In the seventh episode of Steins;Gate, Daru updates the PhoneWave and they conduct an experiment that has bizarre results. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steins;Gate.
Much like the naming of D-mail, I found the sequence where the lab team suggested the first big experiment to be indicative of who these characters are as people. It’s no surprise that Okabe wanted money, given that he has so little of it. But it’s also not surprising that even after suggesting that they try to win the lottery, he still can’t fully commit to it.
I’d like to expand on why I think that is, and it’s something I’ve not thought about until this episode: I think Okabe is afraid. There was that moment in the grocery store in the previous episode where he was triggered into the memory of the jellymen by some green packaging, and it reminded him of how serious this reality is. I believe we see a similar reaction here—complete with a familiar panic—when Okabe backs down from trying to win the lottery and opts for only winning third place. As he gets deeper and deeper into this mystery, he is overcompensating for the fear that’s coursing through him. Up to this point, he’s been a mad scientist only in theory and in intent. He has experienced mostly failure, and the bulk of the people in his life view him as a bit of a loser, so much so that they actively tolerate him and his behavior. (I’m thinking to the scene in the restaurant where Daru, in defeat, tells the hostess that Okabe is faking his cell phone conversation.)
Yet ever since that first email got sent to the past, Okabe has had to contend with an uncomfortable truth: Can he actually be a mad scientist? Can he commit to altering the world? I think he wants to, but the events of “Divergence Singularity” give him real pause. Is it worth changing the world if no one else remembers it?
That really is the key question that’s hanging over this show since this works as absolute confirmation that Okabe is the only character who is cognizant of other world lines. I suspect there are fragments of memories in other characters, particularly Kurisu, Moeka, and Suzuha, but it’s not a conscious thing. They just have instantaneous reactions to things without understanding what they are. (I think? Moeka might have something else going on. I am not sure if she takes photos as a way of processing the world around her or if there’s some deeper meaning to it.) But Okabe fully experiences the world line shift, and it is a visceral, disorienting process. Seeing it here again helped me place the events in the first episode in a better context, too, since it’s obvious now that he experienced a shift then.
Other things change, too. Ruka ends up being involved in this, since the text successfully made It back in time, and, in another move that shocks absolutely no one, Okabe had someone else buy the ticket. Does that mean that Ruka got the money or is Okabe going to keep it? It’s still a huge amount, right??? I also caught the fact that there was now Dr. Pepper on the table, despite that in the last world line, the store ran out of it.
So what the hell are they supposed to do next? Well, we get two ideas about the future in this episode. First, Suzuha has now been added to the lab, though unofficially; she doesn’t have a number yet. But she does possess a lot of information because she can hear the lab group’s conversations from the shop downstairs. (Which still cracks me up. Okabe is deeply paranoid about himself, but he never thought about yelling conversations from the lab? Oh, he’s too much, y’all.) So, she knows the truth now and has sworn to keep it a secret. I suspect her knowledge of electronics will have relevance later on it the plot as it did before, and I’m still suspicious of her reaction to Kurisu.
But it’s her suggestion to Okabe that he contact John Titor that has the biggest affect on the story. It seems like such an obvious suggestion, doesn’t it? I’m almost surprised he hadn’t done so already, but to be fair, he’s kinda had a lot going on since the last time he reached out to Titor. Titor, unfortunately, does not have an answer for us. I had hoped he would! We get more info on how world line divergences work and how they “replace” the memories of everyone, but Titor is just as confused about why Okabe can remember other world lines as me. I think that stems from the fact that in all the time travel experiments, organic matter was what was always sent through those black holes. The difference here is that these kids are sending digital information through a black hole. I’m guessing that while some compression and fragmentation is still taking place, it’s still more successful, and SERN never even considered this option in the first place.
I’m still shocked by that ending, though. The idea of Divergence 1% is a little confusing to me, though the endgame isn’t. Passing that barrier is what will prevent the world from slipping into SERN’s dystopia, right? And if that’s the case, then Titor is interacting with the first person who can successfully remember other divergences and use them to his advantage. It makes Okabe, to Titor, a god, someone with immeasurable power. He’s Titor’s messiah, the person who can save the world, the only being capable of achieving what he, up to now, has not accomplished.
And if I’m right about my theory regarding Okabe’s fear, then oh lord, this is going to be a lot of pressure for one person to handle. Is Okabe the right person to wield such a destructive ability? I GUESS I’LL SEE.
The video for “Divergence Singularity” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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