“Oh, what a romantic evening.”
We do crazy things for love. There’s no denying that. Wars have been started and ended over such things, and we’ll be falling victim to it until the end of the universe. Love makes us do stupid things. It can also make us do beautiful things, and it’s interesting that in a show that’s so clinical and distant a lot of the time, that all of this would come down to infatuation in the end.
I feel that you’re either going to be a big fan of this episode, or be pretty frustrated by it as the first half of it is just characters sitting at a table talking. This is likely to rub some people the wrong way as this thing is major exposition city, but this is also a show that has barely given us any backstory and info dumps so far, so it’s fitting that it comes pouring down. Regardless of your reception of this entry though, we at long last get the answers on the Athena Plan and what the hell’s been going on with Nine and Twelve!
Shibazaki and his new friend learn from a Rising Peace Academy member that the Athena Plan administered intelligence tests to orphans, and the ones that tested the highest were assembled together with all traces of them being erased accordingly. Who wants a pesky evidence trail, right? From this point the 26 chosen children were kept at a placed called the Settlement, and tested with an experimental new pharmaceutical that would artificially induce savant syndrome in them.
Savant syndrome is when one area of your brain functions incredibly high, but it also results in these people having deficiencies, like struggling with communication and simpler areas. This artificially created savant syndrome would cause the beneficial effects, with none of the negative ones. But like most secret government experimental testings, it begins to go horribly wrong. The drug only worked on the test subjects that were under five years old, with the bulk of them dying or just going insane and their brain decaying.
These are all engaging, satisfying answers to what’s been going on all season, but it can’t help but feel a little bit like the last episode of The X-Files as tea literally gets cold on a table as Shibazaki is told all of this. It’s hard to be overly critical though when the material connects as well as it does.
It’s crazy to think of all the money and skill that was put into this facility to do these experiments that were unilaterally a colossal failure. The confidence of the Rising Peace Academy member that is divulging all of this information is fascinating too. He’s full-out fine with dying as a result of revealing all of this, and it adds a lot more power to the expository scene. We’re told that Shigeru Mayamoto, the Secretary of Health and Defense, was killed after he tried to go public with what happened in Athena, three years ago. And in another nice piece of connectivity, it’s revealed that the person in charge of the Athena Plan, was Mamiya, the politician whose death led to Shibazaki eventually being fired. There’s a lot of weight in a man who is more than ready to die.
It’s also quite illuminating to find out that Five was the only survivor of the Athena Plan, with two more “unknowns” having escaped from the Settlement. It’s a little disappointing that we won’t be meeting any more of these test subjects, but as we approach the end here, it really isn’t necessary. Having these three as the only survivors of such a horrendous experiment (it’s even compared to Auschwitz) also gives them a lot more significance and street cred. I also enjoyed learning that Nine and Twelve escaped from the Settlement using the skills that have aided them so much in their terrorism, as we’ve seen through the show, and grown to love so much. This is their savant ability. This is where they excel, to the point that it got them freedom, even.
On the table-less side of the episode, we see Twelve hurrying to Lisa’s aid as Five has strapped her with a bomb on the Ferris wheel at the Settlement. Last week I thought it would be exciting to see Lisa and Five paired up, but I couldn’t have been in more of the wrong direction, as Lisa is used as bait to get the location of the atomic bomb (not plutonium) out of Twelve. Once more, it might be a little reductive to designate Lisa as agent-less bait, but it’s outright addressed here, and it can certainly be looked past due to the elegance of this scene.
Twelve displays eerie calm as he mechanically disarms the bomb, piece by piece, with an impossible time restriction as Lisa inherently trusts him, and it’s such a thing of beauty. It’s a fascinatingly tense, emotional, touching scene that’s probably the best one that the show’s ever done, as the ever-present ticking clock counts down their doom in the same frame they’re letting it all out in. The zoom out from the Ferris wheel cabin is the icing on the cake. Some really gorgeous work is done with the illuminated Ferris wheel, and it just matches the beauty going on inside of it.
But back to love making us do crazy things, and being an utter slave to it. The ending here is particularly wonderful, with Five forcing Twelve to either watch Lisa die or give up the atomic bomb location, betraying Nine and their entire operation. I almost wish the episode showed a little restraint and didn’t show Twelve’s response, letting us hang on this beyond-tense moment. But he does, and love prevails, as Nine scrambles for safety at the bomb’s location. Everything we know about Terror in Resonance has been put into jeopardy by the end of this, and how the final two episodes play out should be extremely enjoyable with all of the heavy lifting out of the way. Who knows who will make it to the end alive?
We’re not always going to have two extra seconds on our clocks.