Is it just me or is Mars Red kind of trying to stretch things out now? While it has always had a deliberate, some might say languid, pace the current plot developments really feel like they’ve been stalled. Maybe it is a case of Mars Red wanting to turn what might be ten episodes of material into thirteen. Maybe they just can’t figure out pacing. Or maybe I’m just less interested in the story now that the cards are all on the table. I’m not so sure.
Anyway, how are you Irina?
My week was fine. I’m trying to make sure I remember the episode correctly as it seemed well-paced to me. It’s the rising action of the final act right after the inciting element. In one episode we got most of the characters back together, established the current situation in a lot of detail and set it up for a final confrontation leaving Meada as a wild card who could either save the day last minute or turn into an ultimate antagonist.
If they stick to classical narrative structure, which Mars Red largely has so far, I would expect the next episode to concentrate on Defrott’s fate and future. As the oldest vampire of the show and somewhat detached from the direct action, he personifies that side of the story so his fate is going to be crucial to the moral and messaging of the show. I hope they don’t skip it.
This week we get Kurusu reunited with Suwa and Tackeuchi, which is great fun once they are together, but I’m kind of going to pick at the way they got back together. A rumour sending Kurusu back to base and then the obviously fake recording before a contrived confrontation and all in the space of a single episode just felt like a forced conflict to stretch this out.
If they’d really wanted to build a misunderstanding between the team in Mars Red, and given that angle time and attention, it would have felt still contrived but at least like a meaningful insert into the narrative. Instead, it really does feel like they had this episode to fill and wanted to know how to make very little stretch to twenty minutes. Or am I being harsh?
I thought it was absolutely fine. A little odd but completely in line with everything in the show so far and much less contrived than the first episodes, which I also liked. I also don’t think it was filler. You could argue that about the last episode and the hospital stay or even the investigation at the very beginning but this feels like it’s directly relevant to the main plot and also developing the character arcs. I can see someone not liking it, I’m actually pretty surprised people liked Mars Red at all to be honest, but personally I didn’t find this particular episode irrelevant.
And then we have Defrot who has previously been enigmatic and then turned out to be kind of a nice kind of kid (for what I assume is an ancient vampire). Now he’s just kind of holed up in a room and seems defeated but I’m kind of lost as to what caused this character transition. I feel like I missed something.
Well, we missed what happened with Meada. I figure that’s the point of the series. Maeda’s journey. Defrott represents the past and regret, Kurusu represents the future and potential and Maeda represents humanity and now he’s at a crossroads. Whatever happened with Defrott might have been pivotal. I think we’ll find out next week. I could be wrong.
We do get to see Nakajima going back to the military and he’s pointing out how great his vampire units have been before asking them if they are now going to fund him. It makes me wonder just how much his grip on reality has slipped. He can see the crisis they are currently in but nothing else seems to matter to him except his tunnel vision for making this vampire army.
When they turn him down, and actually suggest using his units as engineers to help with the rebuilding, you can see his frustration (despite that actually being a pretty good suggestion) and ultimately I think Nakajima is about to do something even stupider than he’s currently already acted.
To me Nakajima has always been the weak point of the story and I honestly think he’s unnecessary. They could simply have had unknown government forces develop the vampire units in their back using the research and data the team provided and it would have been the exact same but without the shaky motivations.
For my money, they could have all been developing the units together and something went terribly wrong. But that brings in a whole new thematic that would have changed the story on a more fundamental level.
About the only mystery left in Mars Red is what Glen’s motive is. Or is he just the kind of vampire that likes to cause chaos for the sake of it? He’s the only character left with any kind of ambiguity about him and he’s clearly still got plots afloat that we don’t really know about. Though this episode did tease the return of Maeda and it will be curious to see how he’s changed since his transformation.
For me, Mars Red kind of peaked mid-season and while it isn’t bad right now, it is decidedly less engaging than it was. Curious to see if the end can pick up.
As usual we have opposite opinions. For me the mid-season was a low. As soon as they started building Nakajima as the antagonist I was dubious and I still think it’s the worst part of Mars Red.
Right now, I do like seeing how Kurusu is force to confront et reevaluate his own morals as they clash with Suwa’s pragmatism born out of decades of extra experience, Takeuchi’s joyful nihilism and what I expect to be Meada’s wrath and grief. I enjoy character driven stories so this works for me regardless of the actual events.
Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi
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