“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is a very dense and packed show. And some plot points fly by so quickly that they’re almost impossible to decipher on the first viewing. Still, I’ll try my best to explain everything that happens leading up to the absolutely explosive ending. Created by Rafal Jaki, the show follows David (Kenn/Zach Aguilar), a high school student who lives with his mother Gloria (Yurika Hino/Gloria Garayua) in Night City.
A tragic accident leads to her death, and owing a debt to a gang of cyberpunks, David vows to pay them back by working for them. The debt concerns a cybernetic implant called the Sandevistan (which is capable of increasing the wearer’s speed) that David has installed into his body.
The gang is led by Maine (Hiroki Tōchi/William C. Stephens) and those working for him are Kiwi (Takako Honda/Stephanie Wong), Dorio (Michiko Kaiden/Marie Westbrook), Rebecca (Tomoyo Kurosawa/Alex Cazares), Pilar (Wataru Takagi/Ian James Corlett), and Lucy (Aoi Yūki/Emi Lo). And Maine works for a broker named Faraday (Kazuhiko Inoue/Giancarlo Esposito) who is trying to climb the corporate ladder created by two large corporations basically running Night City, Arasaka and Militech. Now, know about Cyberpunk: Edgerunners series.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Season 1: Synopsis
“Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Season 1.” Something that is set up from the very first frame of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is the concept of cyberpsychosis. David illegally flows into an ex-soldier who suffers from it due to the excessive installation of chrome parts in his body and derives some fun from it. He neither sympathizes with the person (like a lot of 17-year-olds who watch violent videos to feel edgy) nor does he understand the toll Gloria’s job is taking on her because she’s the one who has to clean up the mess. created by that cyber psycho.
The only time he feels anything is when he gets expelled/suspended for messing with the school software and his mother expresses how much she wants him to succeed and become someone remarkable. But it’s too late when they inadvertently throw themselves into a gang firefight, resulting in Gloria being badly injured. And because they’re not insured, the trauma team doesn’t save them, and Gloria dies. David didn’t even see her. All he gets are her ashes in a dumpster.
So yes, this is one of the first things that hangs heavily over David’s psyche. He is unable to process Gloria’s death as he is quickly drawn into Maine’s gang. During his stay with them, two things happen. He falls in love with Lucy (which is almost like a “star-crossed lovers” thing because he keeps seeing her before he actually meets her) and forms a father-son or brotherly bond with Maine. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that his romantic relationship is one of the reasons for David’s cyberpsychosis.
Rebecca basically says that his connection to Lucy is the only thing keeping him sane. Maine is so formative of his growth that he can’t shake the fact that his cyberpsychosis was inevitable. He still thinks he could have done something to stop Maine from going over the edge, even though he knew it was all inevitable. Therefore, instead of choosing a different path, he tries to achieve more than Maine by becoming him (I think he even wears his mechanical arm) to fulfill Maine’s dreams for him.
All that said, the biggest reason for David’s cyberpsychosis is his excessive use of cyberware. He thinks he’s built differently like he’s a “chosen” character and won’t suffer the same fate as Maine (or any of the cyberware users). Rebecca, Lucy, Ripperdoc (Kenjiro Tsuda/Borge Etienne), and even his enemies warn him several times that it doesn’t work that way.
But he doesn’t listen to them because he’s under the impression that if he just thinks about it, works harder, earns more money, and reaches the top, things will end differently for him. And if that doesn’t speak to the “run and grind” mentality that capitalist corporations pump into our brains better than anything out there, I don’t know what does.
They want us to become profit machines. They don’t want anything organic growing in us. In fact, it can be said that David is not completely evasive because even in the end he is attached to his core feelings because of his relationship with Lucy.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Season 1 Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End of The Season?
Even as David’s cyberpsychosis begins to build, he uses the Cyberskeleton not only to finish off the Militech armies but also to travel to Arasaka to save Lucy. As per his agreement with Arasaka, Faraday kills Kiwi because he knows about the Cyberskeleton and starts advancing towards Arasaka HQ. The Arasaka staff understands that David has crossed a line and needs to be stopped.
So they reveal Adam Smasher, a mythical super soldier full of cyberware because apparently, he’s the only one who can go toe-to-toe with David. Faraday delivers Lucy to Arasaka. David makes a grand entrance while slowly going over the edge due to his cyber psychosis. They save Lucy and take her to their vehicle while keeping the relentless Adam Smasher at bay. Rebecca is killed by Adam Smasher. Falco realizes that if they stay there any longer, they will all die. Therefore, despite Lucy’s protests, he leaves with Lucy because that’s what David wants him to do.
David takes on Adam Smasher one last time but fails miserably as he damages all of his equipment. Adam Smasher says David can make an interesting build. David says he doesn’t care. So Adam Smasher kills him by shooting him point blank. There’s another time jump and we see Lucy on the moon (is that a reference to “Lucy in the Sky”?), which is a tourist spot if it wasn’t clear before. She imagines her virtual reality date with David and stands alone enjoying the warmth of the sun.
And if that’s not a clear indication that “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is a love story at its core, then I don’t know what is. Yes, the show talks about a lot of things, from capitalism, violence, misogyny, and how it all degrades humanity in general and within ourselves. At the stage we are in, it is almost impossible to take on these mega-corporations and bring about any change. What we can do, however, is to stand by our loved ones, fulfill their dreams along with ours, and try to live a fulfilling life. “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Season 1.”
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