Ergo Proxy Episode 02: Confessions of a Fellow Citizen

Hello and welcome to Anime Rants’ review and analysis of Ergo Proxy episode two. As I mentioned last time, I will be covering one episode at a time, exploring and discussing as much as possible. Please be aware that this review is full of spoilers, since I readily use information from the fandom wiki and my own re-watches of the anime series. The link for the first episode’s review is below for your convenience. Let’s begin .

Ergo Proxy Episode 01 Review and Analysis


-Episode Synopsis-

This installment of Ergo Proxy begins with Re-L metaphorically jumping through the hoops of reporting her attack, and running into difficulty at every turn. Nobody seems to believe her account of a monster, instead making her sort through a list of immigrant humans suspected who might have broken into her home. Since Vincent was found passed out nearby, Re-L’s superiors suggest he has been stalking her. Unable to accept that explanation, Re-L goes on insisting on her way. She soon discovers that she’s been taken off of her current investigation case because the clients have heard she is experiencing a mental episode. They refuse to let Re-L continue her work unless she goes to her doctor and gets physical and mental health checks.

Even though she knows her story is correct, there’s not much else Re-L can do, so she agrees to be seen by her primary physician. Deadalus, the brilliant young biologist, also happens to be a doctor. He tends to the regent and Re-L, and seems to be well acquainted with the family. When it becomes clear that Daedalus won’t accept the attack story either, Re-L switches tactics. She pretends to be upset and breaking down, begging for help with her overwhelming stress. In response, Daedalus and his accompanying Autoreivs immediately begin setting up a brain scan and other diagnostic equipment. While they are out of the room briefly, Re-L sneaks into Daedalus’ computer database. She encounters the codeword “Proxy,” and sees a report about Proxy amrita cells. That’s all she is able to see without being caught.

(Re-L and Daedalus)

After trying to research the codeword, Proxy, Re-L is suddenly summoned by the regent, her grandfather. He and his Collective of statue Autoreivs threaten to place Re-L in the custody and supervision of the Administrative Bureau. Essentially, she would be monitored at every turn and stripped of any remaining investigative authority or independence. However, since she’s the regent’s granddaughter, she is given one more chance. Re-L gives her word that she will stop poking around with the codeword proxy and her monster story. (Naturally, she’s lying. She’ll think of some way to investigate still.)

While all this is happening, Raul continues his own investigation and handling of the Proxy situation. His goal is to capture the Proxy, but he must do so while keeping the existence of the monsters secret. Re-L is interfering by blabbing about the monster attack. That’s why Raul had been the one ordering everyone to gaslight Re-L and give her such a hard time. Raul also discovers from security camera footage that there were two proxies that night at Re-L’s home. After this discovery, Raul takes a break from his work to visit a public mall. Pino the companion-type Autoreiv is also at that mall, accompanying her human mother-figure and her infant.

The chaos begins when a terrified Vincent half-stumbles, half-runs into the mall, being hotly pursued by a raging Proxy (Monad). She stalked and attacked him after his interview with the authorities. As Vincent runs for his life, pushing past people, Monad mows down anyone and everyone in her way with her absurd strength and monstrous claws. Civilians are dying left and right. Pino’s human mother is killed and her baby is thrown down the escalator to its death as well. As this is happening, Vincent brushed by Pino. The childlike Autoreiv then experienced her awakening, developing the Cogito Virus.

(Monad is out of her mind)

Raul issues orders to block the sector off and send out a unit of armed Autoreivs. This will hopefully limit how far Monad can go, as well as allowing the Autoreivs to isolate and capture all the humans who witnessed the monster. Those humans are put into “isolation facilities” where I assume they either undergo brainwashing or just stay permanently. Monad continues chasing Vincent, breaking down reinforced metal barriers like they were made of cardboard.

While the slaughter at the mall took place, Re-L was at her old house, investigating the site where the Proxy appeared before her. She managed to get here by lying and sneaking away from Iggy. Only one clue remains for Re-L, and she finds it pretty quickly. It’s a necklace that she immediately recognizes as Vincent’s last possession from the city of Mosk. As Re-L tries to wrap her head around what this means, the scene switches back to Vincent, who has been cornered at least and can run no longer. His expression of terror changes to one of menacing grimness, as he slowly opens his green eyes and faces Monad. He is no longer the Vincent he was a moment ago. He has become Ergo and is probably about to change into a Proxy. That’s where the episode ends.


