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Jul 15, 2016 9:15 AM
Anime Relations: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2
NOTE: I'd recommend reading my previous Code Geass analysis on my blog, "The Pursuit of Happiness," before reading this one, if only because it puts parts of this analysis in better context. It's not essential to read it before this, though.

Let me preface with this: Code Geass has one of the best endings anime has ever seen.

In my opinion, of course, and only amongst the anime I have watched thus far. Nonetheless, I’m confident in stating that Code Geass’s ending is nothing short of impressive, and the fact that people haven’t stopped talking about it eight years later is a testament to its enduring quality. I have rewatched the last ten minutes of the last episode of the series more times than I can count, and with nearly every viewing I pick up on something new. From only a technical viewpoint, the final sequences are brilliantly crafted, presented with Geass’s usual bombast but with an undercurrent of surprising poignancy, creating an unusually memorable ending (at least by the standards of the anime industry, which is notorious for producing shows with less-than-satisfying conclusions, if they have such a thing at all). The true genius of Geass’s ending lies beyond its excellent presentation, though, and is instead found in the substance of its content. The ending functions on several different levels, completing the character arcs of its central protagonists in a manner that both respects their complex characterization and that resonates with everything the narrative had been building towards, providing a fitting thematic conclusion to virtually every major idea explored throughout the show. The ending achieves a level of harmony between its character, plot, and thematic components that most anime can only dream of.

Now that the fanboyish, nauseatingly enthusiastic opening is out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of what makes Code Geass’s ending so effective. To briefly summarize the ending: Lelouch kills Charles and replaces him as king of Brittania. He proceeds to become a full-fledged dictator, literally antagonizing the entire world and turning it against him. After an epic battle where both sides (Lelouch vs. The Black Knights and Schniezal) suffered heavy casualties, Lelouch wins and becomes leader of the entire world, hated by all. With that done, Suzaku dons the mask of Zero and kills “Lelouch the Demon,” ending his reign of terror. With the symbol of the world’s hatred gone, the never-ending cycle of revenge is broken, and world peace becomes reality. What everyone outside of Lelouch’s inner circle of conspirators don’t know is that he planned the entire thing, willingly sacrificing himself so that he could finally create the “gentler world” that Nunnally had wished for so long ago.

On the surface, Lelouch’s method of finally fulfilling his goal of world peace is more than a little ridiculous. Critics have pointed out the numerous logical flaws inherent to Lelouch’s final scheme. For starters, his death would leave a massive power vacuum at the top of the ladder, and cynics can argue (with much of world history on their side) that far from leading to peace, that would likely lead to chaos and a protracted power struggle. Others challenge the feasibility of piling all of the world’s hatred on one person. And so on. These issues can be debated and argued about endlessly (and they have), but ultimately it is difficult to deny that Lelouch’s plan would not have worked out as smoothly in real life as it did in the show.

However, to criticize Lelouch’s final plot on strictly technical grounds is to miss the point. This is Code Geass, after all, the show that has a million people simultaneously donning Zero costumes in a matter of seconds (honestly the logistics of that scene are nightmarish to consider), the show that has a high school student take on a massive global empire, and the show that has said high school student becoming king of said global empire. Geass has always reveled in its outrageous shenanigans and utter lunacy, and it’s all the better for it. Trying to approach it from such a straightforwardly logical perspective would be restrictive. This isn’t giving Code Geass a free pass from critical scrutiny; rather, it’s acknowledging that Geass prioritizes making grand thematic statements, in keeping with its exuberantly theatric nature, over being stringently sensible. Its narrative is internally consistent even in its insanity, and that is what separates Code Geass from lesser anime that fail to ground their absurdity in more substantial material. Geass has things to say and knows how to say them, and its thematic threads and character arcs are remarkably coherent, event brilliant, despite the chaotic window dressing that decorates them. The show does not claim to offer a legitimate roadmap to world peace through Lelouch’s grand plan, the “Zero Requiem;” rather, it presents an epic sequence of events whose sole purpose is to conclude the series in the best manner possible.

So let’s begin examining the many layers of the end of Code Geass.

From the technical viewpoint of directing, scene composition, editing, and musical score, the “Zero Requiem” soars. It seamlessly transitions from tingling suspense to epic bombast to melancholy reflection to bittersweet triumph, all within the span of seven minutes. More so, its structure communicates a lot without ever being overtly explicit and is sometimes surprisingly subtle, complementing the substance of the events unfolding with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it images and minor but meaningful touches. For example, following the reveal of Lelouch’s plan, the audience is greeted to brief shots of the reactions of almost every living recurring character in the series. Interestingly, these shots are ordered based on each character’s importance to Lelouch. The very first is of the most significant person in his life, Nunnally, followed by his trusted “queen” Kallen, followed by his classmates, and so on. In this way, we learn who Lelouch cared about most in his last moments. Another example: right after Suzaku stabs Lelouch, the music cuts out to maximize the impact while a series of images flash by, one that includes the candles that both Suzaku and Lelouch had used to mourn Euphemia’s death earlier in the season. This links what had just transpired (Suzaku stabbing Lelouch) to Euphemia’s death (I discuss why this is later). When Lelouch lies dying in Nunnally’s arms, the two are silhouetted against a montage of his life that moves backwards from his death. Most of the images in the montage pass by too quickly for the eye to see, but a select few linger for a few moments longer than the others, perhaps highlighting some of Lelouch’s happiest moments, which include the kiss he shared with his “queen” Kallen and surprisingly, his time with his fake brother Rolo. The montage, fittingly, ends with a shot of him, Suzaku, and Nunnally laughing when they sat together as joyous, naïve children. The image is juxtaposed against the harsh reality of the present, with Nunnally in tears, Lelouch bleeding out, and Suzaku standing above him as his killer. This drives home the tragedy of these final few moments, while simultaneously displaying how far Lelouch had come. And so on. The whole sequence is put together excellently.

On its most basic level, the “Zero Requiem” resolves the ideological conflict between Lelouch and Suzaku. Lelouch believed that true change could only be achieved via violent revolution, through the destruction of the “system” itself. In other words, Lelouch favored utilizing external force (represented by the figure of Zero himself) to tear down the established order. Meanwhile, Suzaku believed that the system was salvageable, and that in fact serious reform could come about from within the system itself. To Suzaku, the ideal means of achieving lasting change was through using the tools of the establishment itself. So Lelouch favored change from the outside while Suzaku favored it from the inside. Lelouch desired radical change while Suzaku desired incremental change. The narrative draws a clear dichotomy between their viewpoints, and the two characters spend much of the series debating explicitly and implicitly which of them is correct.

