People are getting horribly electrocuted and there’s a sudden abundance of owl people. We must be heading into the final third.
That is not a fedora. It is an oversized noir sombrero
Episode Specifics: A fortune teller has been predicting the death dates of Lupin’s former marks, and doing so with a suspicious level of accuracy and the help of a seemingly mythical lithograph – the former fading and the latter stolen by Fujiko. Lupin enlists Jigen’s help in tracking down answers, and Fujiko finds the chillingly familiar name of Luis Yu Almeda at the bottom of the fortune teller’s final job: predicting her own dying day.
This is a big day! The first proper team-up between Lupin and Jigen on the legacy side of things, and the first explicitly drawn connection between Fujiko’s nightmares and the greater owlman conspiracy. As with all Jigen’s episodes thusfar there’s a great deal of noir-ish visual elements in play – the pronounced shadows and black and heavily stylized black/white contrasts, as well as a rain storm that would make Sin City proud.
Lupin Lore: References all over the place this week. There is, of course, my favorite one: a visual homage to the second episode of Green Jacket that also serves as a rather suggestive role reversal (in the original scene Lupin was cooking Fujiko a romantic dinner, and in this episode he’s cooking dinner to woo Jigen into working with him). The sets also bear a striking resemblance to Episode 0, particularly the shots of rooftops overlooking the city skyline and the warehouse harbor (composed quite similarly to the scene where Lupin met Fujiko for the first time in the special). Jigen’s role as a sniper (and grumbling thereabouts) recalls the absolutely fantastic Red Jacket episode “The Target is 555 Meters.” Monkey Delivery Service is of course a reference to the manga’s author, Monkey Punch, and Lupin is still smoking his preferred Gitanes cigarettes (which are from France, home of the original Arsene Lupin) – when Jigen complains that they’re crap, that’d be because he’s normally a Malboro man (possibly a reference to the fact that his character was based on James Coburn in famed cowboy flick The Magnificent Seven, and the gruff and grizzled longtime Marlboro mascot of similar profession).
In case we’ve collectively forgotten about Lupin being Kind of a Dick
This episode also takes the time to set up an interesting distinction in Lupin’s relationships to Fujiko and Jigen. Lupin, likely aware that Jigen would refuse a simple offer to team up, instead disguises himself and witnesses Jigen being arrested (he later mentions seeing Jigen “screw up,” but there’s no other place he could’ve been in the scene we were shown)…so that he can then pull a daring rescue and put Jigen in his debt. And while Jigen’s suspicious of Lupin’s motives and already grumbly about his relationship with Fujiko, he doesn’t seem to put two and two together.
Fujiko, on the other hand, not only recognizes Lupin when he approaches her in disguise, but noticed and identified him when she was being spied on earlier. It’s another minor but important distinction of this show’s take on the Lupin/Fujiko relationship: that they are in every sense of the word equals, playing games where only they know the rules and stakes – even when it becomes layered in so many deceptions that Lupin’s future constant-companion lacks an inkling of it (despite Fujiko not having had many more brushes with him).
FUCKING OWLS: Hey, were you uncomfortable about the nightmare scenes before, with their vaguely exploitative torture of young Aisha/Fujiko? Well, this week we’re throwing vague out the window, confirming that Almeda was physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing Aisha. It’s no coincidence that this is being laid out in the same episode that discusses death – showing the attempts of the Worst Human Ever to infiltrate and control every aspect of another being from (re)birth to death. We also have the further orchestrations of Aisha-Almeda as she attempts to exert that same level of control over the created ‘Fujiko’ story, now extending to the point of laying out heists for her to go on.
Oscar Watch: Take two of ‘an Oscar in his natural environment.’ This week the lieutenant handles the ‘dying day’ case on his own, and is actually doing fairly well at it, as non-Zenigata cops in the Lupin verse go: he successfully captures Jigen, is able to arrive on both crime scenes within minutes following our main characters, and seems to have effective control over his men. On the other hand, we continue to see the edge of recklessness that will get him in trouble later: he doesn’t think to question the man who actually IS Lupin in disguise, and when the unknown element of an accomplice is introduced he loses his grip on things long enough for murder to occur. Of course, from his perspective it looks an awful lot like ‘things were going fine until Fujiko showed up.’
It’s worth noting that Zenigata and Oscar do not speak over the course of the entire episode: we see Oscar observing him, cast as a great and imposing shade against the skyline of an imposing city (solidifying the unconscious image of Zenigata as a larger than life figure to Oscar); and we see them together looking over the evidence in the final scene, with Zenigata’s line broadcast to the room as a whole rather than specifically given to Oscar (with a distinct lack of privacy or specific regard that has marked their prior scenes together). That image of Oscar under the cast of the projector is some fascinating visual metaphor: the light separates and isolates him from the rest of the scene, making him look ‘under glass’ or observed; yet at the same time we cannot see his eyes, and thus read into the truth of his thoughts. It’s similar to the shot that obscures Fujiko’s eyes just after she suffers an Almeda vision earlier in the episode – leaving one to wonder if Oscar too might have been privy to at least part of the Dying Day speech and its implications (laying on something to begin destabilizing him in addition to his fervor to prove himself).
Oh, and a miscellaneous note to keep in mind for these last few episodes: the memory/nightmare scenes (as well as the owl visits) are the only ones composed in a cool, secondary color palette of blues, greens, and purples. The only character to have an unnatural hair color? Our slowly mentally deteriorating lieutenant, giving him the same suggestion of being artificial or ‘created’ in the way that the memories are (as well as implicating him in suffering from said memories). We’ll come back to that.
A behind the scenes look into the current Doctor Who and Sherlock writers’ rooms
Themes: We open the door now to a theme that will be more thoroughly explored after the show does its big reveal, a big old meta consideration of how stories are told and who has the right to tell them. The subject of our heist is a bog standard Patriarchal Dude (possibly an Old White Guy – the art design has that ambiguously Caucasian look of most anime, and we seem to be in New York, but then again he has a Japanese name), who previously wielded great power as a storyteller over the public: his words shaped the future of individual lives and stories, and he was once highly regarded; only to lose ground and legitimacy as time went on, until he could no longer read the lithograph (and thus accurately understand and tell the stories of the changing modern world).
In an attempt to regain the sway and clout he previously held, he becomes party to the attempt to control Fujiko’s life by foretelling her death date (the culmination of an episode that has been thoroughly shaped, as the narrative wants you to think at this point, by male influence and desire). But in doing so he finds only his own dying day, and there is a kind of cringe-worthy pettiness in his attempts to exert power over others in a desperate attempt not to fade from his position of relevance (we can go one step further, if we like, and read Fujiko as taking on/inheriting the storytelling of the lithograph, since she both sees the tree and becomes the active shaper of the story by causing the prophesized ‘dying day,’ though she is currently too bound up in the story’s manipulated framework to realize it).
We visit this question of who the story teller was so that we can later ask who it could or should be. It’s made painstakingly clear that this is a man whose telling of futures is an intrusion – given to all whether they wanted it from him or not. Who has the right to determine Fujiko’s dying day, her story, if not the woman herself? And why the need for such tight, exacting control of her dying day, if it was, as he claimed, Lupin who was meant to be tested? No one thinks to foretell Lupin’s dying day, for he is assumed to be master of his own story in a way that Fujiko is not allowed in Aisha-Almeda’s framework – the victim becoming the victimizer, perpetuating a pattern of abuse and unable to examine or step outside of it.