-Discussion-

1) Information Control and Psychological Manipulation

Last time we talked a lot about Romdeau being a dystopian metropolis. That continues in the second episode with examples of information control and using psychological manipulation on people like Re-L who need to be kept quiet. Romdeau views its human population as easily replaceable, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some of these people with dangerous knowledge would just be killed off. However, Re-L is the all-important granddaughter of the regent, so it wouldn’t be acceptable to assassinate her. Instead, psychological warfare is used against her, both by the government at large and by Re-L’s own grandfather in particular. They went to great lengths to frame Re-L as confused and mentally unstable, with a completely unreliable narrative about her attack. Most of the episode, in fact, shows us the multitude of ways in which Re-L is invalidated and controlled in a way that denies what she witnessed.

(Re-L realizes Iggy’s memories were altered)

2) Insights About The Personality of Re-L

Despite most of the fanbase being indifferent to her or outright disliking her, I find myself increasingly impressed with Re-L. She’s an interesting and unusual character for a female anime lead. In Ergo Proxy episode 02, there were several Re-L moments and insights that caught my attention and that I wish to discuss.

First is Re-L’s acute frustration with the situation she finds herself in. Normally, Re-L isn’t particularly expressive, but anger seems to be something she can express freely, probably because it has plagued her for so many years. This girl is a free-thinker and extremely independent, so imagine how she must have grown up in the hyper-controlled city of Romdeau, monitored at every single point, and denied the answers to her questions. In addition, Re-L is a person interested in results, with little patience for the process or tolerance for incompetence. Even if these things weren’t true of Re-L, anyone would be perturbed and irritated with the amount of psychological manipulation she suffers through in this episode.

Stubbornness is generally viewed as a negative trait, but for Re-L, it’s her lifeline. It makes her strong and determined. This girl wants results, answers, and to get her way. Her insistence on her correctness in this case saved her from being psychologically destroyed. Despite everyone around her trying to manipulate and invalidate her, Re-L stays true to her story without faltering. We know for a fact this whole experience has been difficult for her. The terror of being attacked by a monster could be traumatizing for some, and even for the emotionally detached Re-L, she clearly experiences fear and even sheds a few tears when she revisits the scene of the incident and relives the moment in her head. Even dealing with so much terror, however, Re-L remains convinced of her correctness and resistant toward brainwashing and gaslighting. I think that’s extremely admirable.

(Re-L relives the terrifying moment when Ergo Proxy touched her)

Beyond just being obstinate, Re-L is intelligent and resourceful. Recall that in episode two, she deceives and uses Daedalus to acquire information. Some would frown upon this, but how else was Re-L supposed to make any progress? She initially tried an honest appeal to Deadalus, but it quickly became clear he did not believe her. So Re-L proceeded to put on an act, behaving emotional and vulnerable in a way that would stir Daedalus’ compassion and spur him on to run tests on her right away. While the young doctor leaves the room to prepare said tests, Re-L accesses his computer files and gains some valuable information. It’s hardly surprising that Re-L can be manipulative when she was raised by the regent, who tries to manipulate and control her at every turn. All that to say, this incident shows Re-L’s quick mind and ability to use what’s around her to achieve results.

here’s just one other point before we move on. Some fans, usually those who dislike or misunderstand Re-L, complain that she treats Iggy badly or does not care about him. At a later point in the story, it’s true that Re-L fails to notice something important about Iggy because she’s caught up in her own devices. However, that doesn’t mean Re-L doesn’t care about Iggy. She certainly does. Iggy has been her companion since childhood. Even though she acknowledges that he’s just an Autoreiv with no real mind, Re-L seems to be attached to Iggy, both practically and abstractly as he is a huge help and support to her. This is why, in episode 02, it’s so difficult for Re-L to see that Iggy is being altered and tampered with by her grandfather. She can no longer trust him or depend on him, for fear of being manipulated or monitored by the regent.

Re-L mutters under her breath, “I’m sorry, Iggy,” at one point. That’s just not something she would say or think unless she had an attachment to Iggy. Certainly, this feisty girl can be cold, but she isn’t heartless as some fans would have you believe.

