Aeon Flux: Long Episodes: Thanatophobia
Jay Mackley tells us that thanatophobia = fear of death. (fr. Greek, thanatos: death)
This wonderful episode with a disturbing and sick scene where two young boys are fighting and a third is sat laughing. Laughing boy deserves a good smacking, I think his friends are not play fighting.
Meanwhile, the shapely figure of Aeon Flux is crouched in a small opening; she is poised to begin another terrifying assignment. She embarks on a mission to destroy the large Breen Medical Parts factory, which she does with terrifying stealth and deadly accuracy. She utters a little poem as she drops small explosive devices in strategic locations…
Ready for the action now Danger Boy,
Ready if I’m ready for you Danger Boy,
Ready if I want it now Danger Boy,
How dare you, dare you Danger Boy,
How dare you, dare you Danger Boy,
I dare you, dare you Danger Boy.
She escapes the exploding Medical facility in the nick of time (as usual).
Next day, Trevor Goodchild is speaking with some geezer (referred to as Your Honour) about border containment. As they discuss the problem we see laughing boy throw a tin beer cap into the border wall. Robotic armaments fire at the toy missile destroying it to the laugh of the mischievous little twerp who likes watching his little friends get themselves beaten up.
Meanwhile, two Breens, Cybil and onan, are discussing their escape to Monica. onan mentions that Trevor is no visionary, he’s just another Breen (? – so are they!). Cybil joins in, though you get the impression that she is just going along with onan, “Yeah, Trevor Goodchild, they’re all a bunch of power junkies toying with our lives.” onan adds that Goodchild hates the Monicans because they have no rulers.
Changing the subject, Cybil talks about the escape to Monica. She seems to be a little hesitant. onan’s arrogance fails to quell her concerns. They argue and onan concludes that he would send his lover to D section to attempt an escape if he wanted to get rid of her. Cybil angrily tells him that she will succeed then she storms off.
Onan looks through the window. It just so happens tht Aeon’s apartment in Monica is very close to Cybil’s apartment in Bregna. He ogles Aeons shapely figure (I’m with you mate!) and “mmmm’s” to himself.
It can be said that for a goody, onan is a bad geezer. He is arrogant, sexist, ugly AND he fancies our very own Aeon! Cybil meanwhile, is in her bedroom looking at a pair of stockings that her lover bought her in better times, “Do you remember when you gave me these,” she says.
Onan is impatient to leave and is unconcerned with Cybil’s reminiscence, “Come woman! We are free, we need nothing!” (Wadda git!)
When they get to D section, they make a break for it. Trevor watches from a monitor – he recognises Cybil. Strangely enough, we see that Aeon Flux too is watching behind a corner (Trevor, by the way is watching Cybil AND Aeon!).
Cybil and onan reach D Section and begin their attempt. They have to negotiate a number of robotic artillery guns and some tricky jumps to the other side. The wall is, in fact, a sort of armed no-mans-land. Cybil goes first, she jumps across two ledges and aims for the opening that is success, but in mid flight a bullet gets her in the middle of her back rendering her immobile. onan jumps past, lands on the ledge and with only a brief look back, wonders off into Monica. In his office, Trevor groans, “What a waste.” Then he turns off his monitor.
A mechanical device rescues Cybil’s body and transports it to a medical facility. Cybil wakes to find that she has been repaired. A mechanical device has replaced a damaged vertebra. The medical bill is large, and the doctor tells her that she must work off the bill in the factory, the Medical Factory, 7982 Plant, the medical parts facility, the one that Aeon tried to destroy! Trevor meanwhile, has ordered that he remains the leader in this assignment.
Cybil returns home. She is apparently looking ok, except that is, for a sort of ‘access point’ in her back here she can replace the artificial vertebrae when needed. Cybil extracts the artificial thingy and breaths a sigh of relief. She begins to limber up as she listens to a news broadcast of the attack (Aeons attack) on the medical factory. She remembers seeing one of the explosive devises lying on a window-cill in Aeon’s apartment. When she sees the report mention a similar device was used in the attack, she gives a short shriek. She now knows that Aeon is a Monican agent.
Cybil ends a tiring shift at the factory and notices, as she walks home, an opening in the Bregna/Monican wall. It is only a small opening, but she is able to see onan walking alone on the other side. She calls over to him and asks how he is. She managed to almost get her head to the opening by a painful looking manoeuvre, which requires the extraction of her artificial vertebrae. She tells onan that she has discovered that her neighbour is a Monican agent and that he should learn how she gets over the wall. He should meet her the next day at the same place to arrange another attempt. She desperately wants to be with the arrogant git. He tells her that he will find Aeon Flux and get the info, “I’ll do this for you,” he says. Big Deal!
Onan heads of Aeons place. Aeon invites him in and makes him something to drink. She tells him that she saw the attempt to escape Bregna. Aeon the arrogant onan more seemingly innocent questions. You get the impression however that she is learning an awful lot more that onan is telling her. She soon picks up that onan has no feelings for poor Cybil and she is unimpressed by this.
