「New World phase. 3」
Enter the Dragon.
One of the many things I love about Jormungand (it’s a long list) is how internally consistent the story is. It’s outlandish beyond reason, of that there can be no doubt, but the internal logic always holds up. Everything that happens in the story happens for a reason – “There are no coincidences in Jormungand” was one of the very first things I said when I started blogging the series – and everything that’s happened in the first 20 episodes was a build-up to what happened in this one. And everything that happens from here on out is a product of this week’s events.
If truth be told, this development has been foreshadowed since the very beginning of the series – you can’t get any further back than the title itself – though I’d be lying if I said I predicted the specifics of it when I read the manga. The theme of the dragon has been front and center (Jörmungandr himself being the wyrm of the world’s end), most dramatically in the first season’s finest and most important story, “Dragon Shooter”. Even if Koko seeks to create a new world there’s no denying that she seeks to destroy one, too. In “Shooter” she railed against the idea that she was turning into a dragon herself – and quite obviously clung to Jonah as a lifeline to keep that from happening. I don’t think the title of the song that plays over the previews has ever made more sense.
You know that when Lehm’s Delta Force vs. a Navy SEALS team isn’t the headline, you’ve got some pretty big stuff packed into the episode. I really think Jormungand is at its best when it’s a stripped-down, lean and taut dramatic machine that relies on the strength of its characters and an approachable premise to succeed, and this episode was an unbelievably intense thrill ride from start to finish. Everything we’ve seen of Lehm’s superhuman powers led us to the moment where they’d be tested against the finest military unit available, truly a clash of the best vs. the best. And as the elite of the elite dogs of war were going through their paces, the elite among the spymasters were in combat of their own – one arm of the U.S. Government against another, and the winners of that chess match against the ultimate revolutionary.
Lehm vs. Night Nine didn’t disappoint – especially after the death of R, the sense of threat to Koko’s team has never felt more real. Aside from Lutz’ cursed ass they came out mostly unscathed, though it was a near thing, with a wounded Lutz and Jonah ending up at the bottom of a cliff in a Cuban mine field. In the end that was a blessing in disguise – by ignoring Koko’s orders to stay put (it was a quietly revealing moment for Lehm when he said “Why couldn’t they just stay hidden?”), they provided a crucial turning point in the battle. I’d have to say ultimately this bout ends in a draw, though Team Koko escaped intact with their quarry Dr. Faiza (Kanada Aki) in tow – without the timely world premiere of Jormungand it’s impossible to say how things would have turned out.
The nature of Koko’s master plan has been revealed slowly, like layers being peeled from an onion, and the Battle of Camp No was a small indication of what it can do. How powerful a thing, to simply change around pixels on the image of a map – powerful enough to thwart one of the elite special ops forces in the world, because it’s something no one would expect. Koko’s plan is all about re-drawing the map both figuratively and literally – completely changing the world by re-writing the boundaries of what can and can’t be done. The concept is easier for a young man like Scarecrow than an old war horse like Bookman to grasp – his “Operation Undershaft” plan seems very much a product of an old mindset by comparison, notwithstanding how bold and daring it is by the old definitions. I’ve never tried to put a leash on a dragon, but I don’t imagine it would be an especially pleasant experience.
Ultimately Jormungand comes down to the two things that it was always destined to, Koko’s master plan and her relationship with Jonah – and the two are utterly inseparable. Indeed, it’s possible to assume from Koko’s behavior that she’s doing all this for Jonah – or at the very least, that her feelings for him were the catalyst to drive her to achieve her dream. And just what are those feelings, and what is that relationship? It’s a testament to how complex the answer is that to say “they love each other” is the easy part – they most certainly do. But what does love mean when it’s between an arms dealer in her 20’s and a boy half her age? Does she care for him as a protector, a mother even – a symbol of everything she wants to preserve? Maybe Koko wants to impose a false innocence on both the world and on Jonah – he has only two possible paths after all, to grow up or to die. And there’s little innocence in her behavior with Jonah in the bath, though perhaps there might be love. Koko has played a sort of half-sexual teasing game with Jonah all through the series, but never so overtly as this – as if the excitement at the impending reveal of Jormungand caused her feelings for Jonah to boil over.
I don’t think Jonah’s feelings for Koko are much less complicated, to be honest. Jonah is a very, very unusual boy, that much should be obvious, but it goes beyond his odd life circumstances and to his makeup itself. Again, that he loves Koko is utterly beyond doubt – and in his own words, he loves the world too. He kills people with weapons he hates, and he fears for his own life and that of his friends. Jonah has played the protector role himself though he’s still a child, and sees an importance in protecting the world he loves. He’s been a sort of proxy conscience for Koko since the beginning, openly so since “Dragon Shooter” – perhaps even the only thing keeping the dragon from truly emerging. It’s clear that Jonah is old enough to understand that Koko is a very beautiful woman and to be effected by that – even to enjoy her advances – but clearly, he doesn’t know what to make of the feelings those advances inspire in him.
The irony here is that while Koko was right that Jonah’s answer to her question “Do you still love the world?” was the key to his reaction to her plan, the answer he gave had exactly the opposite meaning from what she thought. Koko’s shock at Jonah’s response to learning what Jormungand really is was genuine but shows how truly detached from reality she’s become – knowing Jonah as we do, how could he have felt differently? There will be some debating among viewers about the merits of Koko’s plan, I’m sure, even with the 683,822 deaths she so casually dismisses – but if you’ve been watching Jonah and listening to his inner monologues, there can be no uncertainty as to what his feelings on the matter would be. The plan is radical – ground humanity forever, destroy the ability of the military to function – and insanely clever (using the creation of Hek-GG as a cover for an even grander plan even her own family knew nothing about), but the debate is an old one – does the end justify the means? Is Koko justified in making herself “greater than God” and taking those 683,822 lives – to start – if it means she can impose a peace of her choosing on the world? Everyone on her team has always expressed unwavering loyalty to Koko when the chips are down, and she to them – but the key to everything is the odd boy with the red eyes.