Bid Me Time to Return
Trowa is basically the reason I did this paper. A reason yes, but not silence. Admittedly an enigma obfuscated by speculation, dogma, and semiotic differences in interpretation of even the simplest scenes, but still not silence. He is a mysterious fellow though, isn’t he?
I believe the slight (but not wrong mind you) conception of Trowa as “the one that doesn’t talk” comes from the fact he’s very careful with his words when compared to the other pilots and somewhat soft-spoken. It’s hard to imagine him hooting loudly at the showing of an old B-movie or crying helpless nonsense as a friend leaves him. That’s just not Trowa. He does talk though, but only when he needs to or has had time to consider what he’s going to say. It’s easy to wonder what’s going on in his mind as he pauses before moving his lips.
But then what does his moniker of “The Silencer” mean? Well, to silence someone is to ensure they never speak, but the idea goes far beyond a simple binding of the mouth- it harkens to images of people being locked away for even murdered. Trowa the killer? Surely he is more than that or he would not evoke such controversy or devotion.
If something is silent, it is not conveying any information. It is hiding what it knows. Perhaps it is forcing itself not to speak. Trowa really has no choice but to be silent on some of the issues of his past. He doesn’t know who he is or where he came from. Such basic elements of life elude him. But is there something more? What is he hiding behind his mask? What if it’s more than anyone ever imagined
So much of the show seems to revolve around Trowa. Not the mystery of Trowa, but Trowa as he facilitates the show- as a hero. He seems to be the only one who approaches amity with Wufei, he saved Quatre from the bleak oblivion of madness (Quatre already having manifested a distinct fascination with him as displayed in their encounters with San Francisco). He is the one who infiltrates Oz and attempts to decipher it for the good of the pilots; he destroys Deathscythe and thusly chooses Duo’s fate for him. Yet, Duo is also involved later on with the middle episodes which involve the search for Trowa… and yet one wonders if such operations would have been engaged for the other pilots, who have occasionally vanished themselves (though admittedly under completely different circumstances.) He is the one who saves Heero and manages to best him at points.
Now let us think about this- what if Trowa is really a better fighter or at least a better SOLDIER than Heero? Surprisingly, he manifests a more clear persona of the “perfect soldier” of Japanese popular myth as he is able to slide from one disguise to another without the outward guise of emotion. I quote, “Trowa is the best soldier, the perfect soldier if you will. When fighting, he doesn't operate on emotion in the way that Wufei or Duo do; he doesn't have an agenda such as revenge (Wufei) or wanting to prove himself (Quatre); he doesn't blindly react to situations or people, nor is he so single-minded that it gets in the way of logic (Heero). He thinks things through, he isn't brash or overconfident in his abilities (Duo^^), he doesn't boast, etc. He is calm and rational and steady. He's like the cornerstone of the group. An old soul.” (Murasaki, Letters)
As one can see from this example, it is both the plot of the series and the character of Trowa that seems to actually bestow on him such a title. Trowa’s “character” if you will is one of the most powers, not only within the confines of the show, but within all stories.
Speaking of the powerful and the sibylline, get a good picture in your head of what a magician is…
Now, would I sound like a totally fool if I sat here and told you Trowa is a magician archetype? Just hear me out.
The magician has two particular traits: a power and knowledge.
Knowledge first. It’s his business to know secret, hidden things: Trowa knows what he needs to blow up Deathscythe and Lady Une is at once impressed- she recognizes that for every ruler there should be a magician. (It may also be worth mentioning that during this training session he is candidate Number one-perhaps a clue that not only is he the best of the wannabe officers, but the best period.) He has to teach Heero how to operate Heavyarms even though Heero already has a Gundam. He knows Heero is pulling his gun in the scene with the Mercurious and the Veyate. His combat expertise is astounding in general and constitutes too many examples for me to cite here.
Magicians are also, for the most part, initiated into their craft by elders or themselves. Trowa’s elders are the mercenaries- well, not everyone in the world was “privileged” to hang around with them from such a young age and learn. I’d like to remind you at this point that there is *NO* sex in Gundam W. Rape is an incongruous initiation for a magician that obviously doesn’t deal with sex in any way. Such trials are meant to make stronger, not to break down. Since my little sub-agenda has been exposed, I’ll move on at this point.
