Episode 20: “IN: Confusion at the North End — FABRICATE FOG”

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We’re smack in the middle of a serial arc, this being the second episode of three wherein we don’t bust wide for some Japanese establishing shots in the beginning. Here, we begin where we left off from last episode, and end on a cliffhanger. And that cliffhanger is answered right away in the next episode — no jerking us around. This is all business.

Transport comes down, casting harsh light on the Section 9 members, their current state illuminated — frustrated, somber, confused. The Chief buzzes in to say that this isn’t like you, Major. This sort of foul-up. Batou says that training rookies in the field was foolish. A Tachikoma asks if they can just download Yano’s memories and get him online that way. Saito says that no matter what, his ghost is still gone. Ishikawa tells the medic carting the boy away to show him respect, take care of him. One last reminder of Ishikawa’s sensitivity…

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The Major takes Azuma off the op. The Chief agrees with the decision, and has some information on the Russians bringing plutonium into Etorofu. Seems they’re going nuclear in order to declare themselves autonomous. Batou asks the Major what to do, back on the tilt rotor. There aren’t a lot of options. “Guess not,” she says. Batou goes on ahead, until finally the Major takes the lead. “We’ll head to Etorofu, and have the Coast Guard surround Dejima. The Chief copies, and states that if we miss this opportunity to nab Kuze, the evidence of CIS tampering will disappear. He has faith in Section 9.

After a brief interlude of the hoodie still looking suspiciously at Comrade Kuze, we return to Section 9. It’s interesting though, to have this supporting character of a supporting character recur. We’ll see him again. The Major has this nervous tick, essentially sucking her thumb, sitting in the tilt rotor. Batou shakes a cybo-sandwich at her. “Come on, you gotta eat something.” She takes a bite and says it tastes awful. She’d better complain to the Chief.

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Batou gets to the heart of the matter. What’s wrong with you? The Major explains that it was Kuze’s ‘delusion’ that’s bothering her, and what’s bothering her most is that while grandiose, it’s not what she expected. This delusion didn’t come from the virus, and he’s becoming extraordinary — a leader like Che or Malcolm X. Yet, in ideology, he’s more like Martin Luther King or Gandhi. He genuinely believes he can bring peace to the refugees. “You sound like a moody teenager who’s met the man of his dreams.” The Major continues her monotone monologue, and the often mono-minded Batou pauses a beat before saying, “Well. That was a bummer,” and takes a sandwich.

Doesn’t notice she’s made a little origami.

Soon, the Major and Togusa are touring a refugee street, see two rebels club a guy to death, shouting “Death to militarists!” Rough place, Togusa notes. Meanwhile, Batou and Saito riding in Tachikoma come upon a geofront.

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The hoodie confronts Kuze for a final bout. Says he came aboard, literally and figuratively, to buy weapons and have a big hootenanny, er, revolution, but he wouldn’t have come if he knew Kuze was at the helm. Indeed, he’s still willing to follow in the teachings of Densetzu — he opens his jacket, holds up a detonator. “Suicide bombs are about gratification,” he warns. “Revolutions require people’s ghosts.” Kuze is able to convince the kid to believe in him by divulging the situation: we’re here to get plutonium.

Togusa and the Major are after the Russians, and come upon a character we’ve seen from the manga. It’s that classic action hero situation where some informant is running his underworld game on some other lackey, but as soon as the golden light of the hero sweeps into this dank recess, the guy immediately recedes, yellows. Oh hiya. Looks like you’re a big-shot now.

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He leads her down the hall, points her in the direction of Krolden. He’s smiling big, and the Major rebuffs him: in this line of work, nobody likes people too eager to flatter. This guy turns to Togusa once she’s clear, and says he doesn’t envy him for working for this little lady. Cross her and you’ll regret it something fierce. I wonder if he’s speaking from experience — it would be nice to see more of the Major dealing with her seedier connections. Slapping some folks around…

The Major calls out for Krolden, says that she still owes him for something. But he’s dead, fried by an attack barrier, and not too long ago. She ascertains in short order the perps — who else, but the CIS? This guy Krol, as we call him, has these sexy sexaroids lying all over the place. I don’t have anything adorning my desk, was never into decorations like that. I have the Samus Amiibo, but that’s recent and positively pre-Justin Bailey’d. Anime as fuck though, all pointy and proportions…

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Krolden used floppy discs for external storage — today’s sign of paranoia. He’s also got a copy of The Godfather Part II on laser-disc. But with these ancient artifacts, she gets the scoop on the plutonium deal. But how did the refugees come up with… lord, all this money? Did Kuze line it up for them? She phones Ishikawa. The deal is going down at a nuclear submarine base. And the CIS is mixed up in this.

To answer the Major’s financial inquest, Kuze explains that he’s taking tiny fractions of yen from the civilians, these sums of which don’t even officially exist among the interest accrued. See, the general public is unaware, and bank management is AI these days. The refugees are taxed like they’re in the mainland, but they aren’t granted citizenship. Theirs is a phony society. In all, setting up a program to deposit the sums less than one yen apiece, he’s built up ten billion yen (approx. $100 million) for the revolution’s war chest. “Who… the hell are you?” Just a simple terrorist, he says, though at the moment he’s a bit high on heroism. He heads out to make the deal.

And yes, his grand scheme is basically Office Space.

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“Um… I’m um gonna burn the whole Dejima down?”

“Torukia,” the upgraded pump-up from yesteryear’s “Run Rabbit Junk,” begins while Batou and Saito head out after the Russians who passed through this geofront. Also around, for maximum confusion, is the SDA. Kuze meets with Koil, who has the plutonium. They’re about to make the deal when army arm suits drop in and start spraying bullets.

The tilt rotor hovers close and the Major drops down, makes a particularly baller insertion by diving down a shaft and lashing her rope to a rail a split second after. In cover, Koil tells Kuze that they have a deal, seeing as neither party can verify the goods at the moment. The two Tachikoma arrive and try to arrest Kuze, but the arm suits strike again. Batou sends Saito after Koil, and he too ejects from the robot, so we can have some hot robot-on-robot rumble.

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Hawt

Batou runs after Kuze, stops him with a laser-sight and a yell. “The only thing I’m after here is your head!” Kuze tells his two comrades to grab the cases and head back to the ship. Batou is mad as hell. “You think you can take me you bastard?”

And that’s it! Today we close on in the middle of a scene.

And for our Episode 20, Section 9 is still playing catch-up. They start at their lowest point, but the hits will keep on coming. Meanwhile, Kuze is given further characterization as function of just seeing him further the plot. It must just be affirmation, but for his final confrontation with Batou, our sympathies are split.

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