Welcome to a review and analysis of Ergo Proxy’s 15th episode, the quiz show episode! It’s a strange episode to be sure, but I always end up liking it due to all the information provided. I think it’s a clever and entertaining way to give an exposition dump. After the synopsis of the episode, we’ll get into some discussion. Let’s Rant!
A proxy called MCQ has captured Re-L and Pino and put Vincent into his live gameshow full of trivia questions. If he can get to 1 million points in 30 minutes, Vincent will be set free, and MCQ will die. If he can’t accomplish this, then he will be killed. The quiz show is broadcasted to domes around the world using a satellite. In Romdeau, Raul and Daedalus see Vincent and Re-L for the first time in weeks, perhaps months.
The gameshow is an interesting episode used to provide information about the world of Ergo Proxy, including what happened to humanity after an ecological crisis that wiped out 85% of life on Earth. They also talk about the Proxy Project, and perhaps most importantly, directly mention Proxy One for the first time. A few other bits of trivia information about the real world are also included, such as references to psychology, philosophy, and classic music.
Though it’s difficult, Vincent eventually wins the 1 million points. As a final act before his impending death, MCQ displays an image of Proxy One for the world to see. Vincent still doesn’t know who this is, but can tell it’s a significant reveal. The episode ends without showing MCQ’s death, but it assures us that it will happen, and Vincent will be set free.
This section is for unraveling all the information given in the form of the gameshow. At an unknown time in the future, humanity invested in a new energy source called methane hydrate. It helped enable immense technological advances. However, it eventually led to ecological disaster. No details are given, but the accidental collapse of methane hydrate plants led to widespread destruction of life. 85% of life on Earth was wiped out, and the world was no longer safe for humanity.
Two important measures were put into action: The Proxy Project and the Boomerang Project. The former plan was the creation and release of about 300 Proxies, in addition to construction of the dome cities. Proxies are capable of creating life artificially using the womb room technology and their immortal amrita cells. It is also thought that proxies help maintain dome life support systems for the adults. Humanity would be able to live in the dome cities and slowly repopulate, governed in the shadows by the power of proxies. One unforeseen issue about the dome systems was the beginning of the Cogito Virus, which could be linked back to being inadvertently caused by Proxies.
The Boomerang Project’s aim was entirely different. The leaders of Earth created the Boomerang Star, a massive interplanetary emigration ship. The ship could hold a good portion of the remaining humanity, and could orbit the earth for a long time to come. There were disagreements, resentments, and probably bloodshed over who was allowed to evacuate Earth and who had to stay behind trusting in the new dome system to keep them alive. The ones who won out were “old humanity,” also known as The Creators. They were the same technological leaders who created Proxies and the Boomerang Star. These special humans departed Earth in the giant ship.
On Earth, the new humanity survived in the dome cities for an unknown number of years. It might have been centuries. History was forgotten, as was the fact that someday, the Creators will return to take over the Earth. At that time, the ecological crisis will have begun to stabilize, at least so that life outside the domes would be theoretically possible again. The conclusion of the Proxy Project, known as The Pulse of Awakening, would start at that time. The details of The Awakening are not yet revealed, but MCQ hints that Proxies will no longer be needed. Since we know the Pulse of Awakening began in the first episode of Ergo Proxy, the time for the Creators’ return must be fast approaching. What will happen to humanity, autoreivs, and proxies once the return begins?
Note: In the first game of “Mosaic Quiz,” the image being shown was not revealed on the show. However, I think it’s fairly obvious that it was an image of a virus. This was included to reference the Cogito Virus, which humanity didn’t plan for. Alternatively, it could have been a reference to the unnamed virus that attacked humanity and caused most people to die if they went outside the domes. Either way, humanity’s plans were thrown off by viruses. If I’m wrong about “virus,” being the correct answer, then my second guess would be “DNA,” because human DNA had to be altered for survival following the ecological collapse.
MCQ and His Goal
In my opinion, MCQ was an interesting and unusual proxy. Instead of fighting others with brute strength and superpowers, like most proxies do, MCQ makes everything into a game. He challenges others’ minds and wits with shows that put their lives on the line. He also has clever ways of fighting back against events, like broadcasting the image of Proxy One. Of course, MCQ is still pretty brutal, since he killed twenty-five other proxies after they failed to win the game.
