Since the earliest days of Phantasy Star internet fandom, there has been a group of phans who believe that the series's central villain, The Profound Darkness, is not an evil being. This argument was addressed (and soundly refuted, I might add) by Neilast in her essay "Why the Profound Darkness Truly is Evil." However, in recent years, a new argument has seen voice that indicates Phantasy Star II's Earthmen are also not really evil but are actually good. This argument is similar to the "Profound Darkness is not evil" argument in two key ways. First, it attempts to explain why a villain of the series is actually, if not a hero, then at the very least not a heel. And second, it can be refuted by a simple examination of the actions of the character(s) in question.
Before going into the charges against the Earthmen, it's important to note that anything done by Mother Brain can also be attributed to the Earthmen. The Earthmen, after all, were her creators and caretakers, and there is nothing to indicate that anything she did was done without the consent of the Earthmen. Therefore, the evil actions of Mother Brain can and must be considered charges against the Earthmen themselves.
One evil the Earthmen inflict upon the people of Algo is restriction on their travel. Fifty years prior to the game, travel on Mota's seas is banned ("It was 50 years ago when Mother Brain prohibited people from going to the ocean") and ten years prior to the game, space travel is prohibited ("After the accident of 10 years ago, the use of any spaceship has been prohibited"). These changes are apparently made without regard to the wishes of the people at all, for another evil of Mother Brain is revealed in the words of the Commander, apparently the highest authority on all of Mota. What is his job? "My work as a Commander has been to smoothly promote the plans of Mother Brain." Thus, it is apparent that Mother Brain has eliminated democracy. If the leaders' job is to simply promote Mother Brain's plans, then Mother Brain is the true "power behind the throne," so to speak. Can she be elected out of office if the people become dissatisfied with her? Apparently not.
And if one chooses to voice opposition to Mother Brain, the punishment is harsh. This is evidenced by the fact that when Rolf attempts to fix Mother Brain by correcting the problem of monsters roaming the land, he is charged with "damaging" Mother Brain and when captured, he and his friends are sentenced to death. Note that there is no trial, and Rolf is never given a chance to either testify on his own behalf or call witnesses in his defense. Mother Brain is truly the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Algoian government, and her decisions are binding and without appeal -- and again, she apparently has these jobs for a term of forever.
We also see an evil of Mother Brain and the Earthmen in what we do not see in the game. In Phantasy Star I, pretty much every town on all three planets of Algo had a church, indicating that religion was important to the people. In Phantasy Star II, however, there is not a single church to be found anywhere in the game, and the only hint of religion is found in the prayer of Lutz, an exile on Dezoris hiding from Mother Brain and plotting against her. What could have brought about such a drastic change? The game makes it very clear that just about every change in Algo since the days of Alis was the result of Mother Brain -- why should this be any different? (And especially when one looks at Mother Brain as an allegory for communism, as discussed in my essay "The True Message of Phantasy Star II," it is undeniable that Mother Brain deliberately eliminated religion from the people in Marxist playbook fashion.)
But one counter-argument that might be made is that all of these evils are recently implemented, perhaps only within the last 50 years. (I find it an extreme stretch of credibility that the complete elimination of religion from Algo could occur in only 50 years, but as that particular evil can not conclusively be linked to Mother Brain, we'll set that concern aside.) The point of this counter-argument, I believe, is to suggest that Mother Brain and the Earthmen were at one time a force for good in Algo but that their efforts were corrupted by Dark Force as the calendar rushed closer and closer to AW 1286 (or whichever date one gives Phantasy Star II). Dark Force's role in the Earthmen's actions will be addressed in due time, but even without bringing Dark Force into the picture, the argument that all of Mother Brain's evils were recent is refuted by the testimony of the one person in all of Algo who was alive in AW 845 when Mother Brain first arrived in Algo and is still alive during Phantasy Star II: Lutz.
Lutz's words make it clear that Mother Brain brought for-the-worse changes to Algo immediately upon her arrival some 400 years prior, not only in recent decades. He says, "However, when Mother Brain arrived, Algo changed. We got confused because Mother Brain created so many things, we didn't really know what we needed. People started to fight for what Mother Brain created. They no longer thought that kindly about Alis. People even thought that they could not live without Mother Brain."
Further, it is important to note that Lutz does not merely criticize or blame the people of Algo for such actions -- for if he blamed the people, why does he give Rolf so much encouragement to go about restoring their freedom? If it was the Algoians themselves that were bringing evil to Algo, why not just invite Rolf and his friends to stay with him at Esper Mansion and forget about the corrupt generation that populated the rest of the world? Or when he asks, "Rolf, are you brave enough to do battle with the powers of evil?" why does he not respond to Rolf's "Yes" by teleporting the party to the middle of Paseo?
