he will lead me to you

Brian & Jay Interactions and Parallels

Note: this section is going to be analyzing events and character arcs over the course of the entire series and as such will include Spoilers! Keep an eye out if you're trying to avoid them.

Brian and Jay being narrative parallels of one another is like, so funny to me because I fully believe that Brian is deeply aware of their similarities whereas Jay is fundamentally unable to recognize the self through the other. Jay and totheark both are primarily Observers -- most of their moves are made from a distance, through a camera lens; in essence, they're both deeply guilty of stalking lol. But there's a disparity where Jay is able to recognize the negative consequences the stalking has On Him and seems to empathize when other characters are being stalked by someone else (ie; his concern for Alex growing over the course of uploading the Season One college tapes, seeing how constant the Operator's stalking was and the increasing amounts of stress Alex experiences because of it), he doesn't seem willing to really engage with the fact that he is participating in the same behaviors and perpetuating the same cycles.

What I mean is, Jay doesn't seem surprised when Tim lashes out at him after finding out about the Marble Hornets YouTube channel in Entry #59 confrontation, like on some level he can empathize with Tim's outrage and distrust and understands that he's the one who caused it. However, exactly one month later Jay uploads a public video of him combing over Tim's childhood medical records and noting in disgust that much of the personal information has been censored out. Whatever self-awareness Jay had about the consequences of his actions has seemingly evaporated -- whether he consciously recognizes it or not, Jay's search for answers outweighs the potential harm it causes to other people. In essence, the ends justify the means.

Brian is also very much an "Ends justify the means" character. Several times throughout the series he pulls some thoroughly manipulative to outright dangerous moves in order to get people to fall in line behind him -- his own patterns of stalking, threatening Jay in order to scare him into making certain moves, stealing Tim's rescue medication, etc. The difference between them is mostly in how much lip-service Jay pays to acting out of concern -- he falls down the rabbit hole in Season One because of his concern for Alex, he spends so much time working with / hounding Alex in Season Two because of his concern for Amy, and he wraps up Season Two claiming to want to bring Alex to justice because he doesn't think he should get away with the things that he's done.

But at the same time, we can see over and over again how little that concern tangibly means to Jay. He spent a lot of time in Season One asking after Tim and Brian, but I'm not certain there's any evidence he was putting as much effort into searching for wherever Alex wound up as he was combing through the old college tapes for more footage. In Season Two, Jay spends months stalking Alex on the daily despite the fact that 1) he has expressed concern before over the negative effect stalking has on Alex and 2) it should have become quickly apparent that if Alex did know where Amy was, following him like this was not going to yield any results in finding her and 3) even after Jay becomes convinced that Alex is culpable in Amy's disappearance, he not only gets Jessica involved in the situation, but also brings her along to follow Alex into the woods by themselves when Jay suspects he is likely dangerous. And in Season Three, despite Jay's claims that he's acting in pursuit of justice, any attempt on his end to find Alex is promptly derailed in favor of stalking Tim, of going through Tim's tapes from college, of finding out more about Tim.

Brian's motivations have always been explicitly self-serving. Although preventing Alex from causing further harm is on Brian's radar, it's never been his primary movitvation for hunting Alex down -- he's always been explicit about seeking revenge for the damage Alex caused while they were in college. His means and motives are self-serving, and he's seemingly comfortable admitting that. Although he does sometimes take action to prevent further harm being done -- scaring Jay out of his apartment so that he's not there when Alex burns it down, working to get Jessica out of the hotel and away from Jay, etc. -- he also doesn't seem to have any qualms about putting people in harm's way -- siccing Jay on the abandoned college when Alex is there, stealing medication from Tim, putting Jay in position to be attacked by Tim -- if that better suits his needs at the time. Because his motives are self-serving and he acknowledges that, the contrast doesn't seem to cause any cognitive dissonance; he knows what he is.

Jay, on the other hand, doesn't seem to. In essence, this whole thing can be condensced down to the humor inherent to Jay going on Twitter to post about how totheark's stalking is causing him life-ruining paranoia and then turning around to unabashedly stalk Tim and Alex without having any qualms about his behavior.

At the same time, I do wonder if Jay occasionally playing down his obsessive tendencies is a kind of evidence in and of itself that Jay is aware of what he's doing, and just doesn't want to publicly admit to the selfish motivations at play. Despite the fact that Jay is deeply paranoid about losing memories and physical evidence and uses his channel as a way to offset these fears, he does play several cards very close to his chest when it comes to admitting things about himself -- I wonder if maybe Jay does know exactly what he's become, and just doesn't want to admit it. (Or, maybe, even sometimes hopes he could forget it.)


It's also interesting to analyze the way Jay and Brian's interactions with Tim seem to intersect. Which is to say, both characters do Use Tim as a means to an end -- Brian works with Tim at first, and their partnership devolves into Brian attempting to manipulate/goad Tim in increasingly blatant ways, even going so far as to steal rescue medication and film Tim having a seizure; whereas Jay stalks and manipulates Tim into following him out on supposed 'location scouts' in hopes of finding out more about what happened in college, to the point of publicly doxxing him as a means to an end, which evolves into a partnership when Tim begrudgingly agrees to work with him. It's interesting how the broader fandom seems more willing to critique Brian's later interactions with Tim than they are Jay's early interactions with Tim -- despite them being at their core, very similiar. "Whatever consequences this has for Tim doesn't matter, because I need [Answers] / [Revenge]" ; much to think about.