Onan then tries to impress Aeon Flux with a few comments about weak women and how he has no concept of failure. “Ok onan, sure” dismisses Aeon. Then he suddenly strips off to reveal that he is naked except for a rather butch looking outfit similar to the one Aeon wears. He is, of course trying to show off his physique which is pretty good for a Breen (most of them look like stick insects).
He stands there looking like Arnold Shwartzenegger at a bondage party when Aeon says, “Look, this is all wrong.” onan looks a little upset by her criticism of his costume; he looks on bemused while Aeon Flux moves round the back and begins pulling at one of the straps. Then she gives the arrogant git a vicious tug at one of the straps. He grimaces with pain and passes out at her feet, “forget it onan” she says.
Aeon then looks over to Cybil’s apartment and notices Trevor Goodchild enter masquerading as a doctor. She looks on annoyed and begins to pull the curtains (but not before Goodchild gives her a brief glance). Aeon looks on as Trevor examines Cybil. He fiddles about with her spine using a pair of tweezers and … and… and …. Well, there are lots of mmmmm’s and ahhhhh’s and the odd scream. (?)
Minutes later, Trevor and Cybil are sat on the bed, hair slightly more ruffled, and he asks (while smoking a cigarette) “was it as good for you as it was for me“. WHAT! – did we miss something here?)
“I, I dunno what to say. I’ve never had it like this you know!?” replies Cybil (somewhat contented it seems).
NO WAY!!! What was supposed to have gone on then? Did they make love!? Not unless Trevor is into ‘back bonking’! Even if it was a satisfying experience for Cybil (and lets face it, onan must be bloody awful in bed if it was), how could it be stimulating for Trevor? Maybe his tweezers had an orgasm, maybe Trevor is a backbone fetishist, or maybe he’s just like me, maybe he likes playing with helpless leggy brunettes with no backbone….. erm….
Cybil adds, “did you find anything wrong doctor, am I ok?“
“Oh my god, are you kidding, you were sensational!… Erm… I mean….Cybil, Hey do you need a job or anything?” He adds that he will grant her one wish, then moves off to fix himself a drink. Cybil looks over to Aeon’s apartment and notices onan having his straps adjusted. She then tells him that she wants out! She wants Monican citizenship.
Trevor throws a wobbler! “Do you know how lucky you are? You’re the best I’ve had yet! I’ll just find someone else with your ‘specs’ now that I know what they are.” What did he mean by that? ‘The best yet!? The best in bed, the best back job? “Just get out!” He concludes.
Then, realising that he was a guest in Cybil’s home he adds quietly, “I mean, I think I’ll leave now.” Trevor looses it just a little, his silky smooth voice is always wrecked when anyone suggests that Bregna is not the utopia he believed it to be. Cybil adds, “us Breens have everything we ever needed don’t we, just take me into the street and shoot me!” They continue arguing, overheard by Aeon.
Aeon is impressed with Cybil’s argument, she calls over onan to listen. onan simply says, “Oh Cybil, used to it.” Aeon grimaces at his insensitivity.
Aeon decides to demonstrate to Cybil how onan’s allegiance has changed. She determines that the best way to do this is by seduction. She informs onan (while Cybil looks on) that she is commandeering his libido under Monican law. She moves over and kisses the lucky arrogant git! Cybil looks on in horror as Aeon Flux has her wicked way with him.
Next day, after her shift has finished, Cybil visits the whole in the wall and sees onan. She mentions rather pathetically to him that she saw him with Aeon the night before. He tells her that it will take some time to persuade Aeon to help him, he adds that he still wants her to make it across and that he loves her – the bastard!
Trevor meanwhile breaks into Cybil’s apartment and leaves a box of artificial spinal vertebrae replacement things (I suppose it’s Trevor’s way of saying sorry after a lovers tiff, a sort of boney peace offering if you like). Aeon spots him and calls over, “Fine to play with my feelings Trevor, but you’re involving innocent people. What are you trying to do to the poor girl?”
“Jealous.” More of a statement than a question. Trevor’s supercool voice washes over Aeon, “She intrigues me.” He adds dispassionately. The he leaves.
Cybil returns to find the box and the door bell rings. Aeon is at the door and Cybil lets her in. Aeon offers to help her escape but Cybil believes that Aeon isn’t telling her the truth or that she will assist in her failure. In any even she mistrusts Aeon enough to refuse her offer and asks her to leave. I don’t quite know why Aeon offered in the first place, possibly because she felt that it was Cybil’s best chance.
Next day she meets onan but notices that she doesn’t need onan any more. (Ogling him bonking Aeon had an effect on her I guess). I get the impression though, that onan is missing her.
Cybil calls Trevor; she needs to see him urgently. I reckon she’s in the mood for another ‘back job’. When he arrives, Aeon Flux looks on disgusted as Cybil almost begs for Trevor to take her! Then we see it, in all its sordid glory. Trevor gets out his tool and starts wiggling it in the small of Cybil’s back! She moans in ecstasy, groaning with pleasure, her fingers tingle with excitement and she squeals as Trevor puts his tool in and out, in and out rhythmically dancing on her nerves and driving her inextricably to orgasm.
