“Double Lips” Paranoia Agent S1E3

Paranoia Agent, Season 1 Episode 3
Double Lips
Grade: A-

Episode 3 pulls no punches. The cold open of Maria’s housecall and its immediate aftermath serves to immediately bleed the romanticism out of Maria’s life as an escort. Or, rather, her double life, as it turns out that she’s the alias and dissociative identity of Icci’s tutor, Harumi.

The detectives, Mamiwa and Ikari, investigating the trail of injured bodies in Lil’ Slugger’s wake, serve as viewer foils in their attempts to connect the dots between the ongoing narratives in the show (and find a connection between the attacks). Meanwhile, Harumi, undergoing psychiatric treatment for her dissociative identity disorder, is simply trying to keep her lives separate, a conflict that’s drawn into sharp relief once a work colleague proposes to her and Harumi grasps ahold of the proposal as a way to get rid of Maria for good.

Only, Maria’s not done with Harumi.

The themes of dressing up for the day, whether in wedding gowns or costumes or in how you present yourself to the outside world and what roles you play, increasingly up the stakes of Harumi’s inner conflict, a conflict largely played out over one-sided voicemail messages and passive aggressive acts of each persona attempting to trash the other’s clothes. Harumi’s failure to accept that her staid life of pretending to be something that she’s not at work and during the day is fueling Maria’s frustration and desire to act out continues to escalate her inner turmoil as the date of her marriage draws closer and the need for her to be rid of Maria becomes that much stronger.

When Harumi hears firsthand from Icchi that he was ‘relieved’ at being attacked by Lil’ Slugger, and that the incident ‘cleared’ him and ‘set him free,’ the notion seems to take root in the back of her brain, especially during the episode’s climactic showdown with Maria and Harumi both fighting for total control. Her makeup smeared into a clown’s visage, dragging herself through the street, Maria/Harumi looks up to see Lil’ Slugger’s descending bat, almost as if she called out to him for help.

And just when the episode and the series has convinced the viewer that Lil’ Slugger is a kind of angel of mercy rather than an actual child, summoned by distress and acting to resolve inner conflicts of those he attacks, there’s a sudden news bulletin. Lil’ Slugger has been arrested.