Nier: Automata Ver1.1a (Season 1), Episode 4: After nearly a month’s hiatus, Nier Automata Ver1.1a is finally back! Some of the production staff had been laid down with COVID, but they’ve presumably recovered now. The fourth episode has clearly hit the ground running and marks a strong return for the series in its most impressive outing yet.
Nier: Automata Ver1.1a (Season 1), Episode 4 Recap:
Episode 4: a mountain too [H]igh
The episode opens with several machines at an old theater, where they are watching other machines perform a play, a further sign of them mimicking human behavior even more.
Back at the Resistance Camp, 2B, 9S, and Jackass have reunited with Lily, the leader of the Resistance. 9S politely refuses Jackass’s offer of fresh water, saying that as YoRHa models, they have in-built water tanks. 2B then recounts to Lily, at her urging, what had happened in the previous episode when they went to the desert.
They had chased a special unit fleeing into the desert apartment complex, where they found several android corpses, which were the work of machines. They had then fallen into an underground cavern where they encountered two machine mutants who looked like androids and were evolving rapidly. The battle data had been sent to the Bunker for analysis.
9S says that they were simply mimicking human behavior, to which Jackass says that in time they might end up becoming beings who surpass humanity. She further says that there might be some room for negotiation, and there is even precedence for such a thing, but neither she nor Lily elaborate. Lily argues that their differences are irreconcilable. While Jackass hopes for a ceasefire, 9S says that a ceasefire won’t help them reclaim the planet. Furthermore, he says that their comrades who were killed in action and their reasons for fighting would disappear. He repeats that their mission as androids is to win back the planet for humanity.
Jackass asks 9S how long he intends to continue fighting this incredibly long war, and Jackass answers that he will fight till all the machines are destroyed. Lily then leaves, followed by Jackass, who muses that androids simply follow orders while machines have obtained freedom.
At the Bunker, Commander White has a meeting with The Council of Humanity, who refuses her requests for backup to 2B and 9S. They tell her to use the Resistance members as decoys and complete their mission. Commander White tries to argue further. But The Council says that the special machines, who have been dubbed Adam and Eve, and other unique machines that will be encountered are all part of the YoRHa plan. They continue that those in their position must make decisions with everything in perspective, and when Commander White asks if they will do so even if there are many sacrifices, they agree. They further state that she is in the same position as them and that everything is for humanity’s victory. The conversation then ends, and with her permission, 2B and 9S are given their next mission.
Meanwhile, 2B and 9S are in the city ruins as 9S finds the concept of humans taking naps quite interesting. They then see rockets with supplies for the humans on the moon as well as the Bunker being launched. When 2B asks why the aliens didn’t attack the Bunker or the moon directly, 9S doesn’t have an answer and says he can’t understand how aliens think. The android partners are then told of their mission by 9S’s operator to investigate a missing android, who gave an incomprehensible message about a stage before disappearing. She is alive, as her black box is still online.
On the way to the black box signal, 9S mentions rumors that the Resistance and YoRHa did not get along. However, 2B knows nothing, and their pods inform them that the information is classified. 9S continues it must have been like a faction war and that that aspect of humans did not need to be imitated. 2B then tells him to be quiet.
They arrive at an amusement park where they encounter more nonviolent machines, who are carrying out a parade in full costume, and are told by one that the fun on the stage will soon begin. Thinking that it is the same place mentioned by the missing android, they head there as Pod informs them that the black box signal has been detected.
2B and 9S arrive at the same stage seen at the start of the episode, where they see a few machines acting out a play that their pods explain to them. A unique advanced machine called The Songstress attacks them on sight and even starts hacking attacks on them. She also summons android corpses to attack them, but they are actually barely alive and have been repurposed as weapons. They are unable to escape the theater due to electromagnetic fields put out by The Songstress.
9S hacks into the machine while 2B distracts it, and he sees some of her memories of when she had fallen in love with a tall, hat-wearing machine and tried to become beautiful for his sake. 9S has nearly been taken over and assimilated into the machine, which 2B’s pod tells her. Despite her pod’s objections, she decides to hack in as well, as she might get the logical corruption virus to save 9S. She saves him in the nick of time, and 9S manages to destroy The Songstress with his own hacking and 2B’s physical attack, who dies while thinking that she became beautiful.
The dead machine reveals a core structurally similar to a plant cell, and 2B says it was almost like she had emotions. 9S firmly says that emotions don’t exist for machines, coldly kills two nonviolent machines, a mother and daughter, and tells 2B that they can’t hesitate.
Nier: Automata Ver1.1a (Season 1), Episode 4 Ending, Explained:
The episode ends with a double killing that shocks the viewer, even more so because it was the usually jovial and relaxed 9S rather than the reserved and serious 2B. 9S has maintained throughout that machines can’t have emotions and are simply mimicking human behavior, which he clearly believes in, given his actions. That disturbs 2B and could be a potential source of conflict between the two moving forward.
Machines are evolving further and further, enacting human culture and entertainment forms, which should also be interesting to see in future episodes regarding how it develops. The two mutated machines, Adam and Eve, are named after biblical characters. Eve was literally created from Adam’s rib, which the anime shows us with these machines. They will likely be the antagonists as the story progresses.
More conflict is possible as Jackass and 9S have contrasting views on machines, although they don’t argue about it, let alone fight. The precedence with negotiation and ceasefires mentioned by Jackass is also intriguing, leading to the possibility that they might have already interacted with peaceful machines in a constructive manner.