“Fear of a Direct Hit” Paranoia Agent S1E6

Paranoia Agent, Season 1 Episode 6
Fear of a Direct Hit
Grade: A

Detective Ikari is starting to his cool, constantly on the verge of starting smoking again (something related, by the transitive properties of the show’s metaphor to him losing or regaining his faith in cause-and-effect policework), when he finally proves his earliest intuition on the case right. There was no initial attack. Tsukiko injured herself, which would of necessity make Mokoto, the suspected Lil’ Slugger, a copycat attacker.

Meanwhile, Typhoon #9 is headed straight for Tokyo. At this point in the series, we, as viewers, have been conditioned by the show through repetition to understand on an intuitive level that that means that events are coming to a head, and that if you haven’t intuited why, you’d best look at the pieces in play again.

In in tandem with the deadly storm, a young girl named Taeko seems to be very much its avatar as her desire to destroy her home on the phone to her father is intercut with the storm doing the very same to the dwelling Ikari and Maniwa are in where they’re learning firsthand about Tsukiko faking her attack.

Masami, the vile and corrupt Yakuza-ensnared cop, always mentioned being a ‘family man’ despite the show never showing his family. Here, we learn what him being a ‘family man’ means, as a montage of memories of Taeko as a child and as an achingly earnest ‘daddy’s girl,’ as the mysterious old woman tells the detectives interrogating her, serving as unwitting narrator to the scenes of Taeko in the past that were similar to her family’s.

As the storm hits Tokoyo, we see Taeko finding explicit photos of herself on her father’s computer, completely shattering her concept of her happy childhood, intercut with her father attempting to make contact with her, which sets her off. Stopped short of potentially throwing herself a bridge only by seeing the mysterious old woman carried away by the currents. She sobs that she doesn’t know what to do.

Meanwhile, the detectives dig into Tsukiko’s story, apparently unearthing that she was about to harm herself with a twisted pipe. Maniwa lights a cigarette in anticipation of triumph when he leads Tsukiko to vividly remember the events of the night when- And here the narrative from that night cuts away as Taeko is hit by Lil’ Slugger’s bat and Tsukiko, miles away, is apparently simultaneously knocked out by it as well. Taeko wakes up to find that her memory is gone.

Was Teoko the source, drawing this Lil’ Slugger to her somehow, by her desire to be free of the damage that memories of her father’s actions had done to her, or was the source Tsukiko? What if the gathering storm was the breach in Tsukiko’s denial about what happened to her rather than as a result of Taeko coming into town? Or could it be both?

Maybe there was a connection between Harumi and Masami, but it took longer to manifest than Makoto waited for. Could the madness of Tsukiko seeing her doll, Marumi, as a talking, sentient companion, somehow related to the madness inherent in the Lil’ Slugger attacks? Was the mysterious old woman Marumi’s victim for her harming Tsukiko? And exactly how many of the attacks was Makoto responsible for? And if there really was a first attack- what, exactly, was it that he was copycatting?

The series leaves you with questions begging to be answered.