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September 21, 2015

Pokémon X&Y: Why Team Flare's Plan Sucks

So, I bought Pokémon X about four weeks ago. Great game. I might review it sometimes later. The gameplay is awesome, Pokémon-Amie is a lot of fun, I love a lot of the new species, I’m slightly warming up to Mega Evolutions (but very very very very very slightly; I at least went through the troubles of getting all the Mega Stones and use all the Mega Evolutions once in battle), and it’s probably the first Pokémon game in which I complete the Pokédex since the third Generation. Which, since it has almost twice as many Pokémon as there were back then, is quite the achievement. But there is one thing that annoys me: Team Flare.

Those outfits are so ugly.
You'd have to pay me to wear these.
Not that they'd fit on me, anyway.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They’re a creative group of villains; their leader, Lysandre, desires to keep the world in perpetual stasis and become immortal at the same time (in Pokémon X, anyway). Oh, and only members of his Team Flare will survive in this world, along with a few species of Pokémon. See, Lysandre starts off with honorable intentions; with the increasing population of the world and the decreasing number of resources, eventually a large part of mankind, and numerous species of Pokémon, will have to go, “if we want everyone to have enough resources”. *cough*bullshit*cough* So yeah, Lysandre’s plan is to trigger a genocide with an ancient superweapon that would annihilate every human in Kalos (and the rest of the world) who isn’t himself or a member of Team Flare, as well as many species of Pokémon living in the wilderness. Talk about extreme, huh? Considering the sheer number of similarities with the Nazis (which is kind of an obvious comparison, seeing as these games take place in the Poké-World version of Europe), it makes me wonder if the first Pokémon species they get rid of is Nosepass and Probopass. It also makes me wonder if Lysandre wasn’t a liberal arts major before helping Professor Sycamore… Okay, I try to lighten the mood with jokes here, because the rest of this article will be very dark.

But Lysandre’s plans suffer from plenty of problems. More than I can count, actually. First off, their Team, despite definitely becoming a threat after the seventh Gym in the game, is taken as a joke by most Kalosians. What's more, the only thing that even links Lysandre to Team Flare by that point is his flaming hair and his long-winded passionate diatribes that oddly enough seem to say just what the Flare grunts encountered so far seemed to imply. And even up to that point, Team Flare’s plans seemed just… weak. Like they were just looking for more money to pull off their bigger plans. Like an even lamer version of Team Rocket. Then again, I can probably understand why the Flares want to make money; after all, they had to shell out 5 million Pokédollars to join Team Flare…

Oh, right. I haven’t mentioned that so far, have I? To join Team Flare, you pay 5 millions to Lysandre. If Pokédollars are like Yens, and we apply real-life conversion rates to dollars, that still means about fifty thousand dollars. Calculate approximately between 20 and 50 Team Flare members, counting Grunts, Scientists and Admins, and that means Lysandre just increased his bank account by minimum one million dollars. Maybe two or three millions. You sure that’s not enough for your plans, Lysandre? No? Fine.

However, this also means that only rich people are allowed into Team Flare. And from what I can see, only young, pretty, white people can enter. Yep, no old people, no ugly people, no non-Caucasians! That’s the impression I get. The ugliest Team Flare member is scientist Xerosic, and that’s just because Lysandre needs him for his plans. As a poor human male of average appearance, I say: Fuck you, Lysandre. And I’ll let you know that poor/ugly people may have some of the most brilliant minds out there, be some of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet… and rich and pretty people, while they can be intelligent as well, will frequently be inane, obsessed about their looks or making more money, and will often have no compassion at all in their fellow man. Hell, in the Battle Chateau, there’s one Trainer who will insult your character’s clothing choices regardless of your level of style, and another will outright admit she married a rich man to have his money. Take a look at those Flares, probably rich brats who were practically born with a silver spoon in the mouth, who never had to do anything resembling work in their entire life. Take a look at them in high school, they were probably some elitist pompous dicks who refuse to give a fuck about the rest of the world. Being rich and pretty doesn’t give you any more of a right to live than being poor and average in appearance.

Besides, you know how, in real life, 5% of all the people own 95% of the resources? As in, the rich people already own most of what exists? So, basically, Lysandre’s plan just allows rich people to get even richer, no questions asked, and he basically allows them to waste all the resources without “all those pesky poor and ugly people” to worry about. Congrats! I doubt this will make much of a difference on how resources are wasted, considering the only humans left in Lysandre’s idea of a perfect world are the worst resource wasters out there.

