This may not make much sense. Consider yourself warned.
There’s this show. This British show called “Numberjacks.”
I don’t know why it’s called Numberjacks. Or rather, I don’t get the “Jacks” part. The Number part makes sense as the characters are all anthropomorphized numbers (single digit only). And they live in somebody’s couch. In a high-tech command center. In somebody’s couch. And they…solve…things? Not crimes…kinda…situations? Vaguely integer-related situations caused by a villain. They solve these aforementioned situations when one number gets into the “brain-gain” machine which beams some psycho-kinetic electro power to a field agent number who then zaps the bad guy and restores reality to status quo.
The available antagonists are a Slenderman knockoff called the Numbertaker, a feral flying cube/sphere called the Shape Japer, a spoon with a pearl necklace monikered Spooky Spoon. And this guy:
Yup. Louis C.K’s disembodied head is a bad guy in a British kids’ show.
The thing that’s different about the Puzzler vs the rest of the rogue’s gallery is that when his riddle gets solved he just laughs and bobbles away. He doesn’t get blasted, or zapped or whatever. He also is the only bad guy who can take the Numberjacks out of the game – he traps them in “puzzle bubbles” until his riddle gets solved.
I don’t know why. I keep telling you.
I was watching the one hundred and seventy-fourth hour of this with the little man, awake only in the most clinical definition, when I had an epiphany about The Puzzler and thus the show.
But now for something completely different.
In the comic Spawn by Todd McFarlane, there’s a demon called Violator, who looks like this:
He appears as a hideous fat little clown guy because his true nature is so offensive to our reality that he can’t manifest as anything closer to a normal human being.
As long as we’re talking comic characters here, we should visit Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Anybody writing about deities or multiple realities after 1996 owes this series program credit at least. There’s a small character in Season of Mists called the Ambassador of Chaos. It’s a minor player in the story, but I was struck by how Gaiman made it’s motives and methods erratic and unknowable.
Which brings me back to the Numberjacks. As we watched the show, my somnambulent frontal lobe percolated on these and other esoteric bits of Nerdery and came to the realization that the Puzzler was actually an extra-planar creature from a chaotic reality. He could only appear in this world as he did because his true nature made no sense to the laws of physics, and his puzzles were genuine attempts to investigate and understand the order and laws under which we exist, but which are completely alien to him. He’s actually downright scientific if you take him on his own terms.
As I explored this idea further it occurred to me that the whole show is really his fault. His very presence in our dimensional space was jarring enough that reality itself had to create antibodies: the Numberjacks. Like white blood cells, they swarm him whenever he makes entry and drive him out. Also, his bridging the gap between realms of existence allowed other, lesser beings to make the jump, also triggering the reality-immuno response.
And like a bolt from above, the show made perfect sense to me. And I realized, working back through all of the connections I’d made and time I’d spent thinking about this that I need to either drink a lot less espresso, or a lot more.