Pacific Rim – Raleigh was meant to pilot Gypsy Danger on his own

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After watching Pacific Rim for the 50th-ish time, I decided to nitpick every line Stacker Pentecost said during the film and I found that the character was often more peculiar about his motives than we were led to believe. What began to stand out the more I listened to Stacker was a theory that he originally intended to have Raleigh pilot Gypsy alone, as a backup if Striker failed to deliver its payload.

I’ll start with a few basics to set the tone on this theory. Let’s begin with the fight against Knifehead. It was important to showcase the first major hit to the Jaeger program during this fight by killing Raleigh’s brother, Yancy, and brutalizing Gypsy Danger, a mark 3 jaeger stationed on the Alaskan coastline. Raleigh manages to reroute Gypsy’s controls and charge a point-blank blast from its plasma cannon. The prologue scene concludes with Gypsy staggering to a snowy beach where it collapses with Raleigh exiting in a similar state, exhausted and breathlessly calling for his brother shortly before passing out.

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“Hurricane kicked my ass”

As awesome as it was to witness the difficult task, it wasn’t necessary to play out the scenario with Raleigh piloting the Jaeger on his own. The story, as a whole, was always meant to showcase how people working together can accomplish impossible feats. Getting Raleigh into a position where he had to leave and come back to the fight was understandable, but losing his brother could have happened in a number of different ways. In the prologue the most significant detail was realizing that either it was possible for any pilot to drive a jaeger solo, or that Raleigh specifically had an innate ability (a.k.a getting really angry) to get the job done.

At the time, I wondered if this scenario would come up again. What I think was supposed to happen was left in the details of Stacker’s dialogue throughout the film, along with some mysterious moments that were never quite explained. Here are a list of scenes I’d like to detail and go over.

1. Stacker approaches Raleigh in Alaska and requests he join the fight against the kaiju again and the following dialogue occurs.

STACKER

“I spent the last 6 months activating everything

I can get my hands on. There’s an old jaeger, mark 3,

you may know it. It needs a pilot.”

RALEIGH

“I’m guessing I wasn’t your first choice.”

STACKER

“You are my first choice. All the other mark 3 pilots are dead.”

Two things of note here. Stacker points out the jaeger needs a pilot, singular. That can easily be overlooked because Stacker is talking to one person with a mission to convince that one person to rejoin the ranks. He could have easily just as said “It needs a pair of pilots,” since the prologue clearly stated the rule of two during Raleigh’s narration.

The second note is the line, “All the other mark 3 pilots are dead.” Images of The 5th element cloud my brain as the same joke was told through a superior officer. The delivered line was meant to force the issue that times are tough and Raleigh is all that there is left to pilot a mark 3 jaeger. At first I thought Stacker was just trying to oversell his point, but again, I think he had more desperate motives in mind. More on that later.

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“I said jaeger! Not jager!”

2. Outside the Shatterdome, we’re introduced to Mako Mori, a character who Stacker says is “One of our brightest.” A simple but confident gesture as a father-figure would say to a deserving pupil/daughter. Nothing really to dissect here, just a simple statement before being told she’s also in charge of the mark 3 restoration program. In reality it’s the “Gypsy Danger Restoration Program” because, there are no other mark 3 jaegers still in service. Nitpick of a nitpick; apologies.

3. Later on, Raleigh and Mako briefly discuss her yearnings for wanting to be a jaeger pilot. Raleigh asks “What’s your simulator score?”

Mako answers “51 drops, 51 kills.” which impresses Raleigh.

What isn’t noted here is whether Mako was running those simulators with a second pilot or not. Later on, we clearly are led to understand that Mako has never experienced a real drift since Raleigh has to explain the fundamentals to her, seconds before the drift occurs in their first test mode, and later when he apologizes over what a first drift can do to a person. I’m not an expert in drift technology, but I think one can determine that one does not simply simulate a drift. So if she killed 51 simulated kaiju, how did she do it?

4. During the test, Raleigh slips into a memory which also causes Mako to do the same. During her memory, she encounters a kaiju and attempts to flee, while in the jaeger, she initiates the plasma cannon on the right arm.

Choi screams “Go to fail-safe!”

A nearby character answers “Fail-safe’s not responding. There’s a problem with the neuro-blocker. Her connection’s way too strong.”

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“Who let her watch the final ep of EVA?!?”

To sell the impact of falling into a drift, Mako cannot discern reality from memory, however I have to believe that this sort of scenario happened all the time on previous pilots attempting their initial drifts. That’s why the fail-safe is there. The idea that her connection is too strong suggests one of two possibilities in my view:

a) Stacker has been training her (unbeknownst to her) to handle piloting a jaeger on her own, which is why we don’t hear about her simulator score involving a drift or a second pilot.

b) She’s exhibiting a mental state that puts her in a higher echelon over any pilot    or human Stacker has ever seen before (except himself) and that’s the real reason why he doesn’t want her co-piloting a jaeger, because she’s a danger and has yet      to control her ability.

5. After Raleigh and Mako are commended for defending Hong Kong from Otachi and Leatherback, they witness blood fall from Stacker’s nose as he walks away while commanding the clock to be reset.

Raleigh later finds him and asks about his condition. Stacker says the following.

