WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of Pacific Rim: The Black, now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix's Pacific Rim: The Black flips the franchise on its head when it reveals that there are more Jaeger-Kaiju hybrids roaming around Australia than first assumed. More so, the one Taylor and Hayley discover is actually thinking independently as opposed to being governed by the overlords on the other side of the Breach -- the Precursors.
But as the six episodes play out, another massive revelation surfaces about the series' key pilots we've seen on the big screen.
When the siblings discover Atlas Destroyer, a training Jaeger, their hopes of finding their parents in Sydney are rekindled. Their lives have been torrid since they were abandoned in this derelict zone as kids, and even worse since they lost their camp of teens after a Kaiju attack. This is their last shot at getting family back. But while Atlas isn't a full-fledged battle bot, it does have secrets that can be hacked, revealing insight about the past.
As they tap into Atlas' artificial intelligence, they discover a chapter about solo piloting. Hayley's suffering from PTSD so Taylor's intrigued by the option of piloting without her, although he's warned that this mode of piloting will damage his own brain. It's scientifically proven, after all -- and something the Pan Pacific Defense Corps has lamented as so many pilots suffer seizures and die.
Despite this, Taylor still wants the hologram to reveal the truth, adamant he won't try it himself. He learns Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is one of the few who've done it before, which was seen in Pacific Rim. He piloted Gipsy Danger solo a couple of times: first when his brother was killed fighting Knifehead and later when Mako Mori passed out due to lack of oxygen. Few pilots had the mental strength he had -- except for Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba's war general. It's not surprising he could also solo pilot as Stacker was such a beast, and it also explains why he's always been against it, knowing the mental toll it takes.
But the biggest surprise in The Black comes when a video is unlocked of Herc Hansen doing the same in Australia. The Aussie is known for taking over as leader of the Shatterdome when Stacker died, which felt poetic as he also lost his son, Chuck when Raleigh's team tried to seal the Breach. Now, after Uprising, we find him still killing the monsters. But sadly, he's by himself in The Black.
After he sustains as much damage to his body as his Jaeger, Herc, as Marshal, orders the missile strike on the continent known as Operation Blackout, deciding that everything's lost. The scene ends with Hansen pinned under a dead Kaiju in his Jaeger and as bombs are dropped, it's implied that he perished. But this may well be a setup for the kids to find and learn from him in the second season.
There's also another major development in the anime. By establishing a neural link to these archives, Taylor's memories merge with Herc's in what's known as ghost-drifting. He even retains some of Herc's thoughts, grieving over pilots he never knew only for Hayley to snap him out of it. This could actually come in handy as they traverse the landscape. Taylor may be able to find bunkers, resources and even other allies with Herc's memories, but he'll have to ensure Herc's PTSD isn't embedded in him forever. That said, it's a cool way of having Herc 'live' with them, which could unravel more secrets from Stacker, Raleigh and other faces from Uprising in a second season.
Co-created by Craig Kyle and Greg Johnson and produced by Legendary Television and Polygon Pictures, Pacific Rim: The Black Season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.