Steins;Gate – 20
「怨嗟断絶のアポトーシス」 (Ensa Danzetsu no Apotōshisu)
“Disruption of Apoptosis”
Are you out there, Divine? Seven possible plots, just like I said!
I’m going to resist the urge for a general “I told you so” because I’m sure that by tomorrow, the combination of microanalysis and thoughtless spoilers will have found 20 things wrong in the next few paragraphs. But for now, it feels good to know that we’ve finally reached the point I’ve felt this series has been building towards – a choice of timelines between Kurisu and Mayushi. I’m tempted as ask, “If we could see it why couldn’t Okarin?” But it’s a lot easier to figure that kind of thing out when you’re outside the maze, looking down on the rats scurrying inside.
For that matter, I also wonder why it never occurred to Okarin – not even when he saw him pick up the IBN 5100 in his truck – that Mr. Braun was FB. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t know Braun’s first name, but even so – I would have thought he’d have at least the tickle of an idea. Lots of viewers figured the guy wearing the “I Heart CRT” shirt was probably named for Ferdinand Braun but I suppose Okarin had no reason to suspect that wasn’t his real name. My mind immediately went to Suzuha, as that’s where the fascinating implications are here. Did she know what FB was up to? Did he somehow seek her out because he knew her real situation? Is it a cosmic coincidence that their paths crossed?
Whatever, Braun’s story is a tragic one, at least as it ends in this timeline. “Worse than a dog” is a good description, but it’s not an uncommon tale – desperation drives someone to get involved with something they shouldn’t, and the deeper they go the more impossible it is to escape. The scene at the construction site had the feel of a Greek tragedy, in that the grisly end was telegraphed – but even knowing it was coming didn’t lessen the impact.
I hadn’t expected Okarin and Moeka to end up working together quite so openly, but they had a common purpose in wanting to know FB’s identity. And Moeka was clearly emotionally attached to Okarin even after all that he did to her in last week’s episode – he and the lab are probably the only in-person kindness she’s known as an adult. Their stakeout and subsequent chase was handled beautifully – a suspenseful thriller style as opposed to the emotional carnage and violence of last week, complete with a subtly inserted time leap in the middle after they’d lost their target once. Moeka was indeed fated to die on 8/15 – so it appears that if Okarin gets back to the original timeline, he won’t be merely trading Kurisu’s life for Mayushi’s – but for Moeka’s as well (unless he’s already done enough to save her by retrieving the IBN).
So now it appears that we’ve transitioned into a very different phase of the story – the midgame is over, and the endgame begins. I see no major obstacles left to restoring the original timeline (though I might be missing something, or new ones could crop up). The heavy lifting is done, but now Okarin is faced with the Kobayashi Maru scenario I expected all along. Realistically, I see the following possibilities:
- He restores things to the original timeline and Kurisu dies
- He finds a way to create a “C” timeline where neither Kurisu or Mayushi dies
- He finds a way, but only at the expense of sacrificing himself
- Kurisu, understanding the situation (perhaps despite Okarin trying to prevent her from doing so) forces the shift back to the original timeline, sacrificing herself for Maysuhi and Okarin’s sake
Any one of these feels possible to me, though I don’t see any of the other scenarios as being as likely as those four. And my gut instinct is telling me that #4 is the most likely of those to play out. But that’s an absolute blind guess at this point, and I know I’m on a pretty thin limb here. Realistically, I’m much more likely to be spectacularly wrong that mostly right – but it sure is going to be fun to find out. The writing for this series is really off the charts – it’s rare to see such terrific dialogue and character development paired with an intricate and well-constructed plot. Once this is over, I suspect I’ll watch it all over again from the beginning just to see what the experience is like, knowing everything – and just how many clues I missed the first time around.
Divine: In hindsight, it would’ve been a good idea to talk to me before using that as your hook Enzo. :P There’s no “I told you so” when I already knew it would come to this and how it’s going to end. I just didn’t want to spoil it for you and kept our discussion on Steins;Gate open-ended.