by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Psycho-Pass 3 ?
In which Sibyl's plan becomes clear.
A lot happens in this, the penultimate episode of Psycho-Pass 3. We get a resolution to the third case, learn more about Bifrost, and even get a peek at Akane's plan. But it also has some interesting character work worth talking about—especially when it comes to Kei.
Over the course of the series, it's become more and more clear that while Arata may be cut out for police work, Kei is not. While he is calm on the outside, his inner feelings—especially those towards his family, friends, and coworkers—can overcome his better judgement and make him act foolishly. And then comes this episode.
After being tortured for days—and having his captors threaten to torture both Mao and his wife, Maiko, if he doesn't give up information he doesn't actually have—it's clear Kei is far from being in the best mental state. Then add to that the fact that his wife killed a man and Kei may have become broken beyond repair. It's no surprise that Kei attacked Arata—after all, Arata was supposed to keep Maiko safe while he was undercover. So with his emotional support network heavily damaged, Kei has only one easy outlet for his rage: revenge on those who killed his brother. And if he focuses on this too much, he's all but certain to end up just like Kogami in the first season.
Now as for Maiko, her case is more than a little interesting. Maiko is not a latent criminal but an actual murderer. And as court trials no longer exist in the world of Psycho-Pass, things like “justified self-defense” don't exist either. However, as long as her Psycho-Pass remains under the 200 limit, it appears as if she is treated like a “latent criminal” by the system—with the possibility of being set free should she become mentally healthy again. In fact, with the rehabilitation of Yayoi (a woman who used a Dominator more than once), it seems even a body count matters less to Sibyl than mental fitness. Of course, given Maiko's obvious weapon proficiency and martial arts prowess, I'd be surprised if she didn't end up as an Enforcer by the end. The real question is if Kei will end up joining her as one or not.
But as important as Kei's trials and trauma are to the series, they are completely overshadowed by the revelations in the episode's closing minutes. Taking all of Psycho-Pass' various anime into consideration, there is one question being explored: “who watches the watchers.” The answer is Akane. Not criminally asymptomatic but remarkably stable nonetheless, she has taken it upon herself to call the system on its BS. She can take this role because A) she doesn't believe in the system but is pragmatic enough to recognize there is currently no better alternative and B) the system itself recognizes the value of an outside—if hostile—viewpoint. But Akane is not a passive watcher. Over the anime and films, she again and again forces the system to reflect on its own choices—to confront the hypocrisies in its rules and actions. In season 2, this was making the system capable of judging not just a person but a society—and therefore itself. In the movie, Akane forced it to grant people free will on whether to join the system or not. The system allows this because it fully believes its own hype—that it is making a perfect, peaceful, and fulfilling society. Anything that makes it evolve positively is encouraged.
Now, however, Sibyl is attempting to make Akane obsolete. Instead of having a true outsider like Akane find the flaws in the system, it wants someone criminally asymptomatic to do the job—after all, the criminally asymptomatic are all but destined to become part of Sibyl in the end. Thus having Arata take Akane's job basically makes the system self-evolving from a certain point of view. But here's the thing, for that to be true, Arata would have to want to join the Sibyl System after Bifrost is dealt with. Herein lies the deeper issue. Sibyl has nominally one objective: create a mentally safe society for all its citizens. However, it has a hidden objective as well: collect the brains of criminally asymptomatic people to incorporate into the system and make it more perfect. Up until now, these criminally asymptomatic people have all been criminals (at least as far as we know). This makes Arata a unique case: a criminally asymptomatic yet law-abiding citizen who believes in peace, justice, and the system.
Thus, the system is in a tricky situation where it may be forced to prove which goal is more important: following the laws and rules it has set down for a peaceful society (which includes Arata) or improving itself. Is Sibyl ultimately selfless or selfish? This is the trap Sibyl has walked into and Akane isn't planning to let the system sidestep the issue. We'll just have to wait till next week's episode to see how it—and the whole Bifrost conspiracy—turn out.
- There is a lot to resolve in the series' final episode—and even with its 45-minute runtime, I worry that it will be hard to tie up so many loose ends.
- So the Ministry of Foreign Affairs team has its own super soldier bad guy they've been battling with—seems like there's a bit of a story there. Are we going to end up with a film or OVA that covers this whole season from their POV I wonder?
- It's interesting that Mao's betrayal has yet to occur. But then again, it's Azusawa who is her handler, not Aschenbach.
- I'm happily surprised that Maiko didn't get fridged—she just got shelved. This is great as there is so much that can be done with her character in the future (and Kei gets his boost of motivation regardless).
- It's poetic that it is Sho who discovers that Arata is criminally asymptomatic. After all, his voice actor, Takahiro Sakurai, also played Shogo Makishima (the first season's criminally asymptomatic main villain).
- As much as I waxed on about Akane being a watcher of the system, Mika has also filled this role ever since the first Sinners of the System film. However, unlike Akane, she sees the system as damn near perfect. As long as the system's actions keep it the same or make it better, she is content. But anything that could make the system less so makes Mika rail against the system as hard as Akane—if not more so.
- One interesting idea in Psycho-Pass 2 was the effect of the observer on the Sibyl System's scans—i.e., does the mentality of the person holding the Dominator effect the results of the scan? We never got a concrete answer to this but it does raise an interesting question for season 3: How does a criminally asymptomatic person holding a Dominator effect the scan?
Psycho-Pass 3 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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