Magicians are the mature form of the precocious child. He was ten and he was fighting like he was in his thirties in his Ep 0, and with a perfect deadly calm. In later years, magicians assume an unusual trait for masculine archetypes; like female archetypes (say the non-self-determined heroine of early literature) they generally have someone to “obscure” them. Merlin “stood behind” kind Arthur. Trowa “stands behind” Heero. The fact this is in general a womanly trait may explain this subconscious desire people have to attach other “girlish” attributes to Trowa as in the works of doujinshi circle X3. [I do not hold in any way that this is wrong as plainly there is some logic to it. Read what you want, loves.]
Trowa was also the first to realize exactly what was going on in EW- there’s wisdom for you. At once he also adopts a disguise to eliminate the threat, which is of course indicative of magick users of most sorts.
The second major trait of the magician is his power. It could be argued that Trowa’s functioning in battle is his power, as clearly it exerts a forceful and nearly mystical on opponents. There is no way to confirm without a doubt if he has some Newtype ability not tagged within the series (as it may have been added “by accident” and none of us are in the mood to track down the producers) but it goes along with his archetype and the general mode of Gundam Series at the time Wing went into production. Please see the Newtype Section if you are confused at this point.
Suppose Trowa was psychometric. For those of you not interested in paranormal pop culture (and don’t feel ashamed if you’re not- this is really obscure pseudo-psyc stuff) psychometry is the ability to pick up an object and sense things about it- it’s past, it’s moods, perhaps even be given premonitions by it. If Trowa becomes a possessor of this unusual sixth sense, several questions and plotholes melt away, and in a show with… well, no offense, but an awful lot of plotholes, even paranormal musings can be beneficial if they start to clear things up a bit…
Having touched Heero while tending him perhaps, he also gained some insight into his combat technique, and is then easily able to show him up on occasion.
Power can bestow knowledge, as it does in Trowa’s case: he knew Heero wasn’t dead after he self destructed in Episode 10 after displaying an exception interface with his Heavyarms and lifting itty-bitty Heero with those great, big hands. Mages are of course known for their various magickal implements- it is of course the Heavyarms, is not the most powerful out of the bunch- but perhaps for him it functions on a mystic level. After all, he’s the only one who knows how to use it properly at the start. One theory pertaining to his magehood is that Heavyarms is a conduit he can feel through- feel what his enemies are experiencing that is, and being wise he knew this thus explaining the fondness he first expressed for it in EW. (It enhances his combat prowess but at the price of it also transmitting emotional matter better than more conventional arms.) It’s also a distinct possibility then that one, this would explain why he’s not as attached to his gundam as the others after having spent enough time with it to realize what it does to him, and two, his power in general, to pick up emotions on occasion could have had a hand in his demure persona.
He can feel through other weapons too perhaps. Haven’t you ever wondered why he started to cry in the episode where he destroys Deathscythe? “I wonder if he felt Duo's utter grief over the loss of his beloved 'Scythe, and tears sprang involuntarily to his own eyes in sympathy.” (Murasaki, Letters) Tears are a very physical reaction, and of course, incongruous with the general manner in which Trowa carries himself. The body reacts where the heart can not.
Notice Duo touched him at the circus before he started to shiver. He was shivering with terror even in the presence of someone so jovial. What if at Duo’s touch, he suddenly saw HIMSELF fighting, or felt what Duo felt during their battles or when Deathscythe was destroyed. Not knowing he had ever been a soldier at that point, the experience would have been more than sufficiently terrifying. The shivering then, the quaking. The link between Trowa’s abilities and his body is undeniable. Not only is his form the general input for the premonitions and flashbacks it provides, but it also serves as the expression of whatever emotions he may not be able to otherwise express. (He didn’t really do anything until Duo laid a hand on him. There may be other reasons since it was Duo after all, but I’m going to make you wait until the Arthurian section is up.
So why did he shiver the episode before while putting away Catherine’s things? Quite simply- her clothes, her pain.
But why did one of his reactions have to be shivering? Surely this is appropriate to whatever memories he may have pertaining to the time he was floating in space, but there are deeper, metaphorical meanings perhaps buried under it. The cold Trowa feels may be the cold of emotion- he who has lived a life involuntarily seeping pain and hatred and sadness from nearly whatever he touched, lives in a veritable void of negativity. In some small way he may well be lonely, a distraction that could easily destroy him in the heat of a battle. And who can he tell about his telepathy? No one…
Mages have in more recent works, been notoriously alienated due to their powers.
