In which Dirty Pair riffs on the SF classic Flowers for Algernon and does a surprisingly good, and serious, job of it.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any comedy in episode 12 The Little Dictator! Let Sleeping Top Secrets Lie. It’s just that The Little Dictator shows a surprisingly deft touch in terms of transitioning from the comedic set up to the serious ending. Given that the ending is appropriate, a trigger warning for suicide is in order.
The Little Dictator opens with the Lovely Angels being recalled from vacation to a sealed off 3WA building. There’s been an internal theft of a security system code named Algernon, and the Lovely Angels have been requested to recover it. Fortunately the theft is incomplete, and the security system is still in the sealed off building.
The Lovely Angels were specifically requested by the 3WA’s R&D section. I think this is best described as a cross between Q from the James Bond franchise and the R&D sections from the Paranoia roleplaying game.
Terrified yet? You should be. One of the things running around is a “Lice Mk 1” which can destroy your intelligence if it bites you. The mad scientist involved manages to recapture it just before it bites Yuri.
The scientists aren’t willing to tell the Lovely Angels anything about Algernon but give them a tracking device to home in on it. Hilarity ensues, particularly when Yuri tries to sweet talk the computer into spilling the beans. The trail leads to the kitchen and many, many, mice.
The building is still intact afterwards, but Kei and Yuri end up being chased out of the area, Mughi ends up captured, and Nanmo is sidelined.
Algernon is, as hinted earlier, an enhanced mouse with high intelligence and capable of speech. He was designed to basically be the central processing unit of a distributed network security system made up of weaponised mice. There’s also an enhanced female mouse named Chi Chi.
Algernon is none too happy about the situation, is rebelling against his creators, and taking over the building. What was initially intended to be a exercise of Algernon as a security system using the Lovely Angels as the OpForce has now turned serious.
Algernon also liberates Chi Chi and the pair set themselves up as King and Queen of the Mice, complete with little red cloaks.
The Lovely Angels initial attempt at a counter attack involves literal truckloads of cats. Alas the cats are a mob, not an army, and the inevitable rout occurs.
There’s some surprisingly insightful commentary from Kei and Yuri as the next steps are discussed, especially with respect to the implications of creating something smarter than you are, and on the issues of trying to use sentient creations for your own purposes generally.
Whilst this is going on Mughi has been strung up as a sacrifice to the mouse ancestors.
Then it’s back to the mayhem and hilarity as Kei and Yuri resort to a direct attack with the goal of having Algernon bitten by the Lice Mk 1. There’s a reasonable amount of misdirection and comedy in this sequence, as well as several Chekhov’s Guns being fired. Mughi gets rescued as Nanmo makes a dramatic entry guns blazing.
At the key moment though, Chi Chi sacrifices herself to save Algernon from being bitten by the Lice Mk 1. As Chi Chi reverts to a normal mouse, Algernon cannot bear to be without her, and leaps to his doom through a window.
The shift from the comedy to the poignant ending happens in a matter of seconds, and is beautifully managed. The relatively quiet acceptance of the tragedy by Kei and Yuri helps, as does the final scene of the little red cloaks floating away over Elenore City.
This is an ending that shows that the Sunrise staff took more from Flowers for Algernon than just the idea of boosted intelligence, they took the message of the story to heart as well. That heart makes for a surprisingly effective episode, and mostly because it nails the dismount with that perfectly timed moment of Mood Whiplash.
A solid episode and the Battle Bikini percentage rises to 67%.
 Apparently one of the side effects of Mughi’s genetic engineering is that he’s terrified of mice at the best of times. Kei and Yuri aren’t impressed.