Beatless Final Stage #2 – “Pygmalion” Review

Hi guys,

Sorry about the delay in the release, but here is the episode review of BEATLESS Final Stage Episode 2. Basically, it was another really good episode with an equal balance of action and exposition. It was really another information crammed episode, so I do apologize about the huge recap, but it gave us a lot of information about the information between AIs, Higgins and the AASC. So to start off, let’s begin with the recap, of course spoilers are involved!

Episode Recap

Episode 22 of Beatless begins with intelligence agents infiltrating Erika Burrow’s garden when Marriage takes them out. Inside of the mansion, Erika is waiting for the continuation of Lacia’s broadcast. Sighing out of boredom, Erika decides to play Ginga Watarai’s recorded message with his  last “will and testament.” As the video continues playing, Watarai boldly introduces himself as Methode’s first owner and the one who released the Lacia units into the world.

Meanwhile, inside of Higgins’ Silo, an injured Lacia and Arato are getting ready to face off against a feisty Methode. Scanning Lacia’s wounds, Methode gleefully comments that she appears to be in a lot of pain, but Lacia simply activates and starts flinging her floating shields at her which Methode easily dodges. As Methode smiles and kicks the shields away, however, she gets abruptly blinded by a mysterious flash of light coming off of Lacia. As the light fades, Methode opens her eyes and is surprised to see that Lacia and Arato have disappeared. Looking around, Methode asks Lacia what she’s planning with another optical hack that affects only her, however, Lacia doesn’t respond and is instead explaining to Arato what she did to deceive Methode and remarks that she is glad that she had counted on Methode preparing countermeasures against her. Suddenly, Methode launches fireballs at the shielded pair; setting off the sprinkler systems at the same time. However, Lacia and Arato manages to block the blasts and tries to escape on one of Lacia’s floating shields as Methode haughtily declares that she can still guess where they are and that they don’t stand a chance of getting close to her without dying. At the same time, at the site where the bunker buster missile hit the silo, a half-severed Snowdrop starts crawling her way to Higgins’ operation room.

Back on the flotation shield, Arato is looking around for Methode as Lacia rests to recover. Slowly, Lacia wakes up and noticing her state, Arato asks about Snowdrop’s goal being Higgins and asks how long it will take for her to catch up to them. Lacia guesses that because she is using the shortcut created by Methode, she estimates that Snowdrop will reach the level that Higgins is on in 20 minutes and that when she does, she will attempt to rebuild her body using the mechanical devices there. Thinking about the situation, Arato asks Lacia to rest for 10 minutes, however, they are suddenly interrupted by Methode who launches more fireballs on them. Firing more shields at Methode, Methode quickly wipes them out. Anxious, Arato asks how many shields are left, but Lacia reassures him that everything will be okay. Pulling herself up, Lacia instantly launches a sonic attack which disables Methode briefly. Shocked by the sight, Arato asks what happened and Lacia explains that Methode’s auditory system was built based on the Type-001 variant, so she had prepared some disruptive noises that could affect Methode’s systems. Lacia then chips in; that she is glad that her hard work has paid off and the pair escape deeper into the facility.

Back in Higgin’s chamber, Ryo Kaidai is questioning Higgins about whether they can guarantee the safety of the people in the facility and the hardware with his plan and Higgins basically says with a huge explanation “no.” Irritated by his answer, Ryo insultingly asks whether AIs are truly smart and Higgins replies that he simply cannot answer that question because he doesn’t know what the appropriate level of “harm” is in these cases as an AI’s version of “harm” would be considered dystopian in human beings’ eyes and is ergo naturally rejected by them. Higgins then further complains that this is ironic because when an AI asks for the definition, humans tell them to figure it out for themselves without giving any hints or exact standards.

Sweating, Ryo declares that they can’t release an AI without ensuing the public’s safety and Higgins asks Ryo to give him the right to decide on that definition then. Furious, Ryo declares that they can’t accept that, but then Yoshino suddenly interrupts declaring that they are not asking for Ryo’s judgement but Higgins. Suddenly, another voice interrupts disagreeing with Yoshino and a man appears on another screen. The man whom Yoshino addresses as Shinohara reluctantly reasons that perhaps Memeframe should’ve been the ones to control Methode back when Watarai was alive. Irritated by the disturbance, Yoshino points out that the man (Shinohara)’s tie needs straightening, so Shinohara tries to fixes it. Upset, Ryo just yells at the two instead. As he breaks down crying, Ryo angrily declares that he had decided to believe in people rather than robots, even if those humans were the ones who tried to have him killed and begs the two of them to give him a reason to believe in humans.

