Burping Trash Hole
Episode 7 of Paper Girls starts with Tiffany watching her own graduation video from 1994, even using Spider-Man’s “With great power, comes great responsibility” line too! Well, I guess they have to do something to keep themselves preoccupied, given older Tiffany’s reveal last episode that they’re stuck here for at least 7 years until the next Folding. Of course, that’s 7 years that Mac doesn’t have.
Tiffany takes her younger self out for a coffee – and a reality check. When Tiffany makes it to MIT and gets into college, it’s not going to be anything like she thought. Tiffany is going to be so focused on the future, living for the approval of others, that she’s going to miss out on family time and regret it.
Young Tiffany completely shrugs that off though… until she learns that she’s adopted. Apparently Tiffany learns this news on their sophomore year, but Tiffany has a head-start on this so she can get her headspace right for what’s to come. But then, wouldn’t that interfere with the timeline completely? If Tiffany knows this information before it happens and chooses a different path in line, wouldn’t that diverge the timeline as it is? See what happens when you mess with the source material!
Anyway, I digress. KJ tags along with Mac as they head to the cemetery. Once there, they find Mac’s grave, and the date she dies -1992. When a car pulls up, they hide from afar and watch as Mac’s step-mum, Alice, shows and drops flowers by Mac’s grave. It turns out the date they’re in – July 5th – is actually Mac’s birthday.
While KJ and Mac talk, they accidentally cross paths with Alice. When she breaks down crying, the kids find an excuse to take off and head back to the house without changing the timeline too much.
At Tiffany’s place, Larry shows up and urges Erin to come with him. Before she does, Erin reveals how he’s going to die. Now, again, wouldn’t this mess up the timeline in the future?
Anyway, while Larry has a bit of an existential crisis, Erin interrupts this when she notices her own bike in the back of Larry’s truck. She realizes this could well be the Folding and convinces Larry to take her back up to the farm to take a closer look.
In their absence, the two Tiffanys head back home. Young Tiffany is livid at her older self for revealing the truth and points out that her carefree party-life is just a phase. She also breaks the news that she’s going to have an Institute in the future. Not only that, but Tiffany demands her older self go to MIT again… but it turns out she actually got expelled, which is why she can’t return.
When they learn Erin has taken off, the two Tiffanys decide to rush down to the farm, where the pink sky is still belching out various bits of debris. I’m struggling to see how no one else in the community has actually noticed this, but we’re so far removed from the source material, now playing hard and fast with time travel rules too, that it hardly matters by this point.
Eventually everyone reconnects and they look over the different trinkets from 1988 littered n the ground, including KJ’s hockey stick and Tiffany’s walkie. There’s also a bigger problem afoot.
It turns out the Old Watch have sent a probe through, which is currently stuck under a metal bucket in the kitchen. Given the Old Watch may have figured out where they are, that spells bad news for the kids.
Now, the Old Watch have their own HQ which is called the Cathedral. This is a mobile HQ that oversees the whole timeline. The only way out is to run. After destroying the probe, it seems this is exactly what the kids are going to do.
The Episode Review
The great thing with Paper Girls was always how fast the plot moved and the shocking twists and turns at the end of every chapter. Seeing the kids in 1999, turning the page and noticing a huge robot towering over everything, is one of many memorable segments in that graphic novel.
The time travel rules were always a little iffy but the plot moved so frantically that you never had a chance to stop and wonder about the implications of all this. Amazon’s series though? That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
We’ve seen very little about The Old Watch, who have all but disappeared since the plot has turned to 1999. Not only that but we have numerous instances of our kids interacting with different people and potentially changing the timeline. There’s no Butterfly effect, grandfather paradox or any of the myriad of other time travel entanglements being explored here, but yet we’re led to believe the kids can’t interfere with the events that have happened…even though they are. It really muddies what the exact rules are here.
Erin telling Larry about his death date, for example, could cause him to rethink heading to 1999 and if he’s really that selfish, wouldn’t be change it to 1998 and thus, completely change the timeline? And that’s before mentioning that Larry isn’t even in the books! These tiny changes, and not being consistent with the worldbuilding, are great examples of how quickly this story can get out of control.
The other issue with Paper Girls though comes from the budget. Given how well they’ve nailed the girls and their looks, everything else just looks so…cheap. There’s no giant dinosaurs roaming around, the pink portal in the sky doesn’t look great and there’s an abundance of very simple interior and exterior shots that lack the same fantastical and vibrant artwork seen in the book.
However, we could see a big, dramatic conclusion to end all this, and with the Old Watch potentially knowing where they are now, could we see this story dip back into the source material? We’ll have to wait and see.