Choo choo! The hype train is approaching full speed as the Conviction arc ramps up speed. The episode opens with Farnese being dismissed from her post at the behest of her father. Before she’s set to leave, she consults with Mozgus, who informs her that the heretics have largely been dealt with as a result of her diligence and faith. Farnese is still shaken by what she saw in the caves, despite her offering up “incense” as a possible reason for a mass hallucination.
Mozgus presses her further on what she encountered in the cave, including their encounter with Guts.
Farnese admits that they encountered the Black Swordsman, but that he escaped. She also says that he was in pursuit of the woman that was brought into custody. As Casca is led into the torture chamber, the men and women being subjected to cruel torture had a renewed sense of vigor and life, pleading for her to save them. Mozgus’ torturers confirm that Casca is seen as their “priestess” based on the information they were able to extract from the other heretics. Seeking to make an example of her, Mozgus has her placed in an iron maiden, and as the iron spikes pierce her skin and blood makes contact with her brand, a burst of magic energy throws her torturers back and she is surrounded by gelatinous demons.
The demons’ substance melts away skin with ease, and quickly kills everyone in the torture chamber with the exception of Mozgus and his torturers. They retreat to their chapel while the ooze snakes its way through the corridors. Meanwhile, Guts infiltrates the temple along with Luca and Isidoro, taking Farnese captive so that he can find and rescue Casca once and for all. Farnese leads him back to the torture chamber, but all that remains are bones after Casca’s outburst.
Meanwhile, we get an inside look at the demon that Casca summoned, with her safe and sound within the heart of the beast along with that creepy brain-with-a-face monster.
Back at the chapel, Mozgus and his men prepare to do battle with the demon. With the assistance of a spider-like monster, Mozgus transforms into a creature with angel-like wings and unleashes a powerful blast of flame that dislodges Casca from her jelly-like seat within the demon.
Meanwhile, Luca has retrieved Nina (who survived! Yay?) from her cell and is searching for Casca along with Isidoro, Puck and Jerome – a member of Farnese’s Holy Iron Knights. What initially started out as a search and rescue becomes a run for their lives as the flesh-eating demon chases them up the stairs. They have the unfortunate timing of storming the chapel just as Mozgus has evolved to the next level, and Luca finds herself falling from the tower and facing almost certain death. Just then, a familiar uh…face appears.
That’s right! The skull knight saves the day! After Luca asks if he’s death (a fair question), she realizes that she’s actually been saved. Unfortunately for both of them, the nefarious set of eyes that has been making cameos in the previous episodes is preparing to do battle with the Skull Knight. What is this mysterious creature? Will the skull knight prevail? Unfortunately we don’t find out just yet…
Back in the tower, Guts finally catches up with the group and upon seeing Casca, takes a good wide swing at Mozgus and his thugs. Unfortunately for him, the entire crew has evolved, and now stand before him and his long-awaited reunion with his beloved. The final scene looks like it was pulled straight out of an RPG.
And of course, that’s where it ends.
Phew! Berserk is seriously dialing up the action and tormenting viewers with excruciating cliffhangers week after week. I know I keep mentioning the animation, but it really is starting to grow on me, especially after this week’s episode. Guts’ confrontation in the final few minutes is probably some of the most blood-pumping action I’ve seen in a while. Then again, when you have Susumu Hirasawa’s “Hai Yo” playing in the background, making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich sounds badass.
Farnese is still a waste of screen-time, but the revelations regarding her father’s role in financing the refugee project, as well as Serpico reporting back to him, sheds some light on some of the pressures that may be contributing to her otherwise insufferable character.
I’m hoping that we get some more lore/flavor for the Skull Knight next week, though it looks like it will mainly be Guts’ fight with the “angels”. We’ll see…
It’s unfortunate that it took this long for Berserk to really ramp up, because after the first few weeks it seems like the hype was all but gone. For those who were able to stick it out, however, I feel like the next few weeks are going to have some great payoff. I know I’m looking forward to it! Make sure to check back next week!