“I wonder why Trowa attacked
Quatre when they first met--after all, before his arrival, Trowa was quite
resigned to die. Why the change?” (Murasaki, Letters)
Quatre and Trowa are intended, at the very least, to play off of one another in the series. The set up for this is that oh-so infamous music scene in Episode 4. The duet. Two playing together as one. A song that sounds out of place if presented by one violin or by one flute. The interweaving of notes is the interweaving of their respective powers and souls. This symbolic ramification is what makes the sequence so memorable and convincing for crowds of shonen-ai affiliates. One could even go so far as to take it for pseudo-love-making (all together now: “Freud!”). It’s more than even that though- from that point on and even before in some ways, they execute a delicate and sublime duet not of music but of interactions and effects with subtle intonations of a romantic (as in “pertaining to the characteristics of the works of romanticism) medieval adventure.
Trowa begins his part of the adventure something like this- he is a lone wizard, he has lost the only semblances of security he has ever possessed (his family, the mercenaries, his part of what the real Trowa was planing). All he really has are a name that isn’t really his, a gundam that isn’t really his and oceans upon oceans of memories. Being psychometric, his prowess with any weapon would have one drawback of course. No matter how excellent he could be with a weapon, he could still feel its past. He knows only how to survive as a soldier, he feels he has a duty and he can go about that duty with a flawless chill, but it’s pure torture.
“I sometimes get the impression during those first few episodes that he wanted to die, that he was so traumatized by what he had seen and had done in his childhood, that he perhaps felt it was only fitting that he did; that so many people had died around him and at his own hands, but he managed to survive. I would imagine that someone in that position would wonder why he had been so lucky, and others had not. Why had fate brought him to that point, to live through hell, and emerge from it, only to be sent right back into the thick of it once more? Maybe with every battle, he went in with the vague hope that for once fate would favor him and give him release.” (Murasaki, Letters)
So Trowa, alone, torn between a wish to die because of what fate has sentenced him to and a desire to fulfil what destiny has in store for him, is suddenly saved… by a complete stranger. For someone who had been on the brink of the death he perhaps had wanted, something like that would be enough to inspire anger. Thusly, Trowa lashes out despite being more or less disarmed at the point in question. “What if, when Quatre arrived and there was that bit of hesitation, Trowa had a vision about the person in the gundam? I think that sort thing happened, that he saw that the pilot of the strange gundam was going to make him want to live, would give him a reason NOT to die. He was on the verge of being saved from his despair, and he wasn't quite sure if he wanted to be. So his attack on the battlefield was an attempt to push Quatre away, just as his cold reception of him in San Francisco was.” (Murasaki, Letters)
First though, we are shown Quatre, while his Sandrock is entangled with Heavyarms, deciding he should be the one to surrender. What runs through Trowa’s mind at that moment? Well, he senses Quatre’s decision to give up, and makes his own decision- he is the one who went against a more innocent, good person, he is the one who wanted to die. He will surrender- not only to Quatre, but perhaps to the quest that Quatre will assume as soon as they have met- to help him.
And you wondered why they came out of the cockpits at the same time…
It may also be worth mentioning at this point that this is also one of the only, of not THE only shots in the series where Trowa’s palms are visible- an interesting capitulation to Quatre, a revealing act that… sigh, yeah, you could even take that as being sexual if you wanted to.
The very next episode, we see the two of them happily engrossed in their duet, but if I may go back to that for a spell, that scene is rife with little semiotic tags you’ve probably already interpreted, but here they are, one at a time for you. First of all- it takes place in an oasis, a location of lush green in the middle of the desert, and it’s specifically, Quatre’s oasis. Quatre is Trowa’s green calm, some sort of peace for him (though as a soldier it is probably that he feels more a need to protect Quatre than to become close to him in any way). The first shot of Trowa in this sequence, he is standing off to the side, eyes downcast, holding himself as if he is ashamed- a position not generally indicative of the perfect fighter or the magician that Trowa is.
