After a string of character and intrigue-driven episodes, we were due for one that just ratcheted the action up to eleven and blew the doors off, and that’s exactly what we got. We also got what appears to be, at least superficially, a whole lot of tragedy – a shocking number of regular and semi-regular characters bit the dust this week. Though there’s a continuum of likelihood that their deaths are for real starting with Christophe (probably) through Team Harlequin and down to Truth (probably not) the shock value was certainly undeniable. The ground seems to be laid for what could be a very dark and painful ending – but then there’s Ao’s quartz gun, which still looms as a literal reset button waiting to be pressed.
The three characters who dominated the episode this week were Truthie, Elena and Christophe – and it was Fleur who linked all their storylines. We learned something about each of these characters – some revealed truths that were already suspected, and some sides to characters that we haven’t really seen so far. My initial guess that Truth was a Secret – based on the visual evidence of the flashback to his first appearance – appear to have been correct after all, despite the seemingly contrary nature of his actions since. But there’s a reason for that – Truth didn’t know the “truth” about himself, and refused to believe it even when confronted with it.
There’s an irony to that, a character named Truth living a lie – but in the final analysis, his being Secret was the only explanation that made sense. Naru seems fully committed to a notion that’s very much a throwback to the first season, humanity becoming one with the Scub Corals – perhaps she’s directly responsible for the “infections” plaguing people around the world. She sees Ao’s cannon as the means to making that happen, and has been using Truthie to that end – when all along, he thought he’d been using her, and Ao. Apparently Truth appeared at the time of the giant scub burst in Okinawa 10 years earlier, and “lost his purpose” when the quartz was removed – and so, took human form and was taken in by Johansson. But he refuses to believe it, and immediately takes off into orbit, where he destroys a string of telecommunications satellites and, in the process, The Poseidon and Team Harlequin (apparently).
There was something very chilling in watching Mama and Rajkumar up there, in the moments before the end. I had a strong feeling of foreboding as soon as I saw Truth go into “Firecracker” mode, and quickly, almost too quickly, Harlequin was apparently destroyed. The possibility exists, of course, that another reality could be created where they were never killed, or perhaps were never pilots at all – but what really struck me was watching Ivica’s reaction. The Allies assumed it was GenBleu that had destroyed the satellites, and sent IFOs to attack their HQ – and GenBleu assumed it was the Allies that destroyed The Poseidon. But Ivica’s furious pledge to “avenge” them struck me as especially hollow, even if it was sincere. Ivica is the ultimate hypocrite, really – he professes his desire to keep the children safe at all costs, yet he’s a willing participant in a pseudo-military organization that places their life in danger. He may feel he’s trying to do the best he can for them, to be an advocate from within – but ultimately, he’s an accessory to their murder. I can’t honestly say I’ll mourn Generation Bleu if they really are doomed, as it appears.
Speaking of which, much of the rest of the episode chronicles what appears to be the last hours of GenBleu, through the eyes of Elena, Fleur and Christophe, with Ao largely secondary. Big Blue World abandons GenBleu, and the first thing that happens is that their power gets cut off. Everyone is more or less in survival mode here – Rebecka is system-restoring the Secret-infected Georg, and being pressed by Gazelle to decide where her loyalties lie. Stanley is gone, back to the boardroom. Christophe seems basically to be preparing for the end, and trying to make contingency plans for his daughter.
And then there’s Elena. Elena is becoming more and more open about her identity. For the first time she tells Ao and Fleur that she’s “from another world” – and that she expects Ao to use his big gun to take her back there. In her mind, at least, Elena came from Eureka’s world – it was certainly Eureka who brought her – but I’m not 100% sold that she’s the daughter the Eureka who visited and spent time with Ao was supposedly carrying. She might be Ao’s sister – but I’m skeptical. The hair certainly looks more like Anenome’s, and there’s the matter of typeTheEnd that was supposedly in GenBleu’s basement (along with Lillith, if Elena’s Eva reference is to be believed). Elena sums up her fascination with otaku interests this way: “When your life is like a manga, you can only believe in the fantastic.” It’s as good an explanation as any I’ve heard for why she is the way she is, and I think there are still more secrets about her we haven’t uncovered yet.
As the walls close in, Allied forces surrounding the HQ and the Pied Piper IFOs unable to fly because of Georg’s incomplete software downgrade, Christophe tells Fleur to be prepared to run, because “Generation Bleu is finished”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely jumped when Fleur shot him repeatedly – she was right in her guess that it was Truthie impersonating her father, but that took some brass just the same. Both members of the Blanc family showed spines of steel this week in their own way, as did Ao, and no one abandoned ship – but the real Christophe didn’t disagree with his impersonator’s notion that GenBleu was finished, he was merely executing his final solution. Christophe has figured out Truth’s Secret nature (Truthie still refuses to believe it) and apparently, when Secrets come in contact with quartz there’s a massive fusion explosion – something like matter coming into contact with anti-matter (hmmm) and he’s stashed some spare quartz for this eventuality. Whether his sacrifice will have been in vain is hard to say – I suspect that Truth won’t die that easily, or perhaps it’s in the very nature of Secrets that this explosion doesn’t destroy them, but transform or transport them.
The threads of the plot are really starting to untangle now, and it’s happening in a way that’s thematically consistent both with the first cour of this series and with the original E7 itself. Ultimately both series are generational in nature, and Blanc acknowledges this explicitly in his final words to his daughter and Ao – it’s up to them to “correct our mistakes” because adults aren’t very good at correcting their own. Nirvash, as Blanc says, doesn’t require Georg to fly, so flight is definitely an option for Ao and Fleur – but would they leave their friends to face destruction alone? I think not. And I think what’s going to be required in the end for Astral Ocean is both literally and figuratively a paradigm shift. No one – not Blanc, not Ao, not Truth – seems to know the true nature of who the good guys and bad guys are when it comes to the Scub and the Secret. But it’s going to be up to Ao to fundamentally reset the world in a way that fixes the mistakes his elders have made, to find a way to bring all these forces into balance . Whether that means reuniting with his mother or not – or perhaps even sacrificing himself in the process – I’m not sure, but I have a growing conviction BONES has something dark and troubling planned for the final act (whenever we get to see it).