Lily sends 2B and 9S on a delivery mission that takes them through a derelict shopping center. The extreme wide shots that dwarf the two androids, the merging of nature and the man-made, and that terrific Okabe Keiichi score all conspire to set the mood exquisitely as always. After showing his cruel side when he extinguished the ML “family”, 9S seems back to his chipper self.
He dreams of a day when the fighting’s over, the mall can reopen, and they can spend the day shopping for T-shirts. 2B says she has all the clothing she needs, and that “emotions are prohibited”; ironic considering she’s clearly had her share of emotional reactions in the past four episodes. She’s someone wrestling with the contradiction between her programming and directives, and the things she’s been feeling.
If last week’s amusement park demonstrated that the MLs emulating humans without proper context results in a state indistinguishable from madness and psychopathy, this week’s ML village demonstrates that a more tempered and realistic form of humanity mimicry can be replicated by the androids’ enemy. Led by the green-eyed gentle giant Pascal, a large population of MLs live in harmony completely severed from the ML network.
In a scene that is half-Laputa, half-Ewok Village, all shapes and sizes of MLs have their specific functions in the village, but rather than working like a well-oiled machine, their movements and behaviors are thoroughly human. They also have familial connections such as big and little sister (with the big sister being smaller). 9S is simply astonished that Pascal is able to converse with them so eloquently.
2B and 9S are given freedom to explore the village, and when they find a ladder that plunges far below ground into the darkness, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thankfully, there are no flayed androids, but there is a very strange large head that is neither android nor ML. When 9S hacks it, a number of strange images of fellow androids flash by before his connection is severed.
Pascal joins the two and notes that this giant head is the one who inspired him to stop fighting (something he’s apparently done for thousands of years), and is now an object of worship. 9S gathered enough data to identify it as a creation of humanity of yore, perhaps also as a weapon, but like Pascal it seems to have found a new reason for its (now sedentary) existence. The vivid palette of Pascal’s memories is a neat contrast to the subdued earthy tones of the village.
The more 9S observes this seemingly perfect society, the more he resents them as “selfish” for deciding to suddenly stop fighting a war both they and the androids were designed to fight. It’s clear that like 2B, there’s a part of 9S that wants the fighting to stop, and a part of him that believes its the only reason he exists. For her part, 2B asks her assistant bot to properly map this place so that she and 9S can return someday, to buy those T-shirts. The clouds part, and 9S’ mood brightens when she says this.
When the two return to the village to say their goodbyes, they see a group of ML “kids” bickering and getting violent over a music box one of them found, so like humans, the ML village isn’t without its problems.
What was the deal with the images 9S saw when he was hacking the head? Was the visual glitching he experienced—during which time the very environment around him and 2B changed—related to that hacking session? As an anime-only NieRer, I’ll have to wait to find out.
As for Adam and his brother Eve, the two highly evolved MLs are evolving steadly, going from wearing tighty-whities in the cold open to full-on pants and gauntlets in the parting shot. They don’t just look dangerous, they look just like YoRHa androids. Coincidence…or design?