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Ergo Proxy 18 (Raw)

We finally know why Real Mayer is Re-L. In the words of Pino, there is a "riiru Riiru," and at least according to Daedalus, she's a little human girl even younger than everyone's favourite autoriev. So the little girl we saw growing up in Daedalus's home videos may not even have been our Real at all, but the child whose toenails he helps cut. Psychopatic boy fanciers will get a kick out of this episode. Daedalus gets creepier the closer he gets to any version of Real.

The Ergo-gumi have landed in Mosque Dome. Vincent is getting flashbacks of the moment missiles first landed there. We see a Proxy on the roof of the Dome weeping as missiles tear through the ceiling. Real is getting nicer by the episode. She's started to become a tough friend that way, the kind of person who'll hold your hand when you're turning green, but slap you upside the head when you're just being whingy.

Mosque Dome has suffered even more damage since Raul launched the Rapture into it in the last episode, and there's virtually nothing left but massive crater for the crew to make sense of. Real and Pino explore the tallest structure left in the middle, a shape Pino explains as an "egg", and find Mosque Dome's throne room. In one of those tiny cool moments that add up, she walks us through the final moments of the throne's occupant (presumed here to be Monad Proxy), complete with attacking Romdeau droids who shoot bullets through her transparent person. How does she know this happened that way? Remember, she's not "real".

Vince is back on the Usagi, after walking through Mosque Dome makes him physically ill. In a dream sequence much like the City Lights in Episode 11, he watches a Proxy enter a library run by Amnesia, using the pendant he wears as a key. The writing is literally on the wall at this place, scribbled in faded, blood red ink. Amnesia, a toadstool-shaped droid, addresses the dream Proxy as an expected guest. What is different about this dream from City Lights is the Proxy isn't Ergo at all, but First Proxy, whom we saw back in Episode 15. In a moment very much like the Sandman's library of books yet to be written, Amnesia locates Ergo's memories, which First Proxy destroys, before making short work of Amnesia itself. Vincent emerges from his dream very much shaken.

Back in Romdeau, Raul is brought before the Council over the launch of the Rapture. When the Council mentions his "error", Raul mimics the word with a pointed show of handcuff to the Regent - clearly implying the two humans are in the same boat. There are two ways to interpret this, and both might be true: either Raul is trying to say both him and the Regent have sacrificed their existence to the machines which speak for them, or he is trying to imply, as per the dialogue, that they are both obssessed with eternity. The conversation becomes a debate over the mistakes, or mistaken trust in, God, during which Raul somehow manages to convince everyone that the way forward lies in his version of securing eternal life in Romdeau. The Council reinstates him to do as he wishes, while whispering among themselves as he leaves that he appears to have shown no remorse for death, no regrets -- in that way, no emotion. Kristeva, who we saw with the red-eyed sign of Cogito infection in the last episode, is back to being a loyal caretaker to Raul. She has a very brief, but very real moment when she restates her submission to him that I thought was interesting.

Real and Pino reach the control room of Mosque Dome, looking to restore power to the main computers. Real manages to hotwire one of the controls awake, but it quickly fizzes out. They go back to the Usagi to enlist Vincent's help. Vincent seems genuinely against leaving the ship again, but Real doesn't give him much of a choice. They go to where Real thinks the main power plant is located, which turns out to be the exact same doorway from Vincent's dream. A hesitant Vincent follows what he did in his dream -- using his pendant to open the door -- and finds the same library he saw in his head. Amnesia sits in his chair, apparently quite dead. A mortified Vincent tries to revive him. Amnesia whirrs to life for a few brief seconds. His last words are, "Return to Romdeau," over and over. He also wears a replica of Vincent's pendant, which Vincent takes. Real then notices the word "Awakening" written in blood on the library wall, very much the way it was written on her mirror when she first met Ergo Proxy. She begins to remember coversations about Monad Proxy with Daedalus, believing Monad Proxy left the second pendant here for them to find. She also wonders what impact everything is having on Vincent, basically if this will trigger off another one of his rampages. Vincent remembers how Kazukis told him Monad kept his memories for him out of love, and tries to understand why he shut out his own memories to begin with.

Raul orders Daedalus to rework the human race, even if it means tampering with them on a genetic scale. Daedalus is his usual suitably amused self. As Raul leaves, a ball of string rolls up to his feet. It belongs to little girl who looks very much like Real. Raul asks Daedalus if this is a clone, but Daedalus merely tells him that this is the "real Real".

In his office, Raul is hallucinating up an evil Vincent again, telling the image that he isn't afraid of him.

The Ergo-gumi head back for Romdeau. It's not the massive revelation episode we've all been hoping for, and we now have another set of questions over our answers. On the ship, Real is starting to worry after Vincent's sanity, as the trip seems to have really rattled him. Pino seems genuinely sad about having to go home. Everyone is determined to find their way.

