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Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Favorites

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Metallic Rouge Episode 8 – Quick Summary

In Metallic Rouge Episode 8, “Nowhere House,” Ash Stahl and Noid 262 took Rouge to her old home so she could investigate her origins. They found Gene Junghardt already there, and for the same reasons. Gene accidentally triggered a trapdoor that led to a dark and mysterious basement. Undaunted, despite Stahl’s warnings, Rouge and Gene walked boldly into the dark. What will they find? Is a better question, “What will find them?” And what’s Naomi up to?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from Metallic Rouge Episode 8

Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Noid 262 had found a measure of freedom; but not enough

It’s easy, in the heat of an argument’s rhetoric, to forget that prejudice exacts a steep price. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

My favorite quote belongs to Noid 262, which is fitting, given what happened to him.

Ash, Noid 262, Gene, and their pilot had just been shot down. They were under fire from Jill and Grauphon’s forces  Those forces had launched an attack on the headquarters where Naomi’s organization had stored all of the ids — the ones she and Rouge had captured. Apparently, Jill and Grauphon wanted them back. 

As Noid 262 and friends took cover behind their crashed dropship, Noid 262 looked back and said that they had friendly reinforcements inbound. That’s when a bullet, coming from the direction of their “friends,” struck Noid 262 in the middle of the chest.

I hate overly melodramatic deaths. Quite a lot. And I didn’t hate this one. It was understated. It was also profound, at least from Noid 262’s perspective.

As he lay dying, he told Stahl (19:22), “Whenever I was with you, I forgot I was a Nean.”

In a show that grapples with ideas of freedom and will, that’s about as great a compliment as Noid 262 could have paid. It was one of the last things he did.

Favorite Moment from Metallic Rouge Episode 8

Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Ash thought Noid 262 should be happy about Code Eve

Perspectives vary, often in reaction to the community around us. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: The Potential of the Eve Code

This episode was rough on Rouge. It started with a walk into a dark basement, which Gene had accidentally unlocked while playing around with the piano in the residence of his deceased father.

While Ash and Noid 262 watched, Rouge and Gene plunged through their father Roy Junghardt’s records in computer form. I loved the motif of book-shaped memory devices. It felt nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. 

Rouge learned that her father was a cold man. He seemed to view her as no more than a science experiment. That hurt her, and understandably so. But her pain served an important narrative point; it introduced us to Eva Cristella. She seems to be at the heart of the philosophical conflict underpinning this series. She felt tremendous guilt over her part in installing the Asimov Code into the Neans. To atone, she created the Eve Code.

Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Eva Cristella regretted her role with the Asimov Code

A scientist’s awesome discovery misused is a tried and true science fiction trope. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The Eve Code would free a Nean from the need to be subservient to humans. It would free Neans from having to kill themselves if they did not act to save a human. Those are good things, right?

Delivery: The World from Noid 262’s Perspective

A lighter weight story might have left it at that. Impairment of free will bad, liberation of free will good. I could even get behind such a rallying cry. But this story has loftier ambitions. As the four of them tried to digest what they had learned about Eva and Roy, Gene and Rouge began a debate. 

Seeming to be amused, Ash turned to Noid 262 and asked if he was excited. Ash clearly expected a positive response. Instead, Noid 262 delivered a moment both subtle and profound – the first of two profound things he said in this episode (see my favorite quote for the second).

Noid 262 said (09:14), “It doesn’t feel real.” I expected him to follow that with some expression of hope. Instead, he said, “I don’t particularly feel like I have no freedom now.” 

“You Neans are so damn gullible,” Ash replied.

Why am I so interested in such a seemingly innocuous exchange?

Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Rouge had to wrestle with a lot of abstractions this week

This was a tough episode for Rouge. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The Asimov Code constrains a Nean’s will. They have to put humans first; they can’t even let a human come to harm. That’s an obvious enslavement, right? No doubt about it – the Asimov Code, specifically how it’s implemented, acts as an unseen shackle around the neck, wrists, and ankles of every Nean in existence. Most of them, anyway.

It’s easy to fight against something that obvious. If you’re a community leader — say, the Alter community — it’s easy to get your followers aligned and emotional about fighting it. 

But think about what Noid 262 said. He said he didn’t feel like he was constrained. Ash treated him so much like an equal that Noid 262’s dying words were about how Ash made him forget his nature — his enslaved nature. Freedom has two aspects: the community’s action against the individual, and the individual’s reaction to that action.

Implications for Our World

I can say “I’m free!” all I want. But if the community around me denies it, how free am I, really? On the other hand, if the community treats me as if I’m free, within that community, I’m free. Just as Noid 262 is free.

