Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Beatless ?

The action element that occasionally pops up throughout the series returns in force this week, but it's actually not what makes the episode thrilling. No, that honor goes to this week's turns in the plot, events with much greater story and thematic implications than expected.

The action kicks into gear when Lacia and Arato decide to stop Shiori's scheme to transport the hIE with the registration code that Lacia “borrowed” to Japan, thereby taking possession of Lacia by proxy through legal trickery. (This was what Lacia was referring to last episode about Shiori “setting her plan in motion.”) Methode is all set to stop them, which means a battle just to get to the airport and intercept the transported hIE, then a head-on fight against Methode. Kouka also gets in on the action at Kengo's request via Arato. Methode's comments leading up to this also reveal why Lacia had such a hard time with her when they last faced off; it wasn't just that Lacia didn't have her Monolith, it's that her specialty is manipulating electronics. (So the invisibility trick she pulled previously is not something that all hIEs can do.)

As fun as the action scenes are, the real meat comes in the smaller details. I always thought that Methode had some ulterior motive in approaching Shiori beyond just her scheme to get a second master, and the truth is truly sinister. If Shiori dies, her last orders will remain in effect, which gives Methode a means to resist Watarai's orders when she doesn't like them. In other words, Shiori's totally been played by what Methode claims is her superior intelligence, even to the point of replacing Shiori with an hIE duplicate. The deviousness of this plan is scary, and the music definitely works hard to play up the ominous nature of the reveal.

However, I have to wonder if Methode is reading the situation correctly based on the rest of what she says. She suspects that Lacia and Kouka had a team-up arranged in advance, in exchange for Lacia setting up Kouka with the hIE equivalent of a fake ID, but we've seen no evidence of that. As smart as she is, her nature as an hIE may mean that she doesn't have a sufficient understanding of human emotion as a motivating factor, so she fails to realize that Kouka is involved because Arato asked a friend. Still, she was right to point out that this is the second time Lacia's Monolith has mysteriously been available in circumstances where it shouldn't have been. We still don't have a full understanding of how this works, but clearly Lacia is manipulating some other entities to transport it.

Watarai's musings on how the best way to compete with a superior intelligence is to anticipate its thoughts gives the episode its philosophical angle, and I can see that being a major theme going forward. The clip of Arato and Yuka's father talking on TV about making an all-hIE test city, where some hIEs are playing human roles in an effort to anticipate future problems in human-hIE relations, also seems loaded with broader implications. It's too bad the artistic support for all of this thoughtful content isn't stronger. The other looming negative is that the second planned “Intermission” is coming next week; consequently, there will probably not be an episode review next week. The story is positioned well for big developments in the future, and I very much like the direction this series is going.

Rating: B+

BEATLESS is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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