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In Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), Bagel Deirdre (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), the version of Deirdre who is a follower of Jobu Tupaki, says (emphasis mine):

Citizens of the 4,655th thetaverse, you are about to be graced by the presence of our sovereign leader, Jobu Tupaki.

It seems that the term "thetaverse" is only used in this one instance in the film. In most other cases, the word "universe" is used instead. The term "alphaverse" is also used by Alpha Waymond, but he uses it as a name for the specific and unique universe he is from, unlike Bagel Deirdre, who used "thetaverse" to refer to one of many universes, i.e., there is only "the alphaverse," and there is no second, let alone a 4,655th one, referred to in the film.

Alpha Waymond: This is where I am from... The alphaverse.
The first universe to make contact with the others.

Since Bagel Deirdre seems to be addressing only a particular group of people in that universe, I'm not sure why she used the word "thetaverse" instead of "universe."

Theta is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. Interestingly, it also kind of looks like a bagel: Θ or ϴ or θ. Does the letter theta, its shape, or the number 8 have significance in this context? What does the term "thetaverse" mean in this context, and why does Bagel Deirdre use it instead of "universe"?

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  • It's probably a name for universes "led" by Jobu Tupaki.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 23:26

2 Answers 2

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This may be a partial answer as I haven't seen the movie, but I've been reading about it in anticipation of going. From Wikipedia we learn (emphasis mine):

At a tense meeting with IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre, Waymond's body is taken over by Alpha-Waymond, a version of Waymond from the "Alphaverse." Alpha-Waymond explains to Evelyn that many parallel universes exist because every life choice creates a new alternative universe. The Alphaverse, led by the late Alpha-Evelyn, developed "verse-jumping" technology, which enables people to access the skills, memories, and bodies of their parallel-universe selves by performing bizarre actions that are statistically unlikely. The multiverse is now threatened by Jobu Tupaki, the Alphaverse version of Joy, whose mind was splintered after Alpha-Evelyn pushed her to extensively verse-jump. Jobu now experiences all universes at once and can verse-jump and manipulate matter at will.

What we learn from this is that, I'm assuming, the word "universe" isn't used throughout the movie save in the one instance you mention. At some time the idea of the multiverse was explained, including the fact that Joy from the Alphaverse became Jobu Tupaki.

What Wikipedia didn't explain was how the producers structured indexing for the multiverse. It's incredibly important that you keep in mind that there's a better than average chance that they didn't. A reference like "4,655th thetaverse" is one of those phrases that adds flavor and depth to the story. It begs questions like these:

  • There's an Alphaverse and a Thetaverse. There's 8 letters in the Greek alphabet between and including Alpha and Theta. Are there 8 "primary" universes? Or is it more like mathematics where we tend to only have Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Theta, and Epsilon?

  • What's the difference between primary and secondary universes? Why are there 4,655 Theta-type universes?

My thanks to @GalacticNinja, who has seen the movie, for pointing out that there is but one Alphaverse, the discovery of multiverse travel was developed.

The problem is that writers, directors, and producers want you to ask questions like that but don't necessarily want them answered. At least not yet. They want viewers to get jazzed by the possibilities of the world they've built — but they don't want so many answers given away (if any...) that interest is lot. In short, your wonder is more valuable to movie companies than your satisfaction. (Funny to think about....)

What I like about this aspect of their worldbuilding is the sense of promise that Jobu Tupaki, who can experience all universes at once, has apparently come up with an indexing system to keep it all straight — despite having a splintered and presumably damaged mind. In other words, you might not be able to trust the indexing system even if it's revealed. It was created by someone who's insane. The desire for order blossoming from chaos is very germane to human psychology, so that bit of worldbuilding sets up a stressor — the hope of order even though it's likely false. Cheers to the writers!

Disclaimer: I could be wrong in that somebody may have described the differences between primary and secondary universes. But as new as the movie is, I'm prepared to doubt that possibility.

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  • "Are there 4,655 Alpha-type universes?" The term "alphaverse" is used by Alpha Waymond as a name for the specific and unique universe he is from, unlike Bagel Deirdre, who used "thetaverse" to refer to one of many universes, i.e., there is only "the alphaverse", and there is no second, let alone a 4,655th one, referred to in the film. Commented Mar 15, 2023 at 1:22
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    @galacticninja "theta" is also a parameter in likelihood functions, so maybe the Alphaverse is a branch of the multiverse with a very high probability and the thetaverses are branches of the multiverse that are increasingly unlikely? As far as pseudosciene goes, this would make as much sense as anything else in this (really great, IMO) movie. Commented Mar 15, 2023 at 10:28
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I'm going to have to make an educated guess.

The device/app that Alpha Waymond uses to track universes and jumping pads shows a map of the universe as a 2-D graph. Each universe is represented as a circle, connected to several others by a line.

So I'm going to have to guess that the Greek letters represent the distance in how many single-line jumps there are to the Alphaverse.

That is, the Betaverses are the ones directly connected to the Alphaverse, the Gammaverses are the ones connected to the Betaverses, out to the "Thetaverses" that are seven jumps away. If each universe is directly connected to only 4 others, you will easily get 4655 Thetaverses.

(The 4655th Thetaverse is the "burner" universe that Evelyn enters via the janitor's closet.)

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