I’m probably going to catch some flak for this one. A lot of you guys hate her….
I mean I get it, kinda… No. 5 is riddled with flaws and a lot of them are a bit of a frustrating echo of the drawbacks of the show itself. But, you see, just because a character is bad, doesn’t mean it’s bad….Awww yeah – Irina hits another argument out of the park. Point made, case closed, next post!
You see, when I was watching Terror in Resonance, a frustrating but not unrewarding experience, No. 5 was blamed with just about every ill the show could be considered guilty of, and then some. She was inconsistent, badly developed, unpleasant and simply a useless character which unbalanced the series in a way from which it never recovered. She was somewhat annoying, had no follow through and didn’t seem to make any sense. The story would have been better without her! The thing is, I think maybe that was the point.
Look, Terror in Resonance does have quite a few faults. It’s a bit overambitious. It gives way too much time to its build ups and ends up having to rush through conclusions making them feel deeply unsatisfying. The narrative does in fact lose its footing somewhere around the introduction of No. 5. However, can we really blame a single character for all of that. Or for any of it really?
No. 5 is a deeply traumatized survivor of atrocious experiments. She is clearly suffering from PTSD (as are most of the characters), and quite possibly a number of other issues both psychological and physical. We find out that she is in fact very sick and drawn out disease do have a way of playing tricks with one’s mind. The plain fact is that this character had no business being rational in the first place. It really would have been much less likely to have the character act rationally. You may not like these completely unpredictable characters but in this case, it’s perfectly justified.
As for her apparent last-minute reversal, ok I may have taken some intuitive leaps with this one, but once again I think it fits. Spoilers if you haven’t seen this show, although kudos for making it all the way here… I can’t imagine it would be that interesting for someone who doesn’t know the character I’m actually discussing. I can learn a lot from your attention span!
For a little reminder, after having aggressively opposed 12 and 9 for most of the series and generally acting like a heartless, insane, big bad, No. 5 has an 11th hour change of heart and seemingly sacrifices herself for Nine’s sake, apparently revealing she’s always had some sort of twisted feelings for him. At first glance this seems like a cheap copout and an overly simple way to get out of a difficult situation. A problem that plagues the series as a whole.
However, I didn’t quite see it that way. It’s not insisted on, but we are told that 5 is basically living on borrowed time. Her endgame is right around the corner and she has to do the most she can with the very limited time she has. This is an inherently selfish character, broken beyond the capacity of empathy, so the idea that she would try to be selfless for the sake of the world, or her employers, that she will leave behind, is preposterous. If she’s going to do anything, it’s going to be for her own sake. She doesn’t want to stop 12 and 9 because it’s the right thing to do or it will save lives, she wants to hurt them as she believes they hurt her. That’s it. If you look at it that way, everything she does is consistent.
We know this isn’t a stupid character and that she is very familiar with our protagonists, as such it would stand to reason that she would know how to hurt them most. Playing on 9’s sympathies and feelings, exacerbating all those years of guilt and shame, is by far the most painful blow she can deal. It’s almost unbelievably cruel. Who cares if that screws up everyone else’s plans, that’s really none of her concern anymore. So yeah, I can see why you would hate her, but you have to admit, that’s commitment.
As for her lack of utility. Well the story did need a villain. Yeah, I would have preferred a better thought out game of cat and mouse with the police, but I think the authors were a little wary of blurring those ethical lines too much. They really went out of their way to establish 12 and 9 as anti-heroes rather that villains so they needed a more clearly compromised antagonist. Yeah it could have been done better, but so could have a lot of other characters and events in this show. For the records it also did a lot of stuff right.
I guess I feel compelled to defend 5, she really can’t catch a break. Abandoned by the closest thing she could see as friends, repeatedly beaten down by the plot and even scapegoated by fans and blamed for ills way beyond her control. She never had a chance and went out as she came in, unloved, unmourned and alone.
One day, I’m going to write one of these about a happy, super lucky character and I’m really going to have to get creative with working that line in…