W2. Leo Ascends

Nemo furrowed his brow at Leo’s tattoo. “What brings you to my mountain?”

“Glad you asked.” Leo shrugged off his backpack and pulled out a jar of centipedes. “Harvested these all by myself.”

“Hm.” Nemo seemed unimpressed. “Freedom can’t come from centipedes.”

“Ha! I figured you had something special up here,” said Leo. “Even monks use centipedes. What’ve you got? What’s your secret to freedom?”

Nemo shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand.”

W2 Commentary: Just Desserts

When Nemo realized he couldn’t keep eating people’s fingers in polite company, he retired above the clouds where he can peacefully practice devotion to the Biggest Bird. Leo follows him to the clouds seeking ‘freedom,’ but doesn’t realize the sacrifices required since his notion of freedom includes immunity from, and power over, all exterior forces. Leo trusts the invisible hand of the free market to buoy him to this lofty, impossible position. Nemo perverts this trust by goading Leo into eating his fingers, softening his ego for consumption. Who can Leo blame but himself? No one controls him, least of all the quadriplegic Nemo. Leo demonstrates his power by self-destructing. In his fervor to prove himself, his own body-parts join the out-group of entities acceptable to destroy—nay, demanding destruction.

H3 Commentary: Going Too Far

In H3: Leo in the Library Dan goes too far. I’ve talked previously about how I’m trying to handle Nazis and swastikas with a sense of cultural tact, but in this section I’m deliberately transgressing those boundaries. Dan, shaken by his father’s suicide, won’t hold his tongue while Leo flaunts his swastika tattoo.

And rightly so. After Faith and Beatrice kiss in front of him, Leo says he wants to round up all the gays and shoot them. Leo’s ideology is mostly based on whatever suits him at the time rather than any particular brand of Neo-Nazism, except perhaps the modern American internet-bred alt-right. He’s more of a wannabe Neo-Nazi than anything else. (Someone in middle school once told me the “shoot the gays” line in total honesty. He always wondered why he had no friends.)

But Dan doesn’t just stand up to Leo…