Just hours after I got the results of my investigation into the William Blake reference posted, Tanis Episode 4 was released. Here are my thoughts.
Tanis has finally turned the corner. Not only am I now ready to endorse it as the best Spookypasta this year, but I’m finally onboard with the myth of Tanis as organizing theme.
Here were the three criteria I said need to be met in order for a conspiracy to work as an organizing theme of a text-that-is-fictional:
- Weird things happening.
- A pattern that ties the weird things together.
- Someone protecting the conspiracy.
Weird things are definitely happening. There is a lot of supernatural or semi-supernatural stuff going on that was introduced in episodes 2 and 3. At first their connection to Tanis–defined as this weird wandering influence that has moved around on Earth throughout the ages causing weird things to happen–seemed pretty tenuous. The connection from things like Elisa Lam and the House of Leaves cabin to The Rocketman and the people he was associated with was a good example of this. Some of that connection is still tenuous, but the pieces are starting to come together. The pieces that haven’t connected yet I’m now convinced will be adequately connected in time.
So, weird things are happening, there’s a very strong pattern forming, and it definitely seems like people are trying to protect that conspiracy. The connections between the non-publishing of Pacifica and the author of Pacifica and the corporation her father works for are sufficiently suspicious that I think Nic played it conservative when he hesitates to say that there is a connection there–I think there is, and I wouldn’t have blamed him for saying so.
Tanis is now meeting all the criteria it needed to to make Tanis work. After listening to the episode, I actually emailed Nic to tell him what a good job they did. This is the podcast I was expecting Tanis to be.
The characters are great, and they are growing as characters both in-universe and out-of-universe as their characterization improves. In the first two or three episodes, we got the sense of who they were, but they didn’t feel like they’d been fully grasped by the authors of the text-that-is-fictional yet. Now they feel like they have been. Meerkatnip doesn’t feel as tropy as she did at first, and Nic seems like he’s grown a bit in that he doesn’t feel as credulous (in a way that was difficult to take seriously) as he did in the first three episodes. The dynamics between the two of them are fantastic. Their working relationship seems to have solidified, and that initial uncomfortableness that was evident as they felt each other out is gone. The moment where Nic corrected Meerkatnip about Room 237 was an excellent example of this; the fact that he isn’t acting like her punching bag any more makes it obvious that there is a mutual respect between them now.
As my final thought, I want to say that I’ve always wanted to get in on an ARG early enough to see it play out. Basically every big ARG of the past ten years played itself out before I found out about it. With Tanis, I feel like I’m in at the beginning. As new websites get found, tweets pop up, and I dive into the works of William Blake in search of Tanis, I’m finally there, in the thick of it, for the very first time. This is the kind of moment I’ve been waiting for all my life, and I am so glad that PNWS has created such an opportunity.