(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)
So, last episode was in my opinion the best episode in the show, and it didn’t even have to do with plot, as much as it was with how deftly the writing handled everything – mention a complication, so we in the audience can think of what it means, and then the characters discuss it. Question why certain scenes keep appearing aside from for the sake of procedural drama (such as the briefing in the police), and then we’re given a reason, so we’d see the chief get pulled outside for clandestine dealings.
Why do we keep getting riddles, they don’t seem to be the real deal – and just when we’re about to tire of them, we see the characters mention they are indeed not the real deal, and what the real riddle is.
And of course, on the plot-level, we get another rival to Nine and Twelve, and just like Shibazaki, the rival is defined not by differing from them, but by being similar to them, in a true suspense-thriller fashion. The stakes are raised, and the past, always the past, looms overhead, as is always true for Greek tragedies.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Loops and Ladders, Winners and Losers:
1) The chief of police is also kept out of the loop. This is political, now. Exactly the sort of thing Shibazaki can’t ignore and which caused his downfall before. Yes, Nine and Twelve might have counted on him to reveal the truth for him, but who’s to say he’ll be allowed to reveal it himself? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (Who watches the watchmen?). Then again, thus their appeal to mass and social media, so it’s not something that can be brushed under the rug.
2) “Of course I’m having fun, it’s no fun playing a game alone.” – This is the mirror to Nine and Shibazaki, and how “angry cop” accused Shibazaki of enjoying playing the game. This is how thrillers work, by the two sides playing together, if only you can ignore all the lives at stake. And part of the inhumanity and some would say ingenuity of these characters comes from the ability to make this separation.
3) “You need a loser to be able to crush so bad they could never recover.” – That “loser” bit is obviously wrong. If you are infinitely superior to someone else, you may as well play alone. Unless what you truly want is the “play” of torture. I don’t think that’s what Five wants, unless they are pushing hard for her to appear as some sort of a sociopath, which might be a thing. Also, the saddest part about Five’s philosophy is the outcome – if you crush the person you play with so bad they can never recover, you can’t play with them again, which leads to the dreaded boredom. But then again, it can hardly be any other way in thrillers.
4) “There was an offer of assistance from the American government.” – Ok, nice of them. “The FBI will assist us.” – Sounds like we’re getting removed from the case, turf-territory commencing! “Their requests will take top priority from now on.” – A-yup. They’ve been strong-armed out of it. Also notice how the briefing didn’t include that this incident could’ve been resolved with zero injuries, and that they probably know the source of the cellular network disruption.
Earlier the bigwigs were all for distancing themselves from the case, and any fallout, but the policemen feel their dignity is being trampled upon.
2) A Fragile Ecology – An Ecology of Fragile Beings:
1) That nightmare, that explosion, it seemed to me like it wasn’t Nine that was blown away by Five, but Lisa? Well, it might have been Nine, like the incident at the train. And Five? She was like the stuffed animals from the first episode, a bundle of fluff and joy that hides death. Light that leads the path to darkness.Nightmares aren’t fun.
2) “There’s nothing you can do.” – Imperious Nine, and Lisa is looking and acting like a little housewife. Lisa is trying to belong, to get accepted, and Nine is telling her that not only she cannot, but that she’s better off on the outside, which stings.
3) “Nine, this explosion wasn’t our fault.” – That’s an extremely naïve thing to say, Twelve. You set the bomb up. That you counted on someone else dismantling it and then tried to do so yourself doesn’t absolve you. You friggin’ set up a bomb in a crowded place!
4) Five doesn’t play well with others. To put it in Civilization terms, she doesn’t believe in “Coalition Victory”, she needs to win herself, what fun is it otherwise? She needs to win, which to her means everyone else has to lose. That “everyone” seems to mean the Japanese police, and the game? Assaulting their sense of self-worth.
5) “If we corner them, they’ll use their joker card.” – Isn’t the assumption that criminals will use their joker cards anyway? Isn’t the assumption that you’re going to “corner” criminals anyway by attempting to, you know, catch them? But of course, Shibazaki actually knows it’s all a ploy to gain attention, and if they wanted to sew fear or destruction they’d let the population know of the plutonium, or outright use it. But still, a bit of an odd statement, taken on its own.
3) Games of Subterfuge – Charge Head-on, Men!:
1) “Von voyage”, hee hee. That means someone who has insider information. Now here’s the thing, if it’s truly from Five, and she’s truly going to set up a bomb, to force Nine and Twelve to come and take it apart, then she really does turn it into a game, and the situation on its head. The one working with the FBI setting up a bomb and terrorizing the population, and the would-be terrorists as the ones who must race to save the innocents. A game, with people’s lives in the balance, but with only one side caring for them. And of course, the Japanese police.
2) “It’s a message, telling us Five had seen through everything.” – “I can tell anything you’re going to do, and the game is over.” – No wonder Five doesn’t have fun with games, as she declares them done with the first move. Of course, the real game is to see the decisions people will make, or in her case, to see them scurrying around.
