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Spoilers, so…

The prediction: a taste of social-media-entrepreneur/social-engineering cannibalism followed by The Group being taken into the Terminalverse or otherwise contacting what passes for the organized outside world.

I haven’t watched the first two seasons, so I don’t know if the cultural-analogy parable holds for earlier seasons, but season three was about using institutions (the prison) to protect a space to allow a society to survive and grow. Season four(a) was about what happens when a society on the edge tries to keep the peace with a warlord. (Hint: put him down like a dog when he shows his true nature, before he comes back with overwhelming force). Season four(b) depicts the existential crisis of a postwar society, complete with roving bands of vicious thugs and the slow recovery (or not) of the survivors.

Next season is going to be more specifically about our contemporary world of rent-seeking venture capitalist superstars. We’ve seen some of the snake oil already, the Terminus spokesman being calm and confident and talking about how smart they all are. It’s a sound bite right out of TED-smugness. The arrogance of the gauntlet followed by the ominous railcar is the sum of our fears about our own world of Googlebookifyer. Our institutions have failed to protect us and now we’re at the mercy of freshly-shaven wolves in nerd clothing.

It’s possible there will be a quick reversal and the barbecue/cattle-car thing was just a test to see if the group was intelligent enough to join the clique of Z-Uckerberg. But even with a reversal and release of tension, expect to see the meritocracy deconstructed. Hopefully. And the rail line continues, so maybe the cattle are being shipped to the real Terminus, and there will be a turn in general toward a post-Z civilization of spontaneous manorial cannibal economies.

A more conventional prediction would be that Terminus has something to do with the creation of the plague to begin with. But I doubt it. Any possibility of post-Z organization or modernity or Answer has been slapped down at every turn. What is a conspiracy but a lie-for-children that tells us that Someone, Somewhere, is looking in on us? I suppose that’s what Gene is for. “Gene.” Heh. No doubt.

The show itself might be winding down, too, so giving people a glimpse of the post-Z world may be a way of resolving things. At any rate, there’s something very fresh and clean and shiny about the inhabited part of the Terminus campus. The story behind the Gauntlet game will shape the rest of the series in a fundamental way: manipulation or madness?