Trowa, at this point, is ashamed of his body (because it’s linked to his powers which are linked to his history of killing) and this is exemplified with his unusual pose. Eventually, he goes over to the cabinet and retrieves the flute whereupon their metaphysical conversation begins. Notice how he plays the flute for no one else, only Quatre. It is a beautiful but trivial thing, and he may only show what beautiful and trivial things which exists in him to Quatre because Quatre is there to help him. First, of course, he must acknowledge this, accept that Quatre does not need to be protected of shied away from and that internal strife, though not resolved until the end of the series, eases here. At least he can join in the song, at least he has admitted the two of them can communicate on the plane of music.
And Rashid’s comment about their Gundams at this point is superfluously eloquent at this point. The subconscious message has already reached the audience.
And now into the star-fraught depths of one of the most important events in the series- the 0 System. Probably the most dramatic example not only of Trowa’s interaction with Quatre, but of Trowa’s powers in general, though it also has an eerie parallel later on that is mentioned much less often. For now though- the 0 Episodes in which Trowa casts a spell.
Despite the presence of the colony and backup dolls, the sequence is imbued with an odd, surrealistic loneliness. Already it has been established that Heero, now prisoner test pilot of Oz, is wholly at the mercy of Trowa, who holds the key to his self-destruct device. [I’d also like to mention at this point that it was Trowa who brought Duo the updated schematics for Deathscythe Hell- bringer of knowledge, possessor of power.]
Almost at once, Trowa engages in a typically-mage like behavior. He, for a time, allows Heero to battle the raving Quatre alone, while he himself hangs suspended in the background, despite being previously very much in charge of the whole situation. And notice Trowa is in the Veyate as opposed to the Mercurious. While the more offensive model would have been more appropriate for the fighter Heero, it has been given to him instead. Probably because it is blue. Red is a color for fighting, blue is a color for mystery. Once again, we are shown battle sequences with no particular indication of what is running through Trowa’s mind.
Until that moment he stands before the semi-disable Mercurious as Quatre fires on it- appearing out of nowhere to save- yet another amazingly mage-like behavior. Not only that, but the blast perhaps sufficient to take out a colony wall doesn’t vaporize him. Well-made mech or not it’s still quite interesting he wasn’t fried at once.
At once, Heero takes from the Veyate it’s only weapon and tells Trowa to flee the sparkling scrap. Yes, I said sparkling, the start of Trowa’s spell which he has been contemplating during the combat. He knows now what can save his companion. With a swirl of cyan Vernier exhaust he climbs upward towards the sky that does not exist in space and he speaks calmly and clearly for over a minute. How like a soft, soothing chant his words are and beast is indeed calm.
Raving Quatre is suddenly still, looking nearly enchanted then removes his helmet, blinking like a child in sudden sunlight. By removing the helmet, he removes a symptom of the madness which ends only the magician’s words. Can you honestly picture anyone else being able to impart such wisdom or save Quatre at all?
The spell ends with a blinding flash as Veyate goes up in smoke. Without the chant, Quatre raves again, but he raves like a human without the accursed calm of his prior madness. He is restored but the spell has destroyed it’s caster, if of course, you choose to take madness as a spell.
The semiotic implication of this scene goes far beyond further proof that Trowa is a wizard archetype. The audience understands form this point the war will not be ended only by combat. Heero, the fighter of the pair, could not save Quatre. Only words could. The tongue is mightier than the sword. In crisis we speak and we are released from the tangles of our hate and pain.
And of course there is the obvious that Trowa sacrificed himself for Quatre. What proves ironic is that in the start of the series, we saw him as one engrossed in a wish to die, and he ultimately surrenders his life to the one who saved him. Somewhere along the line we know he changed. It is the dramatic irony of fiction that the one who dies must not only provide a revelation at their parting.
In a way, this is one life for two- Trowa for Quatre and himself.
See the faint smile playing on his lips? How often does Trowa smile? Why
choose that one moment out of all the spring days he’s witnessed?
By rationing smiles, he makes them things to be treasured. He puts the meaning back in them. Is he glad he has finally saved one person for all that he has slain? Is he glad that he knows something new about himself in some way? Or is it only the slight, sated smirk before dying so common to film? We know that it is something- our minds tell us it is something.
It is that he and Quatre are destined to affect each other, however you wish to take that.
