Episode 22: “DU: Abandoned City — REVERSAL PROCESS”

“The fabrication of a mediator that’ll give rise to copycats…”

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It’s ten o’clock on an empty subway platform. This may just be the beginning of some kind of revisionist Leone revisionist western. No, look at the empty streets — it’s the beginning of Evangelion. Now the army vehicles are rolling, and copters are buzzing overhead. Nice, dude — they finally made a Godzilla anime! Long time coming.

But for Christ’s sake (the drink, Christ’s sake, the Japanese drink) I thought we were in the middle of the Ghost in the Shell ending? Well, yes and no. This is the beginning of the climax, as unfolds over the next four episodes. Matter a fact, the next episode is called ‘The Day the Bridge Falls,’ so you know that… something will happen.

But here we kind of ease back for a moment before racing back in. It’s our last moment of rest, like taking Liara to your Commander’s cabin before the big Citadel assault. Only, it’s Batou taking Gouda up to the roof before the big Dejima assault. And he doesn’t even toss him, he just chat! chat! chat!, that’s all.

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Five days ago, a massive evacuation order was issued — 35 million GD people were picked up and removed. Turns out there’s a nuclear bomb in the subway. Honestly, I’d mass evacuate for nothing less.

Batou is looking out over the empty streets from the tilt rotor. They’ve got some to spare — don’t you worry your pretty little head. And that reminds me. Remember the submarine from “Not Equal?” That never came back. You Section 9 bastards

In response to news prattle, he says, “Martial law? Come on. Not like the authorities have been handed over to the military.” Questioning the government and bureaucracy is good in this situation, per the events of this episode especially. But the Major is more understanding. After the recent, rather heated events, people have begun turning on the government, while also increasing their support for the expulsion of refugees (like that’s even on the table at this point. And how can you do both? Be down on the government but also lobby some political cause?). The Major is sullen as F. “No one gives a thought what this all means for the country. Even if it is all data manipulation by the CIS.” She’s just sitting there, out of her usual Major sort.

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The Chief radios Batou, and before Batou can be like, yo Chief I’m right here just move your lips, the Chief’s like “What’s wrong with her?” Ever since the dive on Kuze’s brain, she’s been like this. The Chief turns back to the console, frowning, visions of potential surprise parties or field trips dancing momentarily in his head before being dashed. There’s a mission, goddamn it.

Section 9 wants to recover that bomb, rather than just defuse it, although that isn’t made clear in the beginning. The CIS however, are already on-site, taking over the scene under the pretext of a media blackout. And… well, my memory failed me, because the Chief, Togusa, and Proto are meeting with the Prime Minister. I guess he was never on the tilt rotor at all. Jesus. Meaning, I could go back and edit that sweet joke. But will I.

Back on the tilt rotor, for sure, the Major is sucking her thumb again. “You know,” Batou tells her, “your mind doesn’t seem to be on the job. We’re all drawn to you because of your exceptional talents… but we can still support you.” She quickly jumps to her feet, figuratively, and hatches the plan. She splits the team, and gives Batou the job she’d normally undertake herself.

That line is so interesting. We’re all drawn to you, the Major. In this season of course we’ve briefly investigated how one comes to be a Section 9 member — recruits are trained, Pazu was scouted, Saito was taken like a Portable Op. Last season, we established that Section 9 is less a unit on paper, and more specifically its members. Without the Major, without Batou, there is no Section 9. It’s just weird.

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The SDA is mobilizing to invade Dejima. The Chief delivers the goods, tells the PM that the CIS is worsening the situation, and deliberately! Delay the invasion, he cautions. They don’t actually have the plutonium. It’s a ploy — a straight-up plutonium plot ploy. The Prime Minister is reserved, resigned. I’ve read your report, but it’s too late. Togusa exhales — we’re gonna have a full scale war with the refugees.

Section 9 arrives, checks in with the army tent. Gouda’s already there. Batou tells the folks to put his bomb techs on the frontline, on orders from the Prime Minister. The army guy is incredulous, but is isn’t him Batou has words with. It’s that suit over there.

