Welcome all, to another week of The Big O! This is a fun week, a week of villains. Both of my favorites make a return, with Schwarzwald and Beck getting one episode each. One is a serious discussion on the search for truth while the other is fun Super Sentai parody. Both are pretty good. So without further ado, lets dive into the episodes!
First up is episode 17, “Leviathan”. This is all Schwartzwald, his swansong. In a last ditch attempt to spread his message to the people of Paradigm City, Schwartzwald has printed his manifesto on leaflets and dropped from the sky everywhere he can. He tells people to search for the truth, to not avert their eyes or else they become worthless puppets to those keeping everything hidden. Likening our fear of the dark to a wider fear of the unknown, to the question of happy ignorance or painful truths. It’s nice! As what feel like effectively his last words, this manifesto encompasses Schwarzwald well. Both his desire for truth and natural journalistic curiosity as well as how it’s not all societally minded. There are a few lines in there about his own personal role in it all, like he’s trying to vindicate himself at the end, showing us it isn’t all altruistic.
As for why I call this his swansong, his last words? Well that’s because he’s, supposedly, dead. Big O doesn’t show us the body, only telling us it was found near the sea. It’s possible he might still be alive. However between the opening manifesto and his discovering of the leviathan, it feels like a pretty solid place to leave him. We might get a flashback of him in the future, or some kind of “ghost” situation with someone getting his memories, but physically he feels gone. Speaking of the leviathan, I’m not entirely sure what his plan was here? Discover it and set it on a course for Paradigm City as one last “Fuck you” maybe? Or was setting it off entirely an accident? I doubt that one, Schwarzwald never did anything by accident and why else would he be out there. But I suppose it’s possible.
That said for all that I love Schwarzwald, he wasn’t the most interesting part of the episode. No, that honor goes to Rosewater and what Roger discovered in his basement, back in the expo-hall all those episodes ago. Here find the remains of not only Big Duo, but many other Megadeus defeated by Roger. And the kicker? Those defeated Megadeus had parts for another Megadeus stuffed inside them, explaining their odd shapes. Bit by bit, Rosewater has been smuggling parts for another Big, another “Dominus” I believe he called it, into the city. Despite having Big Duo, Rosewater is building another. It’s possible he desires all three, Big Duo, the one he’s building and the Big O. Maybe it’s a symbol of power to him, maybe it’s just consolidating his power so no one can challenge him. We don’t know yet.
What’s interesting to me about it though is “Why”. Why is he smuggling these pieces inside the bodies of other, weaker, Megadeus? Is he working with the foreigners outside Paradigm City? But I thought Angel was, and she clearly isn’t on his side. Why even smuggle them in to begin with, what’s stopping him from simply transporting them in on cargo ships or something. Is it because of the lie that Paradigm City is the last city left on Earth and he can’t do so without revealing the truth? Possible I suppose, but it still doesn’t explain where the parts are coming from and why those outside would help Rosewater get them. I suspect that once we get the answer to one of these questions, the rest will fall into place. Because right now everything about Big O is hinging on this question of “Who are the foreigners”.
As for Roger, Rosewater seems to have some kind of complex with him. I wouldn’t call it jealousy, more… disdain for the fact Roger has anything at all? It’s less that Rosewater wants it for himself, as he’s clearly able to get a Megadeus on his own, and more that he doesn’t believe Roger deserves to pilot one. We see it in how he questions whether the Big O belongs to Roger at all, as well as his mention of being born worthy to pilot them while Roger is not. We still don’t know what being worthy means exactly, aside from the “Ye Not Guilty” display every time Roger gets in it appears the Megadeus choose their pilots, with unique criteria for each. Why else would Schwarzwald be worthy to pilot Big Duo? That or it has something to do with conviction, but we can’t know for sure.
This brings us to episode 18, “The Greatest Villain”. Where 17 was all about Schwarzwald, this is all about Beck. And as per usual, Beck is fantastic and I enjoyed this episode a lot. Long time readers may be a bit surprised, as I usually critique “filler” or “wasted time” in a series. And in a lot of ways, after the dense and serious nature of the prior episode, this is just that. But you know what? When something is this fun, this entertaining? Than how can I possibly call it a waste of time? From the Super Sentai omages to Beck being comedically brilliant with his afro and convoluted plots, this is without question the episode I smiled and laughed and simply enjoyed myself the most with. Where Schwarzwald brings depth and nuance, Beck brings smiles and entertainment. Fitting for Big O’s version of the Joker.
The first half of this episode was a lot of visual jokes, usually at Roger’s expense. Stuff like Dorothy’s piano getting tied shut or the visual of her riding her bike faster than a speeding car, Becks android torso mimicking/mocking Roger or his henchmen freaking out about thunder while in prison. Even Roger and Dorothy reuniting got some laughs with Beck getting stuck to a magnet and Dorothy giving Roger shit about their relationship status. This was, by far, the funniest episode of Big O we’ve ever gotten. And you know what? If this is the kind of comedy the team has been capable of since the start, situational comedy based on relationships or silly quirks of the world? I wish they’d used more of it earlier. Because I’m pretty sure I never stopped chuckling throughout this episode.
Meanwhile the second half slowed down on the comedy a bit, though it was still there, to become more of a Super Sentai parody. From the ludicrous name of Beck’s new Megadeus and its individual parts, Beck the Great RX3, “Final Together”, Wind God, etc, to the heroic music and posing. Even Roger and Dorothy being entirely unimpressed with the whole thing, more concerned with Roger’s tie. Everything about it was a lot of fun, and I’m honestly shocked it’s taken Big O this long to have a Super Sentai episode. The only thing I wish Big O had done differently was to go all-in on Dorothy and Roger’s relationship. It already had her “joking” about them being in a relationship, calling him the man she loved. What if she had used her favor on a date, rather than untying the piano? I think that would have been fun!
So yeah, all in all this was a good week for Big O. It hit both my desire for for narrative progression and just being fun giant robot action. Maybe this would have been better earlier in the series when less was setup? But honestly it doesn’t feel out of place here. It’s been a few episodes since we last saw Beck, so this is a natural place for him to show up again. And it’s not like he’s the most plot-central character, so what else could Big O do with him without repeating itself? Suffice to say, if Big O wants to have light fun episodes like this than I’m game, so long as they are as good as this one.
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