[And if you were wondering, no, none of this is diminished by the fact he isn’t really dead ~_^]
First of all, the fact that Trowa is alive constitutes once again some small magick on it’s own part.
But why did he loose his memory? Well, so he could get it back and be all dramatic, but once again, I ask you to wait for further explanation.
The sheer surrealism of the “circus” scene, as it has become known, is striking. A circus in space is the very definition of incongruous juxtaposition of subject matter. The audience sees the characters on the ground, and yet feels as if they are floating for they know not if they should latch onto one set of images or the other. Quatre is the only thing one can possibly “hold on to” so the audience goes with him, feels what he feels. By being the only grounding Quatre nearly forces the audience to BECOME him. Which is part of the reason this scene is so powerful.
Trowa is near-ghostly in this sequence- we see him, but we hardly hear him. He is removed from the audience, powerless within the context of the story. He is not ‘Trowa’ he is a little boy named Triton, easily made to cower and needing to be tended (emphasized by the later sequence where Catherine not only saves him in a motherly fashion but holds him like a baby). Oddly, at the end of the reunion scene, Catherine is not near Trowa when his regular persona begins to resurface, nor is she in any way depicted tending him as he spasms. The regular persona then, can not only be assumed to be painful to a great extent, but as we saw no reactions like this previously in the presence of Quatre, the implication is that this regular persona *needs* Quatre.
Also, later on, please not the peace that assumes his features when he resolves to follow the friend he can’t remember. On a spiritual level, this is what infers he DOES no Quatre (besides he cryptic words… “I know he’s crying”.) The audience is eve treated to one of his rare smiles, though it is for Cathy, not Quatre. I hold that this is a piteous smile. He is forgiving her in a way, for though she DID cradle and protect him, she can not be his power or suppress it, but he still cares for her and always will.
He is perhaps, inferring he is in love with someone else…
You can stop waiting now.
We now have the parallel to the infamous 0 sequence. Parallelism is a unique device, proving both stupefying and soothing when used as a device in literature and fiction of all sorts- it calms and uneases the reader at the same time.
Oddly, one hardly hears mention of the 0 repeat in GW fandom. It is nearly completely overshadowed by the first incident, barring the occasional mention of it on TQ sites. The scene in question, is of course, the one where Trowa regains his memory.
And it is nearly the same as the one with raving Quatre! Only the two have switched roles, it is Quatre protecting Trowa this time.
The precursor to this scene is that of Trowa, in a slightly earlier episode, gaping at the colony Zechs winged with eyes as wide and fearful as a child’s. He looks more frightened than Duo even. Plainly, we would not have expected anything like this from him when he was fully in control of his memory. This quick shot, and perhaps his reunion with Heavyarms (who he doesn’t recognize) lull the audience into thinking that Trowa, is just the littlest bit helpless. But the audience, once again, gets slapped in the face.
No sooner have we convinced ourselves that Trowa will not do anything without being coddled, than he pops off in Wing 0 after Catherine. Oddly enough though, he almost look as if he’s seeing her for the first time when he spies her picture on the monitor. Trowa tends to have very unspoken bonds with people. He doesn’t say her name, doesn’t say anything to anyone. He only has to repay a debt to *her*…
And then he goes berserk. I must say, I do love these 0 system visions. They’ve got this wonderful PSD camp to them and… they actually mean things. OK, everyone got the symbolism of blowing Cathy away? No? Oh… well, basically, it has many meanings. Most obviously, that if he continues to do what he is doing how he’s doing it, he will fail. He will destroy what he loves. There are several vaguely sinister interpretations to it as well. Mainly, that he is being told he mustn’t worry about Cathy while on his quest- he must end her memory to go on. No one said the 0 system was a nice little fortune teller.
Cathy isn’t exactly brought up after this episode though…
But just as in the original 0 episodes, we are shown one of the pair calling to the other as they wheel around each other in the heat of battle. Quatre though is more offensive than Trowa was- he’s shouting, he fired on the mobile doll instead of standing between Trowa and it. Perhaps, he is amending some of the small flaws of the original act as he repays his debt. Though as he speaks, curiously, Trowa has another spasm.
