Even a psycho can utter the truth, right?
In episode seven of Babylon, Ai Magase continues her unspeakable work, and as she draws public prosecutor Zen Seizaki further into a web of evil, she commits a very specific misdeed for a very specific reason: She wants Seizaki to “confront evil.” (WARNING: Spoilers ahead)
Up until this episode, the question of who the antagonist of the story was still up in the air. Magase was using some sort of sexually-charged power to control others and force them to commit suicide, but was she an enforcer of sorts? Was she, perhaps, even a victim? Well, the latter might still be true, but she’s also clearly the victimizer—by causing the entire group of prosecutors and police under Seizaki, sans Sekuro, to commit suicide, and then to do the worst deed of all in one of the most painful scenes in anime in recent years, while explaining her reasoning behind it, Magase establishes herself as the subject of episode seven’s title: “The Most Evil.”
That moment when you realize the rips on the Babylon poster were clues… pic.twitter.com/HBEjeAUCJ3
— Beneath the Tangles (@AnimeTangles) November 20, 2019
Now that scene. That scene. Sekuro is the only one of Seizaki’s special group to be kept alive, abducted for a specific reason. But as should be expected in this tantalizing series, her kidnapping is not a focal point of the next arc (which won’t be show until the end of the year!); it was largely resolved at the end of this episode when Magase contacts Seizaki and live streams the dismemberment of Sekuro while Seizaki watches, screaming and in tears, and able to only capitulate to Magase’s demand: think about what I’m doing.
It’s a painful scene to watch, but viewers must watch it, because Magase’s instructions to Seizaki are specific. She doesn’t reveal her motivation behind the crimes she commits, but she reveals her reasoning for live streaming Sekuro’s torture (murder?): It’s to force Seizaki to consider that evil can have a reason. It’s not just evil. Just as Seizaki has reason for justice, Magase has a reason for her acts, and she wants the prosecutor to think on it, to confront what evil is.
Magase feels her act is necessary if Seizaki is to think deeply about her deeds. He knows her to be evil, and he’s emotional already based on the many deaths she’s caused, including those of individuals intimate to Seizaki—thus, he moves forward in trying to capture her without having to think much about her motivation, and without any sense of empathy that might arise from such thinking. So she forces his hand. She goes to the utmost extreme to make him consider why her evil exists.
The ugliness of evil is such that I don’t want to consider it either. I have an obsession with reading about violent crime, one that usually lays dormant but then gets the better of me when I go down the rabbit hole of reading or watching a series about true crimes. Sickened, I have to get away both mentally and physically from these stories because they make me feel dirty. To hear or read about true evil—not some fictional kind on screen or in a book—tears me up and haunts my mind, sometimes for weeks afterwards.
But as much as I need not dwell on such evil acts and terrible people, I’m glad, in a sense, for those real life Magases, for their horrible misdeeds remind me of what we as humans are capable, and what I’m also capable of in my worst moments. That seems a bit overwrought and perhaps disingenuous, but let me explain. Christ tells us that hatred is murder—on my grumpiest days, I do hate people, I see them as inhuman and unworthy of life, even those I’m close to, if only for a moment. And if I had been born with less supportive parents or in some dark corner of the world or with mental health issues, who’s to say that I wouldn’t be a Magase or a Ted Bundy? Something within sometimes tells me that the line separating me from the most horrific of people is thinner that I’d like to admit.
And knowing that forces me to consider something other than evil—it forces me to consider my weakness and my need for a Savior. Christ has not only saved me for eternity, as if that isn’t enough; he is saving me every day, forgiving me for my sin and encouraging me not only to confront evil, as Magase and perhaps the devil would, but to confront the healing power, the intense grace, and the unstoppable love of God. But without thinking about the bad, I won’t know the good; without considering the truth of my own evil, I can’t live in the constancy of God’s mercy.
So I’ll be introspective and take a good look at the mirror, at the person I sometimes am, at the person I might be, and the person I would be without God’s grace. I’ll confront my own evil, because without listening to Magase’s request to Seizaki and making it my own, I’ll excuse my sin and avoid the depths of my own wickedness, and thus fail to see what God has already declared to me: “The old has gone, the new is here!”
Babylon can be streamed via Amazon Prime.