Aeon Flux Overall review

2 Dec

Overall, Aeon Flux is a great, unique show, the kind I would like to see more on TV. I wonder how a so creative and unconventional show like that made to be aired on TV. Though MTV is a cable channel and has less constraint about censure, the story in itself is definitely not accessible to a wide audience, and it might have been a risky bet to produce Aeon Flux. I read someone else’ blog about the show. The guy didn’t seem to have gotten the principle of the story, and have had a hard time with the foot fetishism thing.

I liked all the episodes (except for Ether Drift Theory that was flat), shorts and longer ones, those that were directed by Peter Chung or  by Howard Baker. However I have a little preference for Chung’s style. I think he is careless about censure and the politically correct than Baker is. It can be felt through the episode that the two men have a different cultural background. The most interesting fact is that those differences are mainly notable through Aeon’s personality. Under Howard Baker’s directing, Aeon Flux is sensitive, she has remorse, once she falls in love, another time she ends up as an accomplished mother, or at one point she even follows her lover until the end of humanity. When Aeon is directed by Chung, she has “no conscience”, she uses men just for her pleasure. In the episode Utopia or Deuteranopia? all Breen soldiers have a key that opens Aeon’s kind of chastity belt.

Also, Peter Chung aims at being critical of the hollywood’s style stories, when he makes die his heroine for instance, or asks about morality and depicts ultra violence (in particular in the shorts) while Baker mostly deals with western christian issues like love, god and genocide. But somehow, I think it is not that bad that someone with a different sensitiveness took the directing of the show. After all, isn’t Aeon Flux supposed to be multi-point of views?

By doing some research about the show I found that a movie had been done in 2005, starring Charlize Steron in the role of Aeon. I know I shouldn’t say that a film is crap not good without having watched it, but I can’t really imagine Charlize Steron french-kiss Trevor, fantasize on everything that is moving or even play a gauche character. Indeed, she is too pretty and “smooth” to be credible in the role of Aeon Flux. I would have rather see someone like Sigourney Weaver for the role. This choice of actress allows to assume that the rest of the film might be terribly Hollywoodian, that is to say at the exact opposite of what Peter Chung wanted to do with Aeon Flux. As a proof, he even said, interviewed by Livejournal in 2006, that he “[felt] helpless, humiliated and sad” watching the movie. I believe cinema lives a hard time for creation because of the big studios that, in order to reach the biggest audience possible, erase every single thing that could not be appreciated by someone in the mass. But what about those who wants to see works that are a little less standardized? Fortunately, TV does not suffer as much as cinema yet of this censure of creativity. Sometimes it happens producers go beyond the profit factor and dare giving rise to shows like Aeon Flux, or in another genre, South Park, the Simpsons

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Aeon Flux season 3 episode 10 End Sinister

1 Dec

What is “absurd” in this episode? It is that Peter Chung does not appear in the credit! Otherwise the story is pretty common and normal in the science fiction world. I hadn’t imagine I could use those two words to describe Aeon Flux though.

While Trevor imagines a new process that would enable only the strongest human beings to survive, to create his artificial evolution chain, an alien spaceship crashes in his property.  Aeon meets with one of the alien who has been ejected from the spaceship in a capsule. The female alien (it is said she is by Trevor and Aeon) has no genital organ, no mouth and no nose. Trevor believes that her spiritual way to appreciate things is the highest step in the human evolution, whereas Aeon, of course, thinks that not being able to feel physical pleasure is a pity. This is maybe the only thing that can be related to the spirit of the show. Aeon, who is usually provocative, independent and as curious as a 5 years old child, is rather, in this episode, the “girl-friend” type. Even though she opposes to Trevor in his idea, it seems that the real point of the story here is for her to run after Trevor. Aeon tries to release Trevor from the Alien ascendancy. She is more devoted than ever. At one point, she panics because Trevor takes off in a spaceship, with the alien, where Aeon has placed a bomb earlier. She has just enough time to avert him, by telepathy, so that he can drop the bomb off the spaceship. She looks so desperate during that scene that I wondered if she hadn’t had a brainwash between episode 9 and episode 10.