The answer the “Zero Requiem” gives is both. Lelouch and Suzaki ultimately achieve their ideal of world peace through joining their two philosophies while also reversing their roles. Lelouch initially set out on his quest for change by becoming a terrorist (Zero) and creating a Japanese terrorist organization (the Black Knights) that would destroy Britannia itself and then rebuild from the ashes. Suzaku, on the other hand, became a Britannian solider and rose through the ranks of the Empire’s system with the ultimate goal of reaching the very top (becoming Emperor), gaining a position from which he can institute permanent reforms. This premise itself features an interesting role reversal based on nationality: the boy from Britannia leads a Japanese terrorist group and fights against his own Empire, while the boy from Japan joins the Brittanian army and fights against his own people. In most series, the Britannian prince would be the one maintaining the status quo that benefits his Empire, while the Japanese solider would be leading the charge against his oppressors. Thus, Lelouch and Suzaku’s roles in the narrative are switched from the get-go, which far from being a mere gimmick, actually generates a healthy serving of drama, heightens tension, and facilitates philosophical exploration.

Just as it started with a role reversal, Code Geass ends with a role reversal as well. This time, though, the inversion is one that is not based on character nationalities or genre conventions, but instead on ideological stances. Lelouch, the character who had spent the series trying to tear down Brittania from the outside, becomes the ultimate face of its established order by becoming the Emperor. Meanwhile, Suzaku, the character who had spent the series trying to change Britannia incrementally from the inside, becomes the ultimate face of radical revolutionary resistance by donning the mask of Zero. The brilliance of this switch is that Lelouch as Emperor and Suzaku as Zero are arguably the roles that a more conventional narrative would have had the two strive towards in the first place. By reversing its original role reversal, however, Code Geass confounds expectations and makes novel what could otherwise have appeared unoriginal. The reversal is even color-coded, as Suzaku, the man dressed in white with the white mecha throughout the series, is draped in dark black, while Lelouch, the man dressed in black with the black mecha throughout the series, is draped in bright white. For good measure, this also ties into Code Geass’s beloved chess symbolism, as the king of the dark knights slays the king of the white knights and so wins the “match.” The sharp visual contrast between the two accentuates the various symbolisms of the scene.

Suzaku, as Zero, kills Lelouch, the evil emperor, thus bringing about peace. In the end, both of the characters’ contrasting plans were needed to achieve success. Lelouch acts on Suzaku’s philosophy, rising through the ranks of the Brittanian Empire to the very top, while Suzaku acts on Lelouch’s, violently bringing down the last vestige of Brittania’s old order and so clearing the way for the construction of a newer, better world founded by a fairer system. Lelouch worked internally, from within the status quo, while Suzaku worked externally, from outside of it. Thus, both characters finally fulfill their ideals by joining together their philosophical perspectives. As Lelouch tells Suzaku throughout the series, there’s nothing the two can’t achieve if they work together (*cough*foreshadowing*cough*), a sentiment that turns out to be literally true. Again, one can validly question the practicality of this sort of union, but to do so would be to miss the point. This ending does not present the audience with a detailed plan for ending world conflict; rather, it answers one of the major overarching thematic questions of the series in a manner suitable to the context of this particular story.

If the above was all that the “Zero Requiem” achieved, ir would still be a decent ending. What elevates it, though, are the many remaining layers still left to peel. The “Zero Requiem” does not only aim to conclude the main philosophical debate between Lelouch and Suzaku. Rather, it seeks to resolve the individual stories of each of these characters as well. It does so, ultimately, by punishing them.

And indeed, that is a major narrative purpose of Lelouch’s final plan: punishment. Not just any punishment, but the most cruel punishment that can be dished out to these characters, so deliberately designed is it to deny them their deepest desires. Let’s start with Suzaku. Riddled with guilt over his cold-blooded murder of his father, Suzaku believed that the only way to repent would be to sacrifice his own life for a greater cause, and indeed his white-knight heroism was but a thin veil for his suicidal tendencies. Besides that death wish, Suzaku also wanted to free the Japanese, the Elevens, from Brittania’s tyranny. His ideal end would have been to die while fighting for that cause (even if his method to achieve that goal entailed literally slaughtering his own people). It is cruelly ironic, then, that ultimately Suzaku has to live. Instead of redeeming himself through the mercy of the death he so longed for, he must soldier on and tackle the trials of life head-on, managing the torturous process of maintaining world peace. The Geass Lelouch desperately cast on him during the first season foreshadowed this fate: “Live!” Now, most people would find such a command redundant; after all, the normal human instinct is to survive at any cost. For Suzaku, however, it ran contrary to everything he believed in. Following that fateful moment, every time Suzaku attempted to let himself die, the command kicked in and forced him to defend himself, effectively trapping him in the prison of life and denying him what he wanted most. There would be no heroic sacrifice for him.

Suzaku’s punishment extends beyond forcing him to live on, however. His legacy as the killer of the tyrannical Emperor will never be known, because he did it donning the anonymous mask of Zero. Instead, Suzaku will be remembered as the closest servant of the monstrous Emperor Lelouch, recorded in history as a traitor to his people and deemed an ultimately worthless man. Suzaku will serve the world as Zero for the rest of his life but will die unacknowledged, unloved, and unappreciated. So, not only is Suzaku denied his wish of repentance via death, he is also denied recognition as a hero. This is the fate the “Zero Requiem” condemns him to, a punishment befitting his mass murder and endless hypocrisy.

Lelouch, too, is spared nothing. Unlike Suzaku, he wanted nothing more than to live. He desired a peaceful world for Nunnaly, a world they could live in and enjoy together. The cruel irony of his plan is that he finally managed to create that peaceful world with his dying act. His sister would see it, but he wouldn’t, and nor would he get to experience the fruits of his labor. Like Suzaku, Lelouch dies reviled by almost everyone who knows his name. His final sacrifice and heroism will never be known to history, and he will forever be known as Lelouch the demon, a callback to the title of the very first episode of the whole show (“The Day a New Demon was Born”). Lelouch’s fate is an inverted mirror of Suzaku’s. Suzaku wanted to die, so he lived. Lelouch wanted to live, so he died.

