Frankenstein...IN SPACE!!

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Frankenstein...IN SPACE!!

Post by Rook on Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:16 pm

I'm in that sort of mood today, so let's a take a look at our favorite misunderstood robotic psycho, now reformed: XL.

What do we know about XL's backstory? We know he was built by the LGMs to be the first robot ranger, to be every bit as good as an organic ranger at performing the duties of a law enforcement officer in space. Of course, there were flaws with the XL project in that at best he was overzealous in carrying out his duties and at worst completely out of control. With such unpredictability proving to be more of a liability than an asset, Commander Nebula had the robot shut down and the entire affair kept quiet.

If I may take a literary detour, this story already builds up the same way Frankenstein does, with the role of Victor Frankenstein being dual-played by Nebula and the LGMs. The LGMs created the monster with the best intentions in mind, but once Nebula saw what it really was, he disowned it and kept quiet until it came back to haunt him. Also, we all saw the LGMs at the end of The Slayer, crying "They're Alive! THEY'RE ALIVE!" Their entire hive mind must be some sort of benevolent mad scientist entity who created the LGMs to be its hands while its mind worked through the UniMind to shape their destiny. But, I'm getting off track here.

During XL's last moments before he realized he was being shut down, I'm sure some feelings of betrayal and child-like confusion arose. He was doing what he was programmed to do, so why were his creators upset with him. Later Zurg reactivated him, told him that he was deactivated because he was flawed, nudged him down the path of vengeance driven by a serious inferiority complex. For those who need a definition, an inferiority complex is a persistent sense of inadequacy or a tendency to self-diminishment, sometimes resulting in excessive aggressiveness through overcompensation. The latter part has made XL a dangerous enemy as he sought every dangerous robot part he could get his hands on and went to great lengths to prove he wasn't flawed.

Personality wise, XL has been established as violent, vengeful, not possessing a great deal of common sense or rhetorical thinking skills, and obsessed with power and self-improvement, but only on a physical level since he doesn't quickly grasp intangible concepts like morals, motivations, compassion, sympathy, and so forth. That being said, he has proven to be highly intelligent otherwise. His defenses around his home were well-constructed and gave Team Lightyear a good deal of trouble. He consistently manages to break into Star Command, which must have changed access codes several times since he first broke in, and managed to smuggle and insanely big bomb on board. He's trapped and captured XR twice without giving away any hints, and he created the wirewolf cannon and reconstructed himself multiple times. All impressive feats that did not prove to Commander Nebula that he wasn't flawed. At the end of the episode XL, when Nebula tells XR that the thing he has that XL lacks is heart, it's actually a stroke of brilliance to not have XL hear that, because it's obviously meant to be something XL has to try and figure out for himself or it doesn't mean anything.

However, the catalyst that was needed for XL to actually reach that epiphany was in Revenge of the Monsters, when he realizes that NOS-4-A2 sees him as lunch and Buzz offers him a chance to join them. The look on XL's face when Buzz gives him that pep talk says it all. No one has ever told him in his existence that he was worth anything until that moment when Buzz extends his hand to him basically saying he was still worthy of being a space ranger, a trusted ally, despite his past mistakes. Perhaps he thought he had reached that point when NOS-4-A2 allied with him instead of draining him immediately, but even for his own denial on that front even he knew NOS was treacherous enough to turn on him like he did to Zurg.

I find it interesting that it's Buzz who ends up being the positive influence on both XL and XR. The AI chip in The Adventure Begins coupled with continued hanging around with Buzz worked for XR (when he's not getting into trouble). XL never had that kind of influence. He was rejected by his technical father figure, persuaded into becoming a villain to improved himself, and then never got anyone contradicting this opinion he must have formed of himself that he was only good to be a bad guy. Buzz really helped him with his break through and then helped him get a position on Star Command with the good guys again. it's kind of ironic that XR and XL both see Nebula as their father figure based on their creation orders, when Buzz seems to have been more consistently supportive of them than him.

I think XL wins the award for the series's most sympathetic villain. Underneath all the wrath and psychosis was a very cynical and misunderstood little kid who didn't understand that his performance flaws are not the same as his character flaws. Speaking as an individual who lacks empathy, does not comprehend emotional people, and frequently has to be reminded that I'm seriously flawed in that regard compared to other people, I ironically sympathize with XL. Just having our practical skills that we're proud of disregarded because we lack the ability to relate to others hurts because we don't initially see why it's so important. In conclusion, I'm glad XL got a chance at redemption. I'm glad that somebody told him that he was a worthy ally better off serving the good guys. Sure he's a fax machine now, but that's cool. It's a start in the right direction.

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Re: Frankenstein...IN SPACE!!

Post by Fox Storm on Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:44 pm

Hmm....all very good points, my friend!

I agree with the fact that XL is one of the more sympathetic villains of the show, considering he felt so much pain and frustration when his father figure outright rejected him.

I understand Nebula's intentions, but you can't help but also feel sorry for XL, since he was originally programmed to be the first robot Ranger, but we know that backfired...

And that's a good point you brought up about Buzz being the one to reach out to XL, which is not that far from Buzz's personality of seeing the good in XL. I mean, when Buzz tried to tell XL NOS-4-A2 was bad news, I guess he knew that XL was naive and only trying to find his place in the galaxy, only he ended up on the wrong side of the crowd.

But that's enough pointless speak from me! I love your thoughts here. Smile

XL as Frankenstein's monster for the win!


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