Welcome all, to week 5 of The Big O! This week sees the return of an old friend, Dorothy asking an important question and Dastun getting perhaps the artsiest episode yet all to himself! Is it any good? Well that’s what we’re here to talk about, so lets dive right into it.
Starting off we have episode 9, “Beck Comes Back”. As the name implies, this episode sees the return of Beck! And wouldn’t you know it, the guy looks great with a beard/goatee. Overall I felt this was a solid episode. It’s core is a pretty straight forward revenge plot from Beck, but Big O introduces a side narrative involving Dorothy, the kidnapped man and questions of identity that really filled out it for me. My biggest, and really only, gripe with the episode would have to be just how easily everyone believes Roger would kidnap someone. Seriously, Dastun of all people should at least know Roger would never do this. And he was called in to help resolve the kidnapping long after it had already occurred. It felt a bit weird to me is all, even with Mr. Wise backing it up. Still, it’s ultimately a very small nitpick.
Getting back to the good stuff, I really enjoyed seeing Beck again. I like him, guy is fun, brings a lot of energy to the cast. Feels like Roger’s Joker in a lot of ways, though clearly not as insane. I more mean as a diametrically opposed reoccurring villain. He takes all of Roger’s well-laid plans, his “Negotiator” reputation, and routinely turns them on their head. Plus this week he brought in a rather amusing robot, the Beck Victory Deluxe, that was incredibly gaudy and just a good time all around. Something about the way it moved, so much like a toy with it’s stiff arms and legs, made it fun for me. Suffice to say, as much as I usually complain about the Monster of the Week trappings, this robot fight fit in well with the episode.
As for all the emotional memory stuff I mentioned? This is what gave the episode “meat” to me. This question of just how important memory is to someone. Until now, Roger and Big O in general, have suggested that the memories aren’t really that important. To not be stuck in the past. Yet here we see the effects of losing said memories, this crippling loneliness of forgetting everyone, everything, even yourself. How two people can bond over that shared experience and fall in love, only to realize through a budding pregnancy from prior to the amnesia that neither is the others first or “true” love. Combine that with Dorothy’s involvement, how she’s more engaged with the characters emotions than Roger, the actual human, is and you’ve got all the makings of something great. And wouldn’t you know it? It pays off. Big.
I’m of course talking about Dorothy’s final question at the end of the episode. Of, if they both lost their memories, could they fall in love. This was just… This was a fucking bomb. Is this something she’s thinking about? Or is it just curiosity from Mr. Wise’s story? Either way, is it something the will continue to think about? And what about all of the subtle moments spread throughout the episode showing her growth, her interest in what it means to be human, such as asking for a portrait or overcoming that headpiece despite her programming? It’s all just so good. I cannot stress enough just how engaging Big O gets when it focuses on Dorothy and lets her take center stage like this. She’s so compelling, and now she’s dragging Roger deeper into an existential crisis along with her. I’m really truly looking forward to where that goes.
P.S. Forgot to mention, loved everything about her portrait. The soft lines and colors, so different from her rigid and straight edged robotic frame. It’s like Roger was painting who she is inside, who she is becoming, rather than what she actually looked like. Good shit.
This brings me to episode 10, “Winter Night Phantom”. This episode was… Well the easiest place to begin is with the production. Hands down, this was one of the best directed episodes Big O has had yet. The use of film, visual metaphor, lighting, the balloon, god damn that balloon. Like… Yes, Big O always looks good. The art-deco noir background and art style looks great no matter what it does. But this episode in particular felt like whoever was in charge of it was on a mission. Placing the camera underneath a table to view just their legs, that shot of the amusement park dome from the outside, the movie theater, that balloon… God I love that balloon and the fragile freedom it represents. I understand why so many people love this episode. And while it may not be my favorite, I can confidently say it was good.
Getting into the nitty gritty, this episode was Dastun’s through and through. We barely even see Roger, and even when we do it’s as a supporting character for the episode. I really like this, for a lot of reasons. The big one is just that Dastun hasn’t been much of a character until now, and this goes a long way towards resolving that. But the other is because it shows us, makes it clear to us, that Big O’s world is continuing to move with or without Roger. He’s our lead point-of-view character, yes, but he isn’t the one Paradigm City revolves around. That’s important, it makes it clear that things are happening behind the scenes that he isn’t aware of. And after this episode? It’s pretty clear most of them have to do with Rosewater.
Speaking of Rosewater, we learned a lot about him this week. How his family took control of the city, ousting all anti-government sentiment, burning films and destroying media. It explains a lot about why Paradigm City is the way it is, so compliant and accepting of all the bullshit that routinely happens there. They’ve literally had it weeded out of them over decades. On top of that, we also get hints as to the state of the outside world. Rosewater seems to want the city to believe the world is wiped out, with only Paradigm City left. Yet he acknowledges the existence, and even influence, of foreigners, indicating that they aren’t actually alone. None of this is terribly surprising, class and information warfare was kind of expected in a city based around amnesia. But it’s nice to see that start to enter the story a bit.
As for what I didn’t like? There isn’t much. Most of the episode, Dawson and his past with the woman, working it into the movie, all that stuff was good. The worst I can say is that the timing of it all felt a bit… weird? And perhaps hard to follow at times. What I mean is stuff like how apparently Roger and Dawson were in the Military Police together, yet Roger looks to be in his 20s? Yet at the same time Dawson was around is old enough to have lived through losing his memories, making him in his late 40s? And he maybe knew the woman he shot at the pier when she was a kid? Or they just looked the same? It’s all very odd and I don’t really get it.
Part of me thinks this is all on purpose, that Dawson’s memories are coming back and bleeding into reality sort of like they did for Schwarzwald. That what he’s seeing, past or present, isn’t actually whats there. Maybe he just imagined the woman looking the same, or the girl he was seeing the movie with. Maybe he super imposed her into the movie, rather than the other way around. Big O has a lot of options to make this work, to make these not mistakes but seeds for what is to come. For now though, having just watched the episode? It was a little confusing, I won’t lie. Maybe I’ll feel better about it after sitting and thinking on it for a few days. I’m writing this Tuesday night just after watching it after all, it hasn’t fully sunk in yet. Still, make sure to let me know what you think down below. I’d love to chat about it see if I can’t figure it out on my end a bit more.
All in all these were two really good episodes. I don’t think 10 is a favorite for me personally, 8 still leaves more of an impact, but that’s mostly because I don’t quite get 10 yet. Maybe as time goes on, as we finish this series together, I’ll change my mind. At the very least 10 can hold the coveted “Best Looking Episode (So Far)” spot. One thing I will say though is that 10 gave me a lot of confidence in Big O moving forward. It stumbled a bit with 5/6, falling a bit to far into the Monster-Of-The-Week. But these past few, 10 especially, makes it clear Big O knows what it wants to do, is willing to take time away from Roger and isn’t afraid to get a bit… out there, I suppose is the best way to say it. So yeah, another good week.
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