Here we have an episode review and analysis of what is perhaps the saddest Ergo Proxy episode. Just as with my past watches, it was difficult to see this episode through without heavy feelings or a few tears. Even though this episode leaves us short one major character, I still think it was necessary for the story of Ergo Proxy as we know it. There was no other way to resolve it. Anyway, we’ll begin as usual with the episode synopsis.
Iggy initially obeyed Re-L and set off for Romdeau carrying the Proxy’s body in the ship with him. However, his thoughts and the heavy wintry winds soon force him to stop and pull over. Without Re-L, Iggy feels he has lost his purpose in life. The companion Autoreiv of the deceased Proxy followed the ship, and now that it stopped, she broke into it. Iggy decides to give the proxy’s corpse back to the little autoreiv, seeing that it was her master. He then speculates about what is important to him and what he should do. In the end, Iggy leaves the other Autoreiv behind, saying he’s going to kill the person who took Re-L away from him.
While Vincent and Pino collect firewood, Re-L goes to check on the Centzon ship, which cannot fly well in the blizzard. She is found by Iggy, who knocks her out and carries her back to his ship. He places her in the preservation casket meant to hold the dead proxy. When Re-L wakes up, she’s shocked, frightened, and angry. She argues with Iggy, who becomes extremely verbally aggressive, insulting Re-L with everything in him. All his pent-up aggression is coming out. However, when Re-L asks what he will do to her, he says nothing will change. Iggy will keep protecting her and take her back to Romdeau. But first, he leaves her to go try to kill Vincent, taking with him the gun capable of killing a Proxy.
When Iggy confronts his enemy, Vincent’s first thought is to worry about Re-L. He hears Iggy out, but becomes defensive when the Autoreiv predicts he will kill Re-L. Before Iggy can even aim to shoot, Vincent uses his Proxy speed to disarm him and take the gun. Iggy then retreats, having grown worried about Re-L after all. It’s a good thing, too, because Re-L is in serious trouble. She’s being attacked by the deceased proxy’s companion Autoreiv, who wants vengeance for her dead master. When the Autoreiv tries to self-destruct and kill both herself and Re-L, Iggy sacrifices himself to save her. He takes the brunt of the explosion and it blows his body apart.
Holding his head in her hands, Re-L sadly listens to Iggy’s last words. She then puts him out of misery by finishing him off. She and Vincent bury the remains of the dead out of respect– both Iggy and the other Autoreiv. Pino puts flowers on both graves and remarks that she’s happier now that she understands grief. Re-L cries at the grave of Iggy, regretting that she could never understand him and did not see his suffering. Vincent gives Re-L the gun back, trusting her with his life for the time being. The three survivors set off in the Centzon ship after the blizzard is over.
Iggy’s True Self?
There are some slightly different opinions you will find about Iggy’s behavior in this episode. I remember the first time I watched Ergo Proxy, I was pretty shocked and disappointed that Iggy turned so aggressive. However, there were multiple people in the comments who said everything Iggy did was justified. Looking deeper, I found out that those people simply hated Re-L with a strange passion and were getting off on seeing Iggy take advantage of her weakness. I’m not even going to count the opinions of such haters as valid. What I’m talking about in this section is the little debate over which side of Iggy was his “true self.”
The Iggy we have seen until now was loving, gentle, and almost motherly. He was a little bit pushy, but in a caring way that Re-L seemed to tolerate. Iggy’s voice mannerisms, at least in the Japanese audio, were polite and correct, but warm. But starting in the scene where Re-L is in the casket, his speech changes to more traditionally masculine patterns with a little bit of rough slang. He is also physically violent in this episode, knocking out Re-L with a fist strike and trapping her in a place where she cannot move. Iggy’s words and everything he tells Re-L are just as distressing as his verbal patterns and physical harshness. It doesn’t seem like Iggy at all.
