The Big O: Act 11- Daemonseed
The inner city domes are littered with decorations for the upcoming Heaven’s Day celebration. The holiday is a time (presumably December 25th) when the citizens of Paradigm City celebrate its founding with festive lights and the social practice of gift giving as the city delivers care packages to its citizens, and lovers exchange gifts with each other. In a couture shop downtown in one of the city’s nicer domes, Dorothy buys a black tie for Roger as a gift for Heaven’s Day. she does so not explicitly as a sign of affection, of her love for Roger (though this is the underlying message of he gift), but as a thank you for Roger taking her in and housing her through the past weeks and months.
When she next meets up with Roger in the public square, she asks him if she is excited about the upcoming holiday only to learn that he has an open animosity toward it. As he walks back along toward a lower level of the street and enters a nearly full elevator, he asks a hesitant Dorothy to get in. And when she does so, the weight sensor on the elevator goes off and halts the machine’s progress. As an android, she weighs more than the average person and as such, must leave the elevator and take the stairs. Roger follows her and apologizes to her for his lack of foresight in this matter, for forgetting about her predicament. The emotional effect is that of a relationship’s repartee, and ebb and flow.
Next, they pass a sax player in the city square whose music Roger particularly enjoys. He tips the young man handsomely and tells him that he’s sure to become the ‘next big star.’ Later that night, at dinner, Dorothy mentions that lover’s exchange gifts on Heaven’s Day, which is quickly approaching, and asks Roger if he is purchasing a gift for anyone. At this point, the focus of Roger’s anger toward the holiday makes itself known and he explains that as an ex-member of Paradigm’s Military Police, he has forsaken Paradigm and all it stands for. To celebrate Heaven’s Day would likewise be to celebrate the founding a city he reviles, not for its people, but for the dystopian business that runs it: Paradigm Corp. Dorothy, obviously hurt once again by Roger’s lack of foresight (she wasn’t asking for a political commentary, but instead hinting at her desire for Roger to exchange a gift with her), she leaves the room and departs for the night.
Elsewhere, the young saxophone player, named Oliver, turns up at home for the night after a long day of working for the city’s trash pickup corps and busking in the streets. His beautiful, blind girlfriend Laura greets him joyfully when he arrives home. He promises to buy her a gift for Heaven’s Day this year (if he can get the money, which is difficult for a day laborer in Paradigm’s economy), but she protests and says that this is not necessary and that his presence at home for the day will be enough. The relationship between these two characters will mirror Roger and Dorothy’s own throughout the episode and sets the stage for some truly transhuman, liberating material in the future as series creator Konaka sets the two up as a Rachel-Deckard couple of sorts. And back at the mansion, Norman presses the issue with Roger, telling him (falsely) that Heaven’s Day is also the day when Dorothy was activated by her ‘father’. He also chides Roger for not buying Dorothy anything nice to wear and allowing her to remain constantly clothed in her business-like attire: ‘she is a lady after all.’ As such, Roger leaves immediately and buys a dress for Dorothy (which just so happens to be the same dress Oliver has been eyeing for Laura, but could in no way afford).
The following morning, Roger receives a message and a job offer from Paradigm Corp.’s head honcho, Alex Rosewater. Once the two meet, Rosewater reveals that he has received a postcard from a man claiming that ‘in 7 days, the world will be reborn.’ The message was received five days prior, and if the threat therein is more than a hoax, some vent will occur in just two more days, one Heaven’s Day Eve. Even though Roger generally avoids jobs from Paradigm Corp. and its subsidiaries, he takes this job, which might threaten the lives of civilians. He also asks Rosewater for his recommendation for a good tailor (to alter Dorothy’s dress).
That same morning, in the wee hours, Oliver meets a man dressed as Santa Claus (though no one in the city knows who such a figure might be since The Event) who passes along an odd emerald egg to him. The man says he is leaving the world and laughs to himself as he exclaims that ‘all the people in this city are suffocating.’
Roger meets up with Dan Dastun later that day and explains the current case to him. Dastun, however, has already been on the case for some time now and reveals that the suspect is a mad scientist (the selfsame man who gave Oliver the egg, and who is shown clothed normally in a photo held by Dastun) who has disappeared, leaving trail of his departure behind, and only documents and papers showing that the man ‘advocated fir nature restoration’ and apparently reacquired his memories from more than 40 years ago. After a full day of wandering the city for more clues, nothing turns up, and Roger meets with Dastun once more. Dastun has been given orders not to investigate outside of the domes, though Roger suspects that this is the only way to catch their would-be perp. Dastun has however found some new evidence: there was a second message to Rosewater, which Roger nor Dastun was not privy to. A letter that talked of the end of the world and was part of a larger text, part of some ;book of revelations.’
