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The Cube and Time Travel in ‘Twice Upon a Time’, Explained

December 19, 2019
6 min read

Making a great time travel show or movie, as it turns out, is not a piece of cake. However, Netflix’s new sci-fi drama series, titled ‘Twice Upon a Time‘ makes a pretty decent attempt at portraying a mildly logical tale that involves some memorable characters.

The premise of the film revolves around a young man, Vincent, who, after his breakup with his girlfriend, receives a strange Cube. This Cube allows him to travel back in the past and fix his broken relationship with his girlfriend. Though a little flawed at times, the series subtly delves into some of the intricacies of its time travel elements. So we’ll be further explaining the nature of time travel in it and also the device which is used for it. Spoilers Ahead!

The Cube, Explained

From the “Time Displacement Equipment” in ‘The Terminator’ to “Time Turners” from ‘Harry Potter’, time machines—or should I say “devices for time travel”—have been presented in some of the most inventive ways in fiction. Netflix’s ‘Twice Upon a Time’ brings in its very own never-seen-before time travel device that is a mere Cube. As the storyline of the show begins to unfold itself, the first thing that the protagonist notices about the Cube is that it does not have a base. And as soon as he decides to slip right inside it, he realizes that it takes him to the past.

So this brings us to our first notion surrounding the Cube. Since it’s just a wooden box that opens a wormhole to the main character’s past, it’s the Cube that decides where it takes him. Contrarily, the cube mysteriously takes him back to the very moment of his past, where his relationship with his ex-girlfriend is still going strong. This implies that the Cube opens a portal to that very moment in the past which is desired by the person who is using it. And thus, the Cube is not just a time machine, but it also has some “magical” elements to it. That’s probably the reason why Vincent was being so desperately tracked by the ones who created it.

Moreover, one cannot travel to the future using the cube. There is a scene in which Vincent travels to the past and asks Louise to travel with him to his present (which is Louise’s future). Louise crawls through the Cube and Vincent follows her. But when he reaches the other side (his present), he finds no one there. When crawls back to the past, he finds Louise unconscious on the floor with no memories of what happened. With this, it becomes evident that Loise, since she is already dead in context with Vincent’s present, she cannot travel to a timeline in which she does not exist. Also, if she crawls to the future, she won’t be existing in her own past, and paradoxically, if she does not exist in the past, how can she exist in the future?

Contrary to this, after Vincent discovers the Cube, he does not travel back in time as a “time traveler” alternate version of himself, instead, he exists as his past self. And every single time he goes back to his present timeline, he does not exist in the past. This here comes off as a major plot hole in the storyline. How can Vincent exist in his present timeline when he is absent from his past? This again proves that the main emphasis of the series is to work along the lines of a fantasy rather than focusing on the intricacies of the sci-fi aspect of time travel. Nonetheless, it still presents quite a unique and intriguing device for it.

Time Travel, Explained

‘Twice Upon a Time’ portrays two different timelines and both of them unfold from the perspective of the protagonist, Vincent. These two timelines lie on either end of the Cube, which acts as a portal, or should I say a wormhole, between Vincent’s past and present. From the looks of it, there is absolutely no time dilation between the two timelines. This becomes evident when Vincent’s house catches fire and he is not able to use the Cube for a week. When he finally gets to the other side, Louise complains about his one-week absence, making it evident that time unfolds at a similar pace in both of the alternate timelines.

The time travel in ‘Twice Upon a Time’ seems to lack a sense of self-consistency. Now in films like ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Azkaban’, when the characters travel back in time to alter certain events, they exist in the past as mere time travelers. However, the film also portrays how they had already existed when the events of the past had unfolded the first time around. However, ‘Twice Upon a Time’, the character just replaces his old self in the past and just casually keeps going back and forth between two of his own timelines.

If you’re familiar with films like ‘Groundhog Day’ or ‘Source Code’, you’ll have a fair idea about the “Do-over” time travel trope. Basically, in this trope, one character gets the opportunity to relive the same moment over and over again, until he/she finds the perfect way freeze an ideal timeline that leads to a better future. Similarly, even in ‘The Christmas Carol‘, Scrooge gets a glimpse of his future and is then able to change his present in such a way that it leads him to a different alternate future.

‘Twice Upon a Time’ works along similar lines. The main character, Vincent, is very well aware that Louise is going to break up with him in the future. So with this, he travels to the past and tries to alter it in such a way that it creates a whole new alternate future, where Louise is still with him. However, the fact that he is able to alternately shift between his present and the past, creates a lot of paradoxes and can be heavily questioned.

Read More: Twice Upon a Time Ending, Explained

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