Mark Watches ‘Baccano!’: Episode 16

In the sixteenth and final episode of Baccano!, there is no end to the story. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Baccano!

“Carol Realizes That the Story Cannot Have an Ending”

  • Really, there’s no way to “get” everything that Baccano! just did with just a single viewing. You can’t! Because let the video commission for this episode stand as evidence that I completely forgot about Carol and Mr. Vice President.
  • And god, it’s so brilliant to think of how they are the framing device of this show. They’re integral to understanding why Baccano! unfolds the way it does.
  • More on that towards the end. There are a lot of reveals, a surprising amount of closure for such an open-ended story, and plenty of WHAT THE HELL moments that I want to talk about.
  • This episode features two murderers acting very unlike they once were, and it’s a trip. Ladd’s self-defense innocence is so strange to watch because we’ve never seen him so docile. The same goes for Claire, who comes off as a goofball who doesn’t understand how to woo a woman. These are both men who are HOMICIDAL TERRORS for most of the series, and it’s a surreal experience to watch them act as they do here.
  • But it’s through this that we get SO MUCH MORE OF RACHEL. We get the President of the Daily Days defending her and urging Nicholas to be more empathetic to her. We get her talking to the Beriams and Natalie thank her and then she’s trying to reject Senator Beriam’s money. THEN SHE BUYS A BUNCH OF TRAIN TICKETS TO PAY BACK FOR ALL OF THE RIDES SHE STOLE, WHICH IS BOTH HORRIBLY IMPRACTICAL AND SUPER AMAZING. (I mean, what if she made a train sold out and someone missed an appointment? Who cares, Rachel rules.)
  • Then she sits down with a known murderer and tries to help him with his problems, despite that she has no incentive to do so. You know, there might not be a main character in this show, but Rachel is a damn hero in my book.
  • Czeslaw has the strangest “end,” though I realize that no one technically has an ending. But the last we see of him in this show is when he runs screaming away from Claire.
  • I suppose saying this show is weird goes without saying. It’s weird.
  • (For a reason, though. I’LL GET TO IT.)
  • We do get a LOT of time with Claire, who is mind-boggling. It reminded me of how I felt when I first got a dose of Isaac and Miria. I kept trying to understand him, but at this point, I now know that the characters in Baccano! are extremely difficult to categorize. After his experience with Chane, Claire realizes that there can be more to his life than simply being the Rail Tracer. It’s why he seeks out Rachel’s assistance. He’s never glimpsed anyone quite like Chane, but he has no idea how to proceed. We finally learn how he came to find out where Chane was, how she got the wedding dress, and how he ended up confronting Graham Specter.
  • I think if we hadn’t gotten all the stuff with Elmer, I would have been very disappointed with the resolution of the fight between Graham and Claire. There was a lot of build-up to their confrontation, and then they ended up walking away. However, Elmer’s presence in this finale is integral to understand a lot of scenes here. I think it’s related to the singing of praise for life that we saw in episode 13. After such a harrowing experience, these characters just want to find happiness. Would Claire find happiness if he fought Graham? Would Graham achieve the happiness he finds in worshipping Ladd Russo by fighting Claire? Can Chane find happiness in being friends with Claire?
  • Really, I think that’s why Elmer and Sylvie finally appear in the show again. His interaction with her was an exploration of what happiness means to these specific immortals. Elmer wants to make others smile, and the demon who gave them all immortality is right in saying that Elmer is arbitrary. It’s a perfect way to explain Elmer’s behavior. But just because Elmer’s decision to make others happy is an existential experiment doesn’t make it any more real.
  • We learn here that Sylvie considered devouring Firo in order to get Gretto’s memories, but she doesn’t because she imagines Gretto might be happy within someone like Firo. 
  • OH GOD.
  • Elmer was so concerned about Maiza’s well-being after Grotto’s death that he asked a wish-granting demon to follow his friend and look out for him.
  • Wow. WOW.
  • And Ronny did this all out of curiosity.
  • But then we’ve got the “ending,” which is merely the final scene we get to experience. It is by no means the end to the story of these characters. Baccano! certainly wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if we’d simply gotten a linear tale told in chronological order. It was fun to try to piece this all together, to see how these lives intersected and became important. It was a puzzle, certainly, but it wasn’t complicated just for the sake of it. As Gustavo points out, lives intertwine in complex ways in the real world. Fiction gives us a beginning an ending to make things easier for us, but that isn’t exactly how the world works.
  • I didn’t see this as a cop-out, either. The show was a meta narrative from the beginning, and I knew episodes ago that this wouldn’t have a traditional resolution. Still, things are wrapped up rather well, and for most of these people, they’ll keep living their lives long beyond where Baccano! ends. (Hell, we know Isaac and Miria are still unintentionally spreading happiness in 2001.) Does Ladd ever get revenge on Huey Laforet? Does Huey get out of prison? Do Nicholas or Elian ever learn the identity of their boss? Do Jacuzzi and Nice live happily ever after? Does Eve ever find her brother Dallas, who escaped from his barrel?
  • Sure. Why not? Why can’t we imagine a future where everyone is happy?

Thanks for this journey, y’all, particularly to the folks who waited a hot minute for me to get to this show. Up next on Double Features, starting tomorrow: Mark Watches The Middleman. IT’S ON.

The video for Episode 16 can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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