The Big O II: Act 20- Stripes

(Act 19: Eyewitness)

In the deserted outskirts of Paradigm City, the winds sweep across sand dunes, and the camera pans down toward a series of vehicle tracks as the sounds of a human voice humming mingle with ambient sound. Visions of burning books and of burning cities, set ablaze by giant robots, by the Big Megadeuses, swarms of Big O, Duo, and Fau. And children with bar codes in their eyes. An image of Gordon Rosewater offering a tomato, of Big O reaching out toward someone, of the that child’s eyes reflected back to reveal a genetically engineered child with a bald held: obviously created by a scientist connected with Gordon Rosewater, if not he himself. And then Roger Smith, Paradigm City’s Negotiator, awakens from this nightmare stream of images from the past.

He realizes then that he must find answers, must track down his past. And as such, he rides out to the countryside, artificial natural dome of Paradigm wherein Gordon Rosewater reclines forever on his porch as large farmhands work the ranch around him. Roger passes Alex Rosewater and Alan Gabriel along the walking path to Gordon’s home. the two have returned home, and a cluster of blue flowers, not native to Paradigm or its environs, sits within Alex’s lapel. When Roger approaches Gordon Rosewater, he finds that the old man has a cluster of these flowers in his overalls, and later learns from the old man that these flowers are known as blue bells. Over the course of their conversation it becomes apparent that the old man has not lost all of his memories of the past and is merely hiding this from public view.

Gordon Rosewater chides Roger for searching for things as intangible and inconsequential as memories when the world operates without them nonetheless. But Roger refuses this reasoning. Things in Paradigm are not going well, and people are occasionally having resurgences of memories, which threaten to challenge Paradigm citizens basic notions of who they are. Roger insists on learning why he is able to pilot Big O, and the old man merely responds that he was chosen by Big O to do so, that he was made to do so through some obscure contract he had with Gordon Rosewater. A contract that Gordon seems to remember clearly, but Roger has totally forgotten, and which Gordon Rosewater is unwilling to fill Roger in on the details of.

Roger has another flashback to his past and begins coming around to the conclusion that he may have been genetically engineered, like one of the tomatoes, to pilot Big O by Gordon Rosewater. That, or he may have been born human by natural means, and then only later agreed to have his memories modified, which gave him the ability to pilot Big O, the ability to harness the power of the gods. Roger has since left the ranch and has found himself inside a club in Paradigm where he has been thinking hard. Angel appears and finds that Roger has a blue bell flower on his lapel. She explains that the flower is not found in Paradigm, that it is, rather, native to her homeland. It is a flower with which she is very familiar, one that holds some sort of symbolic significance to her people.

The two realize that Alex Rosewater has been gone out of town to meet with foreign powers in the city of Angel’s homeland. The purpose of this meeting is undisclosed, and if I’m not mistaken, will never fully be disclosed to the viewers of The Big O. Angel and Roger depart for a diner on the other end of town wherein they discuss how Alex Rosewater, de facto King of Paradigm City, is working to track down memories in the hopes of creating and piloting a Megadeus. To what end, the two have no clue. But they are pretty sure that this most recent trip outside of the city was directed toward this end.

Elsewhere, Dorothy is seen listening to a song on the winds of Paradigm’s cavernous streets. A blonde woman named Vera Ronstadt, who will later be revealed as Agent 12 of The Union, is rounding up the dozen or so Union sleeper agents within the city and drawing them, like a pied piper with her song, toward a ruined chapel wherein their people once sang hymns to a god that the world has forgotten along with its history after The Event. A Megadeus appears in the city, first as a series of parts left over from the three foreign Megadeuses Robespierre, Carnot, and Fouche. And then, the pieces, flying autonomously converge and form a large Megadeus known as Bonaparte (another French historical figure: this time the identity of which is quite obvious). Previously these parts had been under the control of Alex Rosewater, and these leftovers from the process of restoring Big Duo may have been sold or traded back to the Union in exchange for something that Alex Rosewater wanted from them.

Later, we find Alex Rosewater almost salivating at a looming figure, the Big Fau Megadeus, which has remained completely immobile. The machine is a real Big, and as such, will only function for its true Dominus, who was apparently not one amongst the numbers of the Union or its foreign populace. But the Union, they will later find, has made a disastrous trade. For the time being, they have betrayed Alex Rosewater’s trust and sent the new Megadeus Bonaparte out to destroy the man and his city. As Dastun’s Military Police try to destroy the beast rampaging through their city, Norman calls up Roger who has been having a deeply romantic conversation with Angel about their destinies, about whether they are on the same side in the upcoming battle, and whether they can ever truly find love in one another’s arms. Angel leaves when she discerns that Roger is truly in love with someone else, someone she believes to be the android Dorothy R. Wayneright, and then Roger spirits himself off to pilot Big O and combat Bonaparte.

Whilst Angel heads toward the Union meeting, Dorothy happens to be heading in the same direction, following the song that has triggered something akin to curiosity within her programming. The two converge at the church and Angel is revealed to be Union Agent 340, the one in charge of terrorist activity in Paradigm, the one who has seemingly betrayed her country to go gallivanting about with the Dominus of Megadeus. Vera Ronstadt is in charge of operations now and plans a full-scale assault on the city. In the shadows lurks Dorothy, who moves too quickly, disturbs the silence and is found out. In the far corner of the building, another android appears the shadows: Alan Gabriel. He is a Union member apparently working both sides of the battle (Paradigm and the Union). Vera sicks Alan on Dorothy, and he revels in the chance to destroy such a beautiful piece of technology as Angel pleads with Vera to have mercy on Dorothy (as Angel truly wishes for the well-being and happiness of Roger, even if he can only gain kit through romantic union with a machine).

As Alan shoots Dorothy in the arm and then in the leg, immobilizing her in the process and hovering over her with a drill hand mechanism to rend her asunder, Big O dukes it out with Bonaparte and finds himself wanting. None of his attacks break through the defense of the foreign super-Megadeus, an then the worst case scenario occurs: ‘Cast in the Name of God’ on Big O’s console distorts and becomes, momentarily, the barcode from Roger’s memories, the barcode that must be within his own eye, and the one scanned by Big O that shows Roger is programmed to be his Megadeus. Big O shuts down, stops moving, and his gears lock. At this moment, Roger understands that he truly was programmed to be Big O’s Megadeus. We realize that Roger has become more than a mere bio-genetically engineered organism. He has become truly human, and as such, Big O can no longer be piloted by him.

But in this moment, as the drill of Alan Gabriel descends upon his beloved (an event which Alan plans to project to Roger through his own communicator watch) and Bonaparte’s drill descends toward the prone Big O, Roger denies his programming fully. He accepts the absurdity of the situation, the reality of his identity, and despite being a changed man, an awakened man, he claims that he, the new Roger Smith taking reigns of his own destiny is’ the Dominus of Big O.’ If the gambit works and Roger can pilot a Big by sheer force of will, it means that he has established an emotional connection with Big O that goes beyond anything physically possible. It means that his will has the power to the literally change the world order, and Paradigm City’s very ontological make-up.

 

Cast in the Name of God,

Cody Ward

[Act 21: The Third Big]

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