But that’s the genius of this story. Noid 262 was a microcosm of what could be, on an individual level. When it was Ash and Noid 262 alone, or the two of them with Gene and Rouge, it felt like there were four equals working through a problem. But the four of them could not avoid coming into contact with a wider community – a community whose representative promptly shot Noid 262 and didn’t think twice about it. Simply because he wasn’t a human.

Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Noid 262's death should have generated remorse in the shooter

Securing freedom is hard. Not securing it, though, is even worse. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I know it sounds corny, but I really do love the United States. I love what it’s trying to do through its founding documents. The idea that each individual had rights built into them – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – is amazing, especially against the backdrop of history. We need something like that to provide the space for people to be free. We need to power of the state to ensure freedom.

The alternative, dependin on the good will of an individual or a small community, flat out doesn’t work. Only the just laws of a sovereign nation dedicated to liberty will serve.

Noid  262’s casual observation made me think of that requirement, and of just how thin is the thread by which it hangs. Noid 262 was optimistic. Being with Ash made him drop his guard, and in a sense, he paid for that moment of carefree freedom with his life. I think I need to remember Noid 262 the next time I hear a citizen demanding that I vote to constrict the rights of another. 

That’s a lesson that I’m afraid the United States is going to have to learn the hard way. And — just between us? — I don’t know if we’re up to the challenge.

What did you think Cyan is up to? What were your favorite moments? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Metallic Rouge Episode 8: Favorites

  1. Code Eve, or the Eve Code, whatever, I was wondering why it was called that, named after the mother of all. Now it makes sense: it’s a gift from a mother to her children, children whom she has wronged and now wants to make things right. Of course, her cold-blooded colleague didn’t want the Code to get out, and I have a nasty feeling that he probably murdered her.

    It’s a little confusing, though. How long ago were the Neans made, again? How long ago was that last war with the Usurpers? I had thought it was quite some time ago, but it seems to have been much more recently.

    So, I was thinking that Rouge might be either one of the Nine or maybe the Tenth of them, but if Cyan is truthfully her “little” sister, meaning younger, then I am not so sure what’s what. I am still pretty certain Rouge was reprogrammed, her memories altered. It’s possible, though nothing is certain, that she had a moment of clarity or something like that and really did murder the man who killed her mother and stole her. Unless her whereabouts at the time can be verified, that is.

    I have to appreciate the characterization of Silvia. She is so certain she’s right that she has been waiting for the moment when the other proto-Neans, even those most opposed to her, would sign on and join her. Reminds me of some other other people who think that everyone simply *must* agree with them, and if they don’t, then they will just take what they want from them by force.

    The discussion of freedom vs order is one I am familiar with. Rouge’s brother is correct in how things will immediately worsen, even for the Neans as well as the humans, the moment the Neans become free. But when you get right down to it, that is simply a crucible that is all but unavoidable if they want to right the great wrong which has been done to the Neans. If they become free and equal to the humans, there will most certainly be conflict everywhere, as the people who are accustomed to stepping all over the Neans will suddenly lose the ground on which they stand, and Neans who suddenly have the universe opened up to them will no longer *need* to take all the crap that’s been piled onto them. It’s difficult to find a way through this difficulty without either leaving the Neans as slaves or simply upending the established order of things.

    1. I think your analysis is spot on. It reminds me a lot of the consequences of the Civil War, and I suspect that’s intentional. The show seems to want to take on issues like that. I appreciate that.

      I have to wonder how things in the USA would have played out if Lincoln had lived. For example, we see what happened after WWII when the US implemented the Marshall Plan. That investment turned enemies into allies and kicked off an astonishing era of peace and prosperity. We dealt with the inequalities we fought over by forging new relationships. That approach works.

      I don’t know as much about what he did, but Nelson Mandela was visionary in a similar way. He got above/beyond the hatred and grievances and forged something better.

      It’s possible. I think Gene errs when he thinks social order is a primary goal. Some form of social order is, certainly. But a social order founded on injustice will eventually blow apart. It’s best to rip that bandage off and properly treat the wound.

      And I still wonder what would have happened if we had applied a Marshall Plan-style approach to the post Civil War period. I think Lincoln had plans for it; it’s the kind of thing he would have done. A massive investment in infrastructure and education; not just recognizing the freedom of an enslaved people, but providing them with tools (education and working legal protections) to apply that freedom would have gone a long way.

      1. Spot on.

        There is a powerful lesson to be learned in how much alleviation of the South’s suffering was prevented by John Wilkes-Booth assassinating Lincoln.

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