Now Trevor is at thousand light years from her, Aeon decides to wait for his return and enters in a long artificial sleep in the capsule that originally brought the alien on earth. When she awakes, the earth is now inhabited by the aliens. She finds Trevor who has half mutated, looking like one of the alien. I find that scenario is a little bit too cliché. There are numerous references to the bible, such as a snake that can be seen near Aeon and Trevor when they realize they are the only two humans who left on earth. Aeon turns on the button of the “human evolution” machine that Trevor had built years ago, and a huge laser, under the shape of a snake, falls from space on earth. Suddenly, the “alien” population get infected by a sort of virus and the survivors decide to leave the Earth. Aeon and Trevor ends up like the new Adam and Eve.

I assume these christian references are bound to the director’s (Howard Baker) background, the same way that I wouldn’t write a story about original sin and women because I am not christian. However, for having seen or read a great number of American SF works, I have a little enough of always being served the same story with those religious issues and poor roles for women. I am expecting from artists to go beyond their cultural environment and brain washing references to create something new, original and maybe personal.

Aeon Flux season 3 episode 9 The purge

29 Nov the Custodian

Aeon Flux is back at last! Until watching this episode I hadn’t really paid attention to who directed which episode. Though Peter Chung is always present whether it be in the writing, the story or the directing, the atmosphere differs if he is not the director. Episodes like Chronophasia, the Demiurge or yet Reraizure are directed by Howard Baker. Now I think about it, those episodes follow a very American conception of the dramaturgy, that is to say that the pace has to be maintained fast so there is no room for “extras”, every shot is well-ordered in the framework, each image conveys sense logically. That is why those episodes somehow miss the digressions that are so typical of Aeon Flux. In The Purge, directed by Peter Chung, the show returns to its essence.

At the beginning of the episode, Aeon is on the heels of Bambara, a huge, fat, and simple-minded mean criminal who keeps shouting out a “piss off” curse. She is chasing him within a train and the viewer follows them running through the different wagons. There I found what I think makes Aeon Flux avant-garde. When Aeon enters the first wagon, a hand comes out a toilet cabin and points from its finger a roll of toilet paper at the other side of the wagon. Though Aeon is after Bambara, she takes the time to smile,  raising one eyebow, and decides to give the roll to the guy inside the toilets. In the second wagon, there is only a child hanging from a trapeze, who Bambara, for the pleasure of it, ties up and leaves hanging in a very uncomfortable position. When Aeon arrives and sees the scene, she just goes on her way without trying to help the child. In the third wagon, there is an old man lying on the floor because Bambara has thrown away his crutches. He ends up a leash in his mouth attached to his dog that is running outside the train. The man is begging for help with his eyes but Aeon prefers using the crutches to neutralize an electrified door. Technically speaking, those scenes could have been directed in a more conventional way to show Aeon’s lack of ethic. Nevertheless, they are designed this way purely for the aesthetic of the show and this is, in my opinion, essential for its identity. I can remember that “absurd” is a word that came out frequently in my first posts about the show. Here again I can talk about absurdity.

It also seems that characters and situations are much sillier under Peter Chung’s directing. Trevor’s new whim in this episode is to give the population an artificial conscience, under the shape of a metallic skeleton, called  “Custodian,” that is transplanted into people through their navels. Bambara gets caught by Trevor and his troop. He is implanted with an artificial conscience by sheer force and suddenly becomes polite, sweet and released from any kind of nastiness. I really appreciate the fact that Trevor Goodchild is not an all-dark, crazy dictator who acts only for his self accomplishment. Indeed, if an artificial conscience might seem to be the worst thing for one’s freedom, in this case it is not totally irrelevant. By placing the metallic skeleton into Bambara, Trevor offers him a chance to avoid prison (or worse). Meanwhile, the society gets rid of a dangerous criminal.

Aeon follows the newly good-thinking Bambara who meets an orphan child who is missing one of his arms in the street. Getting back to the burlesque spirit of the show, the following scene opens on the entrance of a hospital where Bambara and the child stand in front of it. Now Bambara misses one of his arms that has been, we soon realize, transplanted on the child. The little boy seems to be happy despite the obvious mismatch between his body and the big muscled arm.

