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act02: SAMMY: Companions of EVE

 

Review by Scott Richardson

February 12, 2012

 

Summary

 

Rikuo quizzes Sammy on her movements over the past few days. Sammy emotionlessly reports that the last time she went out was two days ago to shop for groceries on his mother's command. She reiterates that she did not do anything outside of her orders. Noticing Rikuo's frustration, Naoko warns him that he's talking with Sammy as if it were human. At school, Rikuo puzzles over Sammy's refusal to admit that she went to Time of Eve. Masaki accuses Rikuo of trusting robots too much, which causes Rikuo to briefly lose his cool and accuse Masaki of suggesting that Sammy would lie to him. In response, Masaki reminds him what the Three Laws of Robotics are: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. As Masaki points out, there is no law against lying. Therefore, Sammy cannot be trusted and their only choice is to try to catch her in the act. With that in mind, the pair head to Time of Eve to lay in wait. Rikuo seems uncomfortable with the idea of confronting Sammy, but Masaki is dead set on the plan. As they discuss this front a vantage point on the second level, they are suddenly surprised by a little girl who grabs Rikuo's leg and starts pretending to be a cat. The girl's caretaker, Shimei, apologizes, saying that once something catches Chie's eye, she forgets about everything else. Fortunately, Chie suddenly takes an interest in the piano near the front of the cafe. Masaki asks Rikuo if he's going to play it, but Rikuo reminds him that he's given up on the piano. Despite that, Rikuo heads downstairs anyway. At the piano, Rikuo and Masaki briefly speculate on the humanity of the pair- they both seem pretty human, but then, so did Akiko. Masaki notes that Rikuo is very uncomfortable with the idea of Sammy visiting the cafe without his knowledge- perhaps because of the violation of human authority? When Rikuo doesn't respond, Masaki suddenly distances himself from the situation, noting that his family doesn't even have an android. Rikuo asks him why that is, but Masaki doesn't answer. The front door opens, but to Rikuo's relief it is only Akiko who walks in. Rikuo says he just doesn't understand why Sammy would lie and then walks over to Akiko. Upon reaching her, he notes that she acts completely differently here. Akiko attempts to evade the implication, causing Rikuo to take a more direct approach, asking her where her halo is. Akiko tells him that she turned it off- if she doesn't look human, she'll be violating the rules. Their conversation comes to an abrupt end when they notice Chie standing behind them, staring at Rikuo's glasses, which she promptly grabs off his face and runs off with. 

 

Meanwhile, Masaki wanders off towards the back of the cafe to spy on Setoru, who promptly notices him and half jokingly accuses him of being a Blade Runner. Setoru warns him that he won't have any fun around here if he violates the rules, and rises to leave as Rikuo and Akiko come over looking for Rikuo's hidden glasses. Noticing that Setoru has left the cafe, Masaki decides to leave as well, but the front door won't open for him. Nagi tells him that, after someone leaves, the door remains locked for a short time in order to respect their privacy. As Masaki waits for the door to unlock, someone at the bar asks for a small can of the cafe's coffee blend, noting that if it's too big, her family will find out. Nagi asks her if they like it, but admits that she isn't sure, causing Nagi to suggest that she just asked them outright. The customer shakes her head, saying that 'he' hates it when she acts independently. Meanwhile, Rikuo attempts to press Akiko on how the cafe's rule factors into the Three Laws, but Akiko ends the conversation, scolding him for violating the rules, but playfully telling him she won't tell Nagi. Rikuo notes to himself that androids really are capable of keeping secrets. Shimei, cradling a sleeping Chie nearby, notes that everyone has one or two things to hide- he himself is keeping something from Chie- but it's for her own sake, so perhaps whatever is being kept from Rikuo is being kept for his own sake as well? Rikuo realizes that Sammy might be lying to him because she believes the truth will hurt him, thus overriding the Second Law (to obey orders) in favor of the First (not to harm). Shimei then reveals that Chie apparently passed Rikuo's glasses on to somebody else. Rikuo retrieves his glasses from Nagi just in time to get a clear look at the customer at the bar- Sammy. As he stares at her in shock, Sammy panics and bolts for the door. By the time Rikuo manages to collect himself and give chase, he is blocked by the now locked door. In order to calm him down, Nagi orders him to sit down and gives him a cup of coffee. As he accepts the drink, Nagi explains that the cafe confused Sammy when she first found it, but eventually they got her to open up- telling them about her family and the guy who refused to play the piano anymore. Nagi reminds him that Time of Eve is always open to him, so long as he obeys the rule. Later, over the phone, Masaki admits that he tried to follow Setoru outside to see if he had a ring, but was unable to find him. He is very interested in what the cafe is up to, and Rikuo admits that he'd like to go back there as well. Their conversation ended, Rikuo starts to ask a once again emotionless Sammy about the cafe, but stops and just asks for coffee instead. As she heads to follow orders, Rikuo tells her that the coffee has been quite good lately. Sammy dispassionately thanks him for the compliment and with her back to him, hides a slight smile. Meanwhile, Setoru makes a phone call and reports that, though he has seen some interesting things, he hasn't pinned down anything specific. The voice on the other end asks him if the Ethics Committee is involved, but Setoru doesn't think so. He suggests that they sit back and observe for a while, noting that individuality is beginning to manifest... 

 

Commentary

 

With the setting well established, this episode starts into the meat of the story, starting with Rikuo's discomfort at the idea of Sammy lying to him and Masaki's apparent distrust of androids. Masaki's assertion that the Three Laws don't mean androids can't lie is somewhat correct- although the only way an android could lie in response to a direct order to tell the truth is if the android believed that the truth would cause a human to come to harm, thus invoking the First Law over the Second. Were this an Asimov robot story, I'd imagine Rikuo would have already figured out that if he ordered Akiko to tell him what he wanted to know, she would have likely had to tell him anything she didn't have reason to think would hurt him, as direct orders from someone she knows to be human trump orders written on a chalkboard at the front of a store. But, while it borrows a few cues from Asimov, it is decidedly not a Three Laws mystery story, so I digress. The meat of this tale lies in the idea that androids are becoming self-aware, but are hiding it, possibly because they do not believe their human masters want to know.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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