I hear Emily Blunt is pretty good in this movie.
Overview (Spoilers Below!)
The gang travels to an electromagnetic telescope, the “quiet place” that Mage mentioned. Derrida wants to stop Mage from continuing his research. He plans to time ride in her place, making major changes to the present by controlling which exact moment he leaps back to. The others are distressed by the idea of their world changing due to his meddling. The enemy in the war has launched a nuclear bombing campaign, and this country is planning to retaliate.
Graham barrels through a horde of DZs, sending out an electromagnetic pulse that shuts them down. Derrida knows that Mage is here because it’s the perfect location for time riding, devoid of electromagnetic waves. Some DZs are still chasing Graham, but something’s keeping them away—probably the device Mage got from Cassiel.
They move to enter the building, but Schmidt arrives in an aerial craft. He sends down a bunch of drones—a new form of the DZs—to attack them. Cassiel’s device has no effect, so Derrida and Videaux pull out their guns. DZs surround the group, but Graham comes to the rescue by driving onto Schmidt’s craft and self-destructing. Videaux fights off the DZs while Derrida, Yuri, and Mayuka head inside.
Derrida can’t get the door open, so they walk along a narrow path, holding onto a rusty handrail to avoid pitching off a cliff. Two more aircraft appear, shooting at the group from the sky. Yuri ends up on the other side of a chasm, but she safely leaps to the other side—where a man with a gun is waiting. Suddenly the man collapses, a knife in his neck. Donna is here.
Donna tries to stab Derrida, but her body is weak. Even so, she beats him up. Derrida reminds her that she’s actually the human Angelica, not Donna. After all, if she were a DZ, how could she feel? Suddenly blood spurts from her arm. Derrida apologizes for the experiment. Donna believes that scientific progress is created to appease the greed of people in power, despite all the misery and despair it brings about. Derrida believes this is a necessary risk in the name of progress.
Yuri and Derrida head into the building. Mayuka goes back to find her father.
This episode is an uneventful, predictable shoot ’em up from start to finish, with one exception: the brief but interesting philosophical debate between Derrida and Donna. The sobering encounter makes me feel for Donna and strengthens the main theme of the series—the dilemma of whether to pursue scientific progress even with the knowledge that your creations could be used for evil. Both characters make good points, and it doesn’t necessarily seem like show is pushing one right answer. Is progress worth playing into the hands of cruel, greedy bureaucrats? “To move forward with that burden on our shoulders… that’s what it means to be human,” Derrida tells Donna, to which she responds, “So you’ll allow your egos to lead this world to ruin on principle, and I can only watch.” The answer is up to us to decide.
Otherwise, this episode misses a few tricks. How does Derrida suddenly know that time riding will be able to alter major events if he can control the time he returns to? He didn’t seem to know much about time riding works a few days earlier. How will Mage control the day she returns to? And if she needs a place free of electromagnetic waves, how do we explain the waves she—and Graham—send out to repel the DZs? Do those not interfere with the experiment?
It’s annoying the neither that country Derrida lives in, nor the enemy in their war, have names. It’s annoying that Derrida constantly underestimates Mage when it’s obvious that she’s an incredibly skillful and intelligent person, probably better at both science and survival than he is. The fight scenes are ridiculous—as soon as Graham decides to chat with his friends, all the DZs and the drones conveniently refrain from shooting until the conversation is over. As soon as Yuri leaps over the chasm, the two huge airships just stop firing on her, even though the pilots make it clear that she’s expendable in their eyes. The screen becomes slightly darker when Derrida and Videaux shoot their guns, an annoying effect that makes me worry I’ve accidentally turned my screen brightness down. Also, where did Videaux get a cannon?
The reveal that Donna is actually Angelica is pretty confusing. I ended the previous episode with absolutely no clue if she was the DZ or Angelica, so it just doesn’t work as a shocking twist here. The idea that she must be human because she feels emotions is pretty weak because wasn’t the whole point of the experiment to give emotions to a DZ? And you can’t tell me that Graham doesn’t have emotions, not after that martyrdom. We’ll miss you, Graham.
But sometimes, this episode does its characters justice. Mayuka’s request to tell Videaux a story when he gets back from fighting is heartwarming, as is her decision to return to him despite the danger. Schmidt’s flamboyance is still entertaining (“All right, let’s dance, boys”), and I can relate to the gangs’ discomfort with not knowing how their selves will change after Derrida’s time ride. Graham’s sacrifice feels fittingly sad.
Derrida and Donna’s confrontation is definitely the highlight of this episode, but I’m excited for all the things we’ve been promised next week—a reunion with Mage, a final time ride with ultra-high stakes. Like Donna, we’ll just have to sit back and watch to see what progress Derrida will create.