The answer is simple: Lutz knows that it is Mother Brain who is responsible for Algo's evil, not the people. His words are fiercely damning: "I think that a devil's trap is behind Mother Brain. This caused the people's mind to weaken. The trap also leads Algo to destruction." Remember: Lutz is a God-fearing man ("Oh, god of Algo, bless party with courage and strength"), apparently one of the last God-fearing men left in Algo, and he knows what Algo was like before, during, and after Mother Brain's arrival. With the use of the phrase "devil's trap," Lutz seems to be indicating that Mother Brain is almost sin itself -- for sin is the ultimate devil's trap, something that seems wonderful and pleasurable but is in fact a snare that devours one's soul. That Lutz more or less says Mother Brain is the creation of the devil can not be underappreciated.
They Should Have Taken the Fifth
Despite all of the evil actions of Mother Brain -- some perhaps weakly linked to her, others undeniably her doing -- the ultimate evidence of the evil of Mother Brain and the Earthmen comes from their own lips.
Upon finally confronting Mother Brain face-to-virtual-face, Mother Brain reveals what would happen if she were destroyed. "You are such fools," she says. "If you damage me, the world will be thrown into a panic. Without me, the people of Algo are helpless. They have become too soft and used to comfort. If I were to malfunction, the people would die cursing their fate." Mother Brain clearly understands that the people of Algo have become dependent on her for their very life -- in fact, she even says "I am like a mother protecting her child." Is this protection benevolent? Absolutely not. For her truest motives are revealed when she says, "And now I will take my child, Algo, by the hand and lead it down the path of destruction."
By her own admission, her aim is to destroy Algo. Note that she says nothing to indicate this is a recent change, not "I served Algo for so long and you showed no respect towards me, so I will now reveal my true power" or anything of the like. Her words indicate that her plan all along was to foster dependence in the people, and that alone is an evil action. One of the marks of true freedom and compassion is self-reliance -- "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat forever." Parents who dearly love their children raise them specifically with the goal of teaching self-reliance. The twisted Mother Brain, however, sought to create dependence, not independence, in her children, and her aim was to use that dependence to bring about Algo's destruction. This is why Mother Brain's evil is perhaps the greatest seen in the entire series -- at least Lassic and Zio did not keep their tyrannic desires under a bushel basket!
After defeating Mother Brain, the Earthmen themselves then go on to reinforce that Mother Brain's desire for Algo's destruction came straight from them. At first the Earthmen seem to indicate that colonization was their motive: "In place of the home we have lost we will have to settle for this star." But if colonization was their true motive, why sit on a spaceship outside of Algo for over 400 years?
As the Earthmen leader continues, it becomes clear that colonization was by no means their true desire. If it was, why colonize a planet that is already inhabited? The Earthmen apparently left Earth with the nature-controlling technology later implemented in Algo, so why not pick any one of the thousands of uninhabited planets in the galaxy to transform into a new Earth? No, the Earthmen instead found Algo, and as they say, "We found the people here living in simple happiness" -- therefore, they fostered in those people dependence for their creation, the Mother Brain, with the end goal being not colonization but the destruction of Algo. If the Earthmen are not evil, then why did the Algoians' "simple happiness" offend them so much that they plotted the destruction of the system? If the Earthmen were just trying to help the Algoians as altruistic benefactors, why help with a system that is, in Rolf's words, "planning and controlling all aspects of the environment" when the Earthman leader himself admits that it was this exact kind of control that destroyed Earth? ("We took joy in controlling nature; we didn't realize we were destroying ourselves until it was too late.")
And make no mistake, the Earthmen were not after just one of Algo's planets, but the entire system itself. Note that their leader says, "We decided we wanted this planet" and remember that in Phantasy Star II, Algo, though technically a star system, is referred to as "the planet Algo." For those who feel a literal interpretation works better here, exactly what planet does "this planet" refer to? The full quote is, "Then we found Algo. We found the people here living in simple happiness. We decided we wanted this planet." No mention is made that specifies Palma, Motavia, or Dezoris. Further, this conversation takes place on a space ship outside of the Algo, so it can't be said that whatever planet they were on at the moment is "this planet." So by "this planet" do they mean Mota, because that is where Rolf and his friends are from? Do they mean Dezoris, because that is where Rolf and his friends teleported from? No, based on the context of the conversation, the planet being referred to is "the planet Algo" -- the entire system itself.
But after expressing their desire for "this planet," the ultimate example of the Earthmen's evil comes from their leader's own mouth. "And do you think you can stop us, we who destroyed Palm? You will die!" The Earthmen admit that they are responsible for the destruction of Palma and they tell Rolf that they'll kill him, too, if he stands in their way; I do not see how this can be interpreted as anything but grave evil.
An attempt may be made to twist the words from a threat into a warning, as if the Earthmen leader was saying that ending their kind benevolence towards Algo would cause Algoians to die as if from starvation. There are two problems with this interpretation. One, as has been documented above, the Earthmen's actions are not benevolent. Every action of Mother Brain towards the Algoians is designed in some way to chip away at their freedom and their will. Second, consider that if Rolf says that he does not want to know why Earth was destroyed, the leader says, "Since you are going to die anyway, you might as well know." Even if the leader's "You will die!" line is a warning and not a threat, here he is telling Rolf that he is a dead man. Almost like a James Bond villain, he is telling Rolf that he will never be leaving their space ship alive, so he might as well hear their story. This is a clear act of evil on the Earthmen's part.
