In the fourth episode of Death Note, WOW, THIS GOT EVEN MORE MESSED UP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Death Note.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent.
WHAT THE FUCK.
Part of the experience of Mark Watches is in understanding things better than I did before. I mentioned in the first review for this show that I thought it was interesting that Light was the character who was put at the center of this story. A brilliantly smart, popular student gains the power to kill pretty much anyone he wants: WHAT CAN GO WRONG? Everything, apparently, and it’s now clear that Light’s brilliance is one of the reasons he’s such a scary person. He uses his knowledge to exact a distant revenge on people he thinks have hurt others, who contribute to the “evil” of the world. Note that he never tries to expand his understanding of evil or become a more wise person. He’s convinced that as a late teenager, he knows everything a person can know about good, evil, and the world. He never examines the moral implications of his behavior.
Instead, he meticulously plans his domination. That includes rejecting Ryuk’s offer for the shinigami eyes, WHICH I WAS TOTALLY WRONG ABOUT. Yes, they would have given him an advantage, but Light is in this for the long run. I read him wrong, y’all. He’s patient. He’s willing to discard a clear advantage in favor of prolonging his own access to power. The longer he has the Death Note, the better. I think you can see this mindset in his behavior in this episode because he devotes so much time to discovering the limits of his powers. It’s smart move, and only someone like Light would have thought about the rules of the Death Note as if they were a logic problem. He takes those qualifications and he hypothesizes that anything he writes in that book must be followed by the person whose name he’s committed to the page.
It’s a decent theory, and the results of that test are a BILLION times more disturbing than I could have anticipating. Initially, he does a very broad test on six different prisoners, all of whom committed murder. (Apparently. Again, there’s no guarantee that any of these people did what they were imprisoned for.) Utilizing the rules of the Death Note, he denotes a method of death that is specific and complex. Three of the six prisoners do exactly as he wrote, but there are limitations to what a person can do while under the control of the Death Note. They cannot do things they are not aware of or don’t know. (Such as drawing L’s face.) They cannot do things that are physically impossible, such as traveling long distances in absurd lengths of time. Yet within these confines, Light discovers that he can command any human on Earth.
It’s absolutely fucked up, and the show doesn’t hesitate to portray this as such. He utilizes these rules to pursue the FBI agent following him, Raye Penber. It makes the title of this episode all the more unnerving, doesn’t it? This isn’t about Penber’s pursuit of Light so much as it’s about the reverse. He controls a criminal’s experience so that Penber is forced to reveal his true identification to Light. Does it matter that Light is violating the consent of everyone he controls? To him, it’s just a means to an end. He stops viewing these people as humans and instead seems them entirely as pawns. They’re good for nothing more than his goal: to rid the world of all criminals and create a utopia. What utopia that might be is left unsaid, not because the show is trying to hide it from us, but because Light probably hasn’t even decided what it’s going to be. With such a childish concept of good and evil, he’s convinced that eliminating a certain group of people will just solve everything.
There’s a hellish potential in this new development. How many people can Light control at once? Can he use the Death Note to create a veritable army if he needs it? What else will make him decide a person is “evil”? Is Raye Penber worthy of death just because he’s doing his job???
Seriously, Light is the worst. (That is an odd sentence to type. Makes it sound like I hate electricity or something.)
The video for “Pursuit” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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