The Big 0: Act 02- Dorothy Dorothy
After the defeat of Dorothy-1 by the Megadeus Big O and his Dominus Roger Smith, her sister Android Dorothy went haywire and disappeared for a time out of sight. As the large mechanical frame of her Megadeus sister fell to the ground below, and police chief Dan Dastun was busy attempting to save Dorothy who he noticed running off toward the direction of the action, he became in danger of being destroyed himself. Luckily his old Lieutenant was the Dominus of Big O and managed to see what was happening in time to save him by blocking the debris.
Dastun, being a proud man, cannot merely thank the Megadeus for saving his life and instead sicks his military dogs on it. Like the altercation before it, their weapons have absolutely zero effect on the Megadeus, which just continues its onward stride and eventually descends beneath the earth to a transportation hub deep within the bowels of Paradigm City. And all of this accompanied by an Electronica Jazz soundscape akin and reminiscent of a fusion between the sounds of Goblin and Cassiopeia, albeit compliments of the series composer Toshihiko Sahashi whose innovative, cerebral, emotional, and simultaneously intuitive work emboldens and strengthens the entire production.
As Roger Smith rides off into the city astride his black sedan, The Griffon, Sahashi paints a new internal soundscape of wailing, melodic-line saxophone and solemn, somnambulist ivories riffing on Roger’s theme and moving us into the interior realm of his hardboiled poetic musings on the nature of memory and The Event. ‘As I said, this is the city of Amnesia. There appears to be what was once an underground transportation system.’ On which Big O is currently travelling toward his hangar for storage and repair by Norman Burg. ‘It’s a dreaded labyrinth and they say that those who wander in, never come out alive. I use it for my own purposes.’ The darkness of this space, the paranoia and fear it excites in those who travel along its corridors, makes it the ultimate liminal stage for the rising up of nightmarish memories, of pre-Evental information too horrific for most minds to comprehend without attendant trauma as its consequence.
Roger wonders why Beck would release Dorothy so readily for cash in the past. He knows that he was after Dorothy-1 and did not necessarily need the android Dorothy. This adjective, of android, will be something Roger increasingly shies away from using throughout the episode, signalling a recognition within Dorothy of something more complex, more human than that term signifies. Something that makes the use of that term a belittling one, which denies to her some agency she seemingly holds, some emotional inner life within, or more troubling, a surge of romantic attachment for the android within Roger, which makes him feel the need to project these notions onto Dorothy, despite them not truly being there. This possibility continues to haunt Roger throughout the series and intensifies here in his introspective task of wondering why he continues to think about her despite his client (Soldano) being dead, and both Dorothys now being accounted for. A memory of her words rings out within his mind in which she asks for his protection, and though she has no money, and he has no legal or moral call to do so if she truly is just an android, he continues on in his quest and attempts to track her down.
In the next scene, Roger arrives within the dive bar in which his informer seemingly resides as a fixture as permanent as the barista or the bar from which he serves drinks. The Informer relates more troubling information to Roger. Dorothy-1 was not an old Megadeus that had been renovated by Soldano with the arrival of ‘memory fragments.’ Rather, the Megadeus was completely new and was designed and created by someone who regained total ‘memory fragments’ about the process of construction of Megadeuses, meaning there are likely to be more of them if the inventor is not stopped (if that person wasn’t Soldano himself that is). ‘You know Roger, memories are like nightmares. they come to you when you least expect them…. Are you familiar with the story of the Nightingale?… I hear there’s a Nightingale. Inside the domes.’ Soldano’s last words spoke of a Nightingale and Roger reasons that there may be some connection.
He tracks down a club called The Nightingale down in the lower-class regions of the city of Paradigm. Upper-class dome types have been coming here in droves to experience high class nightlife for some time now. Roger runs into Dorothy here, who seems not to know who he is, or is actively ignoring him. She is on the arm of some old man, the old man who they previously passed the day prior on the way to fight Dorothy-1, the man she called her father. Roger, who is denied entrance on account of not being a member of the club, eventually knocks out a guard and hides within the shadows of the club: A pulp phantom lurking within the tenebric portrait. On stage, Dorothy, the mechanical songbird, sings a tune in her chiaroscuro revelry. Roger reflects: ‘Later on, I learned the old story of the Nightingale from somebody who knew it. The tale was a fable about an emperor of some ancient country who loved the song of a mechanical bird.’ The question here becomes whether the emperor is the old man, Timothy Wayneright I, Roger Smith who is falling for this potentially soulless being, or both.
After the song, Roger tries to speak with Dorothy, who seems to recognize him but refuses to answer his questions. Beck arrives and his goons stop Roger or the old man from acting by holding guns to their backs as they plan to take Dorothy away once more. Dorothy responds mechanically by knocking out one of the men who attempts to lift her, then approaching the one threatening harm to her ‘father’, the old man. The guard becomes afraid and kills the old man just as Roger knocks out the man with a gun to his own back. Beck jumps into action, tasers both Roger and Dorothy, and finally makes his get-away. When Roger comes to he finds Dastun standing above him. He reports that Dr. Wayneright recovered his memories and was in some way responsible for the re-building of the Megadeus, and of the creation of Dorothy. When the Event occurred, he seemingly lost a daughter, and made Dorothy in her image. As they speak, a report airs that Dorothy-1 is back up and operational in West Dome No. 5, once again approaching the Mint Building to nab currency printing plates.
Roger finds a mysterious wind-up key on the floor in the club, signifying that Dorothy may be no more than a songbird, a machine without Artificial Intelligence or a soul. He pockets the item, signifying something like an attempt to remember this possibility whilst also holding onto the hope internally that she may be more than a mere android (and thereby the quandary in his heart is one with that of Deckard in Blade Runner, of uncertainty and the nagging, impossible hope that the impossible becomes reality). He runs off and initializes Big O, easily overwhelms Dorothy-1 (piloted remotely by Beck) in the ensuing battle, almost destroying his power core before realizing that Dorothy has been wired into the machine as a ‘power regulator circuit.’ He allows himself to be ensnared by Dorothy-1, recklessly and bravely exits his cockpit and jumps toward the power core of his enemy to wrest Dorothy away from the binds putting her in danger and keeping her unconscious. And although she weighs nigh on a thousand pounds as a human-sized object composed of metal, his adrenaline and the strength of love and of belief give him the power to lift her and to return her to the cockpit of Big O.
Dorothy-1 collapses without a power source, and Big O tracks her remote uses down to a van elsewhere in West Dome No. 5, then turns in the van and its occupants to Dastun before returning below ground and eventually back to home base. Once there, Norman employs Dorothy as a maid at the house, which she takes on of her own free will as a way to pay back Roger for protecting her, though she frames it as payback merely for his Negotiator fee, and thereby appears to be expressing some human sentiment herself. Roger expresses disbelief that Norman would hire someone without his permission, but relates his second rule to his new maid nonetheless: ‘If you stay here, then you wear black.’ Dorothy responds merely by calling taste into question. And just like that, an existential emotional epic on equal footing with Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis and Blade Runner is under way: the core question of this journey of the soul what does it mean to be human?
Cast in the Name of God,