What evil have I done, what evil has the poor girl heard.
What They Say:
Episode #10: “Cross Road Blues”
Echo finds himself in the strangely tranquil town of Clarksdale, where he learns a little more about Jimi and a little more about himself.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The age of 27 is infamous in music circles. To join the 27 Club is the have your life cut short at the height of your musical fame. Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones. Many of the characters in our story so far have been inspired by those musicians. Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin… Robert Johnson.
Johnson is a man-made myth. His short life was not particularly well recorded because until just a few short years before his death is wasn’t anything to write home about. He lived a life that many in his era shared, and upon his death his legend began. The man who sang about the Crossroads and selling your soul to the devil became more than a man. His music became an inspiration. Mythology sprang up around him. He became one of the founding fathers of rock and roll without ever knowing it.
Echo finds himself rescued from the trash heap by a girl named Janis. She is kind, upbeat, thoughtful, and helps him get back on his feet. The man that runs the farm she lives at is named Robert, and together they give Echo a new home. Farm work is tough work, and it occupies all of Echo’s time. Yet while it takes his mind off of Mu, he can’t forget her. He pins her core to the outside of his work shirt. Yet one day he discovers a basement library of thousands upon thousands of records. Records… which shouldn’t exist. Music… doesn’t exist. Indeed, when we see one playing we hear nothing… nothing but the words from the past echoing timelessly.
Clarksdale once existed. It’s where Jimi came from. He departed on his journey from there, leaving behind his little sister. He had to discover what the Earless are, and learned that they weren’t deaf to the cries of the people. They had been listening all along. But in the end, he was betrayed. Whatever Mu is, she is not Jimi, nor his sister, and she isn’t even the Earless queen.
Even with the exposition dump in the latter part of this episode, it’s still murky how the world Echo knows works. It feels like everything is being spoken of in metaphors, but is being played straight. The Earless exist, the Origin (a metaphysical record player) is the means through which players are given their power to combat the earless. Yet there was a time before the Earless existed. Did music exist then too? I think that we’re going to see Echo and Mu join together to reunite the two sides of the world, giving back music to the world.
When Echo awakes he learns that he was given a gift. He is just a normal small-town boy, nothing special. But even his feelings matter. Jimi wasn’t anyone special either, he just wanted to change the world. Anyone can become a Player, with enough conviction. Echo picks back up his amp and with a renewed purpose knows he has to go save Mu.
He may not be in time though. Now that we know Mu is a being created from Jimi’s resolve and the desires of the earless, she is firmly ready to destroy everything. (This is why you stick around after the end credits.) It feels great to see Tommy get the ending he deserved.
Echo has been playing second fiddle to Mu’s advances in character and backstory. This episode he finally gets to discover what he wants, and who he is. You don’t have to come from somewhere to be someone special. Sometimes you can just be a small-town kid who gets the chance at a big break. Sometimes it’s not the devil you meet at the crossroads. I’m looking forward to how this series plans to wrap up their journey through a twisted version of the soul of rock and roll. I still think the series could have benefited greatly from the inclusion of some licensed music, even if that means it would have ballooned production and licensing costs.
Episode Grade: B +
Streamed by: Funimation