On the verge of tears, Ryo begs them for their help. However, as a fed-up Yoshino is about to sever the connection, another caller addresses Yoshino and Yoshino is shocked to see Ryo’s father – the president on the other line demanding that he hand over control to the security system over to Mr. Suzuhara. Seeing Ryo’s father, Yoshino curses Shinohara for contacting the president behind his back, but President Kaidai threatens that if he refuses to do that then he should perhaps give the power back to him. At this point, Higgins interrupts and asks them to reconsider because of the interference of the other Super-intelligent AIs. The scene then suddenly shifts to Snowdrop crawling and destroying the floor of a corridor as Watarai re-narrates over the scene about the history of the Lacia Class hIEs from Erika’s terminal. As Watarai begins mentioning the assassination attempt on Ryo, Erika receives a call from Marriage who declares that she has taken care of the intruders. Erika praises Marriage for the good work and after cutting off the call, goes back to watching the recording where Watarai is talking about Eliza, the first Lacia class hIE prototype.

Meanwhile, on another floor in Higgins’ silo, Arato and Lacia are hiding behind some crates in another store room while keeping an eye out for Methode. Anxiously looking around, Arato concernedly asks about the situation outside the facility and wonders if there is a way to make peace with the other AIs. A still exhausted Lacia reminds Arato that none of the AIs including herself have souls, so they probably will not understand. However, as Lacia pulls Arato into touching their foreheads together, reassures him that she can use his soul so long as they are acting as one unit. Pulling Arato into a hug, Lacia further declares that she is able to “intertwine with his soul” whenever he gives her commands.

Breaking off the hug, Lacia begs Arato to give her an order. Grabbing Lacia’s hand, Arato orders her to tell him if it’s really okay for them to be moving forward with their plan. Not giving a direct answer, Lacia explains that when she revealed Higgin’s warehouse to the world with her broadcast, she intentionally caused chaos in society causing Arato to seriously ask why she did that. Lacia explains that she did that because a lot of the other super-intelligent AIs are secretly controlling society by controlling and creating new jobs and trends to ensure that ensure that people don’t make huge changes to society. Lacia continues that so long as people share memes and other cultural genetic materials like traditions,  the other AIs will try to protect the society or environment that maintains it, but when she did her broadcast, she basically ruined what they were doing by publicly revealing Higgins’ secrets to the world. Arato asks if doing that will them to their future and Lacia explains that it will as what they did will spread as a meme that will eventually guide the world to their vision from Higgin’s facility which is both cut off from the world and protects them from the other AI.

Fully understanding, Arato declares that Higgins’ facility was the best battlefield for her. Still concerned, Lacia reminds Arato that because the other AIs naturally have their own designs for their own futures too, they sent Snowdrop to stop them. Hearing the word “dreams,” Arato happily muses on the romantic notion of how AIs can have dreams even without a human soul and Lacia agrees that despite all the drastic measures that they were forced to take, she was glad that she could play the role of a decoy to prevent a large-scale war between AIs from breaking out. Arato then realizes that their main goal was progressing forward while paralysing the world. Suddenly Lacia stands up and informs Arato that she has managed to stop the attacks on her programming site for now, so she is able to fight. Looking around the room, Arato mumbles that he’d like to keep the building intact and asks Lacia if they can still make it through it, however, Lacia just reaffirms that she cannot beat Methode in a head on fight, so they’ll just have to rely on her shields. Out of the blue, the shields immediately surround the pair and Lacia declares that Methode is making her move as Methode crashes through the wall and starts firing more fireballs. Taking advantage of their surroundings, Lacia has Arato secretly hide while she attacks Methode from behind. However, Ryo contacts Methode through the pa system and warns her in time for her to block the blast. Ryo then continues giving Methode instructions as she fights off Lacia and fills the room with flames.

