I really, truly cannot stress enough how excited I was for Detective Pikachu. The first trailer was released just days after I’d had major surgery, and it sent me into a giddy haze. I immediately made a Google Calendar event for an opening night screening. While I was waiting, I had plenty of time to ruminate on the questions the trailer raised: How and why did this get made? Why did the Pokémon look so grossly quasi-realistic and silly? And whose idea was it to include several minutes of slapstick comedy with a rather ball-jointed Mr. Mime?
After seeing Detective Pikachu, most of my questions were answered: the movie is a very sweet, noir-inflected kids’ movie that manages to sneak in a few good gags for adults, like Diplo appearing as a version of himself who has been reduced to playing underground gigs at Pokémon fight club. It’s a pretty good, decently funny story that takes the idea of the Pokémon universe very seriously, hence the bad-to-look-at Gyarados. But even as Detective Pikachu answered so many of my questions, it raised another, one that has eaten at me for the past week: Did Bill Nighy fuck a Ditto?
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Behind These Beady Eyes
[Detective Pikachu Spoilers Ahead]
If you didn’t see the movie but still want to come along on this awful journey, Nighy plays Howard Clifford, the media mogul who created the movie’s primary setting of Ryme City and who is, unsurprisingly, the film’s antagonist. In order to “evolve” past his physical limitations, Howard orchestrates a convoluted plan to capture the enormously powerful, artificially-created Pokémon Mewtwo and take over its body. Rather than just using that level 70 body to just become a god or ruler of the world or whatever, Howard plans to use Mewtwo’s abilities to transfer the souls of humans into their Pokémon for some reason.
This, by itself, raises some concerns: In Howard’s brave new world, which Pokémon would I wind up inside of? Probably a Dunsparce, right? Would I be comfortable living as a Dunsparce? Would it be wrong if I ended up trapped as a Dunsparce forever like Tobias from Animorphs and started making Pokémon eggs with other Dunsparce? And, perhaps most pressing, what does all of this mean for Howard’s too-hot-for-a-Pokémon Pokémon companion?
Ms. Norman, played by Suki Waterhouse, is a shadowy, silent presence for most of the movie. As one of Howard’s aides, she shows up to drag our human hero Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) to her boss’ office, serving as the silent and imposing henchman. She’s an intimidating character, but Howard himself presents to Tim as being sympathetic at this point in the movie — instead it’s his son Roger (Chris Geere) who seems to be the more villainous member of the family.
There’s a lot of evidence for this, if you believe your eyes. Roger tries to shut down any press coverage of the experiments. He’s behind the manufacturing of R, a drug that makes Pokémon go absolutely buckwild with rage. He even sics an army of Greninja on our heroes. But eventually, we learn that this is all a ruse — Roger has been kidnapped and hidden away, replaced by Ms. Norman, who turns out to be Howard’s Ditto companion. The Pokémon has been posing as both Howard’s hot assistant and his son. Eventually Tim beats the Ditto using the R gas and exposes Howard’s villainy, but he can never unexpose the clear implication of the man’s choice in Pokémon: Howard has probably fucked that Ditto.
Look, this is a question we’ve all been avoiding for years. We already knew that Ditto could potentially transform to look like human beings. We also know that many Ditto possess the ability “Limber,” which becomes extremely horrifying in this context. The particular Ditto in Detective Pikachu was the product of Howard’s experimentation, but the only thing that differentiates it from an ordinary Ditto seems to be that it can transform into any Pokémon it wants, rather than being limited to the one it’s battling at the time. Howard clearly commanded his Ditto to take the form of Ms. Norman — if she was ever a real person to begin with. And, given the endgame of his plan over the course of the movie, Howard was clearly interested in the uncomfortable fusion of human and Pokémon. So even if he didn’t fuck the Ditto, he definitely could have.
What does this mean for the Pokémon world going forward? Is there an entire underground economy of Ditto spies? Does the ability of Ditto to read (and, ostensibly, to text) in the movie suggest that they could enthusiastically procreate with humans? And what would a half-Ditto, half-human baby look like? These are probably just more fundamental question of the universe, like “What happens to Pokémon inside their Pokeballs?” or “Who is Ash’s dad?” or “Are Ghastly the ghost of other Pokémon that already died?” We may never know. For Billy Nighy’s sake, and for our own, I think it’s best that we never find out.