NOTE: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
After episode 12’s surreal climax to the steadily building conflict of its predecessors, and the plain statement of the two factions’ intents, if not their goals per se, episode 13 marks the point where both sides release tension. Renton and Dominic are stranded in the middle of what used to be the Coralian, with both Nirvash and The End immobile. Eureka and Anemone have both apparently fallen ill, while in the skies Dewey and Holland have both retreated to a safe distance.
The episode begins with Dominic trying to maintain his officious persona, holding a gun to his presumed enemy, but gradually the realisation sets in that they are both stranded and their companions are both in need of medical help. All that can be done is to set aside their differences, form an uneasy truce and set off to do the right thing. As they set off on this trip, they inevitably come into conflict; they both represent opposite factions (but with apparently the same goal – to investigate the Coralian) and are both eager to keep secrets from each other in the name of their superiors. Yet despite this, Renton’s naivete serves a useful purpose; his unrelenting cheerfulness and willingness to present an amicable face defuses the tension and while he comes out of the meeting with Dominic little the wiser about what has just happened, the two come to respect each other as young men. Free from their authority figures, they can both act naturally – Dominic free from the concerns of command and Renton free from a need to obey.
If the first 12 episodes set up how similar the two central casts are, this episode makes it explicit with the same sort of easygoing scenes of youth that defined the earlier plot of Renton’s initiation. Obviously, the story of two enemies isolated from an ongoing conflict and coming to respect each other as humans is a distinctly cliched one, yet it is a well-worn story for a reason; in any long narrative based around a conflict, both viewer and characters need reminders at times their enemies are also sympathetic. That both sides have in this case a selfless, humanitarian aim (assisting two injured women in exactly the same situation of representing opposite sides of a conflict) makes it even more relatable. At first, Dominic cannot understand why his enemy is so eager to help him; Renton’s innocence here seems threatening and perhaps even self-serving; using Dominic’s influence to help Eureka and himself. However, as they travel on, and find the town hostile and deprived, Renton continues to stand up for his enemy in the face of hostility from others. With this, a scene where Renton is not simply accepting Dominic as a fellow human but someone who does not deserve to be an enemy at all, the blockheaded idealism that led to so many conflicts with Holland is finally useful.
So not only does episode 13 mark the point where the two factions finally stand a chance of reconciliation, it marks the completion of Renton’s first arc of development; he has not lost his idealism and determination to do what he sees as the right thing, but has merely tempered it with a better understanding of what the right thing is. When, at the episode’s conclusion, he confronts Holland about putting Eureka in danger, this is almost the first time he seems truly justified in outrage. Character development cannot exist purely in a narrative vacuum; seeing its effects both in moments of dramatic tension and of bathos gives the complete picture.
Getting the complete picture of events continues to define the series in the subsequent episode, a kind of recap of the first quarter of the series. As episode 13 ended with Dominic and Renton parting ways, and the two parallel stories once again returning to their safe distance apart, episode 14 is divided into two parts either side of the commercial break. The first has the Gekkostate’s attached journalist writing an editorial about the Coralian under the penname Justin Observer, talking about how things can only be remembered if someone is there to see them – but also that care must be taken when describing things to describe them accurately. Renton’s inability to describe adequately what he saw in his trance as Eureka fought Anemone, and the inability of anyone to adequately describe the Coralian, puts the viewer on more even terms with the characters and this brings out the significance of the article being written; it is an attempt not just to make sense of events but to explain why it is necessary to do so.
The second has Dominic trying to work out what exactly he has experienced; trying to make sense of the Nirvash, and of his meeting with Renton. Here, the viewer is apparently possessed of greater knowledge than the characters in question; they have seen Renton and the Nirvash develop, gained an understanding (albeit limited) of Eureka and Holland’s past, and may well be feeling confident about what they’ve seen. However, Dominic has his own secrets which are revealed during the recapitulation of the plot, filling in the picture from the other side. He contextualises events about Holland’s past, and the Nirvash’s history – while he admits his ignorance of some of the reasons for doing things he describes, he provides factual exposition which completes the one-sided versions of events Renton, his grandfather and Holland provided. Thanks to the existence of these mirrored plots and the double recap, the viewer will enter the next arc of the story better informed than they were before – and the limitations of Renton as a protagonist, in his ignorance and isolation, are made clear.
There are still many mysteries about Eureka Seven even after this recap; however, by filling in small factual and contextual details, exactly what these mysteries are becomes more clearly defined. Yet despite this, the plot is hinted as going in a different direction, at least for a while; the Gekko is damaged and must pull in for repairs at an abandoned base now called the Hacienda. The coming together of the two sides has put both off-course and before the movement of the main plot can continue and the tension rebuild, they must regroup and take stock of the situation. Similarly, episode 13 provided a necessary moment of catharsis; the two sides accepted their similarity of purpose, worked together for the sake of their friends, and then ended up as they were, in conflict as the two rescue parties clashed. While it did not move the main plot on, and felt like a step back towards the incidental, episodic stories of earlier in the series, it began the process of recapitulation on a thematic level, showing explicitly the two mirrored factions as being alike. By making the recap an in-character one, and splitting it in two distinct halves as it does, episode 14 does more than simply sum up past events to the viewer – it goes further, and provides new information that shapes interpretation of those events being reiterated.