Tag Archives: The purge

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.