Sooner or later, something in this series was going to make me think of FREAKONOMICS. There are no “freakoflation” attacks, sadly, but Yoga’s dealings with the guy who looks like L’s better-adjusted and less-threatening cousin reminded me a bit of the chapter on institutionalized cheating in sumo wrestling. Basically, the better wrestlers will take dives to those who’re one defeat away from getting dropped from the federation so as to decrease the total number of shut-outs. It’s something close to an altruistic form of fixing, but it also factors into the Japanese notions of propriety. I’m forgetting the names, but there are precise terms for the rosy reality’s everybody’s expected to convey when they speak and then the seedier reality everybody’s expected to already understand.
The FREAKNOMICS documentary asserted that the aforementioned system also prevented many other crimes from being reported. I didn’t watch all of it because I’d already the book and such talk of being “ahead of the curve” might be doubly relevant here. It’s often said that science fiction at the movies is 10-20 years behind literary science fiction, and I do feel like this is show’s got its finger on the pulse of a topic we probably won’t see “mainstream” entertainment explore for a long while. Not only is this first real work of fantasy I’ve seen that mythologizes the recent global recession, it’s also touching on the long-term consequences of social network in a meaningful way. The more people you’re connected to, the greater your responsibilities and exposure to hardship are. We see that here with the many children who are effected by the loss of Yoga’s “business casual” opponent (who takes his loss so well, too. Maybe all these guys get serious sportsmanship training from human resources?)
Maybe it was kind of cold for Yoga to go ahead with trouncing the guy after hearing out his shrewd plea to “think of the children.” Perhaps his heart’s starting to harden like it needs to? He got some sound advice about not doing the same thing for years on end (lest he end up like his co-worked at 7-11.) That’s a habit of highly successful people, right? If only he’d get enough horse sense to realize it’s dumb to step into a van.
Watch this episode “Conflict" below, decide for yourself and then read my comments on the previous episode here.