Oh, they’re at least working with the airport security, phew. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re also going to pull a fast one on them.
3) “There was never any sanity to begin with, for her, or for us.” – What is Nine saying of himself and his plans then? I think he merely means that they are outside society. Even Twelve’s statement that it is “a neat plan” is all about looking at it as a game, rather than focusing on its real effects.
4) “We don’t have time to think about that!” – And that’s why Angry Cop is a grunt. He sees bomb, he goes after bomb. He can’t tell motivations, or origins, and thus will only be able to react. Poor Angry Cop.
He does have a point though, in the end, you still need to actually deal with the situation at hand.
5) “It’s too practical. There’s no underlying message.” – “We can’t do nothing, it’s a challenge to us!” – And that’s the underlying message, that it’s a challenge to someone else.
4) Playing the Game:
1) “But we’re the terrorists, isn’t it weird for us to go and stop the bomb?” – This is what happens when the world is a game. Also, in some way, they don’t seem to be much of terrorists, in the sense that everyone seems excited about them, but not afraid.
2) “It’s not cool being a lone wolf any longer.” Shibazaki as accepted by his peers and the upstarts again, a reference to him being an old-timer, and also another reference to how “connections” are what the show is all about. Also, remember my pre-episode spiel? Five wants to form a connection with others, but her problem is that she forms a connection only in order to destroy it, and those she shares it with. This line shows the distinction between Nine and Twelve, alongside Shibazaki, from her, who’s still a lone wolf.
3) Everyone’s heading to the same location, and we’re only at the end of the 6th episode. There’ll probably be a scene where everyone sees one another, shouts “Wait!” and they depart, before an eventual reunion. Will Shibazaki and Lisa be found out to be father and daughter? Will Lisa’s mother also join us?
4) “You’re being careless, Nine.” – Silly Five, if he knows he’ll be caught, he will not only assume he’ll be caught, but he will base his plan upon it. If episode 5 taught us something is that if something seems to not make sense, you have to actually question why it is so, rather than assume everyone else is just stupid and makes dumb mistakes. Of course, that’d require Five to think slightly less of herself and more of others…
5) There’s something about chess, where any show with would be supreme genius that calls itself a thriller just has to have chess, eh? But poor Nine and Twelve are going to have to run all over the place, and why are both of them running anyway?
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- Is the shower going to be some leitmotif? Lisa entered it for her transformation from one who is alone to one who is together with Nine and Twelve. Is Nine’s visit to the shower, where he appears bruised (as Lisa is emotionally), an analogy to having to put his old path behind him, a mention of his renewed contact with Five?
- Feeding ducks, a political cold-war noir trope. Just read Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens ;-)
- I did wonder what was up with the feathers Twelve saw. Synesthesia, eh? Been a while since I’ve seen it used in any form in a narrative. Also, Twelve and Lisa are so cute together, though it seems to me Lisa is drawn more to Nine, or rather, she’s drawn to the bond these two have, rather than any of them on their own.
- “We need someone whose face isn’t known.” Gee, I wonder who it could be, to whom we could entrust dismantling the bomb, maybe to the girl who can’t even keep the bottles in her grasp? :P
- Yeah, Five’s Engrish is some top-level stuff right there. At least it makes grammatical sense, for the most part.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This episode wasn’t nearly as good as last episode, but considering I think last episode was the best, that’s not exactly a fair comparison. Sadly, I don’t think it was one of the better episodes of the series in general. Nearly everything that happened in this episode was already contained within past episodes, and could’ve probably been crammed into about five minutes of content. It, to me, also didn’t appear to enhance the character buildup of the characters.
What did we actually do this episode? We learned that Five likes toying with others but her goal keeps her lonely, that she chose to not escape with them back then, and that she’s insane. Lisa finally gets a chance from Nine, and Shibazaki forms a bond with his team. And yes, everyone’s going to the same place, and while Nine and Twelve count on being caught and turned it into part of their plan, Five seems oblivious to it.
All that stuff really didn’t need to take up a full episode. It seems next episode, it’d either continue in the airport, with everything happening in quick succession afterwards, or it’d be close, and then there’d be a stage of regrouping before the final face-off and then denouement. I think the reason this episode took a full episode is so we’d start next episode already within the game, with no slacking of tension.
Five doesn’t seem to be that much of an interesting character, but she’s also not designed to be. She already showed us a way in which Nine and Twelve are close to Shibazaki but not to herself, in how they view gameplay, and connections, and she’s also there to keep creating situations which force Nine and Twelve to adapt, and enable us to learn more of them – such as that they do not truly wish to harm innocent people, and having to accept Lisa. Five is a force of nature, creating chaos, from which order – or understanding, will spring. So she’s performing her narrative role well, and we might still grow to learn more of her. I expect some tearful and angry confession about the escape when she and Nine face off for the last time.