The Big O II: Act 16- Day of the Advent

(Act 15: Negotiations with the Dead)

A ball rolls through a dingy corridor within a dilapidated hotel outside of the domes, on the outskirts of Paradigm City. A young girl, exceedingly pale, chases the ball about and tries her best to have fun whilst alone, cooped up inside her home. Roger’s narration: ‘Sometimes memories arrive in unexpected forms.’ What appears to be a meteor falls in a street just a few blocks from where the hotel stands. The little girl watches it fall from her window as her grandfather does likewise from the window of his second-story bedroom on the floor above. They both believe the fireball to be an angel, despite not knowing what an angel is, or where it falls theologically or even symbolically within their ancestral religious tradition (Christianity), which has all but died out in everything but form since the loss of everyone’s memories in The Event forty years ago.

The following morning, Roger Smith, Paradigm City’s top Negotiator, and a man who has recently become more interested in private investigation work into the forgotten past of Paradigm, the exact nature of The Event, and his own true identity, is sitting at the table at breakfast reading a newspaper. Dorothy, his cyborg guest, unwitting love interest, and partner on most recent gigs chides Roger for his rudeness and lack of sociability at the table, but he plods on through the article, intrigued to find out more about this supposed ‘angel’ that fell from the heaven’s, left behind a crater, and has since disappeared entirely.

Roger leaves the mansion in his black sedan, The Griffon, and finds his way down to the crash site. His pal, Military Police Chief Dan Dastun, has little helpful information as the object that created this crater was whisked away in the early hours of the morning by Paradigm Corp. types, well before the Military Police were called in to cordon off the area and prevent thrill-seekers from venturing too close and potentially falling into the crater and harming themselves in the process. Dastun also relates that the payload was taken South by Paradigm, which Roger interprets to mean toward the sea.

But before he can make his way down that in that direction to seek out more clues, his butler Norman Burg contacts Roger by wristwatch communicator, informing The Negotiator that a client in the immediately surrounding area wishes to make contact with Roger. The man’s name is Jim McGowen, a gruff man with a Scottish (Irish?) accent, and the man familiar to us viewers as the owner of the hotel in which the episode’s opening coda played itself out. The man is deeply religious, like most of the poor inhabitants of Paradigm City’s outskirts outside of the domes, though he has cerebral knowledge of the religious traditions he follows. McGowen’s wish is to hire Roger to track down the ‘angel’ and return it to this McGowen’s community who he believes are the ones it was sent to save, the one who ‘will save those of use who have forsaken by these times.’ And although McGowen is poor, he plans to give Roger the hotel in exchange for his work: an offer that the typically noble and well-mannered Roger would refuse, despite deciding to take on the job to at least find out the whereabouts of the ‘angel’, partially to assuage this old man’s concerns (an act done out of respect for Roger’s elders) and partially to answer a few questions of his own in the process.

McGowen is an enigmatic man, more so than even those others in his community who hold similar beliefs, and he confines his young granddaughter to his home during the day on account her skin condition that prevents her from playing in direct sunlight. He also believes that he has awakened some memories and knows that an Angel (the blonde-haired femme fatale?) will come to liberate his people and make life better for them. Roger is confused by this notion of a memory of the future, something more akin to a prophecy and typically only privy to a madman. McGowen’s following proclamations aren’t really helping his case either: ‘For the past forty years we’ve been living our lives with no future. [Which is certainly true of the denizens of Paradigm, as without a past, they live seemingly outside of time and history] Thing’s can’t possibly go on like this forever. [They might if all of the city’s elderly eventually die off and no memories of the past are thereby left to recover] It’s no way to live…. No. It couldn’t come down from the heavens to save only those who live inside the domes. All of us living here should be saved. There should be no discrimination.’ Much ado about what merely turn out to be a meteor.

