Review: gen:LOCK “Identity Crisis”

Crisis on Infinite Chases.

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

Migas, an engineer for the Vanguard who I’ve never had to mention before now, finally contacts the gen:LOCK pilots. While nearly everyone at the Anvil was able to survive thanks to a recent anti-nanotech patch from Weller, Weller himself is unfortunately really dead. Both groups catch each other up, including on Nemesis, and make plans to meet up at the Union’s next big target: Chicago. Someone on their side must have a real craving for deep dish pizza. And high murder rates, which Chicago is ALSO well known for! Chicago: We’re great in short bursts!

(This review sponsored by the Tourism Board of Chicago)

While the Vanguard take on the Union troops, the pilots and their upgraded Holons will take on Nemesis, who they bait with teasing. Nemesis takes it, being freshly upgraded as well and making use of the nanotech to form shields and weapons. Plus, his connection to their network means he’s always in on what moves they’ll make next. That is, until everyone starts mind-sharing…everyone except Chase, who reveals he’s worried about sharing his mind when it’s the only real part of him left. So, by the powers of peer pressure, he’s totally over that in less than a minute (I know what they’re getting it, don’t worry).

But before they can get to third mind base, Chase has to hold off Nemesis while the rest of the pilots recharge their uptime so they aren’t stuck in their robots forever. And to buy time, Chase must use up the rest of his own time, officially making him the “Tobias from Animorphs” of the group. Nemesis gets wise and goes to kill the rest while they’re down, but help arrives in the form of Miranda, who briefly gets him to stop, and Leon, who has taken control of Sinclair’s Holon. This allows the others to reupload and fully mindshare between all five of them, using their combined power to restrain Nemesis and crack the code to stopping his improved nanos. Then, instead of capturing and questioning a powerful enemy soldier who no doubt has some important info, Chase kills him(self), also learning there may be more copies out there.

In the aftermath, Leon ends up in a coma due to his low compatibility with the Holon, Chase says goodbye Miranda and his old life, and the gen:LOCK pilots (and Migas) go…somewhere? The end.

Oh, and Sinclair is alive!

OUR TAKE

And that was Season 1 of gen:LOCK! I have to say, after all the flack I gave the last episode, this one was a marked improvement on all fronts: plot resolution, character development, action, and pretty much everything else is a notable increase from last week. Which makes sense, seeing how this is the season finale.

However, while I can see a lot of interesting ideas I like that are floating around in the ether here, the execution for a lot of them end up feeling pretty rushed, resulting in more duds than bangs, and almost always from a lack of sufficient build up in the previous episodes. Maybe this is because of the limited time they had to fit the story in, but then the natural response to that is asking why they didn’t just write a story that fit better into eight episodes.

Chase finally overcame his insecurities and linked with everyone while also finally letting go of his old body and embracing his new life! Remember how committed he was to get his body back to normal this season, and how he was always saying how he wanted things to go back to how they used to be, and how, despite being okay with uploading, he was always desperate to download back because he couldn’t stand to leave his physical body behind? All that made his decision to finally let go of his old body to help his new friends really made this journey feel complete, right?!

…Except, no, you don’t remember that, because that’s not how Chase was written. If anything, he was already more comfortable being either a hologram or a Holon than being Pickle Chase, and whatever time we did see him in his “Darth Vader but worse” form, he didn’t really seem to care about where his mind was either way. He even mentions in Episode 5 how he just wants to use his extra time to fight, which he can only do in a Holon. With that in mind, despite how much of a huge sacrifice the music wants to make it seem, it honestly feels like Chase left his body behind once he got a new one. Nemesis makes some comments about “my body”, but considering he WAS Chase until at least a couple years after New York, he HAD to know that it was basically a shell long before he got captured. There was already no quality of life for him anymore, so losing it now just seems like kinda obvious. Like, yeah, why DIDN’T you just stay past uptime before now?

That also doesn’t say many good things about Nemesis either, since his motivations were already kinda hazy, to begin with, but now I just don’t know WHAT he wanted. As mentioned, he couldn’t have wanted his old body back because of how useless it was and he must have known he couldn’t have gone back to it anyway after being gone for so long, so what were his goals here? Had he fully sided with the Union and wanted to get rid of his old self as proof of loyalty? Did he have a death wish and just wanted EVERY version of himself dead? Did he just want some peace and quiet? What did he want?
And for that matter, what did CHASE want? What did ANYONE want? All stuff to get into next week, but for now, there’s plenty to talk about here.

The other main point would have to be Chase letting down his walls and fully committing to his team…even though he didn’t really seem to have such fears for the majority of the season. The general idea seems to be that he was worried about letting his consciousness merge with anyone else’ because he feared he wouldn’t be himself after that, and without a body, he’s basically just losing his individuality. The problem with that idea being that this was never really established as a fear of his until 30 seconds before he decides to completely get over it.

I’ll get more into this next week, but I think I’m seeing what they were TRYING to for here; that people are different versions of themselves all the time and that we ironically become better at being ourselves by being around other people and helping each other and such and such. It’s a good message and an interesting theme. I just don’t think they worked it very well into the plot.

As an episode on its own, this felt like a lot of rushing to hit key emotional plot points that just weren’t given the time to fully pay off or hit with the weight they intended. The fight was certainly cool to watch, but I’m reminded of RWBY’s own fights that put way too much stock in style and not in substance. There’ll be time to elaborate on this further in the Season Review, but while this still felt like a crash landing, it definitely served as awesome fireworks, showing that while this flight might not have fully taken off, this show could be made of the stuff to make it work in season two.

Score
6/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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