So let’s talk about that scene in s8 where Epsilon sees Wash for the first time and freaks the fuck out. I know fandom’s had this talk before, and I like the explanation that seeing Wash just jogged a bunch of really unpleasant memories and all the anger that comes with them, but I also sort of think there’s something a little more personal there.
I mean, first off, part of why the integration was so traumatic was the timing. Remember, the event that caused Epsilon to split off in the first place was the scenario where Wash and Tex were killed because Alpha couldn’t analyze data quickly enough, so from the second Epsilon woke up behind Wash’s eyes with fully intact memories, he had to have known that the Director had been lying, that the Director had been inventing these scenarios as torture. And in that same second, Wash must have realized the same thing. Like, can you picture that feedback loop of dawning horror?
And look at the whole splitting process from Epsilon’s point of view: Alpha split off his memories of what was being done to him in a last-ditch attempt to save himself. And Epsilon—the sum of those memories, including the fear that prompted the split in the first place—wakes up behind Wash’s eyes, and it didn’t work, he’s not fucking safe, because here’s this guy just screaming and tearing his own mind apart, just retreating deeper into the heart of the organization that tortured Alpha in the first place. I figure maybe Epsilon was trying to communicate with Wash, was trying to find some modicum of protection there, and of course it didn’t work, it couldn’t work, but Epsilon doesn’t really get that. All he gets is that he wanted help, he wanted safety, and all he got was Wash. It wasn’t enough. It was never enough.
I figure maybe Epsilon felt betrayed by Wash, in a fucked-up sort of way. Epsilon confided in him, with all the subtlety of a train wreck, and Wash couldn’t cope, couldn’t help him. I figure maybe Epsilon hated him a little for that. I figure maybe Epsilon hated him a lot.
There’s also the factor that the two of them both had to completely suppress what they were thinking and feeling in front of the leadership of the Project. Imagine the way the Counselor prodded them to open up, the interrogations they would have had to go through, and the trauma it caused to be unable to be left alone to themselves to discuss it. They probably spent every moment of it in a medical ward, even when Wash got whatever scant amount of sleep that he could manage. The reason they were held under such scrutiny was Wash’s initial outburst in the operating room, and there was nothing that Wash could do to make up for that.