Lelouch’s punishment is a little more complex than Suzaku’s, though. That is because Lelouch’s worst act, his point of no return, hangs heavily over his death. I’m talking, of course, about the fate he visited upon Euphemia: first a forced massacre of the Japanese she’d tried so hard to protect, followed by her murder by his hand. That Euphemia’s proposed peace plan for the Elevens symbolized the fulfillment of her character arc of acquiring agency, and that the destruction of that plan came about through a brutal violation of that same agency, only accentuates the ghastliness of Lelouch’s actions. This is all topped off by the reality of Euphemia’s fundamental innocence. She was by far the most idealistic character in the entire series, and Lelouch’s actions mercilessly crushed that idealism, turning Euphemia into a mass murderer forever damned in the eyes of history. It does not matter that Lelouch’s order was an accident, because such a mishap could only have occurred due to his over-use of the Geass, which itself violated other people’s freedoms every time Lelouch cast it. The narrative is unequivocal about casting the blame for Euphemia’s violent end at Lelouch’s feet, and if anything seems to judge it as Lelouch’s worst deed, despite the thousands of other reprehensible things he did throughout both seasons.

Fittingly, then, Euphemia’s blood-stained specter hangs over Lelouch’s own death. His end, in many ways, parallels Euphemia’s. Like Euphemia, Lelouch dies condemned as a vicious killer, his good intentions unknown to almost everyone. Just as Euphemia’s killer is cheered as a hero (“Zero! Zero! Zero!)” even as she dies in the hands of her loved one (Suzaku), so too is Lelouch’s killer cheered as a hero (“Zero! Zero Zero!”) even as he dies in the hands of his loved one (Nunnally). The parallels are all the more biting in light of the identity of Lelouch’s killer: Suzaku, Euphemia’s lover. Suzaku avenges Euphemia by killing Lelouch. It obviously hurts him badly (as evidenced by the tears he sheds even as he ran his former best friend through with a sword), but at the same time he needed it to find closure for Euphemia’s death. In fact, certain exchanges between Suzaku and Lelouch in the episodes leading to the finale suggest that Lelouch was only able to secure Suzaku’s full cooperation in the Zero Requiem by promising him revenge for Euphemia, via death by his hand. This is the promise Suzaku refers to when reprimanding Lelouch in the episode 23, after his breakdown in the face of the reveal that Nunnally is still alive.

It is that particular scene, and the subsequent conversation between Lelouch and C.C., that add even more depth to what the “Zero Requiem” personally meant to Lelouch, and how its execution pained him far more than he’d initially planned. The two aforementioned scenes hint at Lelouch’s original intentions in devising his final elaborate scheme. Consider the following: Lelouch’s fury at discovering Nunnally’s survival, Suzaku’s sharp reminder that Nunnally being alive should not change their “strategic objective,” and Lelouch’s eventual resolution to move beyond Nunnally as his sole motive for changing the world, deciding that he’d killed too many people to turn back and that he couldn’t keep doing things “just” for Nunnally anymore. Clearly Nunnaly’s survival threw a serious wrench into Lelouch’s plan, one so severe that he entertained the idea of halting its execution. He needed Suzaku’s unyielding insistence and C.C.’s advice to find the will to continue. With the benefit of hindsight (that Lelouch’s final plan ends in his death), his extremely dramatic reaction to his sister’s living status makes more sense and takes on greater significance.

It’s simple: Lelouch had originally conceived of the “Zero Requiem” as an elaborate suicide. With Nunnally dead and the Black Knights disbanded, Lelouch had nothing left to live for. However, he still felt the need to stop Charles and Schniezal from imposing their (in his view) corrupt ideals for changing the world while implementing his own plans for world peace. Thus, the “Zero Requiem” was Lelouch’s way of hitting two birds with one stone: he gets the death he so dearly wants while still completing the mission he had set out on at the start of the series. In this original conception of the plan, Lelouch wasn’t so much punishing himself as giving himself an easy way out. Even if he believed that his death would be repentance for his sins, the reality is that he wanted it. Deciding to forfeit his life was an easy decision.

Nunnally being alive, then, changes everything. Suddenly Lelouch has a reason to live again. Not just any reason, but the reason. Lelouch’s love and adoration for his little sister had always bordered on unhealthy, and he would do anything for her sake. He had spent the series trying to create a gentler world for her sake. Nunnaly being alive meant that the two of them still had a chance to live together in that gentler world. Suddenly, dying wasn’t such an easy choice anymore. Lelouch’s planned death, once a relieving escape from a life no longer worth living, now loomed as an undesirable outcome that would be truly punishing. Hence Lelouch’s fury, his pain, and his hesitation. With Suzaku and C.C’s guidance, though, he was able to remain on course, accepting his fate despite the fact that Nunnallly lived.

In fact, much of Code Geass’s final episodes are about Lelouch overcoming his attachment to Nunnally. This was an essential obstacle that Lelouch needed to deal with before he could ultimately succeed. His obsession with Nunnally led to his downfall at the end of the first season, and the failure of his first rebellion. The moment he’d learned she was kidnapped, he abandoned his subordinates to their doom and rushed off to save her, prioritizing her over his cause. Lelouch’s reasoning was straightforward: what would be the point of achieving his mission if the one for whom he had achieved it was no longer there? This sort of thinking was symptomatic of a sister complex that crippled Lelouch many times over. He confronted this problem again in R2’s earlier episodes, a conflict that’s worth examining in a little more depth before moving on. In R2’s sixth episode, Lelouch learns that Nunnally is the new viceroy to Area 11. Convinced that Charles was using her as a political tool and eager to have his sister safe in his arms again, Lelouch leads the Black Knights on a risky mission to retrieve her, one that recklessly endangered their lives and that even led to some casualties, all for the sake of his sister. His actions repeated the same error he’d committed at the conclusion of the first season. The mission ends up failing, and Lelouch’s last sight of Nunnally is of the traitor Suzaku carrying his beloved sister away.

