The third episode of Steins;Gate 0 was the calm before the storm. Slower paced than the episodes preceding it, it focused on assembling the group and highlighting some of their differing motivations.
The (Virtual) World Is Not Enough
We’ve already heard that the Amadeus team are running out of things to discuss with Makise, and her hunger for new information is readily apparent. She’s started asking for images of the outside world, and has shown real cunning in her ability to listen, even when Okabe isn’t aware of it.
This is a crucial difference between the two characters: Okabe is human and simple wants to reconnect with an old friend. Amadeus, however, exists to gather information and draw conclusions. Even the most intimate conversations the two have had are shared with the research team – something Okabe was all too ready to ignore when he agreed to do the experiment.
A Very Chicken Tender Christmas
There’s also tension rising between Suzuha and her friend group. Burdened by her memories of the future, she’s desperate to get the time machine running properly. She’s constantly on high alert, ready for new threats to arise at any time. It’s obvious that she’s becoming frustrated at the lack of progress.
Daru made an excellent point last episode, though: if he’s destined to build a time machine, every decision he makes, every day that passes, everything that happens, is according to plan. Steins;Gate has never been a show to shy away from the philosophical elements of time travel, but without a time machine, Daru can’t change the future, and so, his invention will be finished when it’s finished.
Hacking to the Gate
Maho’s insistence that Amadeus isn’t a replacement for Kurisu seemed to awaken some memories in Okabe. Against his will, he remembered a whole host of horrible things from other worldlines. It’s clear that he’s been trying to avoid thinking about the previous year’s events, but everything about his environment keeps steering him back in that direction.
Okabe is a good person. He’s never going to be able to outrun his misadventures, and it seems like he already knows this fact. In the end, the only way to make everything stop is to fix his earlier mistakes, and in doing so, save the world from total destruction. This is an interesting case where a protagonist takes on a selfless mission for selfish reasons, but it works well since the audience knows Okabe’s character and motivations.
Let’s be honest: Steins;Gate 0 is always going to be about time travel. We, as the audience, have the benefit of knowing this ahead of the characters. These episodes are required to set the scene and show how the last year has impacted the cast. That said, sooner or later, Okabe is going to have to face his fears. Still, the original series was a slow starter and turned out to be an anime classic, so we’ll give the sequel the benefit of the doubt.