Honestly, I liked this episode. Better than the previous one.
I was afraid of how they would handle Argus. It ended up going very well. I wondered how they would fit the idea of a surveillance system named after Argus into the New Gods mythology and link it to the ancient Greek mythology.
I love the idea that every time Argus needs to be slain and is reborn in a new shape, always repeating his original myth. I also love how Argus kept adapting itself - first he was the all-seeing guardian that never sleeps, then he was the all-knowing library, he then lived through as surveillance systems, as the “ever-watching eye” and as the Illuminati. And it’s true there’s so much to take with the idea of the “eye”, especially in American culture (that little eye on top of the dollar bill, heh?)
And actually, they answered a little something that bugged me in the first season: the eye of Media appearing in the surveillance camera of the bank. It bugged me because Media is the goddess of medias, and while she can control cameras used to shoot movies and news report and all that, it would have been a bit weird for her to control all cameras in the USA - not impossible, just a stretch.
But in fact this eye was ARGUS eye all along! Because there is a god of surveillance! And in fact, I thought in season 1 that the shots from the satellites were the work of Mr. World, but now we know that it’s merely Argus doing, obeying Mister World. Which takes off a bit of power from Mr. World, but shows us that… all of the power of Mister World is tied to his underlings. He sells stuff, but his best salesman is Media and without her he can’t do nothing. He watches everyone, but only through Argus. He organizes governemental covers, but only through Black Briar and the Spookshow. What is he? The god the system, the globalization, the one who gives orders and bosses everyone around, yes… But in fact, when you look at it, he isn’t really a piece of the game, only someone who moves everyone around. (Which is, I think, a big reference to the book final reveal about Mr. World).
On the opposite of Argus we have New Media… weirdly, she presents herself as an upgraded version of Media, while in promos and out the scene stuff she was presented as a new character, a new Goddess that would replace her… Well, or the show will left it ambiguous, or its both case, or I’ll just have to wait.
Honestly, there is something very… narmy and cringy about her. But in a good way. Let me explain.
When I first saw her, in her little girl uniform-outfit, with an exaggerated acting, and surrounded by emoticons and with the little music behind… I disliked it. Because it felt cliché, it felt cringy, etc… But then I realized that it was the point.
New Media is made up of modern clichés, cringe and memes, as the embodiment of social medias, of this new aspect of medias developped by the Internet and the iPhones and Youtube and such. Of course she would sound dull and not convincing.
And that’s when I remembered that it was exactly how Media was described in the book. She was a walking cliché saying meaningless platitudes, a bunch of stereotypes and masks put up together. But in the show, Media became something else. Probably because she was older now, a remain of the previous century, while in the book she was still “to date”. For me, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie, Judy Garland… all of that holds a nostalgia, a glamour, a power of a world I never knew but had its kind of magic. She was already an Old God for me, subconsciously.
And this New Media has on me the effect of what Media had on previous generations. I see, the archetype of the Japanese schoolgirls. I see the hentai jokes and cliché. I see emoticons. I see so much stuff that I already saw everywhere, that are normal and boring to me. And that’s the point. I think with New Media I see in a clearer way how the New Gods are supposed to be hollow, superficial, empty, cliché, sterile, fickle, short-lived beings.
Plus, all my opinions changed on New Media during the scene with Argus. Before she acted like a sweet child, an overtly friendly girl, it all sounded exaggerated and fake. But with Argus she became real. She became the cold and selfish manipulator we loved with Old Media. We saw the seductress, the pervers goddess that is willing to steal all the attention for herself. Even before, with the dialogue between Tech Boy and New Media, we had the passive-agressive attitude that characterized Media in the book. And it represents very well how, on the outside, social medias are all about friendships, parties, good feelings, politically correct and happy culture, but under it, it’s just a search for attention, a search for worship, and filled with perverse, sexual and creepy things.
No, honestly, this New Media rocks for me.
Also, I just want to point out that I like how the New Gods debating who owns Argus is such a good reflection of the debates fan actually have about the New Gods. I remember people debating already whether the Internet was supposed to be on the side of Technical Boy, since he was a god of technology, or Media, given Internet was a new, social media. Thinks like that.
The whole thing of the New Gods is that they are so close, so similar to each other, that they are in an eternal contest, an eternal fight for who will be at the top of the hierarchy. They only think of update and progress, they can’t stand to become old and weak, and they bicker over a limited and waning faith. Add that to their short life and fear of oblivion, and you get people who will have a hard time grouping together to make the war. And that was a point, only suggested in the book, but here clearly said, with Mr. World having trouble ordering Black Briar and him needing Media to seel his war.
So yeah, this scene where Argus says he’ll only follow Mr. World (because of course Argus will obey the Modern Zeus), to be reprimanded by Technical Boy that, since he uses technology, he should obey him - and then being seduced by New Media, both of them representing two aspects of “memory” and “recording” (surveillance system VS social medias)… I just love it.
And I’m sure there will be an outrage at the sex scene between Argus and New Media but remember what I said. 1- hentai cliché. 2- Media was already a sexual being in the books, and was still in season one. Offering Shadow to see Lucy’s tits, or trying to seduce him by using the old Marilyn-Monroe skirt thing. All of these are very sexual attempts at getting him. Media always used seducing as her first weapon to get people on her side.
So yeah, loved this episode.
Edit: Julian Richings as Iktomi was a very good choice. I wish we could have seen more of him.
And apparently the guy with him was Gnaskinyan… I have a lot of research on native american mythology to do.