Discussion of the Purge

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I'd like to generate a discussion on an episode that fascinates and baffles me-- "The Purge." Here are some questions I've been asking myself and like to get some opinions on:

1.) What is the meaning/gist of the sequence in which the Breens are lined up to go into these little closets and eat... cabbage? lettuce? Is this some sort of state-enforced weekend nutrition exercise? ; )

2.) What in the heck is that little critter that leaps out of Trevor's custodian and does a little dance? (And for Trevor's neck to snap like that, it must have been a robot Trevor!)

-- KAnderson (butterflyka@yahoo.com), May 14, 1998


1) It's a facade to gather blood. The Breens are told that they're all being treated specially, but infact they are all given the same. They never know this because they are always kept separate, even in the vehicle that transports them. Notice the remote location also.

2) It's just one of the toys we saw him make during the train journey. And yes, it was a shell, not the real Trevor (although he could probably do that with his neck if he really wanted).

-- Philip Mills (philip.mills@cableinet.co.uk), May 14, 1998.

A common theme in this episode is of levers, weights, and moral decisions. From the very start, we see things Aeon could be doing differently. The man crushed in the rubble of Aeon's attack on the train; the man left without toilet paper because of Aeon (although this is one of the few people she shows any interest in helping); the boy hanging over the open-floored train car who is going to fall; the man with the dog, who needs his crutches and his dog rescued;Trevor with a bomb on his door, which Aeon regards with a simple look of surprise... there are a million examples of this, and most of them are in the first five minutes. And the entire ending sequence, along with previous scenes, seems to revolve around weights and levers. What could this mean?

-- Mat Rebholz (mer5@dana.ucc.nau.edu), May 14, 1998.

Well, I think the finale scene in "The Purge" (which also happens to be my favorite episode) is an imitation of the opening scene. Aeon has the perfect opportunity to kill Bambara by pulling the lever like she did in the opening scene, but she didn't. Now, this is her chance, not only to finish her job and kill Bambara, but also to prove to herself that she isn't being controlled by a Custodian, therefore enabling her to do as she pleases, which would be killing Bambara (which she doesn't). But I think when Aeon gazes at the other Custodian in the closing image, she sees it imitating her moves, leaving her--and us--wondering if the Custodian really did control her into attempting to kill Bambara again, since that would be "good" since Bambara was an enemy to the people.

-- TGoodchild (Wierd97@aol.com), May 15, 1998.

Doh! You're absolutely right! I never noticed that the custodian was mimicing the action of pulling a lever. So that's what the loud banging sound was too. Woah, deep man. You learn something new every day. :-)

-- Philip Mills (philip.mills@cableinet.co.uk), May 15, 1998.

They do it just to get the blood?! huh, i never would have thought of that

-- Frostbite (foo@bar.com), May 19, 1998.

I saw this episode about seven times before I noticed that the falling train crushes Lorna's van. Trevor really has the upper hand the entire time in this one, doesn't he?

-- Doug Buel (reporter@iag.net), May 21, 1998.

It is really hard to say that Trevor was behind Lorna's demise in this episode since the train crashed due to the bomb Bambara set on the train. The only way that Trevor would be behind this if he had sent Bambara to plant the bomb, which would be very unlikely since Trevor was on the train himself when bambara planted it, therefore putting his own life in danger.

-- TGoodchild (Wierd97@aol.com), May 21, 1998.

I saw the custodians as a witty metaphor for the codes of honor we expect from fictional characters. For example, in a normal cartoon Aeon would be a clear-cut protagonist, and Bambara would remain an antagonist. It is assumed that Breen society has similar stereotypes, applicable to everything from entertainment to law enforcement. The metal custodians, or 'consciences' are designed to maintain order, the small toy is just to keep things amusing. What we expect from Aeon is nonconformity, not necessarily that she does the right thing but that she remains an individual. (I don't have a conscience!) Nonconformity can still be interpreted as conformity, the same way morality can become immoral from another perspective. (You made me cut off my arm and give it to a little boy!)

-- Val McCafferty (zulofritter@hotmail.com), May 23, 1998.

Probably a lot of you already know that The Purge is, reportedly, the only episode of 3rd season that Chung had complete control over.

The episode is very concerned with control, expectations, and especially theatricality. That it ends in a play is a foregone conclusion; what other form could it take? The custodians make actors out of the people already; onstage they merely take on a larger audience, or perhaps a more specific one.

Most characters in the episode play a role, one decided for them. People eat what they think is designed for them, yet they're simply acting out a part. Bambara acts out two stereotyped, caricatured roles. Trevor even acts as circus ringleader, the two girls reminding me of the haunting ghosts from Stephen King's _The Shining_ for some reason. I'd argue that AEon is the only character in this episode that has any complexity whatsoever; she's the only one who refuses to take on a role (thus her arbitrary decisions of whom to help in the opening sequences).

In the end she sees a custodian imprisoned, banging to find its way out. As suggested below, it wants her to pull the lever, to become an actor, to take on a predetermined role. But we know AEon too well; she never will, even if all those around her are merely puppets. (This leads very well into the final episode, where AEon's decisions again make her solitary.)


-- Steve Rach Mirarchi (rach@earthlink.net), May 27, 1998.

I see Principal Lorna as an 80 year old version of Aeon... this is what came to mind as soon as I saw her, it seemed to me that she had a past much like Aeon's. Another possibility: am I wrong in thinking I noticed a bit of sexual tension between Aeon and Lorna? Or between Aeon and Judy, or any of the hostesses?