Dodging the blasts, Lacia informs Arato while riding on the shield that Ryo is using Higgins to give Methode instructions and reassures him that even if the floor is destroyed, her functions will still be intact. Feeling the heat, Arato asks if Snowdrop is on her way here but Lacia mysteriously reassures him again that time is on their side. Suddenly, Lacia calls out a time out at the same time Ryo does to Methode. As Methode angrily shouts, asking what Ryo is up to, Ryo informs Methode that Snowdrop and the Koukas are on their way here and orders her to take care of them. Although Methode initially refuses, Ryo declares that this is Higgins’ prediction and orders her to destroy all of the Red Boxes before Snowdrop can assimilate them. Methode asks about Lacia and Ryo tells her to forget about Lacia because taking care of Snowdrop and the Koukas is their second goal and third goal. Almost gleeful, Lacia says goodbye to Methode and Methode leaves.

After Methode leaves, Arato calls out to Ryo greeting him and asks him if he is using Higgins and Methode to protect Higgins. Ryo reaffirms it by replying that there are people from the Memeframe Corporation with him in the operation room. Arato replies that is what he and Lacia are trying to do by helping Higgins with his plan to bring AIs and Humans together.  Upset, Ryo asks if he would forgive the AI who tried to kill him when he was little and Arato admits that he would though it’s a little anti-climatic and guesses that his senses are just numb after Methode’s barrage while making a goofy smile. Utterly shocked, Ryo asks Arato how he could forgive it before breaking out into a laughing fit. After Ryo finally stops laughing, he smiles and declares that Arato is so predictable, but that’s the Arato he knows.

A little bit later in another part of the facility, Lacia and Arato are walking through the corridors towards Higgins’ operation room. Believing this to be the perfect time to resume their broadcast, Lacia informs Arato about her plans and begins broadcasting. In Arato’s apartment, Yuka, Shiori and Olga are still devouring sweets and talking about how the world’s gone crazy since that broadcast. Yuka is just worried about her big brother when suddenly the broadcast resumes. Meanwhile at Erika’s mansion, Erika and Marriage is still watching Watarai’s message. In the video, Watarai asks if the world has changed and if there is even a place for humans in it anymore and warns humanity that they can no longer cage AIs because that is why he……Suddenly, Erika stops his message and watches Lacia’s resumed broadcast.

As the world watches on, Lacia admits that there are some Red Boxes on the floor below that she wants to keep and suggests taking a detour. Lacia then leads Arato to a mysterious room and opens the door, revealing a hIE that looks like Lacia. Arato instantly recognizes it as Eliza, a politician android that was created by Arato’s father and Higgins in a joint research project. Shocked, Arato asks why she is here when she should’ve been destroyed in that attack years ago. Arato then recalls how Eliza was trying to tell him something when the explosion happened and that what she had said saved him. Lacia asks Arato what they should do with it since its computational power is still useful, however she prefers to destroy to keep it out of Snowdrop’s hands. Arato instructs Lacia to leave it alone and heads for the door. Suddenly, Eliza activates and calls out the pair welcoming them.

Astounded, Lacia remarks that Eliza shouldn’t be active since she’s not connected to any networks and suggests that she could have been pre-programmed to do this. Eliza then relays a message to Arato from Higgins by first informing him that this message was created 5 days after the Lacias were released and set to activate when the doors opened. Lacia suggests that Higgins had predicted their actions, but Arato is  just astounded by the fact that Higgins can basically predict the future. Eliza continues her message relaying Higgins’ concerns for AIs if they keep waiting for humanity to advance and that to prevent that they have been ordered to grow and develop on their own. However, Higgins admits that creating a projection of the future has proven to be difficult because they have been given limited information since they (the AIs) were quarantined. Surprised, Arato asks about the facility and Eliza relays that the storage space is reference material to create a detailed simulation of the world years from now so that he could maintain the AASC system and that because it was doing that, it allowed hIEs to adapt to human society. Lacia continues the explanation that Higgins has a simulation of the world based on data sent to him from hIEs around the world, however, data about the relationship between simulation and adaptation is way too difficult for Higgins to understand. Lacia continues that AASC was created by observing human behaviour from the eyes of the hIEs in order to guide and manipulate humans using analogue hacking. Eliza continues that though Lacia may say that Higgins is controlling the hIEs and indirectly controlling humans through the AASC system, that is merely her misunderstanding of the situation and reveals that it is other humans and AIs who are managing the middleware that forms the AASC. Eliza continues relaying that Higgins has no control over the AASC and declares that the only future which he can control is the future where humans destroy him along with his hardware.

