The Big O II: Act 15- Negotiations with the Dead

(Act 14: Roger the Wanderer)

Roger Smith once again has a day off from Negotiating and de facto work as a P.I. (a job more traditionally in line with the show’s film noir and German expressionist aesthetic style). Whenever such a rare occasion comes about, Roger makes the most of it by sleeping in well past noon. And Dorothy makes a habit of awakening him by playing the loudest, most abrasive compositions she can muster on the piano downstairs in order to awaken him. Luckily, this time her playing rouses Roger at a proper time: when a potential customer comes by to inquire about a job.

The prospective customer is one Kelly Fitzgerald, the spouse of one Roscoe Fitzgerald, a Paradigm City Senator. She tells Roger that she believes her husband is in danger from an assassin who previously (in Act 10: Winter Night Phantom) killed many of his fellow Senators and threatens to do so now as well. Roger assures her that the Military Police (and specifically Dan Dastun) took care of that assassin ages ago and as such, she has nothing to fear. And then, Kelly Fitzgerald cryptically tells Roger that her husband was actually killed well after that incident, and the question becomes: well… why and how should one protect a dead man?

Roger and Dorothy accompany the old woman back to her mansion wherein they find a massive library. Kelly tells the pair (who will surprisingly mirror her own relationship to that of her ‘dead’ husband) that the ‘kids’ who were killed by the assassin a few weeks ago were all alter egos, proxies for her husband’s fellow Senators. That the memories implanted by Gordon Rosewater into these young, twenty-somethings were culled from the minds of the Senators of the city who had previously been killed by the foreign assassin. Roger again informs Kelly that if Roscoe’s proxy individual is still out there, he or she should still be safe as Roger himself made sure that the assassin, R.D., was put out of commission.

And then for the final reveal: within the library is Roscoe Fitzgerald, who appears very much alive and not dead as his wife had previously explained. His presence is inexplicable and, until the very denouement of the episode, Kelly’s disclosure about his death will remain so. The man explains that he wishes to know more about the android who committed the aforementioned murders of the Senator’s proxy memory data banks. He wants to know, more specifically, whether she awakened by her own volition or if she was awakened by someone else with the purpose of erasing the memories housed in her targets. And the more that Roger and Dorothy think about the subject, the more they wish to know the answer to this query as well. As such, the two leave the parlor and presence of the Fitzgerald’s, and head down to the Speakeasy where they learn from the informer, The Big Ear, that there are very few people who could have designed such an android as R.D. in the modern time, and that she may have been the product of some earlier pre-Event era in which humans lived alongside androids and their presence was common. Thinking this possibility merely plausible, Roger presses for more information and learns that the only man Big Ear knows who might have been able to construct such and android was Dr. Wayneright, Dorothy’s creator: the man who somehow managed to retain or regain enough memories of the past to create numerous androids and Megadeuses.

So, Roger and Dorothy leave and head toward Wayneright’s dilapidated mansion. Along the way, roger wonders why Dorothy and R.D. appeared so similar, ultimately coming to no conclusion in his musings. Though we, the viewers, know that Wayneright must have constructed both of them at some point. Inside the mansion, Roger and Dorothy find a room encased in copper plating, which Dorothy believes was installed to prevent something from entering it. As they continue down the corridors, they eventually find his lab wherein eyeballs and other synthetic organs lay about in a disheveled mess of tools and materials for the construction of androids. As Dorothy approaches the machine on which she was most likely assembled, the very wellspring and ground of her being, a program initiates and works through her, which triggers a large Megadeus to awaken (like the Archetype before it) elsewhere in the city.

Next, a huge magnet pulls Dorothy to the ceiling above and another android is sent from elsewhere in the lab to attack Roger. He narrowly avoids being killed by the mechanism before Angel appears, inscrutably in her red R.D.-like red cloak and hood, to plug the android with about a dozen holes from her pistol. The ensuing conversation reveals that Roger knows about Angel’s identity as a foreigner. After turning off the magnet, retrieving Dorothy from the ceiling, and driving off toward the city to face the Megadeus, Angel reveals that she knows about Roger’s identity as the Dominus of the Big O Megadeus, which is unsettling to Roger but also allows him to call upon Big O rather than mull about waiting for an opportunity to sneak off to his veritable ‘phone booth’ to pilot Big O.

Meanwhile, Dorothy reveals that she found a CD-rom inside of Wayneright’s lab. She assesses it with her head scanner and learns that they were tricked by the Fitzgerald’s. They cannot be on a mission to protect the memory proxy of Roscoe as there never was a memory proxy for Roscoe. He never even lost his memories from before The Event, and as such, viewer musings that Roger may be the proxy child become unfounded, and his own identity is once again obscured, in the dark.

As Big O rises from the Paradigm’s depths, the Military Police’s chief Dan Dastun is, at first, overjoyed to find backup. His own forces have hitherto been absolutely useless in impeding the forward progress of the newly appeared Megadeus Glinda (Glinda and Dorothy- a sign of head series’ writer Chiaki J. Konaka’s affinity for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). In the next breath, however, Dastun laments his constant inability to defend the city and the very necessity thereby of Big O, who always destroys quite a bit in the process of defending the city in Dastun’s stead. As for Big O, he and Roger initially have a hard time battling Glinda as this Megadeus is just as agile as The Archetype, and also wields a sword with which it effectively hacks through Big O’s defenses. As always, Big O pull out one final offensive move, this time a large laser gatling gun mechanism on his wrist, to destroy his foe.

Finally, the episode ends with a meditation on what it means to be human (the same core question from The Big O’s greatest stylistic and thematic predecessor Blade Runner): What does it mean to be human? It is revealed that Roscoe is, like Dorothy, merely a very human-like android. The Senator is extremely life-like to such a degree that it is more than apparent that there is no existential difference between himself and a human being. As he reflects on his past (‘Memories are eternal. Or is that a fantasy robots shouldn’t indulge in, Roger Smith?’), Roscoe hands over a disc to Dorothy, presumably containing his memories of the past, and most importantly those with information before The Event.

But just as quickly a gunshot rains down and decapitates the Senator. On a building aft, reclines the form of a mime-like android assassin that Angel refers to as Alan Gabriel. He extends a plastic arm that recovers the disc from Dorothy. As he retreats, Dastun attempts to shoot the assassin, but misses completely due to the vast distance separating the two. Angel has, seemingly, been fired and replaced by Alex Rosewater at Paradigm Corp., Kelly Fitzgerald’s fears that an assassin would kill her husband have proved prescient, and Dorothy and Roger are back to square one in their search for information about the past. But at least, through the example of Roscoe and Kelly, Roger and Dorothy may finally be realizing that there is, indeed, a way forward for the two of them in this world.

 

Cast in the Name of God,

Cody Ward

[Act 16: Day of the Advent]

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