Going Over the Edge – Review of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” Episodes 9 & 10

The final two episodes of Netflix’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners brings the story of David Martinez to a close in spectacularly gory fashion. From the start, this was never going to be a story with a happy ending and Studio Trigger did not shy away from showing just how bad things could get. In the end, we as the audience receive an extremely bittersweet ending, one that matches up with the Cyberpunk TTRPG that the anime is based on.

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the 9th and 10th episodes of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.

The 9th episode of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, titled “Humanity”, picks up with David, Kiwi, Rebecca, and Falco working a job for Faraday, who we know at this point has Lucy in his clutches and has switched sides to the Arasaka Corporation. The damn shame of Lucy’s situation is that she went after the netrunners hired by Arasaka to keep David out of their clutches but by doing so, she put a large enough bounty on her head that Faraday (with Kiwi’s help) was able to find out the reason behind her actions. The convoy job the crew is on is a trap laid by Faraday to get David into the experimental cyberskeleton suit that Arasaka has created and then unleash him on Militech as a field test.

As one can imagine given how the other jobs on Cyberpunk: Edgerunners have gone, this does not work out anywhere near as well as its planned. Faraday does succeed in getting David to connect to the cyberskeleton, which is a hellish looking suit of armor with anti-gravity thrusters built in to give the user greater mobility and attacks. The downside is that anyone who jacks into the frame is going to go full cyberpsycho quickly. David was already at the upper limits of his tolerance for cybernetics but the cyberskeleton pushes him over the edge. The only things that stop him from completely losing it are the heavy drugs he’s administered and the reveal that Lucy is held captive by Faraday and is being taken to Arasaka.

What follows is probably one of the most badass scenes of utter destruction I’ve seen in an anime, as David proceeds to completely wipe out the significant Militech presence around him (including heavily armored tanks and rocket launcher trucks). Barely holding on to his sanity, David manages to take on a small army, proving the viability of the cyberskeleton. But due to a last-minute call from Lucy after she briefly escapes Faraday’s clutches, David is able to refocus his attention on getting her free.

The finale of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, titled “My Moon, My Man”, starts with a mad dash through Night City as Falco, Rebecca, and David race to Arasaka Tower. In their way is Militech, Arasaka, and MaxTec (in that order), who prove to be no match for David and the crew. Meanwhile, Kiwi meets with Faraday and receives a bullet for her participation in the betrayal. I wish I could say I feel bad for Kiwi but I really can’t. Her betrayal of Lucy, David, Rebecca, and Falco directly leads to the tragic ending that is unfolding. Kiwi does manage one moment of redemption when she gives the group the coordinates for the AV that Faraday is using to reach Arasaka, which allows the crew to get David on top of it through some truly death-defying car stunts.

Tales of the Red by R. Talsorian Games
Available on DriveThruRPG

On a side note, I really have to wonder how Falco’s ride could withstand the insane amount of punishment it takes in these last two episodes. There’s plot armor and then there’s Plot Armor. Still, it was fun to watch.

As David and the crew are making their way to the tower, the head of Arasaka Counterintel (the espionage department within the megacorporation) is keeping close tabs on the situation. Utterly dissatisfied with Faraday’s bungling of the operation, the Counterintel department head calls in Adam Smasher (the full Borg psycho previewed in episode 7 during David’s visit to his ripperdoc). It’s revealed that the cyberskeleton was originally intended for Smasher, who has nothing but contempt for the device. Smasher is a haunting figure, with the only organic part of him being his head (the rest is a black cyborg body frame that looks wickedly drawn for the anime).

Cyberpunk Red Core Rulebook by R. Talsorian Games
Available on DriveThruRPG

The final scenes of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners reinforce the idea that Tanaka Sr. laid out to David during his captivity in Episode 6: For as good as David is and as much as he now an engine of destruction in the cyberskeleton, he’s still just a lowly mercenary compared to the power of a megacorporation like Arasaka. Once Adam Smasher gets involved, everything turns into a complete bloodbath. Faraday dies in spectacular fashion, falling from the heights of the Arasaka Tower where he had hoped to ascend. David tries to go toe-to-toe with Smasher but quickly learns how deadly the cyborg really is.

During his escape, there’s a quiet moment with Lucy as they fall from the heights of the tower, backdropped against the full moon (just like in episode 4 where the pair first got together). Lucy manages to pull David back from the brink of cyberpsychosis but it’s a temporary reprieve. The two finally have that heart-to-heart moment that they desperately needed, with David telling Lucy that his dream is make her dream of living on the Moon a reality, since he doesn’t have anything except her left in his life. For Lucy’s part, she just wanted David to live, knowing that if he continued down the path he was taking as an edgerunner, he was going to meet a violent end.

And that violent end comes soon enough after David and Lucy are reunited with Falco and Rebecca. Adam Smasher lives up to his surname, smashing Rebecca through the dome of an industrial park and killing the young edgerunner instantly. If not for the timely intervention of David distracting Smasher, Falco and Lucy would have been next (with Falco losing a cybernetic arm being his main injury). For all the enhancements that David had installed and his connection to the cyberskeleton, he doesn’t put up much of a fight against Adam Smasher. The full Borg tears David apart in a matter of seconds, ripping him out of the cyberskeleton and leaving David a broken husk of a human being. But David is smiling, knowing that he’s ensured Lucy’s safety (and with the money they earned from the gig Faraday set them up with in the previous episode). David’s end comes with a bullet in the head after rejecting Smasher’s offer of becoming a construct.

The final shot we see of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is Lucy on the Moon, enjoying a moon walk and gazing up at the Sun. For a moment, she pictures David as he was during their braindance together in episode 2, the young, happy boy who was just getting a taste of the larger world. Seeing David as he was back then and knowing how he ended can’t help but pull on the heartstrings. Lucy got her wish to get as far away from Arasaka as possible but it cost her the man she loved. David fulfilled Lucy’s wish to get away but it cost him everything.

Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the Cyberpunk TTRPG that this anime is based on, once said that Cyberpunk is not about saving the world, it’s about saving yourself. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners follows that ethos to the letter. David was never going to stop Arasaka or Militech or even change how the world of Night City works. He wasn’t going to solve any of the problems that plague this dystopian future. Instead, he ended up doing the one thing that mattered to him: saving the woman he loved, even if it cost him his life in the process. Tragedy is a hallmark of the Cyberpunk genre and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a textbook example of how to tell that kind of story with bombast and heart.

My book series The Atalante Chronicles is now live on Amazon for Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover Print-On-Demand. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Blood And Stone, Book One in my series, is also available on Smashwords (Affiliate Link)
The Crone and The Curse, Book Two in my series, is also available on Smashwords (Affiliate Link)

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.
One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$10.00
$15.00
$5.00
$10.00
$15.00
$50.00
$90.00
$150.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution helps with covering the cost for this site. Give what you can and thank you.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Leave a Reply