Flesh – Week of the Lustrous Ep 4

This week, it’s time to learn about the history of the world. Leading to some of my favorite developments and implications so far.

Recently we’ve had a close call for our hero that ended up being resolved almost instantly. Land of the Lustrous is inclined to set all that high-stakes drama aside for now and delve back into the more lighthearted comedic side of the show. All that is thanks to recent villain turned innocent comic relief, King; (self-proclaimed) leader of the Admirabilis, Ventricosus. The bizarre slug creature who can now talk (to Phos only) is revealed to just be a scamp. As an unknown element of the world, she still keeps the interest levels piqued. However, as a ravenous scoundrel, it is fun to see her reactions to bounce off other characters. Watching Phos translate for her and omit her inappropriateness is also quite funny.

There’s something very “Dawn of the Dead” about this.

We learn King is also part of a race hunted by the Lunarians, but for their shells. However, they originate from the ocean much like gems had before rising to the top. Now, King is the last of her kind, at least that she knows of. She seems rather content to live in this land of beauties though. This leads King to talk about how Cinnabar was the one to figure help Dia figure out how to save her. Phos being put even more in Cinnabar’s debt feels guilty she’s done nothing for her yet. However, Phos was the one who made all the promises.

Going back to Kongo, who has just awoken from a disconcerting dream, I’m liking him as an imperfect not so serious character. His presence gave off that impression at first. Now he’s doing cute things like still denying that his meditation periods are actually just him sleeping. Even scenes he’s not actively involved in are funny. When he meets King he shows no surprise or concern treating her amicably. King also officially becomes Phos’s responsibility as a part of her encyclopedic duty.

Once he and Phos finally get a chance to speak alone he mentions that Cinnabar was the one to recommend night duty and it was by his own failings that he had yet to find a better job for her. Again, I like that Kongo both cares about his gems but he’s not all omnipotent. His role in the show is still bizarre and made even more strange by that dream we see earlier.

King recommends Phos head for the sea, where she may find her answers. According to King a creature that resembled gem-kind existed underwater. At least back when her kind still lived there. Why not just start with the local flora, Phos? steps! STEPS! Phos is denied access but is resilient nonetheless. Fearing she needs to take greater, faster strides if she wants to save Cinnabar. Before going into the sea, Phos and King discuss the sad yet beautiful existentialism of life and death. This conversation is a good way to establish some themes of what it means to be “life” since Phos is not too used to the idea. Life is a part of death, so without death, this makes the lives gem’s lead seem lacking. It also creates a goal; find more humanoid life forms capable of life and death. It also hints at the more sinister implications King has going forward.

After being underwater, King reverts back to her original humanoid form of the Ventricosus. Part humanoid, part jellyfish creature. Even the fact that she has breasts come to a surprise considering gems don’t have sex organs. This makes sense considering what we know about King. She isn’t immortal so her kind must reproduce. However, now Phos has found a humanoid-like creature capable of death below the sea and it feels even more like she was just lured into a trap. King’s story of her kind paints a clearer picture of everything.

Origin story time!

Apparently the Lustrous, the Ventricosus, and the Lunarians are all fragments of humans who once lived on this planet. However, after the planet’s sixth cycle of “waning“, they fled to the ocean and thus their evolution split into three paths. Their bones becoming the Lustrous, their flesh becoming the Ventricosus, and their souls becoming the Lunarians. The Ventricosus inherited humanity’s reproduction and death, while the “bones” struck deals with other life forms returning to the land for longer lives. The soul, on the other hand, has found new lands. As such the Lunarians attacks are simply their desire to reunite all aspects of their humanity together.

The Lunarians have been capturing Ventricosus as well but as we find out it isn’t just the Lunarians that desire to be together. King appears to have planned a Lunarian ambush to capture Phos under the sea, while she is far removed from the others. Despite Phos saying they should work together to protect themselves, King is working with the Lunarians in the interest of saving her brother, Aculeatus. Her secret mission, so to speak, was to infiltrate the Land of the Lustrous.

If episode two and three were a reminder to us that the concept of life and death wasn’t that big of a threat to gem-kind, then episode four reminds us of how much the fate of being captured by the Lunarians is a fate worse than death; an existential limbo. However, the question this show posits is complicated. “Is it now wrong for the soul of humans to desire to be reunited”? How wicked is human desire that it would undo the cycles of life that evolved from it just for a stronger sense of self? Of unity? Is it even greed or is this desire, this magnetic attraction to want to be whole an inescapable rule of Mother Nature?

The idea of lifeforms rebelling from their ancestors and claiming a sense of sovereignty as a species is something I’ve never heard of before. I am fascinated by the implications.

Stray Thoughts:

  • I like the idea of “bones” being what the immortal gems became. Bones being the last to decay and rot away.
  • Euc hides in shame when Red Berry appears. This lets us know that gems still have a sense of shame that’s driven by a concept of nudity. Curious if this is a biological remnant of organic life. Unlike Steven Universe where attraction is a mechanic that aides in gems fusing, what is the purpose here?
  • Perhaps these Ventricosus shells were made by captured gems being fed to them in an attempt to create a two-thirds complete human experiment.

Thanks for reading! As always you can check back next week for another review of Land of the Lustrous.

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