「(ウォー・ヘッド／humanoid secret」 (Wō Heddo)
It’s never a good idea to get too comfortable with what you believe is happening in Astral Ocean, because this is not a seismically stable landscape.
In some ways this episode was downright relaxed compared to the frenetic pace of the last couple, where the revelations were flying fast and furious. Even so, an awful lot still happened – and we seem to be inching ever closer to the heart of the matter. But what’s clear is that a lot of characters in this series have been either lying or operating under incorrect assumptions since the beginning, and that makes it awfully difficult to feel confident about where things stand now. Not only do we need to separate the liars from the truth-tellers, but sort out who the misguided are, too.
What is certain is that Ao is deeply troubled by the growing realization that he can’t trust any of the adults in his world. I think that all along the strand that Ao clung to was that he was doing the right thing. No matter what doubts he had about GenBleu, about the politics of his homeland, about his parents – he always believed that the Secret were a threat to innocent people (especially kids like him) everywhere, and he was doing the work of the just in doing everything he could to save them. There was an instantaneous reaction to Nakamura and the Japanese government’s assertion about the Secret being “antibodies” that it couldn’t possibly be true, that it was a ploy to sow confusion (and a successful one) – but the boy remembers the words of the astral image of his mother, “The Secrets are not your enemies”.
There’s no way of knowing whether Eureka and Nakamura meant the same thing, of course – but the notion that Ao may in fact be working for evil, not good, along with the loss (again) of his mother and the seeming betrayal from Naru has turned Ao into an insomniac, and he turns to Gazelle for sleeping pills to help him through the worst of it. Ao remains an idealist, through everything, and it seems as if his immersion into the ugliness of politics and then global intrigue is highly toxic to his nature. It’s also driving him to take more and more chances with Nirvash, which leads to him being shot down when Pied Piper go up against a humanoid Secret that’s appeared in the vicinity of a newly reawakened (more on that in a minute) Scub burst.
I don’t know what to believe about the Secret at this point, to be honest. The Japanese have hooked their pet Secret up to a supercomputer and – if they’re to be believed – been able to establish communications with it. They’re referring to it as “he” and seem quite determined to have the rest of the world believe their story about the Secret being antibodies, fighting the foreign Scub Coral. Dormant Scub bursts are reawakening all over the world, and Secret are appearing in the vicinity (it’s hinted that Truthie and Naru are involved) – and it can’t be coincidence that they’re all looking very humanoid, all of a sudden. Pippo and Han are in Kyoto investigating the Japanese findings, and Han manages to find a way to hack into the Japanese network – with the upshot being that the “Japanese” Secret itself hacks GenBleu’s systems, and proceeds to use Georg to communicate to the world. Its message seems very much in line with what the Japanese military have been saying – the Scub are foreign, and the Secret a sort of autonomous defense mechanism (the “white blood cell” analogy I used last week seems to be a pretty good fit).
Somehow, that story still rings false for me – or at the very least, incomplete. Perhaps Gazelle is right in theorizing that Eureka’s presence has caused the Scub to reawaken, as every prior appearance by her has had dramatic results (Ao refuses to believe this). The timing of all this seems too convenient for me. And what to make of the ending – where Christophe calls the US Secretary of State and announces that GenBleu has been gathering Scub quartz in the orbiting space station, in an attempt to draw all the Secret to one place and destroy them? Just like that – the mask is removed, and GenBleu revealed as the top boss? No, sorry – again – too easy, too convenient, and too early in the game. There’s more going on here than we know.
It’s also worth noting that pretty much every character in the series is clouded in shadow in some way, not least of which the brass at GenBleu – and we can’t pretend that brass are necessarily all pulling in the same direction. Stanley has been working covertly in opposition to Christophe (probably with Rebecka) and was horrified that Blanc revealed the “truth”. Mama Hannah is way, way more interested in Ao than she has any right to be, just based on what we know. Rebecka has just staged a mass health exam for the entire GenBleu staff as a pretense to get a closer look at Ao’s current physical state. We still don’t know Elena’s true identity or purpose, or how she relates to Ao and Eureka. And then there’s Chloe, who reveals that she grew up in a heavily trapar-infused area in Norway (further confirmation of just why these kids can pilot IFOs) and seems to be taking a very direct interest in Ao – though I think it’s safe to say in her case that it’s purely personal – she hasn’t forgotten the kindness he showed her, and seems to have come to view him as her big brother.
One last point about the episode – there was a line of dialogue from Hannah that really stood out, to the point where I’m sure we were supposed to take note of it. Of Ao and Eureka she said, “If his entire world can be changed by a single mother’s ego, shouldn’t all mothers side with her?” This can be taken any number of ways, but for me it’s a sure implication that Hannah knows much more about the truth of what’s happening here than she’s admitted on-screen. In any event, the sad news is we’re going to have to wait until August 16th to find out where AO goes from here, as the series is going on a two-week hiatus due to the Olympics. What a nasty time for that to happen, with the series as fully engaged as it is – it’s going to be a damn long three weeks.