(Re-L can’t rely on Iggy)

3) The Awakening of Pino

The second episode is when Pino’s awakening happens. Autoreivs who have close contact with Proxies spontaneously develop the Cogito Virus, meaning they become sentient. They also fall on their knees and clasp their hands together, looking upward in a position of prayer. Why exactly the Autoreivs have this initial behavior is unclear, but I think it’s because they are metaphorically praying to live, to continue to exist with this new wonderful thing called an independent mind. Pino’s awakening began right when Vincent touched her as he was running past, fleeing from Monad. What do you think Pino went through when she suddenly gained a free consciousness? What did she do after? Let’s review.

Imagine if the first thing you saw after becoming sentient was a monster chasing and killing people violently. You suddenly recognize that the person next to you has been your caretaker for years– just in time to see her get torn open by the monster and die. Pino must have felt some sense of shock or horror as her human “mother-figure” was killed along with her actual baby. However, since Pino doesn’t necessarily have emotional attachments yet, she might not have been terribly upset after all. A lot of assumptions could be wrong since Pino’s mind just “began” and she doesn’t necessarily have any human instincts or emotions quite yet.

What did Pino really think? The only thing we know is that she headed straight home alone and waited for her “papa,” Raul. Perhaps this was force of habit, but it seems to me that Pino genuinely wants to see her papa and reestablish what’s left of the family. Importantly, it seems that Pino doesn’t yet realize what happened to her. She doesn’t understand the significance of gaining a mind. As the series goes on, we’ll get to see more of Pino and her feelings and reactions as she explores having a consciousness, but that’s it for now.

(Pino becoming sentient as her mother bleeds and dies)

4) Daedalus, Raul, and Vincent

Concerning characters, I’d like to make a few quick notes concerning what we know about Daedalus and Raul. In episode 02, we learned that Daedalus and Re-L are already fairly well-acquainted. It’s implied that they grew up together. Iggy refers to Daedalus as Re-L’s “prince,” and suggests she would feel better after a kiss. It appears that Daedalus cares about Re-L to some degree, but considering that he was partaking in the large-scale gaslighting of her, his commitment is limited. He’s not willing to drop the act and be an ally to Re-L. But he’s still keenly interested in her mental state, which is why it was easy for Re-L to manipulate him in turn by pretending to have a breakdown. Those are my thoughts about Daedalus this episode.

When it comes to Raul, there’s something important to note that I never fully understood until this current re-watch of Ergo Proxy. The rich lady with the baby who also takes care of Pino is actually Raul’s wife. I’m not sure why I never made the connection before. According to the fandom wiki, Raul was on his way to the mall to meet up with his wife and spend some time with her and their infant. Unfortunately, the slaughter in the mall resulted in the death of Raul’s family.

The interesting thing here is Raul’s emotional detachment. His wife was violently killed in front of him, and his baby fell down the escalator and did not survive the fall. Although Raul was frozen in shock initially, it only lasted for a few seconds. His Entourage Autoreiv shook him and started asking him for orders about how to handle the situation. Raul snapped out of his shock and proceeded to give the orders. He was later again distracted by the sight of the bloodstain near the baby stroller, but again, he remained calm and kept busy. These reactions–or lack thereof– make one wonder of Raul might be sociopathic. If nothing else, he is so grossly detached from any emotions that it’s chilling. I look forward to watching Raul’s development as the series continues.

(Raul and his Entourage)

The last topic in our discussion is Vincent and his amnesia. Ergo Proxy’s second episode showed us that Vincent has some strong connection to the Proxy who broke into Re-L’s house. From future episodes and the wiki, we know that Vincent can turn into a Proxy named Ergo. That was his original form. However, at Ergo’s request, Monad turned him into a human. The process had unexpected results though. Not only did Monad fall into a coma, but the newly human Vincent lost all his memories of being a Proxy. And his amnesia is an ongoing thing. Any time Vincent morphs into Ergo Proxy, he loses memories of that the time he spends in that form. He awakens passed out later with a memory gap.

Essentially, Vincent is experiencing dissociative amnesia. In real psychology, this phenomenon has a number of causes, including head injuries, trauma, and severe stress. It makes sense that Vincent, the new self born from Ergo, would be subject to immense stress. At least initially, Vincent cannot accept that he turns into a Proxy during his missing memory chunks. Since he’s constantly being pursued by Monad, as well, the stress and terror only got worse. It will take quite a few more episodes for Vincent to accept the truth.

(Vincent about to change into a proxy)

Normally, this is where I would include a section for history, mythology, and language. However, there was very little new content in episode two that I didn’t already discuss in my analysis of episode one. Thus, we leave off here for today. Thank you so much for reading and please join me next time for Ergo Proxy episode 03!

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