I finally managed to watch episode 5 of Roberta's Blood Trail last night. Wow. It is amazing how the whole mood of the story goes from the usual gunfight-filled and nominally nihilistic feel to massively grave and quite simply 'fucked up'. Rock's evolution into a "criminal mastermind" is hinted at through most of RBT, but in episode 5 the sheer malevolence he radiates when talking to Garcia aboard the Lagoon is a massive departure from his usual unobtrusive behind-the-scenes machinations. We also get to see a bit more of Revy's past and a few of the traumas that befell her as a child and turned her into what she has become. The rape in the jail cell is particularly intense because of the lead up during her flashback and the way the script and direction completely divorce from it even the remotest idea of sexuality, leaving nothing but brutality and pain. It goes back to her words with Rock on the submarine, "Then one night the cops beat the shit out of me for no reason. Who cares about some chink bitch?"
Garcia and Fabiola manage to hold onto their self-proclaimed superiority over the dark elements that inhabit Roanapur, but I still can't help but feel that they are there to represent the childlike black-and-white perception of people and acts as only good or only evil. Garcia claims that he does not want vengeance for his father's murder, and he may have convinced himself of that, but I believe his motivations (which may be unknown even to him) are purely selfish. He only wants "his" Roberta back and is willing to rationalize working with Chang and Lagoon Company, placing Fabiola in harm's way, and involving the US specops team under the guise of a moral man having to deal with the amoral to achieve his aims. I wonder, if Roberta had died in that jungle yet managed to take out the soldiers, would Garcia have wept for her and said "at least she got her vengeance"?
I wonder if there will be a fourth season or another OVA that goes a little farther into the characters pasts and examines how they have each been broken in some way? I get the feeling from the way this part of the series wrapped up that there is going to be some really bad shit go down in the near future. You can tell from the changes in the art style that the characters are being drained by what they do and are getting tired and aging. Revy in particular seemed significantly changed by the time they set out after Roberta, and Rock is becoming more hard-edged.
I will probably re-visit this in the near future when I'm not working...