In the aftermath of the failed mission, Lelouch realizes that he’s lost his purpose for being Zero. Nunnally is safe, protected by Suzaku, whom he trusts to do that despite being his worst enemy, and the figure of Zero only stands in the way of her planned Japanese Administrative Zone. To continue being Zero would be to oppose Nunnally’s will, a fundamental contradiction with the symbol’s intended function. Lelouch feels lost and useless, and he sinks into depression. After spending some time with his school friends and reflecting, Lelouch realizes that he’s not just acting as Zero for Nunnally’s sake anymore. Many people’s happiness were contingent on his success. So he dons Zero’s mask once again, and find a way to continue his mission while not sabotaging Nunnally’s plans: exile all the Black Knights to China, allowing peace to come to Area 11, which in turn further ensured Nunnally’s safety. However, even though Lelouch was able to move beyond Nunnally as the sole motivation for being Zero, his willingness to continue fighting for the Japanese was still predicated on her well-being. In other words, if harm were actually to befall Nunnally, he’d fall back onto his old habit of Nunnally first, everyone else second. In short, despite the growth Lelouch experienced in this portion of the show, he had still not addressed the underlying problem that caused his original rebellion’s downfall in the first place.

That eventually changes. In a parallel to the end of the first season, the end of the second season also forces Lelouch to choose between his sister and his cause. His love for Nunnally was one of the most integral aspects of his character and the bedrock of his motivations, and yet in an ironic twist, he is only able to create the world she desires by moving beyond her. The end of the R2’s 24th episode represented Lelouch’s final, and greatest, test. It came not in the form of his tyrannical father or chess-master brother, but rather his beloved sister. This is when Nunnally overcame the blindness caused by her father’s Geass through sheer force of will. Nunnally’s blindness up until this point had not just served as a means through which to display her vulnerable nature; rather, it marked her as the only character in the entire series whom Lelouch could not Geass, even if he had wanted to. This conceit worked thematically; it was only fitting that the person for whom Lelouch had Geassed so many could not be Geassed herself. At the very end of Lelouch’s journey, however, that changed. Nunnally stood as the final obstacle to the completion of his grand plan, and now, for the first time ever, he could force her to do what he wanted.

The decision Lelouch faced was a crucial one, as it would say much not only about his relationship with his sister, but also about his priorities. Nunnally was the person for whom Lelouch had sacrificed so much, and yet she now firmly oppossed his goals. Not only that, but Geassing Nunnally would be more than just a forceful command; it would be a violation of her newfound agency. Much like Euphemia, Nunnally had decided she no longer wished to be a passive bystander in the conflicts that surrounded her. Her opposition to Lelouch was her most significant assertion of will up to that point, her way of effecting change instead of simply being affected by it. For Lelouch to Geass Nunnally then would be eerily similar to the same violation of agency he had visited upon Euphemia, whose innocence had been matched only by Nunnally’s (before she began firing nukes, that is). In fact, Nunnally and Euphemia were often paralleled throughout the series, as both were the pure-hearted younger sisters of brilliant military strategists with character arcs that centered around acquiring agency (though Lelouch brutally cut Euphemia’s short). Nunnally basically becomes a surrogate Euphemia for most of the second season, going so far as reviving Euphemia’s Special Administrative Zone of Japan. Lelouch is stunned to see Euphemia’s image in Nunnally when she asks him for his help in R2’s sixth episode, in case the parallel were not obvious enough (and it’s a that parallel further magnifies the horror of what Lelouch did to Euphemia, the character who most resembled his own sister). Lelouch had to choose between Nunnaly and his plan, between Nunnally and the world.

As it turns out, Lelouch chose both. He initially struggled to do it, believing that Geassing even his sister would be going too far, even for him. However, once Nunnally makes clear that she intends Damocles (and by extension herself) to be a symbol of hatred for the entire world, in a manner essentially identical to Lelouch’s plan for himself, he finds the will to violate his sister’s will for the first time. The reason is simple: they were both working towards the same goal. In light of that revelation, Lelouch was able to justify Geassing Nunnally, as he would only be forcing her to do something (give up the Damocles key) that would lead to the result she wanted anyways. More so, Lelouch would be sparing Nunnally the grim fate of becoming the target of the world’s hate, taking her place instead. Thus, Lelouch was able to choose both Nunnally and the world, because they happened to align at that crucial moment.

Of course, what the previous paragraph details is nothing but Lelouch’s rationalization of his actions. It still does not morally justify imposing one’s will on another person. What matters, though, is the fact that Lelouch needed to rationalize his actions at all. That tells us that throughout his conversation with Nunnally, Lelouch had been struggling to find a way to overcome his apprehension about using the Geass on his sister. Had Nunnally indeed still been his ultimate priority as she had been throughout the series, Lelouch would have likely struggled to find a way to talk himself out of Geassing his sister, not into it. The moment he found a way to frame the situation so that no tension existed between forcing Nunnally to hand over the key and executing his plan for world peace, he did not hesitate to issue the command. He fixated on Nunnally’s declaration that Damocles would become a symbol of hatred, while ignoring her earlier impassioned cry that she had never asked Lelouch to do any of things he’d done in her name (basically all the acts of violence and deception he perpetrated throughout the series). Lelouch’s eagerness to justify Geassing Nunnally and his selective interpretation of her words tell us that he ultimately valued the success of the Zero Requiem more than respecting his sister’s wishes. It was not that didn’t care about his sister; far from it, he loved her as much as he’d ever had, hence his internal dilemma upon confronting her. Rather, it was that he had truly moved beyond Nunnally as a sole source of motivation, as a sole source of purpose. What she desired or didn’t desire no longer mattered simply because Lelouch was no longer doing any of it for her. She would get her gentler world, definitely, and Lelouch no doubt wanted that. But that would be a mere byproduct of the success of his plan, not its central aim.

Lelouch didn’t execute the Zero Requiem for Nunnally. He executed it for all the people he’d executed throughout the series, for all the blood he had spilled, for all the lies he had told. The most powerful evidence for Nunnally’s basic irrelevancy to Lelouch’s final scheme is the fact that it created a world without him in it. As Nunnally told Lelouch during their climactic confrontation, all she needed to be happy was her brother by her side. Despite hearing that directly from her mouth, Lelouch proceeded to complete an operation that granted the world peace while robbing his sister of her greatest source of happiness. Nunnally’s agonized screams as she wept over her brother’s dead body show the viewer, in distressingly soul-crushing terms, that Lelouch and Suzaku were not the only ones to pay a devastating price for the world’s happiness. Of course, Lelouch would not have factored Nunnally in as a variable during his original conception of his death plan, because he still believed her to be dead at the time. Thus, in an especially ironic twist, the truest and deepest test of his resolve came in the form of his dear sister’s survival. The fact that Lelouch ultimately moved forward with his plan, despite knowing full well the suffering it would visit upon him and upon Nunnally, stands as the clearest proof that he moved beyond his attachment to his sister in the end.

