Ergo Proxy Episode 10: Existence (Cytotropism)

Meep! It’s time for another episode review for Ergo Proxy! We begin with a synopsis as usual.

-Episode Synopsis-

This episode focuses on what’s happening Romdeau during the events of the last two episodes. Re-L Mayer was supposedly assassinated, the specimen of the Proxy corpse was confiscated, and Daedalus was stripped of his position as head of the Health Bureau. As for Raul, he’s undergoing quite a psychological change, becoming obsessed with his power and delighting in his own cunning. He is also highly interested in Daedalus. But all this manic interest and joy is offset by his frustration and stress from dealing with the regent and the collective. They won’t answer his questions, and there’s nothing Raul hates more than being denied information.

After one particularly stressful interview with the collective, Raul punches and breaks a mirror, injuring his hand. After that, there is a mysterious blackout lasting for a couple of minutes. This was the longest blackout in a series of similar incidents. Raul investigates the blackouts and then goes to see Daedalus, supposedly to treat his injured hand. The young doctor is depressed and initially doesn’t want to talk to Raul, whom he suspects of murdering Re-L. But after some talk, Daedalus agrees to talk to Raul alone, unwatched by the collective and the regent.

The conversation reveals some interesting facts. Daedalus was the one behind the blackouts. He made it look as if it was a terrorist attack by infected autoreivs or immigrants, but really, he was stealing the power for his own use. His plan was to try reviving Monad Proxy, but so far it didn’t work. Also, Re-L is alive. The assassination did not succeed, and she fled Romdeau with Iggy. Furthermore, the one who ordered the assassination was not Raul after all. It was the regent himself. Raul proposes a deal to work together with Daedalus. In exchange for giving Daedalus “a toy,” the young scientist will work exclusively for Raul and do his bidding.

The “toy” turns out to be the corpse of Monad Proxy. Daedalus is delighted, until Raul suddenly subdues him with physical force. He basically says from now on, he can treat Daedalus however he wants, and there are no protections from the regent anymore. It was a way to bully Daedalus into being submissive and serving only Raul. Raul’s forcefulness seemed to shake Daedalus up a lot. However, he still holds some secrets of his own, and claims that everything is going according to his plan. One of Daedalus’ last secrets is the existence of bullets that are capable of killing Proxies. He invented them himself and gave two of them to Re-L when she left.

Speaking of Re-L, she and Iggy have left Romdeau and discovered another dome city. This one is abandoned, or at least there are no humans. There are still plenty of autoreivs and mindless machines still following their programming to take care of the now empty human neighborhoods. Re-L wanders away from Iggy at some point and sees a little girl at trolley stop. The mysterious girl runs off with Vincent’s old pendant that Re-L had been keeping. The pendant is important to Re-L, and the girl is mysterious, so she gives chase.

Once she catches up, the mysterious girl starts questioning Re-L. She asks if Re-L truly wants to meet Vincent again considering the many uncertainties and the fact that he is a proxy. Re-L replies that she wants to know the truth, and believes Vincent can provide some answers. After hearing that, the little girl returns the pendant. She suddenly is wearing makeup identical to Re-L’s, driving home the point that she looks exactly like a younger version of Re-L. A white smoke engulfs the two of them and the grown-up Re-L passes out. When she wakes up, she’s still at the trolley stop. She labels her experience a strange dream. Then she reunites with Iggy, and the two of them leave the mysterious dome city.


Who Was The Girl?

Was it really only a dream that Re-L had at the trolley stop? I think that little girl she saw was real, but who was it? The main theory among fans is that it was the proxy who was master of this abandoned dome city. It’s pretty clear that every dome city has a proxy that takes care of it, so it would be strange if this one city was the exception. We also know that proxies can sometimes read and mess with human minds, as well as being able to shapeshift. With these abilities, a proxy could make itself look like young Re-L and investigate her mind. Why exactly a proxy would do this, I’m not sure, but at least it doesn’t seem to have ill intentions. After all, it returned the pendant and even wishes Re-L good luck.

Interestingly enough, this is one of the few proxies in the show that isn’t found or killed by Ergo Proxy/ Vincent. There are supposedly over 400 dome cities (according to the Ergo Proxy wiki), so it makes sense that most of them have not yet been explored by our characters. There is also a theory that the little girl proxy was actually Proxy One, an important antagonist. But this isn’t a very strong theory since Proxy One is supposed to always be linked to Vincent, living in his shadow. Some fans also believe Re-L’s experience really was just a strange dream. That’s certainly a possibility. Since the dream was about Re-L questioning herself, it makes sense for her to find a girl who looked exactly like her but younger.

Raison D’etre

In any good fiction that explores a dystopia and/or psychology, there will arise the topic of “Raison D’etre” or “reason for existence.” As Raul points out, everyone in Romdeau is a cog in the machine, designed with a specific purpose to serve the society. I don’t get the impression that anyone in the city has any choice in such matters as occupation or lifestyle. In other words, one’s purpose is assigned by the ruling powers even before birth. The people of Romdeau are much like the machines in the city where Re-L and Iggy are exploring; they just complete their programmed tasks without asking questions or changing. It’s a sad society indeed from the point of view of a free person.

Our main characters are the exceptions who have broken away from the oppressive, dystopian rule of Romdeau. That being said, at this point in the story, they still have rather simple reasoning related to purpose. Suddenly apart from what was assigned to them, they all cling to something that is their central Raison D’etre. For Daedalus, the reasons for existence were to study the comatose Monad and take care of the special existence known as Re-L. Iggy’s reason for existing is to protect and help Re-L. Currently, Re-L’s reason for existing is to uncover the mysteries of the proxies. Vincent is troubled by his lack of a reason, and Pino doesn’t seem to care about it much yet at her maturity level.