Despite this apparent change, Iggy temporarily reverts back to a gentler self a few times as he is dying. He alternates between the rough Iggy, yelling insults at Re-L, and the gentle Iggy, begging Re-L to not hate him. So which was the real Iggy? I don’t actually think the answer is a simple one-or-the-other choice. Pre-virus Iggy had no actual feelings despite seeming caring. The Cogito Virus gave Iggy his own mind and heart, so post-virus Iggy is “the real Iggy,” but that consists of two parts. There’s the part that loves Re-L genuinely and is hurt that she didn’t pay attention to his feelings. Then there’s the part of him that resents her and feels bitter that he was tasked with serving someone like her. The two parts are always in conflict except over one thing: that Re-L must still be protected. In other words, the real Iggy could be said to be both parts.
This episode hits hard because Iggy died before these issues could be resolved. However, in sacrificing himself to save Re-L, the conflicted Autoreiv at least proved to Re-L that he loved her. I don’t think there’s any doubt Iggy cared about Re-L, and that care came from his heart, not his previous programming. If it was his only his programming that made him love Re-L, he wouldn’t have kept taking care of her at all after being infected. That being said, it was not good of him to let himself be eaten alive by his bitterness and resentment. He treated Re-L badly in this episode. Even as he was dying, Iggy kept switching between rage at Re-L and gently asking her not to hate him. He never arrived at a peaceful resolution, and that’s what makes me the most sad about this episode.
The Immaturity of Re-L
It’s worth it to include another brief section about the personality and traits of Re-L. Although I admire this character immensely, and consider her very refreshing in the context of anime, there is no getting around the fact that she has shortcomings. Re-L has a sharp mind and good instincts for self-defense, but she is also spoiled in some ways, which leaves her seeming relatively helpless at times. (Iggy called her incompetent, but I think that is too much of a stretch.) I’ve remarked before that Re-L is probably mentally much younger than she appears physically, due to growing up at an accelerated speed. In any case, she can be quite immature.
Besides being childishly demanding, Re-L simply isn’t the most cheerful person. However, I don’t think this is a character flaw. It’s simply a neutral personality trait. Similarly, Re-L is more interested in information and logic than in deeply understanding the feelings of others. This is neutral personality trait, but it can sometimes lead to insensitivity. Re-L is especially demanding and insensitive toward Pino in this episode, expecting her to be like a servant. In addition, Re-L’s general lack of consideration for others led her to totally miss any changes in Iggy.
Pino and Grief
As I mentioned in the episode synopsis, there is an important little moment with Pino as she is putting flowers on the graves. She says she understands that death is a sad thing. (After all, Pino lost her friend Timothy in episode 5.) Re-L’s first thought is to blame Cogito and view it as a negative thing, but then she stops herself. She asks whether Pino is unhappy now that she understands grief. Pino replies that she’s probably happier now that she understands. When Re-L asks why, Pino says she doesn’t know why she feels that way. The childlike Autoreiv then leaves to put flowers on the other grave.
This interaction was significant for Pino’s character, even if she doesn’t entirely understand why she feels the way she does. When Pino first became conscious, she understood very little of how things work for living beings, but she was driven to learn more. Although her personality is different from most other main characters in Ergo Proxy, Pino shares an important trait with them. She’s curious, and she wants to know the truth. Someone like Pino would be happier understanding things than not, even if they are painful.
This scene was also significant for me personally. Since I don’t believe in any kind of afterlife anymore, death is harder on me than it is for religious people (at least conceptually). It’s never going to get less painful to lose someone forever. On the flipside, it does give me motivation to treat others well and do what I can for and with them in the limited time we have. I need to love people while they are where, and treasure my memories of them for when they are gone. It’s still so difficult that I sometimes wish I didn’t have my current understanding of death. However, those feelings are fleeting. In the end, I think I’m better off understanding than not. Dealing with the grief of death is simply part of life.
On that note, I’ll finish off this episode review. Thanks so much for reading, and take care.