What Lelouch never moved beyond, however, is his reliance on theatrics and deception. Lelouch’s over-the-top demeanor as Zero is a reflection of Code Geass’s melodramatic leanings. Both the show’s narrative and its protagonist thrive on exaggerated emotions and bombastic set pieces, and the Zero Requiem is their most extravagant performance. It is not just a performance for the viewer, however, but rather one for the in-universe audience, “audience” here meaning literally the entire population of Code Geass’s universe. Lelouch’s public execution is but the climax of a larger theatrical, almost Shakespearean tale of his own making. It is the tale of the rise of a demonic dictator, one who forcefully seized the throne after committing regicide, and his reign of terror. After a bloody battle of epic proportions that ended with the destruction of all who opposed the tyrannical madman, all hope for the world seemed lost. Then, at the 11th hour, the radical revolutionary, the hero of the masses, returned from the dead and slayed the paragon of oppression, liberating the world from the shackles of misery and heralding the dawn of a new age of peace. This is the story that Lelouch sold the world. It’s too clean, too perfect, but it’s the honey that the world was all too eager to buy. It matters not that the rise and fall of Emperor Lelouch was calculated fiction. All that matters was that the people believe the performance to be reality.

Suzaku had told Lelouch to do as much. Back in episode 17 of R2, he instructed Lelouch to atone for his lies, and the devastation they caused, by turning them into the truth. He told him to embody them, to live by them, until what was mere illusion became reality. Hence the Zero Requiem: a mass deception, Lelouch’s most elaborate lie. It played out like a scripted narrative, feeding into its nature as a play acted out on the world stage. This represents, symbolically, the theme at Code Geass’s core: the power of lies. A staged play is by its nature false, an idealized imitation of reality. The twist here is that Lelouch’s deceitful actions are what bring about genuine change to the entire world.

Lelouch’s death, just like his life, is a lie. He establishes a legacy of hatred and vile cruelty, ensuring that he’ll be remembered as a demonic murderer, all the while concealing that he was the creator of the identity that became synonymous with heroism and peace: Zero. More so, he chose the manner of his own death, yet to the world, it came about in violation of his will. Suzaku’s story, too, had a false end. To everyone who ever heard of him, he is dead and gone, killed in the service of a bloodthirsty dictator. The reality, of course, is that he now carries the mantle of the world’s greatest hero. The cruel irony of his position is that he, like Lelouch, will forever be cursed in the hearts of the people and in the annals of history, never to be thanked in his role of bringing about global peace. As mentioned before, it is a fitting and beautifully poetic punishment for both, as their fate is identical to the one suffered by the innocent Euphemia.

In the end, it is a lie astounding in its magnitude that frees humanity and allows it to move forward into the future. Geass’s conclusion ultimately validates Lelouch’s rejection of both his father, who wanted to keep humanity in the past by destroying lies forever, and his brother, who desired a static and oppressive present. The ending very deliberately has it that falsehood, that deceit, is what brings peace to humanity in the end. It is not just the preservation of masks that ensures people’s continued survival, but the deliberate use of them that acts as a force of liberation. Zero, the ultimate personification of Lelouch’s lies, emerges at the end as the symbol of hope for people everywhere, and as the one to symbolically destroy the oppressive chains of the past through his killing of Lelouch. The fulfillment of humanity’s wish for happiness could have never been fulfilled had it not been for the power of Geass.

And that is what the Zero Requiem is: Lelouch’s final Geass. Not a literal one, but a metaphoric one. Lelouch realized what humanity’s wish is during his time in C’s World, and his final scheme is an attempt to fulfill that wish (and remember that wishes are symbolized by Geass). As would be expected from a series practically drowning in irony, Lelouch’s final Geass subverts its own nature. Throughout the show, Lelouch used his Geass to subjugate people, trampling on their right to decide their own destinies. His last Geass, however, liberates people, instead respecting their right to decide their own destinies. Though his Geass is still rooted in deception, by casting it Lelouch frees humanity from the chains of its past, opening the doors to a future where people are free to make their own choices, whether good or bad. Lelouch’s final Geass reflects his own character growth, as it transcends its original purpose of selfish wish fulfillment and instead transforms into a selfless tool that realizes the wish not of any one individual, but of humanity itself. It is the ultimate Geass, one that Lelouch could only cast after the trials he’d endured and the lessons he’d learned. In yet another ironic twist, the man who spent his entire life denying people’s will ultimately affirms it with his dying act.

The theatrics of Lelouch’s final plan throws into sharp relief the significance of symbols in Code Geass’s narrative. Iconic symbolism has been a recurring motif since the beginning of the series, embodied best by Zero himself. The symbolic nature of Zero is a special point of emphasis in R2, where the question of Zero’s true identity becomes more prominent (though it was always relevant throughout both seasons). Episode 8 of R2 provides the sharpest thematic commentary and cleverest foreshadowing regarding this issue. It was during that episode that Lelouch pulled off one of his more audacious (the less generous will call it implausible) plans, the infamous “Million Zeros.” Exploiting a terminological technicality, Lelouch succeeds in getting Brittania to exile a million individuals, with the argument that they are all actually “Zero.” Earlier in the episode, when Lloyd asks Lelouch, in the guise of Zero, whether he is the real Zero or not, Lelouch answers by stating that only his actions, and not his identity, are relevant. In other words, Zero’s value lies in the power of his image, in the profundity of the ideals he represents. The person behind the mask doesn’t matter, because it can literally be anyone as long as their actions reflect Zero’s principles. The show’s narrative (and Lelouch) proceeds to demonstrate this philosophical statement in the most literal and dramatic way possible, via the spectacle of the million Zeros. Britannia agreed to exile Zero; by using that promise to justify the exile of a million people who bore his mask, Lelouch essentially forced Britannia to endorse Zero’s status as a symbol, and not as a person. The theme emphasized so strongly in this episode underlies the entire narrative, and comes to the fore in the end.

Just as the Zeros that stood before the Special Administrative Zone of Japan were not Lelouch, so to was the Zero that ended the life of the Britannian Emperor not Lelouch either. However, that does not make those Zeros any less valid than the one Lelouch portrayed. They are different iterations of the same symbol, a symbol so universal (within Code Geass’s world) that it transcends any one individual, any one identity. Zero represents resistance, represents freedom, and ultimately represents peace. Lelouch ends his life using the symbol that he himself created, cementing its immortality with his death.

