This episode’s title is “Undead,” and it’s a fitting title too. The funny thing is, Shizuka’s “return” isn’t even what’s undead about this week’s episode. As much as Nagate would like to believe otherwise, I think the girl is gone for good. The Gauna has long since assimilated the girl and her knowledge. It has now even turned her knowledge back against her former friends and allies. Ultimately, this is what the Gauna seems to be: they assimilate, they adapt, they evolve. As such, I don’t think the placenta sample that Nagate collects is anything but a sample. It may resemble Shizuka on the surface, but this merely mimicry at its best. Nevertheless, I believe this shows that the girl has thus gone through a process of death and rebirth. She has simply been reborn as part of the Gauna. More specifically, her death leads to the birth of the Benizsuzume, the powerful Gardes-like enemy that had succeeded in taking out five more of Sidonia’s best and brightest. More importantly, this is what makes her different from Sidonia and its Immortal Council. This is why she is not an undead.
Death and rebirth are the key things here for me. Kobayashi and her ilk can never die from old age, and they are thus never reborn. Kobayashi remains able-bodied, strong enough to walk about the ship and command it with a physical presence, but the same cannot be said about the Immortal Council. They hide in their dark chambers away from the rest of Sidonian society. Sidonia’s inhabitants do not even realize that the technology of eternal life exists, and the Immortal Council would love to keep it that way. That’s why Kobayashi wears her mask in public. That’s why the Immortal Council fears Nagate’s existence. He, too, is an immortal like them. But why? What are they truly afraid of? From Kobayashi’s words, we learn that they had once assumed their roles as Sidonia’s leaders in order to serve their people with their vast knowledge and experience. But eternal life is a long time. It’s a terribly long time to spend your life trapped in your brain and all its myriad psychoses. So who knows? Perhaps most of the Immortal Council have gone mad with power, and they will not tolerate anything that might threaten their existence. In any case, they are undead.
I believe Sidonia itself is undead as well. It is supposedly a seed ship, yet it is seemingly condemned to wander the cold depths of space indefinitely. After all, what can Sidonia do? Thanks to a tragic event during the Fourth Gauna Defense War, “[m]ost of the knowledge of the past and its technology is gone forever.” We’re simply told that Ochiai had done something bad. As a result, Sidonia’s archives and most of its population were the biggest casualties of the war. Even though a copy of the archives have been recovered in Ochiai’s brain, he’s too dangerous. They’ve thus sealed his memories. With a group of dissenters primed to abandon Sidonia, however, Kobayashi is forced to access Ochiai’s auxiliary brain once more to Lala’s displeasure. It turns out the demilitarization faction are requesting crucial information from the archives. Specifically, they need to know how to terraform a planet. Whether or not they succeed, however, Sidonia will continue to float on through space for the time being. It can never go through that death and rebirth process that I’ve talked about. Hell, many of Sidonia’s inhabitants have resorted to cloning themselves instead of giving birth to something new. The ship, too, is essentially undead.
Speaking of clones, you could even argue that Nagate is undead. It turns out Nagate never really had a grandfather. Rather, he is a clone of Sidonia’s former ace pilot. The only difference is that Kobayashi had had our hero’s DNA modified so that he would be immortal. Unlike his friends, Hiroki Saito gave up his eternal life in order to die peacefully. After all, eternal life within a dystopian society is not exactly sunshine and rainbows. Not only that, he never knew if the Gauna threat would ever go away one day. At some point, Saito got tired of fighting, so he decided to allow himself to die. Unfortunately, Kobayashi did not feel the same way. That’s why she had created Saito’s clone in secret. When he learned of his clone’s existence, Saito tried his best to give the kid a chance at a normal life. Unfortunately, Nagate’s destiny had already been determined for him. In the end, Saito taught the kid everything that he knew. As a result, Saito may have died, but he didn’t create something new. Nagate simply becomes him. More importantly, he becomes an immortal version of his “grandfather,” something Kobayashi had always desired ever since Saito had abandoned her and the Immortal Council. Nagate is his undead “grandfather.”
— Norio ends up faltering in battle and abandoning his position. What had troubled him? The realization that he could die? Or did his guilt finally catch up to him when he heard Shizuka’s voice over the communication channels? Perhaps it is even a little bit of both. Nevertheless, running away with your tail between your legs is rather shameful, especially for someone with Norio’s stature. I think he’s pretty much shot himself in the foot for good.
— Well, now that Shizuka is — at best — a monster girl, let’s just root for Yuhata the rest of the way, ’cause at least she seems capable. From what we’ve seen in the previous episodes, she might be a bit off-kilter, but I always go for capable. Izana seems useless.
— I’m just joking, by the way. I think they all suck.
— In that very same extended flashback scene, we also learn that the Fourth Gauna Defense War had left Sidonia with only 392 survivors among the population. A recent study from Portland State University suggests that you need around 10,000 people just to feasibly colonize another star system. Suffice it to say, the 392 figure fall quite short of that mark. Is it any wonder then that Sidonia as society would have to rely upon clones and whatnot in order to survive? It has only been a 100 years since the Fourth Gauna Defense War too, so I doubt that population has grown by leaps and bounds since then. On the plus side, the story finally gives a glimpse at the size of Sidonia’s society. Needless to say, it is tiny.
— Really? Sidonia’s soldiers are fighting with swords and arrows? Then again, we have a talking, giggling bear.
— Speaking of Lala…
Yeesh. This is pretty much my reaction to the scene.
— Even for a decrepit-looking old man, Saito could fight off a bunch of soldiers on his own. Then again, they kind of charged him one-by-one.