Steins;Gate – 14
「形而下のネクローシス」 (Keijika no Nekurōshisu)
A few words of preface before I assume the awesome task of taking over Steins;Gate from Kiiragi. I think it’s important to point out that I have no knowledge of the source material – not even a little. I’ve religiously tried to avoid any spoilage as much as I can. So nothing I say here in terms of speculation (and that’s certainly a big part of the fun with S;G) comes from foreknowledge – it’s all just guesswork. I’ll be flailing along with all the other newbies.
That said, one thing I’ve felt from the beginning is that this series has been exceptionally smart in the way it dishes out information. There’s always enough exposition every week to keep me from feeling completely at sea, but each bit of new information seems to raise two questions for every one it answers. For example – so Suzuha is, as speculated by many, John Titor. But what is her purpose in coming back in time 26 years? Who is Barrel Titor – could it be Daru, as some have speculated?
It took a while, but Okarin seems to have finally realized that his helpless flailing was getting him nowhere (I was screaming at the TV last week for him to stay as far the Hell away from Mayuri as possible, not that it apparently would have helped). Finally asking for help was the smartest thing he did, and Makise was likely the best person to ask. Her calm, common-sense analysis – jump back an extra two hours to before the memory machine was finished, the various possible causes for Mayuri’s continual deaths – brought a sense of relative calm to the proceedings that was much needed after the frantic pacing and Okarin’s emotional histrionics of the last two episodes. But really, even now she and Okarin are basically flying blind.
Blind, that is, until Suzuha steps in to take command. I see no reason to doubt that she’s Titor, and it certainly appears that she was in some way involved with the death of Makise and the satellite crash in episode 1. Her rope explanation makes sense – and indeed, her notion of saving Mayuri by creating a “B” timeline was suggested in this very space by Kiiragi last week. But what’s behind her initial hatred of Makise, and was she actually the instrument for her death? I think she’s one of the good guys, but there’s a lot she’s not telling us. “John Titor” clearly espoused the idea that Okarin could be a new Messiah with his ability to jump time lines, so it can be assumed that this is a goal of Suzuha’s – and perhaps, by extension, that Makise is an obstacle to that goal.
Other mysteries abound, too. Just who are the Rounders? And who is this “FB” organization that Moeka claims loyalty to? I get the sense that it’s somewhat if not totally separate from SERN. Why is she/they the one(s) to decide that Okarin and company must go down because they know too much? What’s the significance of the boy with the toy train, and the small differences in each playing out of the scene behind him? And perhaps most unsettling, is it possible that the only way Okarin can save Mayuri is to jump to a timeline where Makise dies? We know this has happened already, in the first episode, where we switched from an “A” line where Makise died to a “B” line where she lived – the “1%” barrier” was crossed. What if Mayuri survived in that other line?
This show was quite literally gotten darker as the tone has gotten grim, with scene after scene in dimly lit rooms full of grey shadows. S;G has proved itself an exciting, chilling series over the last few eps but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the humor from the first 11 or so. Really, S;G has some of the best dialogue around, and Makise’s “Screw you, future me!” was a gentle reminder of how sharp the comedy can be. I know it’s really hit the fan and we’re in for a long, dark ride but I hope that there will be a few comedic moments (and “Tutturu’s!”) scattered among the dark ones over the next couple of months.