Good grief! No way! Lets give the poor misguided Cybil the benefit of the doubt and say that Trevor is playing with her erm… well… lets say the right nerves in her spine. But what the hell is Trevor getting out of all this? Maybe it’s the deep satisfaction of the expert usage of a pair of tweezers, or maybe he has a misguided idea of what it’s like to play doctors and nurses, or maybe he isn’t a ‘leg-man’ like the rest of us after all – maybe he gets off on backbones!
Aeon watches and gets more and more angry! For gods sake she can’t be jealous can she. What do you reckon girls, would you be jealous of a backbone fetishist! Do you crave your partner fiddling around with your vertebrae? Apparently Aeon does! She storms off, jumps over the wall, and climbs into Cybil’s apartment. We all wait expectantly for the craziest confrontation imaginable when… when….
Aeon heads straight for Cybil’s box of backbone falsies in the room above (the ones that Trevor left) and throws them out of the window! (Now I’m completely lost! – Do you ever get the feeling that you’re walking off a plank without a ship!?) Cybil glances out of the window, notices the falling falsies and runs out to see if she can save any of them. Aeon catches Trevor with his tweezers down and confronts him. Basically, it looks like she’s going to smash his face in, but Trevor, ever vigilant, simply switches on him jet boots and zooms past her (as you do). Trevor is just soooo cool. How many tools has this geezer got!?
Cybil manages to save just one of the false vertebrae (I wish they were false noses or boobs or something easier to type). She spots Trevor standing on the roof and accuses him of doing away with her backbone bits. Trevor explains that it as Aeon (actually her ‘next door neighbour’) who did this, “She is amuck!” he adds. Cybil is sufficiently annoyed to tell Trevor that it was Aeon Flux who attacked the Medical Centre a few days earlier. Trevor hugs her warmly and explains that he already knew, he was just waiting to hear it from her lips, “See, you are one of us after all.“
Cybil is annoyed, “Oh yeah, just you watch me.” She says.
Trevor knows exactly what she means, “Cybil, listen to me. If you try to make it again you will fail! I let Aeon do her bombing, they won’t let me shut down production.“
Next day, Aeon bombs the Medical facility again. Later she meets onan and tells him that she is returning him to Cybil. She gets him to Bregna and Cybil’s apartment and onan asks for another chance. They walk upstairs as if to make love, but Cybil throws him out. “It’s my chance for another chance now!” She exclaims. Besides, he’s lousy in bed. Cybil is obviously into kinky stuff like blokes with tweezers.
She runs off to have another go at D section. She manages to get past the robotic guns fairly easily but just as she jumps feet first through the door, a number of wires appear and trap her. As she lies helpless on her back a robot arm with a syringe injects her legs with a sort of painkiller while another robot arm chops off her legs just above the knees. The same robot then sews up the wound and leaves her there helpless and legless.
Cybil lies on her back helpless. She doesn’t cry but you can see she is deeply upset! She looks firstly into the sky as if to say ‘so close and yet so far’, then across to her right where she can make out Aeon Flux hugging herself in sadness. Onan too can see what has happened from the other side. He sorrowfully holds his head in his hands.
The supercool Trevor however looks on (good grief, what is this, a spectator sport!) dispassionately he says, “That which does not kill us makes us stranger.“
Finally, as if we were not shocked and saddened enough, we see the three boys again. This time however, laughing boy is without arms! He obviously played his games too near the wall.
This was a great story – but a bitter ending
Wadda you think!
I’d rate this a 37,118. What did you think?
Discuss this in the Aeon Flux Forum
The “Thanataphobia” episode review is © 1999, 2000 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission.
Also, Christine McCaskill send me her thoughts on this episode:
“Why was Aeon bombing the medical parts facility in the first place? The answer is found in two places. The medical part that Cybil was working on in the facility was the exact same part that was attached to the equipment used to amputate her legs!!! Aeon and Trevor were actually working together to keep those parts from making their way to the border containment area!
As for Aeon’s disgust with Cybil, it has to do with the fact that Cybil wanted to have her cake and eat it too. Cybil was completely disillusioned with life in Breen (thus the desire to defect to Monica) but found that her failed attempt left her with a new powerful tie to her homeland (in the form of spinal orgasm). (As a side note, pay special attention to Trevor’s first examination… just as the examination is about to start, he tests the tool in his left hand — it is a device that pulses in and out like a piston! We don’t have to wonder what that’s supposed to resemble!) Cybil waffled back and forth between staying and going, and every move that Aeon made was an attempt to either help her choose one path or the other, or to prevent her from getting hurt. One more point: the boys ARE play fighting at the beginning of the episode. They can be seen and heard laughing. At the end, their nature has changed from one of love of life to destructive (and self-destructive) behaviors, which takes us back to the name of the episode: thanataphobia, the fear of death. In this case, the fear is over the death of the human spirit.”
The Aeon Flux names, characters, pictures and everything else associated with the series are the property of Peter Chung, Chung, MTV Networks, Colossal Pictures and Liquid Television. All rights reserved.