Following this, there is a brief shot of an outline of Trowa filled with roiling red and blue nebulas. Red for blood, blue for mystery; red for Mercurious, blue for Veyate and how he ended up here. Stars, one more sign of the mage, we know the ‘real’ Trowa is returning, but his face, except for the eyes… is clear. Is Trowa nothing but his power? We wonder…
Then there are the flashbacks- Wing 0, Heero wounded, Catherine punching him, his surrender to Quatre, and Quatre’s smiling face. The sum of Trowa.
Theories of them? Well, perhaps these are all some gentle reminders of his humanity, and encouragement’s for him to survive, to not destroy himself in some way. Wing 0 makes beast of a man, he preserved Heero, Catherine and Quatre preserved him.
[“It is established perhaps though that Trowa considered Heero to be one of the ones whom he wanted to protect. Perhaps Trowa was sensing Heero’s inner struggle, could feel how lost he felt inside, and he that was a secondary reason why he just couldn't let Quatre kill Heero then, since Heero had not yet achieved his true potential?” (Murasaki, Letters) Which would put Heero then among one of those he wanted to protect, meaning Trowa really was the better fighter.]
Perhaps they are hierarchical- The 0 Episode was somewhat significant to him, but it’s not at the top of things to bother him. He is to stand behind Heero, but not before he guards his loved ones (perhaps Catherine represents all people, as so many were terrified before the scene where she strikes him) and… once again the shot of the palms. Perhaps he is to give himself over to Quatre once again then.
Quatre at least we see now, must be some sort of calming familiar to him- “He has talked him out of his madness just as Trowa had talked him out of his earlier bout.” (Murasaki, Letters). Indeed, at the end of all this, Trowa has in a way, returned: the world literally goes back into focus (and absurdly enough, his world is the control panel for Wing) he is back holding the handle of a mech, which represents control but also, has an eerie hint of his episode in the arctic, where he was unable to pry his hand from the controls of Heavyarms. He becomes autonomous (running off to fight on his own), he plays chess, he reads, he observes. He has all the cool, the strategy, the wisdom of a sorcerer alone. (The cafeteria scenes of Peacemillion are also priceless from a semiotic standpoint: using them and the 0 hallucinations, one can actually learn as much about the characters as from watching the entire bloody series five times. At least I think so, and this would explain the affinity people have for them.)
One final interpretation of the visions though would be sea’s “ I still see it as past, present future, about the flashback.” Which then, would put Heero in the past, as if he has no intention of following him anymore (at least from a philosophical standpoint), Cathy as his present duty and Quatre as his future, which he is, fanfic speculations beyond the rest of the series aside.
Trowa’s powers restored, he is given a typical wizardly station for the final episodes. It is he, who in the end, dissects the mobile doll control… and he does it with the archaic implement of a knife no less, when others, namely Heero, perhaps would have found it less time consuming to blast the thing. The heart of the threat is taken out quietly by one man with a VERY symbolic instrument (most likely signifying the past or serving as an enchanted weapon here, but it’s too much to go into for a few little frames) while the battle rages outside and Trowa, is not even close to there. He protected his friends, he saved as much of the day as Heero, who of course, overshadows him with his fancy plummeting to earth and blasting things bit. [Not that that wasn’t significant, mind you. Please see Heero’s section if it’s up.]
Also of note, is a slight plothole several doujinshika have taken advantage of: what happens between when we see Trowa carrying off the wounded Quatre and the appearance of Trowa and Quatre when the final call to arms is raised? Quatre was not able even to hover about Libra on his own presumably not to long ago, and somehow, after Trowa carried him off, he finds the strength not only to pilot a gundam, but to smile at least twice. Interesting, Trowa, dear. What powers have you wrought?
Trowa’s names have been like small shields for him. Without them, he is wholly vulnerable. He is the wizard changeling who mingles among men disguised as a man; he switches forms as easily as Merlin. In some ways, the changing of names… almost makes him a little less human, more mystical.
At first, he is, without a name. He has very little identity to himself. He is just another mercenary. Assuming Trowa Barton’s name is almost like a demon pulling on the skin of another to hide himself. And yet, he does not BECOME wholly Trowa Barton, he merely usurps the energy of the name, not the personality- that he provides himself. He is, and was always, stronger than the real Trowa, only now can he reveal that by conquering the title.
