R2 DVD Reviews
Monday, 01 December 2008 00:00
Every volume of 009-1 has seen the series drift away from Mylene's usual duties, instead getting closer and closer to the woman herself, and this final volume is no exception. And the woman under the surface is definitely an interesting one...
9 - Revenge
An operation gone wrong sees Mylene out of action for a few months - even she needs time to recover form injuries - but when she's ready to return to duty, she's informed that changes are being made to her department and that as a result she's going to be off-duty for a while longer. Her enforced vacation gets off to a bad start when a tyre blow-out forces her to hitch a lift with a passing family. They're on their way to visit Dexter, a relation who spends most of his time away - he's a fighter pilot - and Mylene finds herself being hauled along for the ride. The trip starts off pleasantly enough, but Mylene soon begins to realise that there's something not quite right about the situation...
Bonus Episode - Rhythm & Blues
For once, Mylene's feminine wiles have been her undoing, and she wakes to learn that her target has set a bomb inside her body: a bomb that will detonate when a particular note of a particular song his played. She'd been warned in her briefing that her target was particularly dangerous - she just hadn't realised how devious he really was. Cue flashback showing just how our experience agent got herself into this mess - but more importantly, how is she going to get out of it..?
10 - Reverse Explosion
Mylene's encountered mutants before, and truth be told she has no problems with the laws that keep them under confinement - or worse. But now, both Eastern and Western Blocs are beginning to rethink the "Extermination Laws" that are used to control mutants. Officially, the idea is that there should be a more humane way to deal with those born with mutant abilities - it's not their fault, after all - but unofficially, both sides are wanting to put those powers to good use. Read, covert use. In a research lab in the Eastern Block, meanwhile, one Dr Green has been engaged in illegal research aimed at exploring some of those covert uses - and may just be on to something useful...
11 - Exodus
Dr Green's facility has come under attack by Eastern forces - the ultimatum they've received about the "reverse explosion" technique has them worried, and believing that the facility's mutants are behind it they're planning to exterminate them, no exceptions. The staff are ordered to evacuate, but Dr Green and one of his researchers refuses to leave their young charges, come what may. Green has even planned for just this eventuality, and has an escape route already planned. Just as well for him, then, that his researcher is really Mylene, operating undercover and ready to help...
12 - Daybreak
While the agents of the Zero Zero Organisation continue to try and track down those responsible for the 'reverse explosion' events, the peace between the Eastern and Western blocs is getting ever shakier - and both sides are getting more desperate. The one person who has pieced most of the truth together is Mylene, but with Number Zero having ignored her protests and recalled her home, she's decided to disobey her orders and head for the moon, where she believes the mutant children are gathering. Dr Green and Loki are already on their way there, and while Mylene agrees that Green's aims are noble, his methods aren't, and she's determined to stop him...
It's the proverbial disc of two parts, with the first two episodes standing alone before and the final three forming an arc that sees Mylene involved in a plot that could bring the earth to the verge of nuclear war. For me, the first episode is almost the most interesting, as it sees Mylene's actions coming back to haunt her, when the family of a man she's killed in the line of duty comes looking for revenge. It's quite a bitter-sweet tale - the would-be vengeance-seeker is no spy, no secret agent, and is well out of his depth when it comes to dealing with someone of Mylene's skill. But neither is Mylene unnecessarily bloodthirsty, and she does her best to resolve the situation without violence. It's a slow-paced story, but one that grabs you quite quickly and by the end unfolds a bit like a train-wreck.
The bonus episode is similarly paced and themed, but perhaps because there are no third parties involved it's missing a certain something that stops it from being quite as engrossing. I'm also not convinced by the way the story is told through flashback, which always leaves scope for confusion, depending on how things play out. The story seems to avoid any such pitfalls, but that doesn't make me like the technique any better.
From there we move onto the final arc, which brings us back to world-spanning intrigue and plotting, while still keeping Mylene's basic humanity at the centre of the story. It's quite a meandering little tale, with a few possibilities floated as to who could be behind the "reverse explosion" plot that threatens to tip the balance between East and West - and both sides are initially equally clueless as to who the culprits really are. It's Mylene's undercover work that eventually clears the matter up, but along the way she develops a personal interest in the project that leads her to disobey orders when she's told to return home and leave other agents from her team to resolve matters. There's certainly the feel of real threat to the story (however far-fetched the idea behind it may seem), but it still comes down to Mylene doing what she thinks is right, regardless of what others tell her. It's that focus on the character herself that has really made 009-1 so appealing to me, and a cut above other shows in the genre such as Najica, which buried its character development under a ton of action and fanservice that ended up just being a distraction.
Overall, then, a very strong ending to a very enjoyable series. It won't be to everyone's taste, as dedicated action fans will find there's not enough gunplay and things going "boom!" to keep their action for long, but if you like your characters to be more than cardboard cutouts then you'll find plenty here to keep your entertained. Well worth getting.