You had to know this was coming sooner or later, and as we’re running out of “later” that only left one option. While all the monkeys were running around trying to execute their plans to foil each other, Puck was Captain Earth’s giant ace-in-the-hole – compared to the many other competing interests he’d shown relatively little of either his true intentions or his true powers. It seems his lot was to play the master shadow manipulator right up to the end, but there comes a point when even that role has to change to practical action.
I think we have a sense of what the final battle of Captain Earth looks like now. When all the B-listers are set aside, the two powers left standing are Puck and the Livelasters. It seems that just about everything in the series – the Planetary Gears themselves, the Designer Children program, Macbeth – were tools in Pucks plan to install himself into the psyche of every intelligent being in the galaxy and become God. That doesn’t explain where he came from in the first place or how long he’s been around, but it’s clear he considers the Livelasters his natural enemy and only real threat – and that belief expressed itself through his proxies, the Planetary Gears.
In point of fact, if there’s one element of the mythology that remains most mysterious with one episode left it’s the Livelaster-Neoteny side of the equation. Are Puck and the Livelasters ancient enemies from some far-off solar system or galaxy? Is Daichi somehow naturally receptive to their powers, or is he alien himself? It seems clear that Hana is certainly a member of this species, and the sense I get is that everyone’s great interest in her as the key to their plans – including the Ark Faction – suggests that all of them were being manipulated by Puck all along.
There’s certainly a bit of filling in the blanks in this episode where the Livelasters are concerned, such as the fact that they can execute the “phase shift” that’s essential to the Entangle Link (which is why Teppei survived Daichi’s attack). It’s also interesting to note that it appears the P.G.’s presence in Daichi’s dream was more than symbolic, but literal – they were there to try and entice him to join their side, which suggests that too was Puck’s doing.
In truth of course Puck doesn’t care about who joins who’s side – he’s just trying to eliminate potential threats. And that’s why it’s he that goads Daichi into destroying the Planetary Gears’ cocoon by suggesting he can be destroyed in the process – which of course he can’t. But what can be destroyed is the P.G.’s ability to regenerate (or indeed, generate) ego blocks for anyone who has an avatar body. That’s an inconvenient variable that Puck can do without. In succeeding here Puck appears to have eliminated the Gears as a viable threat, which pretty much only leaves Daichi, Hana, and the Blume as far as I can tell.
Ark, Intercept, Planetary Gear – it’s pretty much all moot at this point. It’s stop Puck or bust, which suggests (as I and many others suspected all along) that the Gears will lend whatever power remains to them to help Daichi’s cause. They’re all in the same boat now – Puck’s pawns. We’re looking at one episode left with a lot to do, and a studio that isn’t always known for happy (or definitive) endings in their sci-fi epics – I’m worried both for Daichi’s welfare and about the possibility of a disjointed finale. But Captain Earth has mostly come through with flying colors in the second cour, so that worry is tempered by a fair bit of optimism as well.