Now, we know the significance of such a text as the biblical Book of Revelations (a late 1st century text authored by an unknown prophet): the one and only piece of Apocalyptic literature within the Christian New Testament canon. The connection to Heaven’s Day, which is later revealed by the only one who remembers (Alex Rosewater) as a day whose significance is ‘the day God’s son was born’, should alert us to the possibility that the series chronology is heading toward an end-times event.
As the episode continues, Dorothy finds that within the sax case of Oliver, there is a postcard identical to the one sent to Alex Rosewater. Together, Roger and Dorothy visit Oliver at his home to inquire further into this coincidence. Oliver makes small talk and tells the two that they seem ‘to make a good couple,’ which Roger denies. Oliver tells Roger that he’s not being very kind and Dorothy merely responds that she’s ‘used to it.’ When Roger changes the subject to the postcard, Oliver reveals that all homes around there have one and that it is somehow connected to a a group of old citizens around the block who visit an old decrepit building (a church, in fact) every once in a while to sing songs. None of these figures know the meaning of their words and ‘don’t know what they’re praising,’ but they continue to do so nonetheless. And everything seems to be pointing us toward a neatly tucked away little Christian parable rife for explicating within The Big O.
Before Roger and Dorothy drive off into the night, Oliver tries to sell the emerald egg to Roger who immediately believe it is something valuable that Oliver stole. He chides the young man for ‘taking the easy way out’ (crime) and refuses to buy it. Then he explains a few of his most important rules to Dorothy: ‘ If you want to live a happy life in this city, leave memories alone when they pop up.’ This seems to be his reaction to the hymn-singers who are actively chasing after memories of a time before The Event through the action of singing. He next explains that ‘you have to use your pent-up energy to fight through the harshness of reality.’ And he seems to be applying it toward Oliver, who plays his sax tenaciously despite not being particularly talented. When asked directly about Oliver’s ability, Dorothy concurs that Oliver has no talent as a musician. Nonetheless, his pent-up aggression and energy, his desperation and hopeless search for meaning through the notes on his musical organ is his way of fighting through the harshness of reality, even if the impossibility of success is a foregone conclusion.
Finally, Heaven’s Day Eve arrives. As Roger visits Dastun once more and the two begin patrolling the domes together like in old times, Dorothy makes a trip down to Oliver’s place and visits with Laura. She asks the girl why Oliver loves her and is told that love just seems to happen, but that their love works so well because she is ‘really easy to fool.’ Something that is necessary for Oliver once in a while as he lies to stay out late and play his sax: something that Laura understands is a primal need for him, and she tacitly accepts. Just then, in the town square, the Daemonseed emerald egg erupts and begins to sprout roots and limbs of a gigantic tree. Oliver tries to escape it, but is pulled far up into the air and almost loses his saxophone in the process. Luckily, he is able to reach out and prevent it from falling. In the process, however, he begins to fall too. But instead of plummeting to his death, Roger calls upon Big O and saves the young man before beginning a battle with monstrous mutant plant being that destroys streets, cars, and buildings as it expands outward. Blood-like fluid seeps out of the wounds rent by Big O’s constant barrages of lasers and missiles, as well as his onslaught of physical melee damage.
All looks hopeless for a moment as Big O is wrapped up in a tight knot of vines and then the plant stops growing. Dorothy, who ran in that direction as soon as the city began to shake (with Laura in tow), reveals to Roger that the seed was only programmed to grow this large, to break out of the dome’s upper ceiling, and then to stop growing entirely. What’s more, the tree is festooned with Christmas decorations and the mad scientist who created it seemingly only did so to bring back some sense of reverence to this once-religious holiday. After Big O descends, Roger reunites with Dorothy at the same moment that Laura and Oliver do the same. Roger tells Dorothy happy birthday only to find that her birthday isn’t even in the same month. The two awkwardly begin to exchange gifts and then, as Dorothy dons her new dress, and Roger his tie, Oliver begins to play Jingle Bells on his sax, and the mood changes. And love is felt between the two, is palpable in the air, in the mise-en-scene, and the viewer becomes trapped as a voyeur within the sequence. At once happy for those figures he or she has been viewing for so long and simultaneously recognizing this as a fictional narrative.
And for this reviewer, sad that such an emotional event will never come to pass for himself, that the reality of life and of his own personality is such that the chase is out of the question, and that the chase is a necessary first step toward making it even remotely possible for a beautiful amorous event to occur. Is fame the only way?
Cast in the Name of God,