Lala Ru makes this statement to Shu. She has the power to provide the water that’s in such short supply in this world, but doesn’t want to since people would just kill each other for it (and her.) Shu is taken aback for a moment when she explains her views, but continues on with his usual optimism, even if he had a moment of doubt over it. Shu might implore Lala Ru to change her mind, and his actions get her to at least help him, but it’s the actions and choices of the people of this world that are going to prove Shu or Lala Ru right about them. Nabuca, Boo, and Tabool all face these moments in this week’s episodes.
The new child soldiers are assembled before their instructor while Abelia briefs Hamdo on the status of their efforts to increase their forces. The kidnapping raids produced less children than hoped due to depleted populations, and Hellywood’s breeding program is also coming along slowly due to malnutrition.
Shu meanwhile has been thrown into a sewage pit deep in Hellywood as he awaits likely execution. While barely able to move, he endures taunting and abuse by Tabool above, though the spoiled food Tabool throws down at him is more than he’s had in some time. Whether Tabool intended the food to be eaten or not is debatable.
After Tabool leaves someone throws Shu’s stick, jacket, and other belongings down to him, energizing him to attempt to escape. And his imprisonment in the place where all the sewage runs down to has had an unintended consequence: Lala Ru’s pendant has also washed down one of the pipes into the pit.
Boo was the unseen helper who provided Shu with the means to escape, and Nabuca confronts him when he realizes it. Despite his warnings to Boo not to help lest he share the same punishment, Boo is adamant in the correctness of his choice.
Nabuca is angry, afraid that Boo might get himself executed, but he knows what Boo is saying is true.
To me Nabuca faces the most interesting choices in his character development. He’s not an outsider like Shu or Sara who is used to something different, he’s not crazy like Hamdo or loyal to the leader like Abelia, nor has he lost his awareness of how truly terrible his life is. He’s tried to carve a little safe place for himself and especially for Boo, while fully understanding the cost and likely futility of it. This is what makes his internal struggles so interesting to watch.
Shu breaks out of the pit and starts running with single-minded determination to free Lala Ru. Running up a flight of stair in the middle of the night he happens to run into Tabool, and doesn’t hesitate to knock him over the head with his stick before running past him. The alarm is sounded and Shu almost gets trapped, but manages to climb onto the exterior of Hellywood and up to the dome of one of Hamdo’s chambers. Inside he had had Lala Ru brought to him to try and coax the location of the pendant out of her once more, threatening her with a very large-thorned rose. In his crazed begging he doesn’t harm Lala Ru, only himself, crushing the rose stem in his hand and bleeding onto her lap. Just as he’s doing this she notices Shu with the pendant above them, and Hamdo soon notices as Shu begins breaking the glass dome above. At first Hamdo begs him to come to him with the pendant, then orders Abelia to shoot him to obtain it. But as Shu puts himself between Abelia and Lala Ru, Abelia only grazes him on Hamdo’s orders not to harm Lala Ru. Once Shu is down Hamdo starts grasping and mashing his hand into the wound when Lala Ru gives him a look, a look of such disgust and loathing that he recoils from it and starts screaming for her not to look at him. Then she takes her pendant and activates it, water instantly filling the room and then gushing out into the hallways and out of Hellywood itself.
He’s one to talk.
Some really cool, contrasting bits of the environment flying around as Lala Ru is shocked that Shu has come for her again. And his reason is only “because you asked for help.”
Lala Ru reengages with the world around her for what is probably the first time in a long time.
Lala Ru activates the pendant, and another example of how impressive a shot can be when the animators limit themselves to just the different shades of two or three colors.
Escaping in the confusion, Shu and Lala Ru procure a hover-bike and take off into the desert. Traveling at night when the temperatures aren’t so hellish, things are going alright until in the darkness they drive into a cave. The pursuit teams from Hellywood aren’t far behind, and search the cave as well. Nabuca is among them, and when he approaches Shu calls out to him and asks him to take Boo and whoever else is willing and come with him. Nabuca turns off his flashlight and for a very long moment he stands motionless staring at Shu’s outstretched hand and considering the offer it represents. On a more fundamental level, he seems to be dumbfounded that he’s even being offered this chance, a chance to escape that he never thought he’d see. But after a long stretch of silence, he says that he’s paying Shu back for saving him by not reporting him, but that he won’t leave and warns that he’ll turn Shu in next time. Despite the severity of Nabuca’s betrayal to Hamdo, letting the one thing he desires more than anything escape, he still can’t seem to fathom stepping over the line into leaving himself. Later in Hellywood Hamdo is furious at Abelia for losing Lala Ru, until she suggests that gathering up all the water from the escape attempt would be enough to make Hellywood operational again. In their escape, Lala Ru seems to have provided enough power to give Hamdo military superiority over his enemies.