As in most of the episodes, Aeon represents the other side of the issue. Is it fair and moral to deprive people of their lack of right conscience, their right to be good or evil, even if every one of those who have been transplanted seems to be happy and harmless? At the end of the episode, Aeon is (against her will) the guest of a TV talk show anchored by Trevor, who tries to convince her that the Custodian does not deprive one from his or her freedom and that it just helps one make good decisions. Bambara, who has had his Custodian removed by Aeon earlier, enters on the set of the show and threatens to kill Trevor. Aeon answers that she has no “conscience” and is free to act for good or for evil. As a proof, she pulls a lever which drops Bambara into a pit. However, when she leaves the set, she meets with a Custodian that repeats exactly her move when she pulled the lever. To my great pleasure, we are again given the choice to interpret.

Aeon Flux season 3 episode 8 Ether Drift Theory

29 Nov

Trevor has created a cubic building, which he called the “Habitat”, that floats in an ocean of paralytic fluid. There live many of his experimental creations like humanoid lizards or even a four armed female mutant. Aeon and a partner enter the cube, heading through the dangerous liquid in a submarine. The partner, Lindze, sneaks into the building to find her lover, Bargel, while Aeon is supposed to divert the robot guards. Bargel, who is a scientist, seems to have been infected by some kind of virus. In parallel of his researches for Trevor, he has worked on a method to cure the paralytic fluid that keeps people from coming and going freely.

This was, in my opinion, the most boring episode of all the show. It is as if all that makes Aeon Flux the show it is is in the episode but that things don’t work as well as in the shorts for instance. During the whole episode almost nothing happens. Aeon and the two other characters spend their time running in the Habitat’s corridors, trying to escape from either Trevor or the guards. There is a concept in the episode though: the Ether drift theory. Aeon, at the beginning when she enters the cube, accidentally drops her ammunition. One of them lands on a small lizard, making an egg falls out of it in a vent. Later in the episode, the egg eventually splashes on the ground of a cafeteria where Aeon has spilled some drink at the same place. The mixture of the two creates a green liquid that seems to have the same effect as acid, and begins to destroy the whole station. Trevor and Lindze succeed to escape with the submarine while Bargel has just succumbed to his disease. Aeon misses them for a few seconds and is eventually surrounded by the green acid. The whole cube collapses and Aeon ends up paralyzed in the fluid that was outside.

The end reminds me the spirit of the first and second season shorts. However, the difference between those shorts and this episode is the length and the comedy of the situation. In most of the shorts Aeon dies because of her incompetence. In five minutes or so she is able to ruin her mission because she has looked at herself for instance in a mirror instead of concentrating on the target, or just because she has stepped on a nail, and this is it, end of the story. What works in this scheme is the instantaneousness of the situation. In Ether drift Theory, though Aeon’s clumsiness is the cause of her death at the end, between the moment she drops her ammunition and the moment she spills her drink on the floor too much time passes. The relationship between cause and effect is not clear enough for it be either funny or dramatic.

Aeon Flux season 3 episode 7 Chronophasia

28 Nov

Aeon’s mission in this episode is to find a baby, lost in a laboratory in the middle of a jungle. The first scene opens on her, screaming as she awakes, seeming to come out from a nightmare. Trevor is also looking at some virus in this laboratory. Aeon enters first in what looks like a huge abandoned research base. Inside she meets with a young blue-eyed, dark-haired teen boy, who leads the secret agent into a dark cave. There, Aeon finds what she believes is the baby she is looking for, but it is big, misshapen, and has a horrible carnassial dentition. She screams and the image shifts to the very first scene, when she abruptly awoke. This scene repeats any times she dies or is scared in the episode.

The first thing that came to me after having watched the episode, is a conversation I had with two of my friends about the subconscious in our dreams, in particular those that are about pregnancy, birth and babies. For me, this is what it is about in the episode. Aeon might have been infected by the virus in the air of the base and she is now captive to her subconscious (unor to the monstrous baby’s belly). She always awakes on a stone table in the base that looks like an operating table, and touches a viscous liquid all around her. All of those elements make me think about a delivery. Furthermore, Aeon passes through all the steps of pregnancy during the different scenes. In one scene she has symptoms that Trevor thinks are because of the flux. In another one she absolutely wants to kill the baby in the cave. In her last awaking, Aeon eventually gives up all resistance to this endless situation incarnated by the dark-haired boy who has followed her all through the episode. The last scene opens in a car, in a world that is similar to ours. The dark-haired boy is in the passenger side, wearing baseball equipment. He leaves the car to run towards a baseball ground, followed by Aeon, who is dressed in jeans and T-shirt and smiling at him.