Once he has a name to differentiate him, he is in full command of himself, he is given his first talisman. Not the mask entirely, but Heavyarms, which makes him more potent. It is his reward for his thievery of the name, for delving into the arcana of changing who he is. He has passed a test, and sacrificed a little of his humanity one could argue. This is the first time he assumes not only a name, but a station, something he was not before and did not seem to be able to do, one of his most astounding powers. And it comes to him so easily.
Trowa’s taking of another’s name is another attempt could also be construed as an attempt to escape from his powers or only his past. He feels secure as someone else because then he’s not a wizard, he’s not a little mercenary boy.
Trowa does not have all of his abilities when he looses his memories. He switches identities and without the power to do that he is essentially no one- he is back where he began. He is a child, he is given the name he once had and lost while he was an infant, and in many ways, he becomes one again. The sheer contrast of the boy who could be a clown and an OZ officer both is but then is reduced to not knowing who he was to start out with…
Oddly enough, the Oz persona is fairly identical to the one he takes on while in battle. It has many of the same traits, the certain coldness (which in this case, can not be broken, even for Duo, who gets punched in the stomach because of it) but not all of the magely wisdom- the sense for when things should be done more delicately. But coming with it is another sign for Trowa. The uniform. it is a servants garb. He wears it, he looks to be theirs. They are not clever enough to go beyond appearances and he him for what he really is. He is the treacherous butler brought out in the context of a war… But the disguise is not the most important thing to him, it is not worth loosing Quatre, so in the 0 system Episode, he reverts to full magehood, disregards everything he’s supposed to be putting on to save his friend.
“I think that mask of Trowa's is his talisman. I struck me when I first saw the series that Trowa didn't paint his face, instead he wore a half a mask. But then, I got the idea that he is wearing a full mask. He is clown and soldier, neither strictly one or the other, but I believe there's more to him than that, and that hidden part is the real Trowa Barton (or Triton Bloom if you will).” (Murasaki, Letters)
“Mask” is one of those “loaded” symbolic words. Between it and “silence” Trowa frightens up an astounding amount of controversy before one even goes into his behaviors. It is something that, under normal circumstances, would completely conceal. Makeup would allow the wearer’s actual face to show through, but a mask grants not such access. Trowa is then, quite serious about hiding something.
Essentially, yes. He is the clown and he is the wizard/warrior. And he is neither. The mask in the tangible manifestation of his clown persona. Because clowns are performers and because Cathy, one of the few people that approach getting close to him, is associated with performing, it is also, to some extent, a one-way link with people, much like performing itself. As a half-mask, it implies that his psyche is split exactly down the center between the two.
But what if the mask has an element of concealment to it? Who is he hiding from?
“The mask is a barrier from the world? He wants to keep everyone at bay, keep his true self hidden away so he can't be hurt any more than I think he has, hence the mask. But I wonder if there's some reason why it covers only the right side of his face.” (Murasaki, Letters)
Almost in a way, the mask tells people “Here’s what I WANT you to see. Just this little part.” Which may also be why he dresses in the jeans and tank top usually: they reveal so little, the expose almost none of what he is. Then changing to the clown outfit, one can see more of him. He shows his audience his love for them by revealing more of his body and maybe more of his true self, the implication of which may very well be he’s got a playful side no one knows about, and that in performing, because his power is linked to his body, he does use his true abilities to perform. (For instance, his ability to remain supernaturally calm, as per the also infamous scene where Cathy smacks him, the obvious acrobatic flips…)
The right side is usually viewed as the “better” side so he could be revealing almost a “bad” Trowa to the world, while hiding away what is “good” within him, or perhaps what is gentle, neither the warrior nor the clown. Trowa is almost shut up like a nesting doll when he is in clown regalia- he is a impish person hiding a soldier mage who is hiding… and then we wonder…
Trowa leaves his mask behind in EW because he 1) is leaving the clown persona 2) leaving his connection with Cathy 3) leaving his joy perhaps to go off and do what he has to do 4) he has made a promise to go back for it because Trowa IS that mask and many more. The mask is Trowa in proxy for there is very little of a real Trowa so to speak. Though, being a performer bears with it the connotation of being somehow false, and he must access the ‘real’ him in order to fight- to use his powers so to speak. Disregarding the mask disregards that identity, that persona. But the tangible mask is not the only mask he wears.
