Psycho-Pass 3
Episode 4

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Psycho-Pass 3 ?

Despite being full of action, this episode is really about one single question: “Would you give up your free will for a happy life?”

Gubernatorial candidate Karina Komiya would answer “yes” to that question. She has spent the majority of her life living according to Sibyl's recommendations. She became a child star and pop-idol—and now is set to be the governor of Japan's capital. But in this episode, we learn it's even more than that.

In her rise to power, Karina has lost many friends—with her actions causing more than a few to become latent criminals. However, she is one of those people who refuses to lose no matter what hurdles lie in her way. Her reliance on the Sibyl system to make the tough decisions for her and her drive to win no matter the cost combined to make her the perfect host for the prototype AI, Ma-Karina. This AI is basically a cheat sheet for human psychology. It can judge what words and tone of voice to use in order to win a person—or population—over to your point of view. For a politician, it's an unbeatable secret weapon.

Of course, to use it, you basically need to let it talk for you—let it make all the decisions and stances it determines are best to achieve your goals. Heck, it even covers your body with a hologram so it can get the facial expressions just perfect. This is why back in episode two, Arata mistook Karina for a trained mentalist like himself. The AI's basically just reading the room like he would and Karina is acting out the response without thinking. (This also explains why Arata couldn't read her with his powers—there was nothing to read.)

But what's really worrying here are the implications. Basically, Karina has won the governorship by acting as an AI told her. She has given up her free will in order to get what she wanted and has no qualms about it. But what's even more important is that, thanks to the attempt on her life this episode, everyone knows she used an AI—and no one cares.

Like Karina, more and more people are living their life according to the Sibyl system's recommendations and are happier for it. It makes sense, therefore, that they'd be okay with having a personal AI point a person—even a leader—in the right direction. There's just one problem: Sibyl's not an AI like everyone thinks.

This means the population has an unfounded belief in the power of AI—one that only looks to grow in the future (and can already be exploited). And should Sibyl be exposed for what it actually is at this point, it could potentially rock society to its core. Only instead of accepting the truth blindly like Mika (or accepting it as a necessary evil like Akane) people could now turn to actual AIs instead—leaving both Sibyl and their own free will as a relic of the past. The other truly interesting aspect of this episode is getting to see how Azusawa gets away with murder in a much more down-and-dirty situation than we've seen before. In order to kill Enomiya and avoid clouding his own hue, Azusawa has to make it so it is Enomiya's choice to die—or at least make it so Enomiya's choices lead to an “accidental death” that Azusawa didn't directly cause.

In this case, Enomiya makes two choices. The first is whether to fight Azusawa or not. The second is whether to take the stairs or the elevator. Of course, these choices are in no way presented as equal. In the first, Azusawa goads Enomiya into a fight—one that Enomiya as a former pro-fighter has every reason to expect to win. It doesn't turn out that way, however. Losing the fight, Enomiya (lugging a suitcase filled with gold) has no choice but to escape—either up a dark stairway or into a happily lighted elevator. Winded from the fight and running with the suitcase, the choice is an obvious one for a panicked mind. And, of course, that's the trap. Enomiya gets into the elevator and is soon on a quick fall to a certain death.

No doubt this was all according to plan but Azusawa can always tell himself that he's not responsible for Enomiya's bad choices—no matter how much he leads Enomiya to make them. And there's an extra trick hidden in this whole situation. Even if Enomiya had chosen differently, Azusawa can set up as many of these deadly choices as he feels like—everyone's bound to make the wrong one eventually. With a mastermind villain like this working in the shadows, it will be interesting to see how Arata and Kai combat him in the back half of the season—especially once they enter his crosshairs directly.

Rating:

Random Thoughts:

  • This week's Akane update: She's the one who recruited Irei into becoming an informant—and subsequently an enforcer.
  • Full-body holograms are illegal. After the events of season 2, it's not hard to guess why.
  • Another hole in the system: if you have no brain activity, you can't be scanned by Sibyl. Cryogenic shipping of criminals to needed locations is absolutely the way to exploit this.
  • It's nice to see that Yayoi and her ex(?)-lover Shion are still on good terms--despite the fact they can only meet in exceptional circumstances like this case now that Yayoi is no longer a latent criminal.
  • I also like seeing that Sibyl really does follow her own rules. It would no doubt be better for society for Yayoi to remain as an Enforcer fighting crime. However, since somehow she got her criminal coefficient to under 100, the system set her free. (It's also good to know rehab can work and latent criminals aren't necessarily imprisoned forever).


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