Maybe I’m just optimistic or righteous or… ugh... “SJW” (that term needs to die), but I believe all humans should be equal regardless of race, gender, sexual preferences, wealth, etc. And now you say only entitled rich white people are allowed to live in your idea of a perfect world? Is it possible that you’re kinda elitist or racist, Lysandre? Then again, I guess that’s just par for the course in an allegory for Nazis. I guess the Flares at least have the decency not to do their deeds in white robes and pointy hats.

So, as I said earlier, their plan is to wipe out everyone who isn’t from Team Flare, and thus keeping only those who were rich enough to pay the entrance fee. Like I said, those are not necessarily the most righteous people out there. And judging by their in-game discussions, they really do seem to pride money and looks above all else. Hell, one of them is saying, in the exact same sentence before you battle him, that you should allow them their freedom of removing everebody else’s freedom. Hypocritical much? So, um, is that the main values you want in your perfect world, Lysandre? I mean, I know you want a world of never-ending beauty, but that’s the thing: You need interior beauty even more than you need physical beauty in order to make it work. You cannot achieve a perfect world with people who don’t care for others. You need righteousness. A world of jerks is not a world that will stand for long.

Then again, I'm sure Lysandre is insane. No one who decides to
go all Doc Ock for the final battle can be a sane individual.

Okay, so that’s my first problems with your plans. Next, let’s assume you somehow succeed in your plan. You used Xerneas, or Yveltal, to power up the superweapon, you annihilated most of mankind as well as a large portion of the Pokémon species. What do you do now? Do you just sit back on your laurels and watch? Get ready for a horror movie.

First off, all the people with knowledge in different jobs? Gone. Imagine, for a moment, that many Team Flare members had, say, butlers, servants, cooks. They weren’t part of Team Flare. They weren’t rich. They’re dead now. Good luck to each Team Flare member who never manipulated a vacuum cleaner in their life and who suddenly needs to clean their gigantic mansion by themselves. Good luck cooking your food if you don’t know how.

Did you clog the toilet? Do you need a plumber? You’re not in luck, they’re all dead. Will you go buy a new toilet instead? Fine then, where will you buy it? Who will ring you up at the cash register? Every cashier is most likely dead. Who will install it for you? All craftsmen are most likely dead. Who will stir up your smoothie at Staryubucks? You guessed it; people with that expertise, they’re dead. Who will groom your Furfrou? The groomers are dead! And that’s if you kept the Furfrou species alive, too! Who will serve you at the restaurant, they’re dead! Who will heal your Pokémon at the Pokémon Center? The nurses are probably all dead! And if you need construction workers because your mansion is crumbling to pieces after years and years of not repairing it because you’re not able to? WELL, GUESS WHAT, TEAM FLARE: THEY’RE ALL FUCKING DEAD TOO!

Imagine, for a moment, that I'm speaking to a ypothetical Team Flare grunt. Yes, you, Team Flare guy or gal. Imagine that Lysandre’s plan succeeds. Have you ever thought about every single person in your family who wasn’t in Team Flare? Every person you met who you may have cared for at some point in your life? Well, guess what? THEY’RE FUCKING DEAD! Have fun mourning your dead uncles, aunts, cousins, school friends, everyone you cared for, even a tiny little bit, before you joined Team Flare! And if you’re unlucky, maybe even your own parents and siblings are dead too! Yeah, you didn’t think about that, did you? Have fun finding enough coffins for everyone… And if not, well, I hope you can build them- Oh right, you can’t. Have fun seeing all the rotting corpses of the huge percentage of mankind that you have killed. Enjoy your new world!

Oh, but that won’t last long. You see, the ecosystem in Pokémon is fragile. Every species has its quirks, its uses for mankind. Here, in Kalos alone: Mamoswine helps humans cross Route 17. Rhyhorn helps humans cross Route 9. Numerous Pokémon species learn Surf and Fly, which are vital in order to reach certain places or to travel quickly around the world map. Team Flare’s plan won’t just kill most humans; it’s gonna kill a ton of Pokémon species. Problem is, the ecosystem of the Pokémon world needs all of these. What are the uses for mankind? Well, if all Combee vanish, who will make honey? If all Fighting-type Pokémon disappear, who will do the physical work that humans are incapable of? Who will take the remaining people across the routes of spiked rocks, or the frozen routes? Who are Team Flare members going to play with? They will no longer be able to enjoy all the little joys of playing with Pokémon. Worse even, if this operation annihilates multiple Legendary Pokémon, it’s quite possible that many elements of the Pokémon ‘verse (the Elements, time, space, antimatter, life, death, etc.) would get torn apart, effectively destroying not only the planet, but possibly the entire universe… but let’s go back to more normal theories about the ecosystem.