-- Mat Rebholz (mer5@dana.ucc.nau.edu), June 26, 1998.

I think you're just fantasising. :-)

-- Philip Mills (philip.mills@cableinet.co.uk), June 26, 1998.

I think one of the interesting mysteries of this episode is whether or not Aeon has been implanted in the final scene. It is the issue the discussion between Aeon and Trevor revolves around, and it is never directly answered.

Aeon leaves under her own control, and throughout she seems to obey only her own will. But she passes up the chance to kill Trevor. (Interesting side question: Has Aeon ever killed Trevor?) Though she attempts to kill Bambarra, she doesn't succeed. And whether or not it signifies anything, she does have the surgical doohickey in her navel.

This could be the most insidious effect of Trevor's custodian - it merely rounds away the most violent of Aeon's impulses while leaving her in control.

Or then again, maybe Aeon is correct when she says that she is still capable of doing what she doesn't feel like doing. I'd love to see anyone else's thoughts on this.

-- Charles Martin (charmaine@dfn.com), June 27, 1998.

What I gather from this episode is that Aeon _does_ have a conscience of her own, even if it's a bit "off" as compared to the average person. But then, that would contradict the ending, where it is implied that she has been implanted. Perhaps Trevor has done all of this to remind Aeon that she does have a conscience after all, and that it can't be ignored without backlash in the future (as seen in "Chronophasia"). Trevor may be forcing Aeon into thinking about what she has done and how she handles each situation.

-- Mat Rebholz (mer5@dana.ucc.nau.edu), July 08, 1998.

I believe that throughout the entire episode of "The Purge," Fon never is controlled by a custodian. In the first place, as I remember it, Fon is caught before the custodian gets inside of her.

Second of all, Trevor never tells Fon that she has a cutodian, but is just trying to get her to think she does. Trevor likes to manipulate minds, and in the instance when he is talking to Fon when she wakes up, he has the upper hand, the ability to take advantage of her unconscious period.

Third, in the last scene of the episode, I believe that the submerged custofian is making a motion to enter Fon. That is what they do, as shown in the rest of the episode--whenever they are close to a navel, they try to enter. And furthermore, it was trying to go in to Fon because she didn't have one. Why would two custodians try to inhabit one body?

Also, a question: why the hell are there popsicles on top of the "fixed" custodians?

-- Owen Black (Ob200bpm@aol.com), September 06, 1998.

Why not?

Cool and sweet.

-- Philip Mills (philip.mills@cableinet.co.uk), September 08, 1998.

Dammit Owen! The last custodian is making the motion of pulling a lever. This is stated a few paragraphs back. Read!

-- Philip Mills (philip.mills@cableinet.co.uk), September 11, 1998.

I did read. I just hadn't watched the episode over again to confirm it. You know, you cant read every interpretation out there and believe it right away. The same goes for my ideas. Since then, I watched the episode and saw the custodian push the lever. get off my case dude

-- Owen Black (Ob200bpm@aol.com), September 13, 1998.

you see, this is the flava of this show: if you have to ask, you'll never know. ~(:-])

-- neobe 316 (neobe@kscable.com), December 03, 1999.

Throughout the series, there's always been the Orwell-ian idea of a controlled society. That's probably the primary theme of Aeon Flux as a whole anyway, so...the question regarding the cabbage-line, it's completely about control. Whether or not the cabbage is actually formulated to their specific nutritional needs is beside the point. The people obviously believe that it is, they stay in line like the nice little conformist puppets of society they are. As for the Custodian in the end, I think both interpretations are very valid and to the point, 1) That it's mimicking Aeon's movements and thus tried to make her do the "good" thing to kill a dangerous criminal like Bambaara, and 2) That it's trying to get into Aeon. Both certainly have some truth to them (I examined the episode after reading Weird97@aol.com's answer and found he was right...the illustrations and animation match Aeon's movements perfectly, indicating that Chung probably wanted to show this), and yet the Custodian's are programmed to enter and control people, so...both probably are true. As for the lever theme...I doubt if it has any significance to the story, though I'm willing to accept that I may be wrong. I just think it's similar to how some episodes emphasize certain colors or background settings, or how some albums from musicians emphasize a certain sound effect, instrument, or theme. If the lever does have significance, I can't see it being beyond a simple visual motif, but not necessarily a symbolic one.

-- Ilker Yucel (yucel81x@hotmail.com), December 25, 2000.

I wonder why Lorna would offer Aeon with implanting herself with a custodian, and why Aeon would feel tempted into doing it (as she was when she got the custodian from Bambara).

The fact that the counter insurgents just substitute the Breen custodians for the popsicle custodians is worth of notice, methinks.

The custodian in the vial is pulling the level like Aeon, and she seems shocked by that. I always asked myself if that means she had a custodian all the time or just that she did precisely what the custodian would do. But I also wonder if the custodian was actually trying to break free from the glass, and that disturbed Aeon.

-- Ricardo Dirani (spharion3@yahoo.com), November 25, 2002.

Just a little off-topic, but I was watching the purge today and I noticed that the little twin 'witches' reminded me eerily of Mary- Kate and Ashley Olsen!

Other than that, I thought that they were trying to go for zaniness in the episode as well so the Popsicles would be like giving the person a 'brain freeze'. Don't the Custodians fill the whole body, technically? (Maybe the head splits down..)

Or, since Aeon Flux seems rife with sexual references, could the popsicles just be for pleasure?

-- Jerr (Jconnerjr2@yahoo.com), February 19, 2003.

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