Roger has his own ideas, and after seeing Big Duo fly down from the clouds firsthand, as well as numerous other Foreign Megadeuses arise from beneath the city, out of the wastes on its outskirts, and from the very ocean floor like Kaiju emerging from their primordial sleep, he now seems apt to believe the meteor was of a foreign nature, potentially a Megadeus that lost control, crash-landed, and was recovered by Paradigm Corp for some sinister purpose. He leaves Paradigm and heads off toward Electric City where he is met by Angel. The two find a number of Paradigm Corp. ‘Frogmen’ (Men in diving suits) near a peninsula in the bay and decide to follow. What they next find is a large tunnel wherein the three foreign Megadeuses are housed, but they themselves are quickly spotted and forced into making a quick getaway.

The final stop on Roger’s journey, this time with Angel in tow, is toward Paradigm Corp.’s HQ. As the building is in relatively close proximity to the external shell of a dome, which is itself beside the crash site of the ‘angel’ on the previous night, the building has been evacuated. But Roger and Angel’s search through the darkness ends rather abruptly as the lights flicker on and Alan Gabriel reveals himself in a corner of the building. He lures Roger Smith into a cable car where he loses him, then traps The Negotiator who exits the craft once it finishes its descent into the parlor of Alex Rosewater. Rosewater reveals that the ‘angel’ was not a celestial being of some transcendent nature, but a piece of a satellite, an artificial sun created by their ancestors for some obscure purpose before The Event. The remainder of the satellite is currently set to fall outside of the domes as it has lost all of its energy supply and slowly drifted back into Earth’s orbit. Rosewater views this as a divine proclamation that those outside of the domes are not fit to live on this planet, that these lumpen proletariat are less than human and only standing in Rosewater’s way: the way leading to some megalomaniac mission he as, as-yet by this point in the series, managed to disclose.

Meanwhile, down in the neighborhood where the satellite fell, McGowen and his people are dancing and celebrating the coming of their savior, which is, as it turns out, truly the only equalizer, the only thing that will seemingly take away their pains and the existential malaise felt by a people with a felt, but forgotten heritage, a people with no past and no future: and that savior is death. Roger, being unable to accept such an outcome decides to challenge Alex Rosewater, and thereby to challenge fate itself, to rebel against Paradigm Corp. and its CEO, and in doing so become the true champion of Paradigm who fights not only for the elites in the domes, but for everyone. He calls Dastun and informs him that a meteor is heading for the city, and that he must try and evacuate as many people as possibly in case his gambit with Big O doesn’t pay off (It seems that everyone is aware of Roger’s identity as a Dominus of Megadeus by this point).

Dorothy, who has been out on errands and has bonded with McGowen’s granddaughter who is similarly pale and asocial (though not by choice in the case of the young girl). She immediately senses the initiation of Big O who has seemingly awakened even before Roger called upon him. When the titan ascends from the city’s depths, it attempts to break down the satellite from afar with a ray of energy, but fails, and instead must rely on its brute strength and precision to literally punch the satellite out of the sky, crushing it in the process, as well as much of his own hulking metallic arm. From atop his skyscraper within Paradigm HQ, Alex Rosewater obscurely states that Roger Smith is ‘not the only one with a Megadeus,’ just as particles from the satellite rain down upon the un-domed areas of Paradigm City, alighting the night with fireworks that make it feel like daytime. McGowen’s granddaughter, overjoyed at the brightness of this moment, plays ball with Dorothy. Her grandfather, watching from the sidelines: ‘For that little girl, that light is an angel.’

Was Roger Smith’s rebellion against Paradigm Corp. through his battle with the satellite, an artifact reflecting man’s hubris before The Event, the salvation of which McGowen alluded to earlier? Or does the girl named Angel, whose role in this drama has yet to be confirmed, have some relation to this prophesied savior instead? How can one hold a memory of a future event? And is this all related to the ontology of The Big O, something that will only become apparent in the series final, unsettling moments?

 

Cast in the Name of God,

Cody Ward

[Act 17: Leviathan]

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