Now, let’s imagine that the superweapon destroyed all the “ugly” Bug-type species of the Pokémon world. What are the Bird Pokémon going to eat? And if the Bird Pokémon are unable to adapt to this, and they end up dying, what will the next species on the food chain eat? And after those die, what will the next ones eat? It goes all the way to humans. Imagine this: So many Pokémon species have been utterly annihilated, and since some of them were parts of other species’ meals, those species die, and the species after that die too. Soon enough, the ecosystem is in grave danger, more and more species vanish, or worse even, leave carcasses all over the Routes. And all the Pokémon who were vital in helping humans are also gone. Many pillars of human society will crumble. Not that they weren’t already down, what with most humans dead and stuff, but now it’ll get even worse. Simply put, most human activities in the Pokémon world involve Pokémon in a way or another. You’d think that’s obvious, but apparently Lysandre didn’t think that through. Which brings me to my next point: What are the ex-members of Team Flare going to eat, when the Pokémon species are dead? Will they be forced to eat the remaining few species, whether they’re edible or not? What will happen when the food starts running low?

And like I said, destroying so many Pokémon species will unbalance the ecosystem, badly. Imagine now what happens when storms aren’t kept in check by Groudon, Kyogre or Rayquaza. And now tsunamis come into Kalos. Or tornadoes. Or intense drought. The ex-Team Flare guys probably never had to deal with stuff like that. They probably don’t even know how they could protect themselves from these disasters. So now, not only is there not a single person to serve your rich white ingrate asses, the world around will slowly wither and die because everything that kept it alive is dead!

Oh, wait, wait, I’m not done. There’s more horror. First off, the economy is down. See, it’s like that guy, Syndrome in The Incredibles. He said he wanted to make everyone special, so that nobody was… Now look, the only reason it was so important to be rich for Team Flare grunts was, first, that these Flares had higher buying power than everyone else, and they could brag about it, too. But if everyone left in the world is rich, that means nobody is rich anymore. And with the economy down due to nobody else being alive, guess what? This money… It’s worthless now! Or rather, it would be, but assholes like that with so much money just don’t understand that humans are more important than personal gain. So what’s the next step, you think?

Before you know it, the richer members of Team Flare chase down their members who are less wealthy, because that’s the poor people in this new world. And then they take that money. I did mention earlier that Flares had little to no compassion, I doubt they’d show any for their fellow, poorer Flares. And then, there’s a new class of poor, and those will probably be attacked, too, because this is the system put in place by Team Flare, since the very beginning: Kill the poor. No matter how poor they are. Even if by the standards of life before the superweapon, they were rich. And Lysandre sure made the dumbest idea of all to keep only the prettier and richer people on his side. Because guess what? Those people who are still pretty, but not as much as everyone else? Yeah, no, they won’t like what happens next. It’s probably gonna devolve into a full-blown war between factions created among what used to be Team Flare.

Lather, rinse, repeat, until almost everyone is dead, either killed by another Flare, or from hunger, or because of accidental wounds and diseases that nobody can treat anymore (the nurses are dead!), or because of natural disasters. Or maybe many Flares committed suicide because all the people they cherished have died by their Team’s hand, and the rotting corpses are still there for them to see. Yeah, imagine that for a moment. And now, I suppose Lysandre is the only one who chose to be immortal. Because of course, he’d keep the best to himself. Sure, in-canon right now he’s either dead, or immortal and stuck under tonnes of debris, incapable of breathing, living, eating, drinking, for as long as he’s gonna be stuck there… which could be millennia… but that’s canon. I’m making theories on what would have happened if he had won. After long enough, chances are he’d be the only Team Flare member left on the planet. Suffering, because he destroyed the entire fucking world piece by piece, and now the Pokémon world is a desolate wasteland with the remnants of what used to be mankind, with no Pokémon in sight, and the only other human around is AZ. I hope you like loneliness. That, or I hope you like being able to speak to a single other human being for the rest of time. That’s if time even still exists by that point. I figure Dialga would just get bored of our world and freeze everything in permanent time stasis, without any chance for life to start anew. See? You’ll get it, Lysandre. Your world frozen in time. You’ll probably be the only one to know about it… but hey, you chose your path in life.