Notes:

1. Perhaps the biggest question the last few questions have raised is who, or what, the First Proxy is. I have real reason to believe this person is Raul, either as a parasitic presence or a repressed personality, in the way Ergo Proxy lives inside Vincent. As to why:

a. Raul's hallucinations tie in with what Vincent experiences when his Ergo personality conflicts with himself. It is interesting to note that both Vincent and Raul's essential self-conflict deals with the subject of abandonment. While Vincent deals with his fear of being alone quite blatantly, Raul's sense of wanting to belong is his perfect citizenship. The family he lost to Vincent cost him whatever double personality he imposed over the Proxy one, and this has slowly broken down over the course of the series to the point where more of that other side appears to be manifesting itself.

b. The silhoutte of the Proxy on the roof of Mosque Dome as the missiles fell in this episode closely match First Proxy rather than Ergo Proxy. Their similar physique is a deliberate decoy -- we are in fact introduced to First Proxy in Episode 15 by way of Vincent's own mistaken recognition of First Proxy for himself. Actually, skip about 15 episodes to the starting minutes of Episode 1, and if you look at the silhoutte of the Proxy in the shadows looking at the pendant, it looks more like First Proxy than Ergo. With this new parameter, we must then ask if Monad's "escape" wasn't fabricated by First Proxy to begin with, and all resulting actions part of some larger plan on First Proxy's part. A plan that could've developed a hellishly bad hiccup -- was the Creed family's death really an accident or something planned?

c. In Episode 15, the only two candidates capable of hijacking Romdeau's transmission systems with that much classified information at once are Raul and Daedalus. Daedalus is too obvious a suspect, and in that way, too unlikely. Yes, he's a bit disturbed and clearly has his agendas, but most of these appear to be pretty selfish in terms of his love of experimentation. So long Daedalus is given the room to experiment as he likes, and learn new things, he seems uninterested in anything else. Raul is power hungry. As we have seen in Episode 17, his need to belong, to have a sense of continuity and control, is even more acute than Vincent's, and unlike Vincent, his personality is strong enough to mow down, conquer and destroy what he sees fit to bend fate in his direction. Raul, more than apparently anyone else, hates the planned way of life persistent in Romdeau, though he helps promote it. It's probably not so much because he itching for change in Real's style, but more that he wants things to run his way in a very direct manner. Raul alone may not be able to arrange for the quiz show, but if it's a giant hallucination, then the Proxies have been known to twist reality to their will. And if we look closely at how Raul's been dealing with his hallucination, he's gone from irritation to outright acceptance in a surprisingly short time.

d. Since Raul orchestrated the destruction of Mosque Dome with the Rapture, there's a chance his lack of anything to lose has simply boosted the First Proxy aspect of his personality up from hiding. He's found himself another chance to force continuity at any cost. If the opening flashback about the destruction of Mosque Dome and the crying Proxy were First Proxy's memories rather than Ergo's, then this would explain why Raul/First Proxy is so driven to ensure nothing ever changes.

e. In relation to the Pino subplot, as far back as Episode 2, Raul's wife mentions a fear of Pino, believing the child is developing sentience. Vincent, who gives Pino her check up, insists nothing is wrong. Directly after this, Pino tells her "mother" that they need to clean up the house before Papa gets home, more in an ordering tone than a child's request. What if PinoPapa's attachment to his pet is more than that of a father? What if it was First Proxy, by way of Raul, rather than Ergo Proxy, who infected Pino? The shape of Pino's relationship to Raul is clearly affectionate, but in spite of everything, we notice the need for continuity on Raul's end of things, again, even a kind of need for control. And Pino, while worried about her Papa, hasn't actually stated outright at any point in this story, unlike other infected autorievs we've seen, that she wants to go back to her raison d'être. Pino in Episode 18 even seems reluctant to return. What if Pino willingly ran away from Raul, rather than following circumstances, as we've been led to believe all this time?

2. Following Pino's footsteps, we now have an infected Kristeva to contend with. What is she up to? What does she want? She's clearly able to act independently of Raul, as we saw in the flashback that allowed her to find him in Episode 17. What does she make of her master? For the entire series, she's clearly behaved only in his best interest, even actively trying to help maintain his relations with the Council. It's not hard to see there's a kind of underlying sexual tension between her and the man, and it should be interesting to see how this plays out.

3. Amnesia vs. Anamnesis: One is memory loss, the other is recollection. Ergo Proxy locked up his memories in a room under Mosque Dome, which First Proxy then knowledgeably destroys to bait Ergo back to Romdeau. We are not entirely given the correct timeline for this. Was this something that happened after the Rapture destroyed Mosque Dome again or before it? Vincent clearly refuses to remember whatever it is he hid away, which for all we know, could be the destruction of Mosque Dome or the secret of continued life. The plot seems to be gravitating strongly towards the latter. Monad pretty much kills itself to make Vincent remember whatever he forgot. If First Proxy already has so many answers about everything to run the quiz show, then why is Ergo Proxy still needed? Mere revenge may not be enough of an explanation. First Proxy clearly needs Ergo Proxy back in Romdeau for whatever major fistfight they're supposed to get into. We still don't really have the answer why. In fact, we still don't really know why all the Proxies spontaneously wish to kill each other.

4. And then we have the end of the world. Still no real ideas yet what the new world is meant to be like, but the science as a religion undercurrent rages on. If the Proxies are seen as the key to eternal life and in that way the life force of the world and therefore "gods", Raul's conversation with the Council here is pretty much, "God has flipped." Science, like gods, are prone to the whims of human ideas and feelings, aren't they? If, as Episode 15 suggests, the Proxies were let loose into the human population to help them along the evolutionary path, and failed because of interbreeding incompatibilities, then this might be the cycle everyone's so desperate to avoid.

5. Little "real Real" definitely raises the question of what Re-L is, based on the context of 4. There's still not been any explanation of what Daedalus's Monad hugging exclamations of Real's name means yet. If Re-L is indeed a clone, perhaps she really is derived of Monad's cells rather than injected with them to regenerate herself after the exposure to outside air from Episodes 4-6. There hasn't been any explanation of how Monad's cells were compatible with Re-L's in that regard. We could assume Daedalus has the technology to make humans and Proxies compatible at the cellular level, and Re-L is the prototype. The Council has certainly suggested before that Real has an affinity for Proxies. Of course, this series being what it is, we might end up with a tank full of floating Reals instead, and that would truly mess around with our heads.

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