Pazu and Boma ascend the stairs to join the other defusers at the bomb, which is labeled “To Kayabuki with Love.” Imitating the Americans maybe, Boma theorizes. They wrote stuff like this on Fat Man. And though this one isn’t nuclear, it’s plutonium, it’ll still be devastating. Boma demonstrates his knowledge, and reveals that back in the war, his specialty was in planting these things.

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Batou and Gouda take a ride up the elevator. “You won’t mind if we’re in the air the bomb will affect?” Batou asks. And adds, less genteelly, “How far are you willing to take this, aggravating the situation?” Gouda’s coy for the time being. That’s a question for the refugees, or for a military analyst. On the roof, Batou gets started, tries a different tactic. He talks about the fabrication of a mediator that’ll give rise to copycats — that was the subject of your field research, right? The people with power program the myths and legends. Wasn’t the Individual Eleven a stand alone complex created by a criminal along these lines? But compared to a hacker like the Laughing Man, you’re simply… second rate.

Boma gets to work on the bomb, and we see that he’s like a bomb-whisperer. He can decode messages sewn into the thing’s very machinery, for example this statement that the refugees have the capacity to go nuclear, but chose not to. He reports in to the Major. This is army technology. The refugees always use C4. Suspicious. “Return to base,” she tells him. But he hasn’t found anything to link the bomb to the CIS. “You’ve done enough for now.”

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“What do you mean, I’m second rate?” Now he’s got the man’s attention. When we checked the Individual Eleven’s heads, we found a virus. And for the name, they probably just lifted it from the embassy crisis. This is all so weak. “What is it you want to know?” Gouda asks. And the crows flutter down, joined by a single white one, cawing all the same. I want to understand these guys, Batou says.

The Individual Eleven should be seen as heroes, but gave the refugees an excuse to get worse. Their deaths are already forgotten. The criminal profile Batou has for the originator, he says, isn’t a genius, but rather a man attempting to break from an inferiority complex. To do that, he needs conviction, but most importantly luck. “Oh?” A hero doesn’t exist until it’s recognized by a third party. For such a happenstance to come to pass, that takes luck. Gouda smiles his wicked smile. “I didn’t know you were such a conversationalist.” He’s getting to him…

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Kuze is the X factor. But is he just a fluke, or was he carefully planned from the start? Even as we speak, he’s currying favor against the refugees. But is Kuze really the one behind it all? Or is that criminal mastermind producing him? Because now, he’s doing something seemingly against script, playing his trump card by going silent. He started out just an X factor, but after failing to get the plutonium, he’s zigged. So isn’t possible, Batou says, that the criminal mastermind and producer, is just becoming a copycat to Kuze?!

The refugees scattered throughout the streets of Dejima, these defensive positions, are armed. Kuze looks out over them from a rooftop, as a plane passes overhead. Jumping around scenes evermore, two additional people arrive at the bomb site.

Batou lights up, places the cigarette at a little memorial. “Major,” he says through comm. link, “I’m not so sure this worked.” It did, she assures him. And we recovered the bomb. If it matches the one at the Shinjuku nuclear plant, we’ll have the CIS, we’ll have em by the balls.

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For concluding thoughts, Batou asks Gouda what the factor was for each of the Individual Eleven. Gouda says bluntly, “Virginity,” and goes. This may have been the information only the mastermind could have known. Otherwise, I’m not exactly sure what was going on here, but have my theories.

Though I really have no idea what the whole virginity thing means.

For all the hackles, this episode is pretty complex. We have the continued Major frustration, to be resolved in the next episode, which gives Batou a job to do now. I like the effect that has in intersecting with the plot stuff. And that, in essence, is to connect Gouda to the act. And in retrospect, it’s kind of the moment where he’s caught, and they’re just rubbing it in. Because the bomb is his downfall (of sorts), the implicating piece of evidence Section 9 will eventually use to hand over to the invading forces and end the war.

Damn. That’s some good story construction. Let’s see how it all plays out, because it gets even better when we throw in some hot Section on Section action, Batou’s resolve, a Tachikoma song, and the Major and Kuze’s connection…

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