What is the goal of MCQ? He seems to have found a sense of meaning in his gameshow. That means he fully intended to commit to it, killing himself in the event that a challenger won the game. But in his last show, with Vincent, MCQ seemed to have an ulterior motive. For whatever reason, he’s against Proxy One. The best way to anger Proxy One and put a kink in his plans was to tell Vincent about him. In addition, broadcasting his image might serve to warn people and other proxies about the danger of Proxy One.
(At this point in the show, we haven’t officially met Proxy One, nor learned of his plans. So for a reminder, his idea is to cause wars and chaos to prevent the successful return of the Creators. He’s also the one who created Ergo Proxy and gave him the task of killing other proxies whether he liked it or not.)
The Final Set of Questions
In the final few minutes of the show, we see Vincent trying to answer new questions rapidly, but we only hear the answers and not the actual questions. In any normal anime, the answers would probably be completely random. And at first, the answers in Ergo Proxy seem random too. But if you pay attention to the words being used, you might notice that each one is a theme in Ergo Proxy’s story. Again, we don’t know the questions, but the answers are: “Schism. Escape. Contract. Substitute. Oblivion. Awaken. Fight. Enjoy. Understand. Maze.”
I may be reading way too much into it this time. Maybe the words are indeed random. To be honest, I’m not sure. However, I can think of how each word relates to Ergo Proxy as a while. For example, “schism” and “escape” could refer to the old humanity splitting in two and half of them leaving the Earth. “Substitute” is a word closely associated with “Proxy.” The imagery of a maze as Vincent’s mind was used in episode 11. To me, it seems like this is too much to be coincidence. Anyway, I’ll leave it to you the speculate about the rest.
References to Philosophy, Language, Etc.
List of Facts
In this episode of Ergo Proxy, many references are made to various real people and concepts. However, they are only briefly mentioned, and not fleshed out with discussion. So the best way to cover the information is to present a simple list. If any of the facts warrant discussion in my opinion, I’ll include a paragraph about them below the list.
– Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher who famously said, “Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.”
– Pythagoras was a philosopher in ancient Greece. In addition to founding Pythagoreanism, he discovered the geometry principle we now know as the Pythagorean Theorem: a^2 + b^2 = c^2.
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an English writer credited with writing the famous adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” in his 1839 play Richelieu- Or the Conspiracy.
– The Doppler Effect is an important concept in physics describing the way waves increase or decrease in frequency and wavelength as the source of the wave and its observer change their distance from each other.
– Alfred Nobel was a Swedish inventor, scientist, and businessman. He created dynamite in 1866. The word came from the Ancient Greek dýnamis (δύναμις), meaning “power.”
– Gas Hydrates (such as methane hydrate mentioned in the show) are actually real.*
–Carl Gustav Jung was a famous pioneer in psychology, sometimes called the king of the subconscious for his speculative studies on the unknown workings of the unconscious mind.**
–Ra was the ancient Egyptian god of the sun, who was said to have a sacred eye.***
–Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is commonly referred to as “Fate.” It’s an amazing example of classical music.
*Gas Hydrates (such as Methane hydrates) are real, but are not currently revolutionizing energy or technology industries as far as I can tell. It is possible to use gas hydrates to harvest natural gas, which can be an energy source. In the fictional world of Ergo Proxy, Methane Hydrates became the biggest and most promising source of energy in the world. This was supposed to have happened near the end of the 21st Century. Unfortunately, something catastrophic happened in either the retrieval of gas hydrates or their artificial production.
**Carl Jung was probably mentioned in this episode because Ergo Proxy focuses so much on the psychology of its characters, including their subconscious wishes, memories, and needs. You could say, for example, that Vincent’s true memories have been hidden away by his subconscious. You could also say that the identity of Ergo Proxy rests within Vincent’s subconscious, and vice versa when he is more in touch with his proxy self. Since Carl Jung did helped the field of psychology, as well as exploring the concepts of personality and the subconscious, it is fitting to include his name in a trivia show.
***I noticed MCQ saying that the god Ra had a sacred eye, “just like us.” What is that about? It seems to imply that proxies have some kind of powerful eyes. Indeed, we’ve seen this in the case of Ergo Proxy. He can release certain rays of light/energy from his eyes which are capable of killing amrita cells. This is what was used to kill Monad and Senex. I’m not aware of the specific powers of Ra’s eye, but since he was the god of the sun, it was probably also something light-based. This will come in handy when fighting Proxy One, who is weak to light.
That wraps up the episode review. Take care and thanks for reading!