Space Symphony Maetel 10 (II of II): Truth and Power
[GENERAL NOTICE: I’ve gotten very busy and am still getting adjusted to my schedule. For now I’ll just be posting on this series. Also, I’m aware I still have to do my writeup for the final episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X. I’ll get that in at some point!]
The Deathshadow deals with Promethium’s fleet of “spaceballs” as Nazca and Maetel make contact with the 999. Promethium offers Maetel a deal: she will call off the fleet attack on New LaMetal in exchange for Maetel’s return to her mother. It’s quite the epic compromise, as both moves are to be permanent: Promethium is pledging to leave the LaMetalians to their own fate not only today but forevermore, while Maetel is to join her in the scheme to reconstitute a Mechanization Empire, this time of course sans LaMetal.
I think Promethium is lying and yet pouring herself out here. Her love for/obsession with Maetel is very evident, as she tosses as an afterthought a promise to spare Emeraldas’ life…not of course, to please the redhead but simply to sweeten the offer for Maetel.
To press her favorite daughter, Promethium says that the decision will decide the fate of LaMetal, and then adds, not only of LaMetal but of the whole universe. A conventional paraphrase of Promethium’s words as a threat: “Maetel, if you go against me I will destroy LaMetal, no, not only LaMetal but the whole universe.” I’m tempted to go for a somewhat different interpretation from a different angle: “Maetel, if you go with me I will spare LaMetal, yes, not only that but together we will rule the whole universe.” That is, I think that the Queen mentions “the whole universe” because she believes, from the bottom of her mechanized heart (!), that her daughter is essential to her own success. Maetel, I’m willing to bet, is superior, in Promethium’s eyes, to Promethium herself. This is why Promethium is so obsessed with having Maetel see her side of things and accept a transition from mother to daughter. It’s not that Promethium is worried that without Maetel no one will be there to succeed her (after all, she’s got tons of clones, and chances are good she could prolong her own life indefinitely anyway, so succession as such is not an issue for her). But Promethium, for her own reasons which she cares not to divulge, believes that Maetel would do better than her. Promethium knows the Truth (of mechanization, of the universe, of philosophy and ethics, of the Way Things Must Be) and is convinced that her daughter is misled on these counts. But her daughter possesses the Power, something her mother lacks in an absolute way. Promethium would surrender her authority to that Power, if only it would accept the Truth. Perhaps this dynamic shows up in human parent-child relationships more often than we think!
Maetel hesitates. Here we must face a terrible question: does our heroine actually believe that her mother would keep her word and spare New LaMetal and Emeraldas till the end of time?? Terrible, because only two answers are possible: 1) either she does swallow the lie, and then Maetel is incredibly stupid, or 2) she doesn’t believe her mother. But if she doesn’t believe her mother then the hesitation can only be explained as a temptation. Maetel hears the offer and falters: authority over the universe, absolute purity without contamination (which total mechanization does offer, even if in a dead zombie kinda way). What pulls her back is Nazca, who of course is a rambunctious flesh-and-blood lad, precisely the antithesis of what her mother represents. There is a lot of poignancy in Emeraldas’ comment here, and Maetel doesn’t even hear it!!! I honestly hadn’t realized in earlier watchings of Space Symphony Maetel just how strongly Maetel’s feelings for Nazca are presented. In just this scene alone we can confirm how Emeraldas is that much closer to a Captain Harlock personality-wise than she is to her own sister.
The episode ends with the Deathshadow being struck by a huge laser from an enemy spaceball. We know the Pirates will survive, but boy are things getting exciting!!