Carole & Tuesday Episode 2: Born to Run

Together we could break this trap
We’ll run ’til we drop, baby, we’ll never go back
Oh, will you walk with me out on the wire?
‘Cause, baby, I’m just a scared and lonely rider

Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, one of the classics of rock and roll, is sung from the singer to a girl named Wendy, but as the title of the second episode of Carole &Tuesday, it instead becomes the song of two young women who have a need to break out, not from Freehold, but out of the machines that have promulgated lives in which they have no control, in which the beginning, middle, and end is all set from birth (1).

Tuesday’s escape is a more obvious one. Carole & Tuesday, in fact, begins with her running away from home and a life in which she has everything at her fingertips, in which she can purchase anything through her black card, but cannot buy the life she desires. The initial episode shows her guardian (Tuesday’s mother? Grandmother?), a hard woman who is both dismissive of Tuesday’s desire to play music and so disconnected from her that she doesn’t even consider that the girl may have run away to pursue her passion. In episode two, we see that the guardian is running for public office—and Tuesday Simmons would be relegated to another role she doesn’t want. All Tuesday wants to do is experience and live out her passion (2).

But I gotta know how it feels
I wanna know if love is wild
Babe, I want to know if love is real

On the outside, Carole’s character seems simpler—spunky, strong, and fearless, she has been fighting and clawing her way up in the world since losing her parents, but still maintains a positive outlook. But Carole is also running, and both her destination and reason are less tangible. Does she want to prove her parents wrong, if they indeed put her up for adoption? Or prove the world wrong, when they see in her an undesirable? Or is Carole just trying to find her place in the universe, in all these years unable to find a group, family, or job to which she belongs?

Meanwhile, a third character is also born to turn—but it’s not to Gus, Angela, or Tao whom I refer. The third character is simply, people. Much as in Cowboy Bebop, the background characters are omnipresent in Carole & Tuesday; they are an important part of the design and action. In this episode, they respond to the video of the girls singing, and they are often in the way of or crowding around the main characters. They even figure prominently in the series OP, which we experience for the first time, infected by the lovely dancing by Carole and Tuesday, causing them to dance as well. And with Tao and Angela rising as villains of a sort, it becomes apparent that the main antagonist is a society that has exchanged passion and human art for automation. Tao declares that human warmth can be replicated through A.I., but Carole & Tuesday attempts to tell us otherwise, to explain that the human heart can do what a machine cannot, and that it will respond to the authentic differently than it will to the computer-generated.

The importance of the third character cannot be understated, for we are meant to be them; we are meant to join them. The narration in the series tells us that Carole and Tuesday are beginning a revolution. Much like what Wall-E does in the eponymous Pixar film, the girls will awaken the world around them to the slumber under which they’ve fallen. They will show the people, and us, that baby, we were born to run.

And we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run

(1) I’m absolutely loving how Watanabe is using classic songs for episode titles and in the awesome record-visual commercial bumps. Two favorites in a row for me.

(2) So far, the show has dwelt in the 80’s, but can Watanabe resist using “All I Wanna Do” for a music title in a fun episode, especially since it comes from an album titled, Tuesday Night Music Club?

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