Note: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
For the first time in several episodes, Eureka Seven devotes a scene to allowing Eureka to speak and receive narrative attention alone, rather than as an object pushed around by the others – and in so doing highlights how rare this has been. It provides a proper conclusion to what began in the previous episode with her apparent reconciliation with Holland, and sets in perspective how she has been used as a character beforehand.
For all Renton’s failings, he consistently respected Eureka in a way which Holland consistently failed to – and so it is fitting that what brings Eureka out of her shell is his absence. It is not the overblown contrition that has defined Renton’s failings that is shown, though, but a more naïve sense of loss and innocent ignorance; she does not dwell on why he is gone but instead wishes he were back. Renton’s story, meanwhile, continues to mirror that of this story arc’s beginning; he has run away from the ship he calls home, wandered lost until unable to continue, and has an encounter with a stranger. Yet while in the city he was robbed as he slept, here, in the wilderness, he meets another apparently friendly face. The internal monologue which has come to define the series’ voice and depiction of Renton returns – he describes the stranger as friendly and talkative – exactly the same impression as he had of Charles. Yet William B Baxter, Renton’s new saviour, is not a parental figure or authority figure but a loner – and more importantly much younger. Renton is put in the position of meeting someone very much like him, an awkward, clumsy boy looking for companionship and not quite believing what is happening – and immediately this episode parallels the moment of release that followed the battle around the Coralian. There, Renton met Dominic and Anemone, and learned to tolerate the enemy – the grand-scale conflict of flying war machines put on hold as two opposites had to work together to save a life. Here, William provides someone apparently trustworthy at a time when Renton has ultimately been exploited – the core plot of Ray and Charles’ plan to attack the Gekko seemingly on hold.
Yet the viewer – and implicitly Renton – is wary of intimacy after twice now seeing it linked to villainy. The series has spent 24 episodes impressing upon the audience that too much intimacy is as bad as too little, and that concern is apparently rarely genuine. This makes William’s appearance – and his genuine concern not only for Renton but his sick wife Martha – alienating. The episode’s introductory narration has Renton claim he is completely lost and miles from anywhere he knows – and it is fitting that here, far from everywhere, the setting’s “rules” are subverted and there is genuine concern and affection. Sequences like William caring for Renton, or Renton and Dominic helping Anemone, pick up what is emerging from the mistrust and misunderstanding as something of a message in Eureka Seven – that young people’s sincerity and impulsiveness makes them more capable to be decent – morally upstanding and well-meaning – than adults. It is a more pacifistic development of ideas from Eureka Seven‘s inspiration, Mobile Suit Gundam, which focused more on how the “star children” – Newtypes, or those adapted best to living in space – would be the saviours of humanity. A worship of progress and evolution in the aim of peace has become an acknowledgement of a childish and clear-cut worldview in moderation.
Yet William is not perfect himself; he is similarly isolated, his wife comatose, and his way of coping is to act like she is fine. In turn, this further sets up this storyline as a complete foil to the rest of the series; much of the conflict has come from rejecting duties of care, or trying to cut corners or subvert them to personal ends. Selfless diligence – as William shows to Martha – is an almost entirely alien concept with but one exception – the actions of Renton and Eureka on the Gekko. Both of them have been seen at points in the series prepared to do whatever it takes, no matter how difficult or demeaning, to be accepted and make a difference. William represents this ideal – the concept of doing a duty to the world – taken to its logical extreme. Renton worked to try and earn Holland’s approval and receive some acceptance for his work. William works harder still knowing he will never get any approval. He may live in a house which the narration says has two of everything, but it may as well have only one inhabitant.
What is more, it is a place completely cut off and alien, walled in by trees and posts, discrete from the rest of the setting. Nothing in it seems real, or logical; William claims Martha speaks to him, and told him where to find Renton. The rules of the setting are being broken and nothing is explained – William is apparently removing stakes from the ground placed as a precaution against earthquakes with no visible machinery or equipment, and telling Renton that everything he knows about the setting is backwards. Eureka Seven has previously shown spirituality to be something widely mistrusted; religions are shown to be reductive, superstitious cults oppressed by the government. Yet William’s philosophical meanderings to Renton again subvert the established expectations of the setting; his is a kind of spirituality based on logic and observation – common sense. This selflessness becomes an entire way of life that suddenly becomes conspicuous in its absence so far – a socialistic, green lifestyle of self-sufficiency rather than exploitation of natural resources.
The Gekkostate, nominally countercultural, still chase the ideals of consumption and wealth that defines the “civilisation” in the setting – only William thus far has been a real alternative to the established world. In his isolated, dreamlike existence, his philosophies and worldview carry on undisturbed – and introduce both in Renton’s mind and the viewers’ a new piece of foreshadowing. He claims the world is “giving us permission to live here,” positing a very different kind of spirituality to the organised religion that has defined the plot so far. Already the viewer is partially privy to this – they have seen the Coralian, and the strange mountain where Eureka was taken ill, and the Seventh Swell – but William’s plain statement of his belief in a deity of sorts contextualises all of this.
Yet the idyll ends; William has stated his case, and sown the seeds of a new worldview in the audience, and the focus moves back to Holland’s brutality and the failure of civilisation. He is intimidating and interrogating his way towards Renton and finally becomes aware of Ray and Charles’ plot. More is learned of his past with them, although he remains unable to make progress in his search. Renton, too, is beginning to see the end of the idyll; he admits he is nothing but an observer, an intruder in William’s fixed routine and tries to break it by raising the subject of Martha’s illness. Again, William’s spiritual worldview returns – this time turning the subject of the illness on its head. He claims his insistence that Martha is not as ill as she is means that she is, in fact, not ill; Renton challenges this apparent naivete, and it is filled in with context. Like Holland, William was once a soldier, who rescued Martha from a warzone. In the course of the flashback, a major piece of worldbuilding information intimated at throughout the episode is confirmed; “Desperation Sickness,” the comatose state which Martha is in, is linked to the power sources at the core of all machines in the setting. It is realising this, and seeing in Martha a possible future for Eureka, which finally brings this surreal isolation to an end as Renton leaves.
This episode, with its surreal setting, spirituality and utter undoing of much of the established worldbuilding via the application of common sense and genuine pseudoreligious faith (rather than the oppressive yet also oppressed cults which have made up the setting’s faiths previously), is a turning-point in narrative terms despite its standalone nature. By removing itself from the core plot it changes the viewer’s perspective of it. At first, Eureka Seven presented the world according to Renton; his was the internal monologue that prevailed. As a result, the concept of an alternative – especially one so at odds with what has been learned – has all the more power.