STACKER

“You know them mark 1’s, we scraped them bad boys

together in 14 months. Last thing we were thinking about

was radiation shielding. I ran nearly a dozen missions. I

Stayed under the medical radar for a while, but last time

I jockeyed was Tokyo. I finished the fight solo, but for

3 hours, I burned. They warned me if I ever stepped foot

in a jaeger again, the toll would be too much. You and I

are the only two that ever ran solo combat. That’s why I

brought you here.

It wasn’t until that last line came that Stacker began contradicting himself. If Raleigh’s ability to pilot solo was why Stacker brought him back, then why bother to tell him that he’s the last of the mark 3 pilots still alive? Was he attempting to downplay his overselling of Raleigh’s ability? Or was there something else going on in Stacker’s head at the time?

6. Go back to the initial mission pitting Striker, Crimson, and Cherno against Otachi and Leatherback. Stacker gave explicit instructions to each pair of pilots, but when he got to Raleigh and Mako he simply stated “You two, you stay put.” Okay, Stacker is still grounding them for the mishap during the drift.

Well, wait a second. Go back a few more scenes just after Raleigh and Chuck have their tussle. Stacker brings Raleigh and Mako into his office area and tells them that only Mako is being grounded for what happened. Sure, Raleigh made a big stink about Stacker holding Mako back that could have irritated Stacker enough that he decided to ground Raleigh too. But still, why only ground Mako in that scene? What was the significance of that, aside from Mako losing her chance to pilot a jaeger? Now, let’s recap of bit of what we’ve learned:

*Through fear and anger, Raleigh proved he could control Gypsy on his own.

*Through meditation and control, Stacker proved he could pilot Coyote Tango on his own.

*Through immersion and a fear for survival, Mako proved she could mentally block the fail-safe from disconnecting her to Gypsy.

*Stacker admitted he brought Raleigh back because he’s one of two people to pilot a jaeger on their own.

*Stacker only intended to ground Mako for what happened during the test drift
And let’s not forget one other fact:

*Gypsy danger has a double-core, nuclear reactor, making her one of a kind.

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“She’s not wearing a bustle. How lewd.”

When Striker’s nuclear launcher was dismantled by Slattern, Stacker told Raleigh to take Gypsy into the breach. One could argue it was quick and clever thinking, but I have a different thought on it.

I surmise That Stacker originally intended to use Raleigh alone, as a last-resort in case Striker failed to get its bomb through the breach. The test to see which rookie pilot would be sufficient to join Raleigh was never going to lead to a decision, and ultimately, his pride got in the way when he allowed Mako to prove her ability to be a co-pilot, when she seemed to be capable of so much more.

This was also why Stacker was hesitant on telling Raleigh why he was brought there when they first entered the Shatterdome.

Stacker had every opportunity to send Raleigh alone, or with a rookie pilot when Otachi and Leatherback first appeared on the miracle mile, but didn’t for fear of what losing his second bomb would mean, including Mako, which is why he jumped at the chance to remove her as a pilot when she fell out of alignment.

I think Stacker was willing to do whatever he had to, and his own sacrifice (along with Chuck) was his last resort coming back to him in full.

On a side note, here are a few other lingering questions that deal with Stacker’s character outside this theory.

1. Why would Stacker continually ask how big a kaiju is? He does so on two occasions, once just after telling Raleigh his medical condition and again right before we find out that Slattern is a category 5. Except for the prologue fight, every kaiju was a category 4. I think he was always anticipating the kaiju would be getting bigger, but even if that was the case, why ask that just as Slattern shows up? If he was just a category 4, would he have breathed easier? Just a bit odd.

2. If Stacker had a plan to get the bomb through the breach, but avoided to tell Raleigh in the Shatterdome, why is he getting the plan told to him as if for the first time by Gorman in the very next scene? I suppose it was for Herc’s benefit since he just got there, but then why is everyone hearing for the first time what Newton thought of it?

3. If getting into Striker would be enough to kill Stacker, why didn’t he just pilot it alone, instead of taking Chuck with him? If Stacker somehow didn’t make the trip, Chuck wouldn’t be able to drag Striker back on his own, let alone to the breach.

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“I’m totally okay with dying now. Forget about what I said earlier.”

I’ve enjoyed watching Pacific Rim multiple times and hope the sequel gets a beacon soon to be made. This was one fan’s look at some of the aspects not clearly outlined in the film and I hope you enjoyed the read. If you have any insight or feedback, feel free to comment. Thanks for dropping by!

No more words

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One response to “Pacific Rim – Raleigh was meant to pilot Gypsy Danger on his own

  1. The other thing you have to watch out for is that at certain points they dumbed down bits to either save time or keep it simple. The whole Analog/Digital bit is ment to explain that some Jeagers namely the new Marks were probably using smart electrical systems, with computer banks rerouting power and carefully managing the turbines which I believe were diesel.

    Now here is the fun part Stacker knows that Striker isn’t nuclear, so why is he worried about radiation. I suspect that they were really supposed to be talking about the dangers of the Neural Load from the two pilot system. This would also explain the nose bleed as he’s suffering from the same problem the test pilot is shown dying from in the beginning of the movie.

    So your absolutely right Striker was keeping three aces up his sleeve, but one was going to die if he used it aka himself. One was at risk of death if he used him aka Raleigh. The last one was Mako and he wasn’t sure what would happen if he used her.

    Also Stacker was also probably hoping that Raleigh would be able to bond with the other pilots like himself. Meaning he’d have an emergency backup if anything went wrong, but since all the other teams were destroyed and Raleigh and Chuck hated each other, he end up having to team up with Chuck.

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