Which leaves us with the question of the mask on Heavyarms in EW, which is identical to his own. Because of the resurgence of Bartons in the movie, he may be tagging the mech as his own- it wears the same talisman because it belongs to him now, screw whoever built it. It’s almost like putting an obscene bumper sticker on a car, but much more… coy a joke. I mean, a mask on a gundam… That’s a joke! It’s the only one Trowa ever tells. It’s totally STUPID! It’s totally FRIVILOUS! It’s FUNNY damnit!
Trowa has openly admitted with this jest he DOES have the playful side there is more in him than the skill which enjoys being a clown. He has revealed the wrong persona in battle and completed one of the great quests of Gundam Wing: to be more human.
He returns in the end to where he left the mask… perhaps it was a marker? A promise?
Previous to this though, was the last (filmed) scene of Trowa with his familiar, Quatre. Quatre, I maintain, HAD to be there when he destroyed Heavyarms for with it when the enhancement his power had so long been accustomed to. He is calmed and yet, he wonders if he ought to keeps his name. Quatre is there to ground him at this moment he almost loses his identity, to pin the monkier back on him, to happily send him off to make use of his powers in a more mundane ways.
Trowa smiles a little to see Cathy, we know he is home; he is doing what he loves now.
It has already been discussed that Trowa’s power is connected to his body, this expressed not only by certain reactions he displays throughout the series but by his astounding acrobatic feats. Who else dares triple axle flips whilst pursuing Heero Yuy? That to, is in some ways, frivolous. It, like the mask of Heavyarms, communicates a certain playfulness. But, playfulness out of turn is a sign of great cool, of great confidence, perhaps even arrogance. Small jests may backfire, and instead of lightening the persona of Trowa the audience generally witnesses, it darkens it.
By joining the circus, he not only makes excellent use of these powers, but also provides us with still more subtle insights.
Besides the obvious irony of the adept, morose clown that is.
What else could Trowa have done? We wonder… why performing? Why the image of the clown surrounded by cheering patrons and not some quiet mechanic?
The rush. As Murasaki explains…
“The rush one can get from the applause and cheers of others. I've never been on stage for any reason, but in interviews I've read before with certain musicians, they've likened the response of a crowd as, e.g., being made love to by 10,000 people, or being transformed into a god and the crowd are the worshippers; it's pure love, and it's wholly addictive. So perhaps, even though he's playing to 100 as opposed to 10,000, he gets a taste of that feeling with every performance.”
Shown any scene of actor and performer, the subconscious concepts of fame and glory set into the observers mind. “Stage” is not perhaps one of the most expected, the most used semiotic tags, but it is something everyone knows and has similar ideas of. From pop culture to Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage…” there are certain aspects of it that can not be escaped, and that consequently, end up heaped on Trowa with or without our knowledge.
It provides Trowa with mystique, and yet, perhaps because it is a small circus he becomes like the first form of Sybille Vane in Dorian Grey: the great actor confined to a small stage. Undiscovered, pleasing only a few lucky people. Perhaps like a disgraced wandering sorcerer.
It adds to the untouchable aura he manifests to some of the other characters and to his real life observers. We see performers, but we do not know them. We see Trowa, but do we really know him?
There is the deepest underlying doubt: the ingenuousness between performer and patron…
“Take a musician or an actor when he/she meets his/her public. They hear all these compliments and such, people gushing over them. Would those people behave the same way if they actually knew that person? Probably not. It's the image that they are responding to, not the private person behind the public mask. Likewise, a performer only cares about their audience because they are there. They go to the concerts, they see the premieres, and they provide him/her with adulation (not to mention money). After that moment is over, however, the audience fades into the background, forgotten.”
It is one more mask for the Merlin of AC 195. The mask of slight, unspoken tragedy. Trowa wishing perhaps to be something he is not. Something besides the warrior mage. The circus could perhaps then represent a clinging to innocence, or a desire for that which he never had. Perhaps he himself does not understand, or has pushed these wishes away; accepted his fate to be part of the war instead, which would be another explanation for his return at the end of EW.
“As I see it, the type of person who wants to get up on stage and perform for people is probably one who hasn't had much approval, or as much love as they should have had, and so they're going to go after it that way. It's an instant fix, but it's not really what they need.” (Murasaki, Letters)
… And explain of the tragic Trowa of fanfic land.