Under the Influence?
With the actions of Mother Brain and the Earthmen found to be objectively evil, there is only one last argument that can be made that would wash away their guilt. The only way the Earthmen can commit such heinous acts but not be considered evil is if they carried out these actions against their will. And so the final argument made in defense of the Earthmen must now be addressed: were they mere pawns of Dark Force? For if they were, then certainly the blame for their actions must rest not on their shoulders but on Dark Force, who forced them into their actions through demonic possession.
The main argument made in support of Dark Force influence amongst the Earthmen is that the physical location where Rolf's battle with Dark Force aboard the space ship Noah takes place is exactly one level below Mother Brain's physical location, and in that battle, Dark Force hangs down from the ceiling. The argument is that such close physical proximity is a certain implication that Dark Force was at work influencing Mother Brain and her creators.
This argument falls apart, however, when one remembers that Rolf and his friends do not initially find Dark Force hanging from the ceiling but rather sealed inside a chest, Pandora's Box. Consider that in Phantasy Star IV, Dark Force clearly is exerting his influence over the space station Kuran, and he's discovered to literally be all over the station's main control console. Phantasy Star II's Dark Force, however, is not physically present until Rolf releases him.
Further, consider that in every other case of Dark Force possession we have seen in the entire Phantasy Star series, Dark Force's influence ends the moment either Dark Force or the person being controlled is defeated. In Phantasy Star I, the Governor is back to his normal self immediately after Darkfalz is defeated, and he clearly remembers his ordeal ("I'm sorry, I must have been possessed body and soul by evil.") In Phantasy Star IV, Kuran is able to be returned to normal immediately after Dark Force's defeat. Later, when a second Dark Force is encountered at Garuberk Tower, the effects of the tower on Dezoris -- the snowstorm and the strange illness -- are ended immediately after the demon is defeated. In Phantasy Star Online, Rico Tyrell's body is released as soon as Dark Falz is defeated. And finally, in Phantasy Star III, Rulakir's soul is again his own the moment he is defeated ("You have freed me; destroy Dark Force!")
But beyond all of that, even if Mother Brain and the Earthmen were still under the influence of Dark Force when Rolf confronted them, despite the fact that such a lasting influence is wholly inconsistent with Dark Force possession as seen in the other Phantasy Star games, Rolf carried with him a weapon that was capable of removing Dark Force's influence from a person. Remember: in Rolf's own battle with Dark Force, he and other members of his party find themselves under Dark Force's thrall, attempting to turn traitor and run from the battle, or going through others' items, or losing the confidence to use techniques. Each of these maladies is cured when, in the words of the game's narration, "The Neisword emits a bright light! The evil is dispelled!" So even if Dark Force did have influence over Mother Brain and the Earthmen, and even in the unlikely event that such influence extended past Dark Force's defeat, Rolf wielded the medicine that cured such brainwashing. Yet never in the battle with Mother Brain nor in the conversation with the Earthmen does the Neisword flash a light, resulting in the evil being dispelled. This is a clear indication that the Earthmen's evil was not artificial but was rather an ingrained evil the Neisword could not touch.
With all that being said, the very fact that a locked up Dark Force is found on the Earthmen's space ship is clear proof that sometime in the past they had contact with the demon. I believe the Phantasy Star II Dark Force is actually the Phantasy Star III Dark Force, sent back through time and across space to Earth with the Alisa III in Aron's ending of Phantasy Star III, and further, I believe the space ship Noah was constructed from the wreckage of the Alisa III and Dark Force was brought on board at that time. But as stated above, the mere presence of Dark Force aboard Noah is not enough to prove his influence was also at work, and based on the other Phantasy Star games, if he was exerting any influence even when locked up in Pandora's Box, that influence should have ended with his defeat.
Finally, I should also state for the record that I do not believe the Earthmen's evil should be taken to mean that our entire species is evil. Phantasy Star II is meant as a warning, and to nail home to the Earthling game player the idea that the warning is very real even if the story itself is fiction, men from Earth are revealed to be behind the evil. But even while our species has indeed produced its share of evil men -- Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Joseph Stalin -- it has also produced many, many good men -- Jesus of Nazareth, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi. And any interpretation of the evil of Phantasy Star II's Earthmen as a condemnation of our entire species can only be achieved by ignoring an important game fact: it is fellow humans, Rolf and his friends, who stand up to the Earthmen's evil and restore freedom to their people.
While Phantasy Star II makes it clear by using a group of thoroughly evil Earthmen as its villain that there can be incredible evil inside of us, it also makes it clear that we are also capable of incredible good. The choice is ours.
Other Theory Pages
The Two Phantasy Stars |
Separate But Equal
Phantasy Star II's Date |
Noah and Lutz
Character Birthdays |
Phantasy Star II's Ending |
Fate of the Worldships |
Phantasy Star Online Numans |
Phantasy Star Online's Date
Ragol is Not Earth |
Why the Earthmen Truly Are Evil |
The Whole New World
On the Characters and Story of Phantasy Star I |
Phantasy Star and the Raglan Scale
The True Message of Phantasy Star II