The ending of Code Geass is littered with such symbols. Zero is not the only symbol that Lelouch created, nor is it the only symbol relevant to the series finale. Lelouch transforms his actual self, along with the position he holds (Emperor), into a symbol of despair to contrast with Zero’s symbol of hope, a symbol of hate to offset a symbol of love, a symbol of oppression to counteract a symbol of freedom. Such sharp dichotomies, such clear-cut symbols, were necessary to imbue Lelouch’s fairy tale with the unforgettable power it needed. The conflict had to be black-and-white, with Zero literally the shining knight in armor and Lelouch the demon. When Zero kills Lelouch, he does not just kill the Emperor of Britannia; he kills hate itself. Hence the disintegration of Damocles in the epilogue, the vehicle that Nunnally had once intended to be the symbol of the world’s hatred. Its destruction represents the dawning of an age of peace, just as Lelouch’s death did. This interplay of symbolism lends Code Geass’s conclusion an emotional and intellectual resonance that the viewer is unlikely to forget.

The creators of the show did not seem content to stop there, though. In the very last seconds of the show, they add one final twist, a twist that that has been dissected, analyzed, and debated countless times to this day, a twist that cemented Code Geass’s legacy as an anime that would not fall out of discussion circles any time soon, not even now, eight years after it ended. The controversy-spouting twist is not really even a twist. It’s nothing but a suggestion. This suggestion, however, fundamentally changes the viewer’s understanding of the ending: the possibility that Lelouch is alive. Such a notion is understandably divisive, and it would seem to fly in the face of the brilliant parallelisms, character development, and thematic harmony that Lelouch’s death achieved. The fandom has split on the issue, with one side zealously proclaiming Lelouch’s survival and the other side insisting, with no small amount of irritation, on his permanent death.

In the interest of total transparency, I am on the side that believes Lelouch’s death to be final. What I find fascinating to consider, however, is the way that Code Geass’s ending, and the lead-up to it, is structured so that Lelouch’s potential survival is not just plausible, but also mostly thematically consistent with the show’s established narrative, just in a manner different from his death. Again, I’m of the firm opinion that the analysis detailed above, premised on Lelouch’s death indeed being final, is a more elegant and thematically coherent interpretation of the anime’s conclusion than any that can be achieved if he is not. I’m simply intrigued by the observation that if Lelouch were to live, the story’s elaborate, multi-layered ending would not collapse due to a meticulous construction that can accommodate both interpretations of Lelouch’s fate. This adds an entire extra layer of brilliance to the show’s ending that is worth dissecting.

From a strictly plot-based perspective, a plausible manner exists through which Lelouch could have achieved life despite his death. The narrative has given the “Lelouch is alive” crowd enough tools through which to construct a reasonable plan that Lelouch could have utilized to cheat death. I’m going to briefly outline this theory here. Basically, many believe that Lelouch acquired the Code from Charles. In order to acquire the Code, a Geass user has to have the power in both eyes (basically a mature Geass), a feat that Lelouch achieved moments before his father’s death. Thus, all of the conditions for acquiring it are seemingly present. The Code only activates and returns its possessor to life after they have died. Thus, Lelouch’s death in Nunnally’s hand was indeed genuine; there was no deception there. Then, shortly after, Lelouch returned to life, becoming an immortal being, and went into hiding with C.C. This is supported by the show’s final cryptic scene, which contains two suggestive things. The first is the pink crane in C.C’s position, the same one that she made for Nunnally when she first met her. Why would she have that? The second is the final line uttered in the whole series: C.C’s mysterious “Isn’t that right, Lelouch?” as she looks up at the sky…or is it at the person driving her cart? This has fueled the speculation that the cart driver (whose face of course we are not allowed to see) is actually Lelouch in disguise.

Code Geass’s creators chose to be vague about the method through which to transfer a Code. In fact, it is never clearly defined beyond the aforementioned “fully mature Geass” requirement and the death of the Code’s owner. As such, the linchpin that holds the entire “Lelouch is alive” theory together, namely that he took Charles’s code by killing him, is based upon assumptions about a process that was never fully clarified. More so, whether or not Lelouch himself actually killed Charles is ambiguous. The scene in which it occurs deliberately obfuscates the events transpiring on screen. For example, Charles and Marianne begin to be absorbed by C’s World (in other words, die) following Lelouch’s command to not “stop the march of time.” If that command led to C’s World absorbing them, does that make Lelouch their killer? Or is it C’s World? Is indirect killing sufficient to still take a Code? Again, the show never clarifies that. Another opportunity for a direct murder of Charles comes when he grabs Lelouch by the throat, and Lelouch shouts “Begone!” This scene, however, is just as obtuse as the one before. Was Lelouch’s shout a Geass command, or simply a dramatic declaration? If one carefully listens to the audio, the beginnings of the trademark Geass-being-cast sound effect can be heard for a moment, but this is not matched by the visuals, which do not show the Geass “flying” out of Lelouch’s eye as it should when he uses it. Lelouch’s parents disappear right after, but whether this is due to Lelouch commanding them to “Begone!” or just the natural conclusion of the consuming process started by C’s World moments earlier is left to the viewer to decide. The direction seems to intentionally obscure the happenings unfolding on screen, and does so to such a degree as to render any conclusive reading of events basically impossible. In designing such a crucial scene in this hazy manner, the show’s creators guarantee that the most realistic explanation of Lelouch’s potential survival can never be confirmed.

Other scenes in the last few episodes are written, directed, and animated so that the viewer can construe multiple meanings from them. When C.C. cries in the Church, are her tears being shed because Lelouch will be condemned to the isolation of death, or because he will be condemned to the isolation of immortality? When she addresses Lelouch during the last seconds of the show, is she looking up at the sky, or back at the cart driver? Is she speaking to an immaterial Lelouch in C’s World, or talking to a material Lelouch besides her? Does she have Nunnally’s crane as a memento to remind her of Lelouch, or is Lelouch with her and he brought it along to remind himself of Nunnally? And so on.

