in which Seb was among the barn burners. At some point, though, you have to accept the text as authoritative in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
What's your take on the scene where Kidman is given the infusion? I thought that there might be some significance to the fact that the place where the nurse sticks the cannula (inner left wrist) is the same place where she discovers the mark of Ruvik at the end of the campaign. Also, there must be some reason that we hear the Administrator's indoctrination questions throughout the game, but I can't work out what it is.
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Re: The bath numbers....

Postby Autoignition » Nov 23, 2016 10:42 pm

At some point, though, you have to accept the text as authoritative in the absence of evidence to the contrary.


Oh, absolutely. And I've been the biggest proponent of this since the game's release. But the flipside to that is: because the text is the authority, without evidence in support of any given theory, there's no objective case to make for some explanations about certain things in the game. I find myself occasionally coming back to the numbers on the tubs/ceiling and the theory because I'm still semi-convinced that the DLCs are not showing Juli's initial trip through STEM but rather a redo that's been heavily edited by Ruvik, but I still find myself unable to link them/it to anything else or prove my claim in an objective way. Until I find that evidence, this remains filed away as "developer oversight" in my mind.

What's your take on the scene where Kidman is given the infusion? I thought that there might be some significance to the fact that the place where the nurse sticks the cannula (inner left wrist) is the same place where she discovers the mark of Ruvik at the end of the campaign.


Nah, I don't think there's any "there" there. That's just where IVs are administered. The mark is brightest on Juli's palm, too, not her wrist.

Also, there must be some reason that we hear the Administrator's indoctrination questions throughout the game, but I can't work out what it is.


Elsa and I actually talked about that a little bit. Personally, I think it's a narrative device meant to reflect the brainwashing procedure and how Kidman's snapping out of it, Kidman's feelings towards Mobius, Kidman's feelings towards Seb and Joseph, and the chapters as a whole in terms of events.
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