Tag Archives: animated series

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 5 The Demiurge

11 Nov

The Demiurge is a god. The episode explores the theme of religion, prerequisite for every so-call science-fiction works. Because this existential metaphysical issue is dealt here in Aeon Flux‘s world, it is bound to be handled through the loony view point of Aeon and Trevor. While watching the episode I didn’t particularly laugh at it but now I have to analyze what I saw, I realize it was actually totally funny and absurd while being critical, that is so Aeon flux.

As usual, Aeon and Trevor are opposed to each others and fight, here followed by their respective armies. Trevor wants the super being because he believes it will be able to bring peace to Bregna. Aeon and the Monicans have captured it and, because they want to get rid of the god, prepare to launch it into the space via a rocket. This opposition is so faithful to the two different nation that are Monica and Bregna. In this episode more than ever, the viewer perfectly understands that the Monicans, in particular Aeon, are governed by anarchy, whereas the Breens need to be supervised. The Monicans are driven by their instinct which lead them to immediate plans, like throwing a god as far as they can in the space. This is so childish that we can only wonder how this people have made to survive and develop as a nation.

However, behind this childlike battle a definitely more dramatic scene happens. All of the troops on both sides die except for Trevor, Aeon, and two Monican lovers: Nader and Celia. This is definitely a criticism of what happens when people diverge over religion. The god is eventually launched into space but succeeds before in leaving a part of it in Nader.

True to the formula, the director chose to handle the subject to the exact opposite of what the viewer might expect. The god is on earth. To get rid of it, the Monicans just think about sending it to the sky, which is rather ironic. Also, the super being reborn… in Nader’s belly. For once, a man has a role in the Conception. Finally, there is no bias, as Aeon considers the creature is an evil while Trevor believes it is a salvation. When people of Bregna see the Demiurge they feel bliss or remorse. Even the name of the god reveals a contrast: Demi (not totally) Urge. Until the end of the episode Aeon and Trevor continue to disagree on the issue, like to illustrate religion is an endless debate.

Aeon Flux, season 3 episode 3 Thanatophobia

4 Nov

At the beginning of the episode the timbre of clapping with a maintained tempo is heard as two children throw fists near each another’s faces. The view then shifts to the source of the sound. A third child happily clapps in his hands near the border wall that separate Bregna and Monica. The episode focuses on this border, heavily controled by soldiers, automatic guns and video cameras. A couple tries to cross the border from Bregna to Monica but only the man succeeds while his lover is shot in her spine and stays on the other side. The men falls in Aeon’s arms in Monica and the woman is cured by Trevor in Bregna and is forced to work in a factory making “medical parts”.

Here again, secondary characters are stuck between Aeon and Trevor’s game. However, what makes this episode different from the first two seasons is that both of them seem to feel guilty about it. The woman is missing a vertebrea and has to regularly get it changed for an artificial one, which Trevor personally takes care of. Meanwhile Aeon who lives just across the border and can see what happens in the woman’s room, decides to pleasure the boyfriend so that Trevor will get jealous in return. I really liked this episode because a new tone is set. Aeon, tired of her silly game with Trevor, feels empathy for the woman who is cheated by her boy friend and manipulated by Goodchild, and decides to help her cross the border again.  Also, for the first time in the show, a real political thought appears. The governor of Bregna wonders if the border should be secured as it is because he believes people should stay in the city because they want to, not because they are afraid of crossing the border. He somehow manipulates the woman to make her reveal that she knows about Aeon’s terrorist plans and thus that she is faithful to Bregna.

However, we are still in Aeon Flux ‘s world, where utopia does not exist and the dark side of things prevail. The woman still wants to reach Monica, though she finally dumps her unfaithful boyfriend. She seeks freedom and is not taken by the false freedom offered by Trevor Goodchild’s ideology.

The end of the episode made me shiver. The woman goes further than the first time in her progress through the border crossing. On the verge of stepping in Monica however, she gets trapped by tiny wires and  machines come out of the wall, anesthetising her legs. With saw blades, the machines cut them off and sew them up. The real horror comes from the fact that the woman, now lying on the floor, realizes that the machines were built with the same parts she constructed at the factory. Both Aeon and Trevor watch powerlessly the scene.

The last scene repeats the very first one, except that we can’t hear anymore the sound of clapping and the view shift to the kid who now has his arms cut and sewn shut.

With this episode the show evolves to have deeper meaning. It is not only absurd and grotesque, as the characters appear more complex and concerned by their behavior, the atmosphere turns more dramatic.

Aeon flux season 2 episode 5 “War” 5/5

31 Oct

This episode condences 4 mini stories of five different characters who are involved in the same war. There is Aeon who first enters in the scene and gets killed by a blond soldier whom we follow his movement in a base. Inside, he is confronted by a sword-wielding long haired man who deflects a shot from the blond soldier before stabbing him. The Monican soldier then comforts his daughter and sends her to her living quarters after an alarm goes off. Meanwhile another Monican soldier’s painting is interrupted by the alarm and he leaves to join his clan’s forces. While the swordsman opens a gate to leave the base, grease drips into a pool on the floor. Inside the ship, he kills a few more soldiers, but he is shot in the chest. Then comes a female soldier, wielding a powerful machine gun, who enters the base using the painter’s body as a doorstop. She then frees her captive lover and they run from gunfire, unknowingly towards the dripping pool of grease which I believe that the base might explode in a moment and that they might die as well as the others.

I haven’t talked about the soundtrack of Aeon Flux yet but I think it has a really important place in this show. The sound designer, Drew Neumann, probably wanted to create a futurist or science fictional atmosphere. However, for a new viewer such as myself who discovers the show in 2010, it sounds definitely early 90’s that want to be futuristic. I like it, it reminds me that some works of the past are much more creative, experimental and futuristic than what can be done now. In this episode, each character has its own theme which underlines the transition between the different view points among the soldiers.

The theme of cascading events and their effect allows the director to play with the emotions of the viewer, by going again against the stereotypes of the Hollywoodian hero who would be invincible. It crushes those assumptions and keeps the viewer truly on their toes feeling a sense of shock and loss every time the new “hero” is killed. The heroin, the Apollonian blond, the father, the lovers, they all die, while those types of character are usually untouchable in large public cinema and well thinking audience.

Again Aeon Flux proves its anti conformism and strikes the viewer. Everything can happen, at any moment, there is no taboo, no censure.