Lelouch’s actual death also features images that could be interpreted to hint at his survival, while also imbuing that survival with a symbolic meaning. Consider Lelouch as a messianic figure. The nature of his plan, which involves him taking on the entire hatred of the world and then sacrificing himself to save it, already contains Christian undertones (and Code Geass is no stranger to Christian themes/symbols, as evidenced by the use of the Tower of Babel in R2’s second episode). After Suzaku stabs Lelouch, he slides down the Brittanian flag draped over the carrier to his sister. He falls with his arms stuck straight out on both sides and his legs facing straight down, in the shape that the human body would make if stuck onto a cross. As if that is not enough, his blood trail intersects with the Britannian flag to produce a cross made of his own blood, one so massive the the viewer can only see it from an aerial shot. The Christian symbolism here is self-explanatory.

Now, this messianic symbolism does not contradict the narrative of Lelouch’s permanent death at all. If anything, it fits it perfectly due to the aforementioned Christian undertones of Lelouch’s plan. However, if Lelouch survived, then this symbolism gains greater significance and is in fact strengthened. After all, according to biblical mythology, Jesus was resurrected following his sacrifice. Likewise, Lelouch too returns to life. The parallels between the two become more complete with this alternate version of events.

If, for argument’s sake, we assume that Lelouch lives, then the ending demands to be read differently. Some of the thematic elements noted before would no longer apply, such as the elegant inverted symmetry of Suzaku and Lelouch’s fates. However, other things would still stand unchanged, such as the ideological role-switching and the power of symbols. Lelouch’s struggle to overcome his sister complex would remain emotionally relevant, because carrying out the Zero Requiem would still mean he would have to be separated from here forever (after all, with it the man named “Lelouch” is officially dead). Overall, most of the points noted above would still work regardless of whether Lelouch lives or dies.

That’s not to say that both cases would lead to identical endings, of course. The most significant change would occur in the resolution of C.C’s story. While it was sometimes obfuscated by the show’s massive cast and generally insane escalation, Lelouch and C.C’s odd relationship lay at the heart of Code Geass. C.C. was the one to give Lelouch the Geass in the first place, with the request that he fulfill her wish in time (which we later learn was to die). C.C. became his close confidant, the person for whom his feelings often oscillated between affection and hate. This isn’t the place for a full-fledged analysis of their relationship, as complex and fascinating as it is. The point is that their dynamic was an essential aspect of the show and of Lelouch’s character. Lelouch himself was the most important person in C.C’s life, owing initially to his status as the Geass user who could finally end her miserable existence and later to her romantic feelings for him. What does Lelouch’s death or survival mean for C.C?

The primary purpose of the show’s final scene, aside from driving fandom mad by hinting at the possibility of Lelouch’s survival, is to show that C.C. is no longer condemned to solitude (and thus resolve her character arc). Her loneliness, the cost of immortality that hurt her most, turned her into a cynical and bitter woman intent on securing the death constantly denied to her (she’s a bit like Suzaku in that sense, and she tells him so directly in R2). When she gives Lelouch “the power of kings,” she warns him about the solitude from which he would suffer, a solitude that she was all too familiar with herself. Her warning proves prescient, and Lelouch is indeed subjected to the full brunt of isolation that comes with using the Geass, as he loses almost every ally he has throughout R2 and ends up separated forever from the person he loves most. The mystery of the scene, then, is that C.C. repudiates her own words. No, she says, it turns out the Geass doesn’t necessarily have to lead to solitude. She follows that statement by addressing Lelouch, implying that he’s related to the reason she now thinks this. The following final shot focuses on the pink crane, the show’s established symbol for both ‘Geass’ and ‘wishes,’ which in this context implies that C.C. got her wish thanks to the power of Geass.

C.C.’s words can be interpreted differently depending on what one believes about Lelouch’s ultimate fate. If he is dead, then C.C. is still alone and still immortal. Her situation hasn’t changed since the beginning of the series, and yet she now seems at peace. Two explanations are possible: one, that she is speaking to Lelouch in C’s World and so has the company of her loved one, hence precluding any possibility of solitude, and two, that her loving memories of Lelouch have provided her the peace of mind she needs to look to a brighter future (and this is the explanation provided by Code Geass’s official website). While she would not have gotten her original wish to die, her changed circumstances and perspective on life would have made that desire obsolete anyways. Instead, the root cause of her suicidal wish, the terrible solitude of her endless existence, was remedied. Thus C.C. got her wish to live a life untainted by loneliness.

If Lelouch died and returned as an immortal being, then he is the cart driver with C.C. She is no longer alone because she has Lelouch physically besides her. More so, his immortality would make him the companion she never had, the one who could actually live alongside her for century after century. Since Lelouch could only have achieved never-ending life via the power of Geass, C.C. would be right to attribute the elimination of her solitude to it. More so, Lelouch’s solitude would have been eliminated as well, as now he has a lifelong companion in C.C. This ending is undoubtedly happier than the one in which Lelouch dies and stays dead. Truth be told, it also provides a superior resolution to C.C’s story and to her relationship with Lelouch. It directly delivers on Lelouch’s promise to C.C. in the last episode of the first season, where he promised her that he would become a “warlock” to complement her “witch” (an allusion to her immortality), and by doing so he would ensure that she is “not alone.” In other words, Lelouch literally told C.C. he would become immortal to save her from solitude, and the above reading of the final scene would conclude that particular character thread with the utmost elegance.

Unfortunately, an interpretation of the ending that has Lelouch living would also damage some of the thematic perfection of it in other aspects. Most importantly, Lelouch’s punishment would lose much of its power. He would still suffer, as he is forced to part from his beloved sister forever, and his name will forever be remembered with scorn and hate, his sacrifice forever unacknowledged. However, to continue living as an immortal is a far more merciful conclusion to his story than death. One can argue that the narrative’s consistent portrayal of immortality as an awful fate equivalent to death would imbue a “Lelouch lives” ending with the same level of tragedy that a “Lelouch dies” ending provides. However, to argue so would be to disregard the narrative’s reason for immortality’s negative portrayal in the first place. Over and over, through the character of C.C. and others, never-ending life is linked to never-ending isolation. However, the whole point of C.C’s ending, regardless of Lelouch’s fate, is that she is no longer alone. Thus, immortality is no longer so horrible. If Lelouch is with her, then the same would hold true for him, rendering his ceaseless existence a non-punishment. This is the only way in which a “Lelouch lives” ending would thematically contradict the larger narrative, but in my humble opinion, it’s a contradiction significant enough to render an interpretation of the ending that doesn’t end with Lelouch’s death untenable. As enumerated above, there are doubtlessly merits provided by an “Lelouch lives as an immortal” ending that a “Lelouch dies” ending doesn’t provide, and it is largely consistent with what the story had been building towards. However, the manner with which this conclusion reduces Lelouch’s punishment to a borderline reward makes it undesirable and lessens the impact of the Zero Requiem. On an emotional level, it also cheapens Lelouch’s sacrifice.
Hence the reason I believe Lelouch is dead. On balance, it simply serves the story’s plot, characters, and themes better, with emphasis on the last point. Code Geass always regarded thematic consistency as paramount, even at the cost of logical sense or plot plausibility. A conclusion that has Lelouch as dead as a doornail, as sad as it is, is in the spirit of the show. Nonetheless, the writers deserve serious credit for crafting a storyline that supports two totally divergent interpretations of the main character’s fate from a plot, character, and thematic viewpoint. The fact that fans continue to fiercely debate this issue to this day, and that both sides base their arguments on what they believe to be plot evidence, on what would entail logical character progression, and on what would be thematically coherent, serves as a testament to the genius of the writing (and yes, I am one of those fans).

