In the twelfth episode of Steins;Gate, what am I supposed to do with this? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steins;Gate.
I’m hurt. I AM SO HURT.
I don’t have a theory yet as to what that opening vision/dream/timeline was in “Dogma in Ergosphere.” There is imagery in it that felt important. I’m particularly interested in the recurring motif of the hourglass, which was shown to be frozen throughout the glimpses we got of one in this episode. Of course, we must also acknowledge just how hilariously tragic it is that as that whole sequence came to a close, I remarked that Mayuri might actually be more important to this story than I had previously thought. YEAH, CLEARLY, MARK, YOU JUST DON’T KNOW HOW.
So what was that? A warning out of time for Okabe that he and Mayuri were eternally locked in this struggle to control time? A warning that they had traveled through time so many times that their “original” selves existed in the distant past? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There are truly a lot of surprises in this episode, so let’s start with Okabe’s choice once he learns that Kurisu has completed the new version of the time machine. First, I want to acknowledge that the science fiction element here felt believable, and I do love when speculative science does this. It helps that the writers (either of this or the source material, whichever originated this part) tied it into so many existing plot lines. The Large Hardon Collider, SERN, and the PhoneWave are integral to the execution of a time leap. So, once Kurisu finished explaining how it worked and then revealed that a human would have to test it, I fully believed that Okabe would be the one to volunteer. Previously, he had jumped at the opportunity to test the D-mail, and this was an even more significant development.
However, I misjudged just how upset (and possibly traumatized) Okabe had become due to recent events. The message about knowing to much specifically seemed to finally get through to him, and thus, I was initially shocked at his restraint. He didn’t want to test the time leap and instead felt it better that they announce their results to the world and hand it all over to a more responsible organization. Y’all, was this growth? Had Okabe finally realized that they were toying with time and space in a way that would cause harm? Granted, it took an anonymous threat for him to get to that point, but it was happening!!!
There’s a pervasive theme throughout this episode that explores friendship and what that actually means for this group of people. Initially, it crops up when Kurisu and Okabe have a conversation about their evolving relationship with one another. Unsurprisingly, both of them try to distance themselves from calling one another a friend or a companion, despite that this really appears that they’re growing closer. And I get it! Their relationship up to this point has had an antagonistic edge to it, so whenever there appears to be a genuine expression of affection or friendship, it feels awkward. Okabe relies on his mad scientist person to distract from the issue, while Kurisu ramps up the denial. This is important, though, because of how it plays into what Mayuri says later.
But before that even happens, there’s a tense and bewildering confrontation between Suzuha and Kurisu. I CAN’T EXPLAIN IT EITHER. I don’t know how the fuck Suzuha can claim to know what she knows, nor do I know why she hasn’t been more explicit in explaining all of this. If she’s got information about Kurisu that warrants suspicion being directed her way, then why the hell is she keeping it to herself??? It doesn’t make any sense!
And then Mayuri—the purest, most well-intentioned, nicest human IN THE ENTIRETY OF EXISTENCE—steps in, and once again, she diffuses a tense situation. This is not the first time this happened, and “Dogma in Ergosphere” helped me realize just how well Mayuri works as the glue that holds the whole team together. Whenever Kurisu started to get upset with Okabe, she would say something nice to her, or compliment her, or ask to hang out again, and SHE WAS ALWAYS TRYING TO KEEP EVERYONE TOGETHER. Here, she beautifully succeeds in getting the group to get along, and it is astounding how good she is at this. It’s all intentional, too, as made clear by the conversation she has with Okabe on the roof.
So what’s all that hostage stuff??? I’m so confused, y’all. Why does she think she isn’t a hostage anymore???
Thinking back on the shocking and upsetting moments at the end of this episode, I still can’t explain Suzuha’s behavior. She was so adamant that Kurisu was the spy, but she was wrong. Even further, as soon as Daru revealed that they’d hacked into the SERN server, she immediately left the lab. Why then? What was it about that information that scared her so very much? The timing of it was suspicious, too, because it’s only seconds later that the team realizes that TIME APPEARS TO HAVE STOPPED. (Well, it could be that time-telling devices stopped; I can’t be sure.) It was a harbinger of what was to come, right? (How does the bomb threat on the subway fit into this? A necessary distraction?)
BECAUSE THE SERN SPY IS REVEALED TO BE MOEKA. What the fuck???? How??? How is that person we see at the end of the episode the same one who has existed throughout this show? Who is FB? Why was she chasing down the IBN 5100??? It was always for SERN??? Why does SERN need Kurisu, Daru, and Okabe? Why is Mayuri unnecessary? WHO ALLOWED THIS?
I am upset, to put things lightly. And I’m just now realizing, as I’m writing this review, how frequently I have said that Mayuri was my favorite, and how every time, y’all must have just died a little more inside. How? How can this be? And is my assertion on video—that this is a time travel show, so exactly how permanent is any single development—enough to hope that Mayuri will be fine?
I’M SO FUCKING UPSET.
The video for “Dogma in Ergosphere” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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