Special Operative Whitney enters the room and introduces herself to Kamau. Her dialogue subtly sets up a power inequity: she calls Kamau the diminutive “Kam” but calls herself “Miss Whitney,” suggesting power through formality and use of last name. Whitney looks like she just walked out of Halo, wearing her full body armor and club. Kamau doesn’t know what to say, but she takes on a fighting stance in response to Whitney’s appearance.
Reading that this isn’t going to be an effective approach to Kamau, the Operative overrides the current room configuration and runs “Southern Georgia Morning.” The holographic configuration, temperature, and relative humidity change to mimic the program’s title. Whitney offers Kamau some sweet tea. Yes, Kamau would be thirsty after 18 hours of solitary without rest, food, or drink. But Kamau distrusts the tea. Whitney points out that if they had wanted to drug her, they wouldn’t need to slip it into tea. Kamau drinks greedily, letting the tea run down her chin in her need to get it in fast.
The initial assumption by both Kamau and reader is that Whitney figures Kamau is from Georgia, this is meant to make her feel at ease and at home. But Kamau points out that she’s not from Georgia–so was this a stereotypical assumption by the Operative? “No, but…” Whitney begins as she takes off her helmet, an initial act of making herself more visible, vulnerable, and relatable.
“I am,” Whitney finishes, giving Kamau a smile while doves fly on the screens behind her. The intended message is clear: she comes in peace, she is a friend, she is showing her personal side to establish that friendship. However, this effect is undermined by the heavy shadow employed artistically on her face. It suggests ulterior motive or split personality.
Kamau is not taken in. She tells Whitney she didn’t kill Marian Collins, but Whitney throws her for a loop by saying she’s not here for a confession but to offer an opportunity. The Operative goes on to give us some welcome background on Kamau: she was a professional athlete before the New Protectorate. What a name…New Protectorate. It suggests some protection-motivated New Deal. Of course, from what we’ve seen, it amounts to fascism. Given it’s supposed purpose of protection, it likely became law through fear–like how the Patriot Act saw little resistance after 9/11. Kamau is annoyed at the Operative’s use of questions to confirm information she already knows.
The Operative goes on to say, “The Fathers are big fans. Not of you specifically of course–that’s absurd–of sport, in general. Sport builds character. The ancient Greeks believed athletic prowess an indicator of moral authority.” Whitney tack here is odd. On the one hand, she’s attempting to build Kamau up with the line about sports building character, to feed her ego a bit before dropping the proposal. But on the other hand, her deliberate reference to the Fathers being fans of Kamau as an absurdity belittles Kamau, showing that the Fathers are above Kamau. Taken together, Whitney appears to want Kamau in a middle ground–confident but malleable.
Her critique of the Fathers’ assumptions about sports building character maligns their specific penis-oriented style of patriarchy.
Meanwhile, in the background of this conversation, Operative Whitney has been idly playing with or feeding nuts to a holographic squirrel. This changes at the top of page 15 when another squirrel comes along to fight over the nuts. There is biting and bloodshed. One squirrel survives, one does not.
Foregrounding the change in squirrel niceties is a shift in the conversation to Megaton, though it is not named. Whitney begins by parroting the opening speech by Father Josephson. But she goes on to make a direct analogy to society: “Order, fairness, structure…and of course, the spoils to the victor…These are the tenets on which our society is formed.” I wonder what society she’s talking about, throwing “fairness” in. Kamau likewise has a cynical view of it: “That’s why viewing is compulsory. Indoctrination.” But Whitney corrects her, saying, “Nothing is compulsory. Free will is paramount. But free will comes with the burden of consequences, Kam. No good Father has ever promised otherwise.”
Interesting thought, that. What’s free will do in the face of overwhelming consequences? Where does free will go when propaganda and re-programming are unavoidable? It seems like free will here survives only through a technicality.
Then Whitney goes on to spout some true paradoxical propaganda: “What you mistake for cruelty is, in actuality, love, expressed in–” Kamau cuts her off, recognizing the lies for what they are–doublespeak. “Love look like a dead squirrel to you?” Kamau’s question points directly at a “love” that is filled with violence. The dead squirrel is a metaphor for the abusive relationship between Fathers and society, especially women.
Whitney attempts to clarify what she was saying, but Kamau wants to cut to the chase, pushing Whitney to do so through a threat of physical violence that no one would confuse for an act of love. Finally Whitney says it: “We want you to form a team.”
Whitney offers a two-prong case: the prison is expensive and the women need purpose. Duemila could be the dual solution. The irony and injustice is not missed on Kamau: “You want a bunch of girls to get their asses beat to pay for the system that locks them up.” Whitney tries to explain that the Council is not anti-women, but Kamau flat out refuses. Whitney tries again, this time saying that a meaningful gesture like this could garner her special consideration regarding her crime. Kamau insists she didn’t kill anyone and she certainly doesn’t need Whitney to tell her what’s in her best interest.
Now, we don’t know why Kamau is on Bitch Planet in the first place. Though it seems unlikely, she might even be the one in the transport during Issue #1 who voluntarily signed up.
Finally Operative Whitney pulls her trump card. “You have a brother, I believe?” Kamau is momentarily stunned, then says, “No. No, I don’t.” But clearly Whitney has touched a nerve. Kamau falls silent and turns to the wall (a literal manifestation of the one she’s now up against). Whitney pulls back on the helmet and leaves Kamau to her weighing of options.