Steins;Gate – 11

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…

I’ve had the growing suspicion that something really nasty was coming down the pike for Steins;Gate. After the last couple of episodes that seems more likely than ever – an increasingly creepy and ominous mood has settled over things, and even the characters – especially Okarin – are becoming aware of it now.

While the “new normal” seems to be the mindset for Okarin, all the changes wrought by the D-mails now a part of his daily life, he gives the impression of a man whistling through the graveyard as he banters with Christina (and boy, could the sexual tension be any thicker there?). Not content to merely dance with fate in this way, Okarin – like Christina, hopelessly addicted to experimentation – wants to up the ante now. He wants to send an object through time, all the jellyman images from SERN’s servers (and the threatening e-mail anonymously sent) be damned.

Christina knows this won’t work, but accidentally hits on the possibility of using her graduate research on brain chemistry and memories to send a person’s memories to the past – memories which are effectively pulse signals of the sort that the phone microwave (name subject to change) can handle, as 36 bytes or less. While this is unquestionably a fascinating notion of time travel, even a liberal arts guy like me (maybe especially a liberal arts guy like me) can see the horrifyingly abundant potential for danger here. Hell, even Mayurin can see it – though she expresses it in terms of the sadness involved in remembering a conversation that a time-jumped Okarin wouldn’t. Would the sent memories overwrite the existing memories in the past self of the recipient? Who the hell knows?

If something very bad does happen, trope-ology tells us it’s likely to happen to Mayurin. She’s the very picture of innocence and kindness, so she’s either set up for tragedy or a double-agent. Indeed, when Okarin receives another threatening e-mail – this time with a decidedly more human image attached – it’s Mayurin he thinks of first as he rushes back to the lab in a panic, despite the growing attraction between he and Christina aka “Channeler”. As if to make up for lost time – and to set the audience up emotionally – we got no less than a four-play of “Tutturu!” this week, after having a couple of weeks free of it.

The scene where Okarin rushes back to the lab in the aforementioned panic only to walk in on the girls in the shower was nicely played, a temporary false alarm – but I believe it’s temporary. We still have other things happening – the lab is now mysteriously connected to SERN, though Daru can’t say how. Channeler thinks it’s an obvious sign they’ve been found out, though Daru is too arrogant to believe that possible. Shining Finger makes another appearance, again showing an unhealthy obsession with Okarin’s plans for the time machine. Okarin accidentally discovers that the phone microwave will only work when the 42″ CRT in Braun’s shop is on – which no one can explain yet, except that the CRT is somehow acting as the “lifter” mentioned a few eps ago. And as Okarin makes plans to help Christina reconcile with her scientist father, Mayurin gets ready to cosplay at the upcoming Comiket.  And what of Suzuha’s assertion that Christina works for SERN – which explains her hostility towards her? While Okarin convinces himself that if she ever did work for the enemy, she’s had a change of heart – but Suzuha gives the impression of someone who knows more than anyone else in the room because she’s read ahead in the script.

If that all sounds pretty normal for this series, I think it’s the illusion of normalcy. This is building to something big and it isn’t going to wait an entire cour to deliver it. It’s even possible – though I wouldn’t flat-out predict it – that the second cour could be mostly about using time travel to fix the screw-ups caused by time travel in the first cour – the extent of which we may be about to find out…


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