Which people aren’t traitors after committing treason? Definition of a loyalty to the motherland.
(Code Geass R1, R2; Qualidea Code spoilers!)
There are without a doubt many people who can be fairly called traitors. However at a certain moment we’re stuck with some questions:
Why Suzaku betrayed his motherland and suffers from a curse of a traitor, but Lelouch doesn’t? Or say, why Jeremiah accusing Lelouch in treason, yet takes his accusation back and even more, switches the side?
“You’re the one who will talk here! Why Lelouch, why did you adopt the role of Zero? Why did you turn against your homeland, becoming the enemy of the emperor as a result?”
— Jeremiah Gottward (R2, episode 13)
And this side change the director will characterize as an act of the best loyalty.
So… there are some examples of treason, which don’t make a traitor out of a human. As a result, he doesn’t suffer from an inevitable sorrowful fate, which every traitor is destined to. Let’s observe two cases of such exception in this analysis:
1. A man who’s deceived by an enemy side
For example people, who were brainwashed in captivity. Or the ones who were ideologically “brainwashed” with propaganda in their youth.
Such people will uncover the truth sooner or later and will often be given a change to “atone for their sins”. Which they usually gladly accept, raging to destroy their real enemies and deceivers.
One of the best examples for this would be “Qualidea Code”.
Six military leaders find out that they’ve been tricked by the aliens since the childhood. Aliens disguised themselves as humans and forces their kids to fight with their own parents and friends. When the truth was unraveled, the heroes didn’t hesitate a moment to return to the battlefield. This time, they did their best to cover each drop of a human blood they’ve unknowingly shed with gallons of aliens’.
2. A man that was betrayed by his motherland.
As much as we wanted to believe that our country will serve us as loyally as we serve it, the history often proves us otherwise. Here’s the difference between Suzaku’s and Lelouch’s betrayals:
Suzaku personally killed the leader of a resistance, who was a prime minister and his own father — Genbu Kururugi. For that he was exiled by his country.
Lelouch didn’t do anything of a kind. He was exiled for nothing in a heat of a political game for a fake reason. Eight years later Charles will himself admit that they (Lelouch’s parents) decided to exile them of their own will, and not by any chance due to Lelouch’s sharp statements about his mother’s death.
In other words, fight thing to note is that the motherland isn’t a one piece entity. We can vividly see that in Japan’s example, a country where one Japanese force devours another. We can also see the same with Brittania.
Let’s say Zero is sacrificing twice the members of the Japanese Liberation Front. He also doesn’t support Japanese forces sponsored by China, taking two terrorist groups under his own control. Zero himself on the other side is sponsored by Kirihara, and there’s enough rivalry between them as well: starting from mutual suspicion, ending with Kirihara and six houses of Kyoto betrayal which resulted with Zero assimilating all of them.
Therefore, a man who’s willing to serve Japan has a wide range of organizations he can turn to. And each of those is pursuing their own goals. So Zero is specializing at confronting Brittania and assembles the foes of Brittania’s empire. Kirihara — economically offended entrepreneurs and the remains of the old Japanese elite, who finance their own terrorist forces. And so on, it’s the same everywhere.
Having that principal in mind, it’s clear now why the main question in the second season becomes: “who serves who”. In other words, who belongs to which group. And from this moment we can start to dig the throne successors’ forces, where Odissey the first prince is a mere pawn in the second’s (Schneizel) hands. We learn that V.V. leads an order, so the emperor himself can barely save his own wife and kids from him (because of V.V. intrigue Lelouch was exiled to Japan).
We also starting to note the movement of the servants. V.V. is betrayed by Rollo, who joins Lelouch. V.V. picks up Jeremiah instead. However Jeremiah is merely working as a double agent, being a former servant of lady Marianne and temporary “procrasting” on that job (due to someone’s death and her kids disappearance).
In all this mess a simple question arises: whom Lelouch was obliged to serve, being tangled into this fight since his very birth? Looks like the emperor. And if so, then Lelouch really did betray the emperor, meaning that he’s now a traitor.
However the emperor didn’t have just one wife, but more than a hundred, and even more descendants. That’s why the kids were separated in groups using the mother’s name. That’s why Lelouch’s full name and title is that:
“I am Lelouch Vi Britannia, the eldest son of the empress Marianne, prince abandoned by his empire.”
Saying that he’s one if Charles’ sons is completely useless and separates him from the others. Also note the prefix’ like “vi” or “li” are given solemnly by mother’s name. Moreover, this tradition is not new in the generation — even Charles has one. Therefore, Clovis, Cornelia and Euphemia all have “li” prefix, since they share one mother. On the other side Lelouch and Nannally have “vi”, by their mother’s title.
In other words Lelouch is fighting with Brittania in lady Marianne’s name, which is his mother. That’s why he didn’t commit even one treason in his life. While revenge for his mother is not just a sign of a personal vendetta, but his factual duty, because Lelouch would must to serve exactly to Marianne.
That’s why when Jeremiah finds out about Lelouch, he joins. Because Lelouch wasn’t fighting Brittania (another good point to that is that he didn’t destroy it at all, but gave it to Nannally) but fighting with the foes and murderers of his mother. Obviously the fight occurs not against Brittanian empire, but just other groups. And since Marianne is dead, it’s essential for Jeremiah to find her eldest successor and swear to serve him, which is exactly what he’s done. And while Lelouch first thought of him as a threat, since he’s serving V.V., that misconception was resolved in a talk and Jeremiah accepts Lelouch as a man who’s loyal to his empire.
That’s why when the creators were first drawing concept-arts and coudn’t tell Lelouch and Suzaku apart, it’s important to understand one thing. They may both look like traitors, but in fact they are “same but not the same”.
The difference between Suzaku’s real betrayal and Lelouch’s fight against other groups is completely incomparable. But if there’s someone who really goes against his own motherland, that would be Schneizel. He doesn’t hit other pretender, but revels from civilian extermination, regardless of them being Brittanians or of other country. Schneizel unravels his true treacherous nature with the destruction of Pendragon, the capital of his empire for the sake of the fun. This act leads him to a defeat before man much more pure and loyal to his own motherland than he is.