Confronting Nabuca in the caves.
As Shu reached out to Nabuca, wearing his clothes from his Earth, the color choices stuck me as likely deliberate in the same manner that the scenes of water in the beginning of the first episode did. Shu is wearing an entirely dark blue, watery colored, outfit, while the Hellywood uniforms are yellow-brown and look very dried out and harsh in comparison. “What can be said about your uniform that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan Hellywood?”
Nabuca still can’t really deal with the challenge Shu is making to the order he’s managed to establish in his life.
Somewhere else in the desert, an unknown person finds Sara still alive but buried under a sand dune and unconscious. This is all we see of her, and considering her past experiences the thought of her being taken by someone inspires quite a bit of dread.
At first angry with her, once she announces her plan Hamdo hug-tackles Abelia and starts praising her over and over again. She’s finally getting the attention from him she desires, but shows little sign of it in her expression.
As Shu and Lala Ru set out on their bike again they seem to have lost their pursuers but the natural environment is still as dangerous of an enemy. Heat and lack of water at first, and later some one of the wild animals chases them down as well. Near a series of rock pillars a Sarlaac-looking creature attacks Lala Ru and Shu when Shu stops to inspect a human form that turns out to be a long dead corpse. Working together they manage to escape it, with Shu cutting into it with a kukri found next to the corpse, but they’re trapped on top of one of the rock pillars. That night under the stars the pillars seem to glow and Shu begins talking to Lala Ru about Hamdo and Hellywood and then suggests that she go around and use her pendant to give water to all the people that need it, saying that it would make them happy and thankful. But Lala Ru explains that she used to, but it wouldn’t take long for the people to begin killing each other over the water and in the end would always fight over and imprison her. Furthermore, using the pendant weakens her, and she’s had it with helping an ungrateful humanity at her expense. Shu admits that some people are like that, but strongly states that he believes most people are good at heart. This seems to have little impact on her, as she tells him that “all the good people of this world are already dead.” The next morning after watching the sun rise, Shu investigates the pack next to the corpse, finding some homemade explosives that reveal the full size of the creature when he throws one, allowing it to chase after them. He and Lala Ru put up a good fight, but after losing the knife the only thing that saves them is the creature grabbing one of the bombs and blowing itself up. Shu is knocked out, but wakes to find Lala Ru releasing water from her pendant to help him.
Shu is first fascinated by and then attacked by the creatures of this world.
Lala Ru has the power to help, but sees no reason why the humans deserve it. Her conversation with Shu on this topic touches on some basic elements of a lot of topics including the basic nature of humanity, whether people or countries have an obligation to (or not to) intervene on humanitarian grounds, and the line between optimism and delusion when confronted with contrary experiences.
Lala Ru hates sunsets while Shu looks forward to the new day they herald, but she enjoys the sunset because it reminds her of “many things.” She doesn’t elaborate on what those things are however, if she means specific things or if she just enjoys the ending of another day.
Sometime after Boba Fett busted his way out (that part of the Expanded Universe hasn’t been raped by George Lucas prequel revisionism yet, has it?)
Shu’s risking himself on Lala Ru’s behalf has had an effect on her, but it remains to be seen whether this compassion will extend beyond just the individual who helped her.
Final Thoughts: - Quite a bit less brutal than past episodes, at least physically for the characters. Also much more Lala Ru-centric, as she begins to speak more and have real conversations. Seeing her become somewhat involved in the world around her was in extreme contrast to her detachment earlier. And the look she gave Hamdo was quite a moment.
- The conversation between Lala Ru and Shu was another great moment. The indictment of the world and the people from it was especially powerful because it came from a non-human outsider. One could expect something like Lala Ru’s big line from Nabuca, someone who’s seen and participated in the worst of it. She also doesn’t have any reason to view humanity as better than it is by virtue of being a human or living in a better world like Shu does. All experience has told Lala Ru that the people of this world are beyond redemption, that they would just turn any aid into the root of a new conflict, and by extension don’t deserve any compassion. Shu acknowledges the crimes of some, but hangs onto his experiences and his optimism that people are generally good. His experiences at home back up his position, but as he’s shown the horrors of this world his optimism becomes much more like faith. It can provide a powerful motivation, but does it stretch beyond a point where it no longer connects with reality?
- The conflicts and ungrateful attitudes of the people Lala Ru helped in the past is something that comes up in cases of development and humanitarian intervention, of whether to and if so, of how to intervene without making things worse. Development projects can create conflict out of jealousy when one area gets a project but another doesn’t. Or they become strategic resources to be seized. Gaining control of humanitarian aid can also be used as a weapon, in the same manner that Somali warlords seized and controlled access to UN food shipments in 1992-1993. Lala Ru is very jaded and cynical about it, but her points are not easily dismissed.