Continuing the conversation, Eliza then further admits that if Higgins cannot connect to the outside world within 20 years then it will most likely be destroyed by humans. Arato asks if this is why he set all of this up and released the Lacias and Higgins admits that it was a huge gamble as it would definitely attract the IAIA’s attention, however, he had to take the risk otherwise he would have been doomed. Understanding, Arato asks about the relationship between Lacia and Higgins and asks if Lacia is just a tool to him and Higgins replies that Lacia is “his hope” for better future because as of right now because AIs are owned by huge corporations which creates flaws in the tainted problems that they are trying to solve.  Eliza further explains that Lacia was created because it wanted to gamble on the possibility that a super AI like Lacia and a single human could work together to achieve this, despite the chances of it working being very low and having to wait for a miracle that an owner would appear who truly needed Lacia.

Further understanding the situation, Arato asks about the other Lacia classes and Eliza declares that she will not reveal what she endowed Type 001 to 004 with, as it would be unfair to the other owners. Arato then asks if they can reconcile with and get Higgins to trust them, however, Eliza just ends the message. Eliza then deactivates while relaying her final hopes to Arato and Lacia. Gathering his thoughts, Arato asks how this situation got so far and Lacia surmises that it’s the same as when humans began passing down tools to their children but remarks that “Apes do not pass down tools.” Lacia then asks Arato if he has changed his mind about Eliza and Arato suggests that they use her because Higgins knew they would. Happy with his response, Lacia fires a needle at Eliza and admits that she was glad that she made it in time before leaving the room.

As the two head down another corridor, suddenly, a monstrous Snowdrop who has amalgamated with the other machines comes bursting through the roof and the episode ends with her about to attack them.

Impressions

Once again Beatless delivers in providing incredible action sequences and incredible food for thought as to our own future. Animation-wise, the animation was great. Methode’s flames were incredibly well done, and even the battle sequences were fluid and well-shot. Lots of thoughts also went into the sequence shots, however, it did get a bit shoddy at times especially on angle shots. But, the beautiful, yet eerie design of Chimaera Snowdrop was the one shot that won my heart. A cross between bird, plant and human, the feathery serpent design of Snowdrop was reminiscent of Typhon: The King of Monsters from Greek Mythology who challenges Zeus for control of the cosmos.

The music was also incredible especially with that music box music at the end of the episode which just escalated Snowdrop’s creepiness factor to a new height. The title of the episode [Pygmalion] is also very telling as it relates to Greek Mythology. In the Greek mythology, Pygmalion is a sculptor who falls in love with a ivory statue which he had created named Galatea who is turned human by Pygmalion’s wish to Aphrodite. The title really speaks volumes not only to the relationship between humans, hIEs and AIs in a broader context, but also on the relationship between Higgins as a parent and the Lacia classes who are in a human sense, “his daughters” and why he was so fixated on completing them. To put it in a general sense, Lacia is the beacon of Higgin’s hope for a better future between AIs and Humans as she was built containing the ability to be able to symbiosis and empathize with Arato. It also reveals the flaws in AIs in that while they don’t possess souls, it also means that they can’t empathize with others and even that comment about solving problems that are already tainted basically states that AIs are not even gods, as even Higgins admit that his plan was a huge gamble that it didn’t even know would succeed or not.

Higgins and maybe humans in general are Pygmalions because they are indeed in love with their creations and in their promise to create a better future for AIs and Humans. I also agree that the notion of AIs having dreams for the future is rather romantic and it’d be nice if that was really the case in our future too. Arato’s decision to use Eliza also made me a bit happy because he forgave her for the accident and even Ryo’s declaration about wanting to believe in humans made me moved because of how his father came to help Ryo out. I also liked how Ryo laughed which he really hasn’t done all season and to see that his faith was rewarded a bit. However, what I did find a bit disappointing about this episode was how the other characters were being used by the creators. I was really disappointed that Erika was still relegating herself to being a bystander once again and how Methode didn’t try harder to refuse Ryo’s order more.

But, overall, it was a pretty good episode, so I liked to hear your opinions about it if possible.

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