It is worth noting that the official stance on Lelouch, according to official sources, is that he is permanently dead. Code Geass’s official website states that he is dead, Code Geass’s official magazine lists him as dead, and all official content released since presumes that Lelouch is dead, including a picture drama that has Lelouch’s friends reflecting on his life on the anniversary of his death. Based on interviews with the director and the writer, and on comments made by the animators, the entire Code Geass anime staff firmly believes Lelouch to be dead. This has led some fans to declare that the ending was never intended to be ambiguous, and that overzealous fans unwilling to accept Lelouch’s death are reading into the series meanings that were never intended. However, this is a rather uncharitable and reductive understanding of the enduring speculation surrounding Lelouch’s final plan. Only by being deliberately obtuse can a person deny the possible implications of Code Geass’s final scene. The apparent dissonance between what the internal text of the show suggests and what the external commentary of the creators states has led some fans to interpret official declarations of Lelouch’s death as metaphorical, thus disregarding them. However, the sheer volume of official content deeming Lelouch well and truly dead is simply too massive to ignore. The anime staff’s firm confirmation of Lelouch’s final fate, in turn, raises confusion as to why that very same staff chose to end the show with the scene they did. The result is flaming speculation that refuses to be blown out by the winds of time, official confirmation or not, which I believe was exactly their intention. Well done, anime staff. You’ve immortalized a story about immortality.

A twist that further complicates this saga comes in the form of a mysterious, unsourced Youtube video uploaded in 2010. The uploader claims that the video shows the original Japanese ending, which features a quick shot of the bottom half of the cart driver’s face, one that looks suspiciously similar to Lelouch’s. According to the video, this shot was cut from the TV version at the last minute in order to allow the viewers to come to their own conclusion about Lelouch’s fate. This cut clip was apparently included in the Japanese Blu-Ray release of the show. As of this writing, the video of the “original Japanese ending” has nearly 900,000 views, and its story has been propagated so widely across the web that it has acquired basically factual status, with most people not disputing the validity of the original video’s footage. Its version of events are certainly comforting for those who believe Lelouch is alive, as it means the creators originally intended for Lelouch to live and only changed their plans to make it ambiguous at the last minute. Therefore, all the previous scenes in the show that could be interpreted to support an alternate ending were indeed meant to be understood that specific way. It’s basically the perfect evidence any “Lelouch lives!” supporter needs.

There’s only one problem: the video is fake. A bare minimum of research and careful analysis of the supposed “original Japanese ending” reveals the solo shot of the smirking cart-driver-Lelouch to be a poor insert done via some shoddy editing. There are three smoking guns, two internal to the video and one external to it. One, there is a TV watermark on the upper-right corner of the screen, indicating that the footage shown aired on television. This raises a whole host of questions. Firstly, the original Japanese ending that aired on Japanese TV in 2008, the one that the anime community immediately watched with English subs, did not include the one-second shot of Lelouch, which raises doubts about the validity of the clip. If the argument is that this is the version included on the Code Geass DVDs, then that raise the question as to why the TV watermark is there in the first place. Either hypothesis is unsound. What seals the case, though, is the watermark’s disappearance in the specific shot that has Lelouch. It is present at all other times throughout the video, which implies that the scene with Lelouch smirking is external to the original footage and was inserted at a later date. The second smoking gun is the audio track. If one listens closely, they will realize that the audio track in which Lelouch smirks is different from the one upon which the rest of the video runs. Finally, multiple people in possession of the Code Geass Blu-ray release have confirmed that no such “Director’s Cut” exists. If it did, one expects that it would have been uploaded many times over in far better quality than the sole existing video currently on Youtube, considering the intensity of the is-Lelouch-alive-or-dead debate in the fandom. As it is, this random video on Youtube is uncorroborated by any official sources or any actual evidence outside of itself. One can argue for Lelouch’s survival on the basis of many things, but this shady video, which is cited far and wide, is not one of them. It does make for an interesting display of the passion that this debate evokes, as well as a fascinating case-study for how quickly things ascend to urban myth status on the Internet.

And so Lelouch dies, and peace comes to the world. Brittania and Japan finally resolve their differences, with their union symbolized by the marriage of the Brittanian Villeta and the Japanese Oogi. Jeremiah goes to work on an Orange farm, as only he could (the creators’ dedication to the ‘orange’ gag is impressive and a testament to their wonderful silliness, a silliness often reflected in the show they created). Damocles, the object that Nunnally once intended to be the target of the world’s hatred, burns up in the sun, symbolizing the death of hate. And then C.C. talked to Lelouch, and the fandom went nuts. With that Code Geass cemented the legacy of its ending, which today has become legendary amongst the anime fandom. Even people who were not fond of the second season often praise the ending. Indeed, it may be the overwhelmingly positive reception to Code Geass’s ending that saved the series as a whole from being remembered poorly, after an extremely polarizing second season. Not that the ending is perfect: the last few episodes were a little rushed at times, jamming a ton of content that could easily have been spread out to a full cour, and the happy endings that some secondary characters enjoyed, like Cornelia, feel a bit awkward after their actions throughout the series. All of those minor flaws, however, pale in comparison to the brilliance of everything else. The show went out on an extremely hig
Posted by MrAM | Jul 15, 2016 9:15 AM | Add a comment