That brings us to Raul. What exactly is his raison d’etre? To be honest, at least at this point in the show, I’m not sure. He made the claim to Daedalus that he wanted to “save a world,” by which he meant Romdeau. But I doubt his wish to do this is truly his motivation for existing. I think he currently lives for the pleasure of power over others. The way Raul behaves in this episode is rather disgusting, as he takes advantage of Daedalus and enjoys it. I still have sympathy for the character, however. Raul tragically and suddenly lost his family. With no idea how to process it and no room for proper grief, it’s not surprising he would latch onto the last thing he has: his powerful position.

One other interesting thing to note is the raison d’etre of Romdeau’s regent and the four autoreivs of the collective. The collective has mentioned this theme before, that they must not lose their reason for existing. The collective’s primary job is to ensure the survival of humanity within Romdeau. But as we talked about in episode 7, many of the processes and traditions of Romdeau have outlived their usefulness and are now extremely unethical. The collective, nevertheless, wants to keep with the way things have always been. I’m not actually sure whether or not the collective knows the truth about old humanity that fled the earth. They probably do not know. So ironically enough, they don’t know the reason for why they were created: to save a place for old humanity upon its return to earth. Either way, everyone in Ergo Proxy has an important reason for existence.

Daedalus and Monad

Earlier, I said Daedalus’ reasons for existing were to take care of Re-L and supervise the captivity of Monad Proxy. But as we saw in this episode, the young scientist has lost those reasons. That’s why he seems so lost at the start of the episode. Now, Daedalus knew Re-L was alive, and by the end of the episode, he also has Monad’s body back. But things are still extremely difficult for him right now. Re-L is alive, but she left Romdeau and grew out of her need for his care. He’s free to study Monad’s body, but in exchange he has essentially become a slave to Raul.

These turns of events have severely damaged Daedalus’ ability to function and think clearly. That’s why, I think, he has become confused and desperate. After being assaulted by Raul, Daedalus is seen not only muttering to himself but also talking to Monad’s corpse and saying “You’re home.” He then proceeds to call the proxy’s body “My Re-L.” What this means is that essentially, he has replaced his raison d’etre, but in a concerning way. Daedalus now lives for the purpose of reviving Monad, and looks to it to comfort his existential depression at losing Re-L. The theme of loneliness is pervasive, appearing all over Ergo Proxy, and Daedalus is not immune to this profound emptiness.

Iggy’s Behavior

I promised to begin including sections discussing Iggy’s behavior as an awakened autoreiv from now on. However, there’s only a small amount of content to cover from episode 10. Basically, Iggy is behaving normally, probably because he has no idea what else to do. He has a mind of his own now, but has chosen to continue what he was originally programmed to do, taking care of Re-L. It’s safe to say that he truly cares about her. This is speculation, but I don’t think Iggy wants Re-L to know that he has changed, except maybe on some subconscious level. Knowing Iggy, he probably views his awakening as a mistake. It’s something that causes him pain and gets in the way of his otherwise mindless caretaking duties. All that being said, Re-L really should have started to notice something was different about Iggy. Her lack of consideration for him will come back to bite her later.

There’s one other thing to note. I may be reading too much into it, but I think there are very subtle hints about Iggy’s change in his behavior. For one thing, he sounds mildly frustrated when he has to remind Re-L that their priority is finding supplies. Telling one’s master what they ought to be doing seems a little too bold for a normal autoreiv to do. I could be wrong. The main thing I wanted to point out was that, although I can’t quite put my finger on it, something has changed about Iggy’s physical presence. Maybe it’s that he gets closer to Re-L, or that his gestures look more natural and human than before. He just seems more real now.

-References to Language, Science, Etc.-

Meaning of The Episode Title (Cytotropism)

Ergo Proxy episode ten is called “Existence (Cytotropism).” The first part of the title makes sense, as this episode deals with the theme of reasons for existence. But what about the second part of the title? Despite taking many biology courses, I could not remember the meaning of that word, so I looked it up. Cytotropism has two meanings. Firstly, it refers to the tendencies of cells to move apart or together during an organism’s embryonic development. Secondly, cytotropism refers to the ability of viruses to target specific types of cells for infection. What do either of these meanings have to do with Ergo Proxy? I’m not completely sure, but my interpretations are below.

Cells have differing affinities for each other. Watching their patterns of movement toward or away from one another can be fascinating. People are much the same. We have different affinities for each other. In society, we are always getting close to some and farther from others. Our human interactions and social networks are complex and, in a way, beautiful. We see the characters in Ergo Proxy interact and change in different ways, too. That’s one possible reason why this episode was called cytotropism. However, I think my second thought is more likely the intended meaning.

The second thought I had was that this was really about the fictional biology of proxies. Proxies have special cells that are almost immortal. They are called amrita cells. However, Ergo Proxy and a few other natural forces can kill those amrita cells. The substance that Daedalus put into the bullets is something that can kill proxies by infecting their amrita cells at a rapid rate. It’s probably some artificial form of virus. Simply put, Daedalus’ invention is cytotropic. It targets certain cells for destruction.

That concludes my analysis and review of Ergo Proxy episode 10. I’m continuously amazed at how profound this show is and how much there is to unpack in every single episode. Reviewing and discussing the content has been really fun so far and I plan to continue for all 23 episodes of Ergo Proxy. Thank you so much for reading and take care till next time!

4 thoughts on “Ergo Proxy Episode 10: Existence (Cytotropism)

  1. Great review of episode 10! I never noticed the difference in the way Iggy acted or moved, I really need to go back and re-watch this series and look for the subtle details you’ve pointed out! It’s always fun to hear about the details that other people noticed, it’s like getting the same story from a different POV.

    Liked by 2 people

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