NEXT Up: Ouroboros!

The first half of S2 has been out for a few weeks and we’ve had some time to arrange our thoughts and engage in light speculation. There’s still much we don’t know about, but nothing’s going to stop the conspiracy theories when they get going. It’s time to grab a tinfoil hat and talk about our favorite secret society…

There are spoilers for everything, so if you haven’t seen the new episodes yet maybe hop over to Netflix and come back in about 6 hours. Sound good?

On S1 Ouroboros is mostly connected to Barnaby’s hunt for his parents’ murderer, but as the season ending stinger hints, it turns out it’s a much bigger part of the puzzle. On S2 we learn that Ouroboros’s goal, or at least a part of it, is to make people fear the NEXT. This may or may not be what they truly aim for, because we think Ouroboros existed already before NEXT appeared, and that they may be connected to their existence.

The NEXT dilemma

In his speech in the beginning of the series, Maverick recounts the appearance of the NEXT some 50 years ago. This seems quite abrupt, and we’ve never gotten any explanation to what caused these powered individuals to suddenly appear. Evolution doesn’t make sense, it would have been much slower and there’s a whole array of different powers the NEXT have. Our theory is that there was some sort of medical research that went wrong and whatever substance caused the powers to manifest got loose in the worldwide population. It’s entirely possible that Ouroboros was behind the research but it could also have been someone unrelated and they are trying to replicate it and control who gets to be powered. After all on S2 we see them funding Mattia Ingram’s research into a drug that would give NEXT power to normal people.

On S1 we saw some small glimpses of what discrimination NEXTs face, and how they aren’t even viewed as humans. S2 brings this issue up several times, from the man verbally attacking the heroes in S2E04 to the bullying Ivan suffered as a child, and the turmoil Kaede’s friend Saroja has over her own power. Over the course of the story there are numerous cases of NEXTs openly being referred to as “not being human”, including Rotwang on S1 and Mark Schneider in The Rising. There’s no clear indication that Ouroboros is trying to forward a pro-NEXT agenda, if their leadership shares this view then the NEXT are nothing but disposable pawns for their ends – and unfortunately this is exactly the fate the twins suffer.

Will anyone think of the children?

Before S2 the story took place in Stern Bild with a short detour to Oriental Town, so there were very few hints to the true size and scale of Ouroboros. They could just have been a mafia-like organization operating in a smaller area, but based on S2 they seem to operate worldwide. We see Nicolai Brahe with the twins Fugan and Mugan in what would be Switzerland in our world as they work their way through the heroes in other areas before coming to Stern Bild. There’s also a hierarchy with ranks, it seems that rank 2 and higher members don’t bear a tattoo to mark their affiliation. Brahe started lower and climbed the ranks so he has a tattoo, Jake Martinez had several tattoos as did Kriem, and the twins have tattoos as well.

When Brahe and Rosicky meet, she comments on Brahe’s Ouroboros tattoo and asks if he was one of the “Nemo children”. The twins are shown to have spent some time in an orphanage that based on this comment we assume is operated by Ouroboros. The children being involved indicates that Ouroboros is playing the long game.

Maybe unrelated to Ouroboros, but in general there are a number of orphans in the story. Barnaby was orphaned when his parents were murdered by Maverick. Thomas and his sister lost their parents and were sent to an orphanage, and of course there are Fugan and Mugan. The orphanage in Stern Bild that Barnaby visits in The Rising is shown to be run by nuns, and it doesn’t appear to be the same orphanage that Thomas and Ruby spent some time in. Ruby’s fate isn’t resolved yet, and it’s not impossible that Ouroboros had something to do with taking her away from Thomas.

Brahe gets orders to make Fugan and Mugan chase the record of their idol L.L. Audun who defeated 17 heroes before his capture in 1962 NC. Based on this, Maverick may also have been ordered to plant the memory of Ouroboros tattoo in Barnaby’s mind, but it could also have been something he did on his own volition. Maverick’s goal seems to have been to groom Barnaby to become a hero and fight Ouroboros, which seems contradictory for a member of Ouroboros to do, but it brings us to the next point.

So what about Hero TV then?

In The Rising, we see the business structure and company relations for Hero TV. Hero TV is broadcast on the in universe OBC network, which is a subsidiary of Apollon Media. At the same time Apollon Media is a participating partner on Hero TV.

Since Albert Maverick was the CEO of Apollon Media and we know he was a member of Ouroboros, this raises the question what exactly is the real purpose of Hero TV? It is essentially doing the opposite of Ouroboros’s goal, showing the NEXT heroes helping people and promoting a society where both non-enhanced people and the NEXT can live side by side.

Is Hero TV something that Ouroboros came up with and a piece in their bigger plan? If the idea for it came from someone not affiliated with Ouroboros, did Maverick approve it just to see where it would go and if it would serve Ouroboros in the end?

We think there are three possibilities:

  1. Hero TV has no affiliation to Ouroboros, who see a possibility to utilize the heroes to forward their apparent goal of NEXT supremacy by defeating the heroes that the public adores.
  2. Hero TV was conceived by Ouroboros as a method to bring exceptional individuals with strong NEXT powers to spotlight, so they could then be utilized in their agenda.
  3. It’s all for money. Heroes fighting villains is good for ratings and makes a lot of money through merchandise and sponsorships, to fund whatever bigger plan Ouroboros has.

We don’t know the history of Apollon Media, or how far back Maverick’s connection to Ouroboros goes. We can assume Maverick was rank 2 or higher, and he must have known a lot about the inner workings of the society since he went as far as to wipe his own mind when he was caught.

Conclusion inconclusive

So far all the people that we know were members of Ouroboros have been working in small groups or alone. There might not be a bigger agenda, and we could just be witnessing some rogue parties doing whatever they want with the power they’ve been given. We could just be making it all up in our heads.

Or are we? This puzzle is still missing too many pieces and there’s an inordinate amount of sky in the picture. Hopefully second half of S2 will help to connect some dots or prove us entirely wrong. Nishida will probably laugh into his fried rice if he happens to read this…

Art by Tania.


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