And that’s why I sincerely wish we could just skip the Pokémon battle so my character could put a bullet in Lysandre’s head before his plans move forward. In fact, let’s do that for every member of Team Flare. Let’s go all Inglorious Basterds on them. Team Flare seems like a silly thing, but they’re not. They’re human garbage, the best example of depravity coming from entitled jerks who believe the world is theirs, because they never learned empathy. We already knew they were gonna do something horrible to the world. But this little guesswork takes it much farther. I’m fully aware that this is merely speculation. Theories based on what I know of the Pokémon world, mixed with some knowledge of the real world and how the physical, psychological and natural principles of the real world would act on the Pokémon universe, creating a hypothesis on what would have happened had Lysandre achieved his goal. So take it all with a grain of salt.

And you know what the worst part is? Team Flare really isn’t that interesting in the end. Sure, it has a charismatic leader who governs over a small group entirely made of assholes and jerks with no regards for human life, and they score a 9 out of 10 on the Evil Plan-O-Meter (though, prior to the seventh Gym, they were at 2, between trash can-tipping and Furfrou-kicking). But you know what’s scary about Team Flare? Their thoughts of killing the poor, I am convinced that there are rich people, in the real world, who actually believe that. I’m sure there are folks out there who honestly think that wiping the planet of everyone poorer and uglier than them would be a good idea. With how depraved mankind can be, with racism, misogyny, antisemitism, misanthropism and hatred of difference, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Add to this the allegory for Nazis, and we get one Hell of a mix.

But they’re still pretty bad. Sure, I wish I could kill them all in-game, but Team Flare is still a pretty boring team by the end. (Hell, if they prioritize beauty over everything else, why were almost all the Flare grunts using ugly Pokémon? Good question, isn’t it?) Compare with Team Rocket, who were basically a mix between the mafia and a terrorist cell. They had no fucks to give about Legendary Pokémon (in the games, anyway), they just wanted money, and too bad if they had to kidnap or kill humans and steal or kill Pokémon to achieve that goal. Now, see the teams of Gen 3. Team Magma wanted drought so that humanity could spread further, which is pretty stupid considering the humans of the Pokémon world need Pokémon to survive and the ecosystem would be all kinds of screwed; and it’s almost the exact opposite with Team Aqua, who wants to cause a flood to supposedly help Pokémon, except this would lead to the exact same problem. See a recurring aspect? None of them thinks their plan all the way through. Cyrus of Team Galactic was pretty straightforward; a universe devoid of personal thought, which is an outright terrifying thought for a communications guy like I am. But he treated his underlings poorly; he seems to have mostly picked idiots who wished to join him and who didn’t quite understand what was going to happen. Cyrus was kinda smart like that. Even Cypher were pretty interesting in their own way, what with their boss being a highly-ranked official…

As for Ghetsis and Team Plasma, they at least tried to hide their motives under a layer of righteousness. Even some of the grunts probably honestly believed in their goal. Freeing all Pokémon from their human owners. Sure sounds like a version of PETA, doesn’t it? The most interesting part of Team Plasma is Ghetsis, who’s by far the greatest monster in the entire series, what with manipulating a boy from childhood, and almost into adulthood, into believing that Pokémon should be freed from humans. All the while, on the side he’s leading this villainous team that wishes to steal all the Pokémon so that THEY are the only ones using them, and thus they can bully everyone else, including the governments of Unova and the other countries. Oh, and of course, Ghetsis being so damn insane also helps. I mean, no one in their right mind would dress like this…

And when he returns in Black 2 and White 2, he’s wised up on his clothing, but he's still insane and dangerous, and he’s one of the few Team leaders who decides to bypass the Pokémon duel and goes straight to trying to murder the player character.

Compared to this, Team Flare is pretty boring. Just a bunch of rich white jackasses who decide they’re better than everyone else, just because they’ve got more green in their wallet. It makes them boring, but memorable nonetheless, because of just how awful their view on the world is. As for their leader: Lysandre is too passionate, too calm and collected, and it’s really hard to believe that an ex-Pokémon Professor aide isn’t able to foresee all the problems his “master plan” would cause in the end. He’s supposed to be a smart guy, right? I just can’t believe he never tried to theorize what would happen after his plan succeeded. Lysandre may be smart, but wow, he’s also incredibly stupid. In fact, I can’t believe he never noticed that the members of his Team were all terrible people who wouldn’t lend a hand in a “perfect world”. He dies; good riddance. And Team Flare is awful. That’s all I can say.

Now, why am I posting this today? Because, when the time comes to review Pokémon X, I don’t want to spend an entire part talking about my hatred of Team Flare. That’s done now. I won’t spend longer on this. If you’ve managed to read through this, well, thanks to you for listening to my long-winded rambling. At least it’s done.

Sorry for the horror story.

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