Welcome back everyone, to week 4 of The Big O! Last week was a bit of a miss for me, neither episode was particularly great, though one still stood above the other. This week was much better however with two great episodes, one of which might be my favorite episode so far. We have a lot to talk about, so lets just jump right into it!
Getting started, first up is episode 7, “The Call from The Past”. This was a fun one. Nothing particularly deep, metaphorically at least, just Roger and Angel hanging out and getting to know each other a bit more. We learn about what her job really is, hunting down valuable memories for money, and we get hints towards something more there she isn’t yet ready to share. Those scars on her backs, suspiciously placed like someone had ripped the wings off of an angel. A little on the nose maybe, but it’s effective in catching my eye, in telling me “Just wait, there’s something there”. That’s good, Big O is promising us something more down the line, telling us to keep an eye on her and really pay attention to how she acts. This way, when it’s all inevitably revealed, it won’t feel like it came out of nowhere.
Outside of those two, the main thrust of the episode is around memories and their value. This isn’t the first time Big O has brought this up, the idea that memories give power. It’s been implied throughout the series, from how Dorothy was made to discovering/piloting/building Megadeus, to just learning how power plants work! In the world of Big O, memories have power, both financially and over people. So it makes sense that there would be memory hunters, people who look for valuable memories to sell on. Now I have no idea how they do this, how does one… bottle, or commercialize, a memory. Who knows! It’s really not important though. Because what it does is introduce this idea of moving forward, of living your life and making new memories, vs being stuck in the past and obsessing over old one.
This is a really cool theme for Big O to start playing with, and it goes in on it further in episode 8. We will talk about that when we get to it though. For now, I want to focus on how Big O reinforced this theme through its visuals. Stuff like the underwater city, ala Bioshock. Rooms still filled with air, power still functioning, treasures still to be found, all of this implying it was flooded quickly and around the same time as the rest of the “cataclysm” that stole peoples memories. Much like Rapture, this is a city of decadence and light, that eventually gets trapped in the past, in a “better time”. One with horrors, memories of war and conflict, buried deep within. Memories that others, such as Angel’s employer Rosewater, clearly desire.
Why do I say horrors, war and conflict? Well because of the obligatory Megadeus fight of course! Why else is a giant robot hidden under the sea? Now to be clear, I think this giant robot fight worked better than the ones from last week. Part of that is because it fit much more naturally into the story, why else would those divers and Angel be down here exploring? But it’s also because the fight wasn’t really the focus of the climax. Hell, it was over in an instant. Instead it’s what the fight represented, Roger pushing back against Paradigm cities past of war and giant robots, refusing to let it surface again despite Angel’s desperate cries. Maybe I’m reading into it a bit much, but it worked on a thematic level for me much more than the previous episodes fights did.
Anyways, the point is that this episode was generally much tighter to me than 5 and 6. There was no convoluted murder mystery/ghost plot, no unnecessary villain. Just Roger and Angel effectively having a discussion on the value of the past, and if it’s really something worth getting back. Sure, some things confused me. Like I don’t get why Roger was so nervous about summoning Big O while Angel was nearby when clearly everyone in this god damn city knows he pilots it. Does he think she’s going to steal it from him, or that she doesn’t know? I dunno, it’s weird, maybe we will get an explanation later on. But even with that, there were for more things I did like. From the aforementioned theming to Norman spending the entire episode prepping for a scuba trip/ride in the Megadeus just to get swapped for Dorothy. Was cute.
Next up we have episode 8, “Missing Cat”. Like I hinted in the intro, this was the best episode of the week and possibly of the entire show for me so far. It had everything. Dorothy progression, a novel fight that our heroes technically didn’t even win, and an incredibly dark setup that I didn’t expect Big O to actually deliver on. Starting with Dorothy, the whole thing with her finding a cat, developing feelings for it and coming out of her shell was great. I loved Roger questioning her on it, seeing how genuine she was being, and then apologizing. Even he’s able to see she’s changing. The way it wrapped up was equally great, losing the cat, being left with only the hum and her memories of it. Roger comforting her, saying those are no ones but hers. Again, it’s great.
As much as I love Dorothy though, a big part of why I loved this episode so much was how it tied back in to episode 7. I talked about it above, how Big O is starting to introduce this idea of past vs future, of maybe people don’t want their memories. But this one expands on that, it asks how do we know what memories are our own? What value do they have? What about creating new ones that are yours and yours alone? In this case, Big O does it with Dorothy and the song she hums for Pero. She questions whos it is while Roger reassures her that it’s no ones but hers, that it’s a lasting impression of her and Pero’s time together. For a character that’s been an emotionless android up until now, that’s a big leap! And it ties in so nicely to episode 6’s look at the emotions behind music as well, bringing it all together. Again, good shit.
Speaking of the cat, this was unexpected and dark as hell. I was not expecting Big O to go this way. Not only is Pero not actually a cat, but a kid turned into a cat by a man playing god, he doesn’t even get saved! Not as a cat or a kid! He just dies in a fire, killing himself rather than living as a monster. On top of that, his parents die to, shot by the crazy mad scientist! No one wins here! There is no happy ending, no saving him, no “Dorothy has a cute pet cat”. It’s a straight tragedy where a man obsessed with the memories, the power, of the past hurts people. Like I said, this was unexpected. I thought at least that Pero would live, that Roger would let him stay with them. Instead Big O proved to me it wasn’t afraid to get dark.
As for the giant robot fight of the episode, like I said, it was pretty novel. Not only did they not fight a robot but rather a living, breathing creature, they also technically didn’t win. Sure, they “won” in the sense that Roger is still standing and Pero isn’t. But Pero was a victim in this situation. On top of that, Roger doesn’t even really “beat” the thing, it just lets him go and walks off in its moment of lucidity. Combined with the emotional investment we had in it, since it was technically Pero the cat, and it made for a much more satisfying Monster of the Week fight than anything else we’ve had. This is exactly what I want Big O to do, it’s the perfect representation of a “good” Monster of the Week”. Hopefully we get more of those moving forward.
So yeah, all in all these were two really good episodes. The monsters are good, the fights were meaningful, the episodic stories touching. Sure, none of them really “progressed” the main plot, that is true. But they also don’t need to. Because while the meta-plot wasn’t addressed, the episodes still meant something to the characters. They progressed, they learned, they grew their relationships. To me, that’s how you’re supposed to do episodic shows. The individual episodes don’t have to relate or tie back into each other at all, the characters just need to properly react and learn from the events they are experiencing. They need to not be static mannequins. And that’s what Big O gave me this week, growth and change from Dorothy, Roger and Angel. Hopefully it can pull this off a few more times, because I would absolutely love more episodes like these.
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