Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Well, after a couple episodes of moping and strangely stubborn authority figures, episode 4 delivers the moment we’ve been waiting for since the premiere: the reunion of Hiro and Zero Two!
The episode opens with an archetypal “gathering of mysterious figures” discussing, essentially, how to solve a problem like Zero Two. I understand that every giant robot series feels the need to have its own mysterious council of decision-makers, but so far they haven’t really contributed much to the story. Also, apparently, their words don’t carry that much weight when Zero Two decides to blow off their orders with little to no fear of consequences.
Transitioning back to the academy, Mitsuru is still recovering from his rough “first time” with Zero Two, essentially traumatized that she tried to “consume him body & soul”. He warns Hiro not to ride with her again as a result, though Hiro continues to have his sneaking suspicions that he’s perfectly made to connect with Zero Two like nobody else.
Let’s press the pause button on this real quick. I found this whole concept pretty interesting, if we’re following the continued double entendres around sex and physical intimacy that seems to be abound in Darling in the FRANXX. This allusion to one’s first love is impactful and familiar: maybe you fall for someone who has hurt others in the past (emotionally, physically, what have you). Of course, they won’t hurt you – because you’re their darling. Nobody else understands the partnership the two of you have, and when you’re together and things are going well…you can take on anything. I’m interested to see if this plays out the way I assume it will – which is to say that ultimately this is a dysfunctional relationship and Zero Two will end up hurting Hiro badly. In any case, let’s continue.
Despite feeling confident in his connection with Zero Two, Hiro finds himself hiding from her after his run-in with Mitsuru. Zero Two then confronts him in the bath (because, of course) and asks if he’s different, or if he thinks she’s a monster like everyone else does.
As the two share a moment, with one wearing far more clothes than the other, the Klaxosaur siren begins going off and the FRANXX squad is dispatched, without Strelitzia once again.
Herein lies my other major gripe from this episode: these kids are not very good pilots. Typically you have a group of capable pilots, with an “Ace” standing above the rest with either superior hardware, piloting skills, or, more often than not, a combination of the two. Your standard, run of the mill pilots are still able to tackle most challenges, with the Ace reserved for the “big baddie” or fighting off larger hordes at a time.
A single monster shows up, and a squad of 4 FRANXX machines somehow ends up in mortal danger every single time. It’s disappointing, to be honest. It’s hard for me to root for the other kids in the academy when they appear to be walking liability issues. Sure, they have their moment before the end of the episode, but I would have loved to see them handle the threat with a bit more competence before Strelitzia rushed in to save the day.
While the mech version of the bad news bears are basically getting thrown about outside, the adults decide that they’re going to send their best pilot and most powerful mech back to the front lines. You know, away from where the active threat is. Zero Two is not happy about it, but after sharing some parting words with Hiro, decides to comply.
Hiro, still feeling conflicted, reflects upon his brief relationship with Zero Two thus far and finds himself resolved to try and “win her back”. Chasing her down the halls he shouts his confession of love, essentially admitting that he didn’t care about riding in Strelitzia, he wanted to ride with Zero Two.
Hearing the magic words, Zero Two dispatches her guards and crashes through the nearby glass to join her darling.
After essentially getting Hiro to admit out loud that he wanted to “ride her”, Zero Two leads him through the security gates as the two climb into Strelitzia’s cockpit and depart to save his friends.
While there was definitely some sexually charged dialogue and themes throughout the episode, Trigger apparently felt like there was still room for improvement. So, as Hiro and Zero Two are on their way to their climactic encounter with a large robot-dinosaur-worm thing, Hiro shares the following observation:
Uhhh…of course you do bud. Of course.
Together, Hiro and Zero Two dispatch the worm with the mild assistance of the other FRANXX pilots.
Following the battle, Hiro is sweating and out of breath (insert ponder emoji here) and admits that even if he can only pilot with Zero Two one more time, the chance to be able to fly is more than worth it…we’ll see how the mysterious council of old men respond to that next week!
Overall, a pretty solid episode. My main gripes are still fairly superficial compared to the sweet action sequences and fascinating dynamic between Hiro and Zero Two. I’m also interested to see if the rest of the squad sticks to their word of being more useful in upcoming episodes and battles. I suppose time will tell.
You can catch new episodes of Darling in the FRANXX on Crunchyroll Saturday mornings at 9 AM PST!
Episode 5 is here, and so is my review!
Darling in the FRANXX (Episode 4)
- Seeing Sterilizia in action again reminded me of the awesome action sequences that we caught in episode 1
- Zero Two and Hiro had some cute moments, despite the sexual charge between them being enough to light up a small city
- Random council of mysterious old guys at beginning of the episode seemed like a throwaway
- The rest of the FRANXX appear to be entirely useless