Interview with the Energy Vampire

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Interview with the Energy Vampire

Post by Rook on Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:56 pm

Maybe it's because I've been watching Hellsing a bit too much lately, but thinking about Alucard's motivations as a monster have been making me wonder about our favorite energy vampire, NOS-4-A2.

What do we know about him? Well, he was created by Zurg, a fine upstanding role modal for the forces of evil. His original purpose was to destroy Star Command and eliminate Buzz Lightyear. In fact, NOS mentioned that Zurg programmed him with everything he needed to know about our fearless hero in order to overpower him and kill him. With that boast, Buzz notes that NOS-4-A2 is possibly even more arrogant than Zurg. Despite this critical flaw, he has also proven to be highly intelligent and resourceful to the point where he had seized control of the two greatest military powers in the galaxy, Star Command and Planet Z, nearly single-handed. Given these factors, let's go through NOS's appearances and see where he's messed up.

Spoiler:
• In his debut episode, he has control over everything in Star Command and XR. He's about the terminate his enemies when he overlooks his control over XR and Booster's emotional appeal to his friend. I'm willing to forgive this, since it was his first time out trying to conquer the galaxy and he probably didn't have any experience with controlling an AI as complex as XR's. Still, does he learn from this experience and accept that he isn't infallible?
Spoiler:
• In Dirty Work, he takes over Cosmo's with the Kitchen Flux 5000, and seemingly has everything in the bag including XR's body, but then he's caught off guard by Triffid's plant technology. When he took that first bite into Buzz's veggie-suit, how come he didn't notice earlier that there was something off about it. I mean, earlier he detected the KF 5000's energy source as it passed by in space as something new and delicious, but he couldn't detect something off about a radically different space suit right in front of him? (I actually had a bit of a plot-bunny for this.)
Spoiler:
• In The Slayer, he's just eating as he pleases, and seems to have learned something from his previous adventures by installing a randometer to prevent himself from getting drained like his victims. He can be taught! Eventually he has a pissed off vengeful human pre-teen after him, who seems to be very good at tracking him and resourceful enough to acquire the means and firepower to prove a viable threat that he seems to have more interest in running away from than just swatting like bug. Even when he does seize this opportunity, Buzz is already in the picture. In the climactic battle, he sends all his drones after Buzz, and seems to have forgotten about the girl with the Stake of Draining +5 who always seems to find him. On the other hand, his focus on XR as his primary enemy does suggest that he's expanding beyond his original programming to see others as a threat. It's just a pity they have to actually defeat him in order to get the message across to him.
Spoiler:
• In Wirewolf, his entire focus seems to be on draining energy, to the point where he ignores Buzz and goes after XR. He only bites Ty's suit when he gets in the way, and then bites Ty again when he's trying to get away. I won't hold that against him either, because I don't think anybody could have seen that drastic transformation coming. Although on a side note, if NOS's bite did that to a human when combined with Canis Lunis radiation, didn't NOS bite a veggie-suit a while back? What would happen if that specific suit was exposed to the same radiation? This looks like a job for SCIENCE!
Spoiler:
• Revenge of the Monsters makes me wonder why someone like NOS-4-A2, who is accustomed to stalking dark alleys, simply doesn't wait for Ty in one of those and kidnap him then. Instead he makes the effort to break into Star Command with XL and transform and kidnap him in front of everyone. He could have had the entire galaxy caught with their pants down, maybe even converted Star Command into wirewolves while Team Lightyear was on board, and then no one would be able to save them all. I know, then we'd have no episode and it's the end of the galaxy as we know it, but it would have been smarter on his part. But on topic with the events that did unfold, he didn't seem to have any special hold over XL and it didn't seem to cross his mind that XL would switch sides to save himself. That, and he seemed to quick to focus on Buzz when he showed he wasn't dead that he forgot where XR was, a critical mistake that cost him an arm. His continued focus on Buzz also seemed to distract him from the fact that the wirewolf he had locked up and tortured was now free to take revenge. Seems he forgot his control over some machines wasn't absolute, and paid the price for his pride.

NOS-4-A2's reactions at the end of these encounters when he's defeated often have the tone of a child who doesn't understand why he didn't win or where he went wrong. Future encounters up until his demise further illustrate that he doesn't seem to learn to keep an eye on unexpected factors like his control over robots with higher degrees of sapience faltering, or vengeful street punks, or the possibility of plant-based technology that he can't interface with and infect. I think this has something to do with Zurg's programming him to know how to defeat Buzz Lightyear. When Buzz is in the area, he tends to focus his attacks on him, the opponent he knows he can defeat. That's usually the moment when he's distracted from other things and when his plans fall to pieces. That focus, combined with his arrogance, is what ultimately screws him in the end.

NOS-4-A2 embodies pride. He's convinced he's the top of the food-chain and, to be honest, his design, intelligence, and resources all good reasons to reinforce his thinking. The problem is that his pride interferes with any hope he has for significant growth, because he's convinced he's the perfect king of the technological mountain. Take that with his abysmal lack of life experience to give him any wisdom (he's technically younger than XR when you think about it), and you can see he's really just an evil sociopathic child who wants things to go his way and doesn't think it's his own fault in any way when they don't. He's also impatient, lacks subtlety, and definitely feels the need to show off and rub his enemies faces in his triumphs.

Due to the fact he was programmed by Zurg, one can't help but see where all the bad influences come from and how they come to bite his creator in his purple-skirted behind. It leaves me to wonder what would become of NOS-4-A2 if the evil programming was suppressed. He'd still need to feed, that's probably still a part of his core functioning, but he'd probably be less sadistic about it, indifferent to the Galactic Alliance, Zurg, and all associated parties, and he'd be less likely to indulge in megalomaniac schemes. As a character in the series he'd end up being villain of opportunity or perhaps even have mercenary potential.

Despite his ridiculous short comings, NOS-4-A2 is one of my favorite characters in the show. He's a great villain: an intelligent, terrifying, witty, egotistical creature of the night who's a delightful threat to everyone he comes across. I'm a little sad to see he's gone because with a little fine-tuning on his part he could have owned everyone in the galaxy. Heck, I would have loved to see him attack the Galactic Alliance's computer that we saw in Downloaded. One bite, and it's practically over for them.

P. S.: I've also found it interesting the Buzz is never the one who defeats NOS-4-A2 on his own. XR, Savy SL2, and Ty Parsec the Wirewolf, all victims of the energy vampire, all have that honor. Buzz only succeeds when he leaves his comfort zone and accepts help from Professor Triffid. And then they never think to call him in when they have problems with NOS again after that. >_< Sure, Triffid's a hippie professor, but he came up with a winning strategy against NOS-4-A2 in a world where he's king of the technological mountain.

_________________
"Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."-Alan Moore

"I'll believe in artificial intelligence when a computer commits suicide because it thinks it's too fat." -Rube, Dead Like Me
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