We are never told what really happens in the episode, whether those fantasies are a product of Aeon or of the Evil force that is in the underground facility. However, several hints are given to make us understand we are in a dream-like atmosphere, where non sense coexist with sense. At one moment, Trevor makes Aeon eat pasta that looks like a brain! What is funny, is the fact that the viewer precisely witnesses the change in Aeon’s brain.  At first, the baby (who might be a failed experiment) is surrounded by a contaminated air, a virus that gets people “happy”. Finally it appears, in another of her fantasies, that, according to Trevor, there is no virus in the air. She somehow acknowledges (or is been pushed to do so) that being pregnant is not a disease. In her third “dream” she is told by Trevor that she is the most important thing to his eyes and that he is in love with her, symbolizing, I assume, her need to have a father for her baby.

I like the fact that motherhood is described not as something natural and instinctive to women but rather like something that is engraved in them under exterior pressure. Here, Aeon is almost forced to be a mother by this boy who says to her “I want you” and who manipulates her senses so that she eventually acknowledges him. As the title (which means “time-consuming”) suggests, Aeon is literally taken out of her life by motherhood.

Aeon Flux season 3 episode 6 Reraizure

28 Nov Narghil

Memory and the way it shapes people is the main theme of this episode. After a Monican agent is captured, Aeon, disguised as a Breen soldier, infiltrates the prison where he’s being kept. During her move in the building, she kills a woman who, we’ll learn later, is the agent’s girl friend. The agent, Rordy, has lost his memory because of a strange small creature, called a Narghile. It produces inside its body a drug, shaped as a pearl they name“Bliss”, that makes the one who consumes it lose his or her memory.

At the end of the episode, we can hear Trevor who says “We are not what we remember of ourselves […] Learn from your mistakes so that one day you will be able to repeat them precisely.” It is so cynic, but I think this applies to a good many of us.

To illustrate this thinking, the characters in the episode are dogged by their mistakes whether they remember them or not. Aeon falls in love with the agent she frees, Rordy, and decides to help him send all the Narghiles to the sun, since they cannot be killed otherwise, while she comforts him by becoming his new girl friend. As Aeon feels guilty for having killed Rordy’s girl friend, she confesses her crime to him. Rordy gets furious and rejects Aeon. The now dead girl friend, Muriel, had betrayed Rordy, cheating on him with Trevor. She was supposed to team up with Rordy to help to the Narghiles’ extinction, because she had also been affected by loss of memory because of the Bliss drug. Rordy, totally worned out when Aeon reveals him the betrayal, decides again to dope himself with a Bliss pearl as to commit a mental suicide. In the last scene Aeon finds Rordy in his bathtub. He can’t recognize her anymore and even doesn’t know where he is. Things have come full circle.

I found hard to draw a moral from the episode. I believe, the scenario is quiet confuse because scenes do not follow on very well. There are too many things that happen and too quickly, making me confused. However the end saves the whole by giving a clear sensation that fate could not be cheated. I felt sorry for Aeon who for once seemed to be really in love with a man.

From the edge of free speech

22 Nov

Chase Harper, a teenager who attended Poway High School, San Diego, was suspended after showing up at school wearing a t-shirt that included a bible quote and the words, “Homosexuality is Shameful”. He complained that his freedom of speech was violated by the school as well as his right of practicing his religion…

In my mother country, I have been taught, since my very first step at school, that one’ s freedom ended where someone else freedom started. That is, in this case, that you have the right to express yourself until it doesn’t hurt somebody around, as he or she has the right not to be offended. However, in the United States, freedom of speech is in the center of the culture. The country seems to have raised and been founded around the First Amendment, explaining why the (in my opinion excessive) freedom of speech is so controversial. would I have the right to wear a t-shirt that said  ‘I hate negroes”, or to tag my bag  ‘faties are ugly”? What about laws that should protect people from racism or any other form of discrimination? Why the first amendment would take over those principals?

I think the school did well by firing that redneck… Education is not only a matter of learning geography, history and mathematics. It also implies learning about respect and tolerance. No one can forbid someone to be homophobic or to have any other kind of sectarian thinking inside his or her private sphere. However, for the sake of the community’s adhesion and cohesiveness, the society, its laws and moral rules, have to regulate individuals behavior outside the private sphere to create a balance, otherwise things could turn to anarchy.