Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
After last week’s hard-hitting episode, there were many thoughts on how the reunion would play out. Unfortunately, none of the optimistic scenarios seemed to work out…
The episode opens with Zero Two and Hiro in the cockpit of Strelizia. Hiro comments that she was the girl with the picture book from “back then”, and Zero Two is horrified when she realizes the implications of their shared memories.
The cockpit opens and Ichigo springs into action, tossing a stunned Zero Two aside as she checks on Hiro. Back at the base, Hiro is in the process of recovering, and Zero Two is overcome with questions. She needs to talk to her Darling, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, with Hiro having some seriously nasty markings on his neck from her spirit-choking him, Ichigo’s long-simmering mistrust of Zero Two ignites into all-out rebellion. She coordinates with the rest of the squad to keep Zero Two away from Hiro, no matter what.
The squad visits Hiro after he wakes up, and explains that Zero Two won’t be around him anytime soon. He acts as though he understands, but has questions of his own that he wants to ask Zero Two. And so, the pair spend the episode in futile attempts to connect with one another.
While Hiro is recovering, it’s announced that Squad 13 will be taking on their most dangerous mission yet – battling for a territory against dozens of Klaxosaurs of varying size and intensity. They will be joining the Nines and other squads in this large-scale battle. Amidst the briefing, Ichigo announces that the squad has decided that unless Zero Two is removed from the squad immediately, they will not participate.
The adults don’t seem particularly surprised by the request, and announce that it was planned for Zero Two to return to the Nines anyways. Zero Two, obviously shocked by this, starts to make her way to Hiro’s room, but is blocked by the rest of the team.
Ichigo goes to visit Hiro again as Zero Two hides away in her room, monitored by Goro and the other guys of the house until the next day, when she’s scheduled to leave.
Ichigo and Hiro have some small talk, and she lets him know that she’s going to take care of him for once.
The two share a couple moments, but it appears as though Hiro is largely indulging Ichigo as she plays nurse. Shortly after she leaves, his curiosity gets the better of him and he makes an escape from the room using some tied-together sheets.
Meanwhile, Zero Two’s desire to speak with Hiro had reached its climax, and she made her way out of the room in a huff. As Goro attempted to get in her way, she tosses him aside like a rag-doll just in time for Ichigo to return from visiting Hiro. Talking tough, Ichigo continues to deny her the chance to see Hiro, assuming that she’s going to lie and hurt him.
Zero Two vehemently denies it, attributing the situation to misunderstanding. The rest of the squad seems heartbroken for the pair, as Goro and Kokoro both suggest that they facilitate Hiro and Zero Two’s conversation. Ichigo finally concedes, and they begin escorting her to the hospital room.
Unfortunately, Hiro had left the room to make his way back to the dorms. So when the kids come across the empty hospital room, Zero Two takes it as a cruel trick that was played on her and goes berserk. Hiro, realizing the gravity of what’s happening when he arrives at the dorm to find Zero Two’s demolished room and nobody else home, races back to the hospital to find Zero Two standing over his comrades.
As she drops Ichigo, she expresses how they simply wouldn’t let her talk to her Darling, and that wasn’t okay. Ichigo begs him to run away, but instead Hiro turns to Zero Two and comments that she is “A Monster” and “Not Human” in that moment.
Her face drops into one of somber defeat, as she reflects on the punishment of her heartbreak.
The next morning, Zero Two’s horns are revealed to have grown nearly 3 times in size. Now rocking some truly intimidating head-gear, she leaves the dorm silently while the rest of the squad looks on. Outside, she passes Hiro quietly.
As she walks away, Hiro breaks down into tears, reflecting on the relationship they’ve shared so far, the tragedy only enhanced by his recently rediscovered memories. He nearly turns to bolt after her before he’s stopped by Ichigo, who offers him a proper confession of her feelings.
Zero Two is presented with a squad of new “partners” from which she can freely drain their energy and discard them like tools. Unimpressed, she makes her way onto the ship and it takes off overhead, Hiro watching as it flies away with a look of pain and sadness in his gaze.
Wow wow wow. The “best girl” wars took a sharp turn this week as Ichigo dove head-first onto everyone’s shit-list. Her overbearing attitude and haughtiness certainly took center stage, but I would argue that if we pause and look at this from Ichigo’s perspective, it makes a lot more sense. As viewers, we get the benefit of peeking behind the curtain. We understand the weight of Hiro and Zero Two’s past. We know what happened. Ichigo doesn’t. All she sees is that her best friend for as long as she can remember has changed, and not all for the better, ever since this strange woman came into his life. He’s been ill, nearly died, and now she opens the cockpit to find his neck covered with bruises and marks and Zero Two on top of him.
Going back to the early metaphors that we discussed in terms of Franxx pairs being symbolic of a relationship, though perhaps alluding to the more sexual aspects, Ichigo is intervening in what she deems to be an abusive or toxic relationship. Now, is it a coincidence that she’s got the hots for Hiro and would be more than happy to have him as a partner instead? Maybe.
That being said, the emotional affect of Ichigo and the Adults efforts to keep the dynamic duo of Hiro and Zero Two apart is profound. Each instance of Zero Two or Hiro being denied the opportunity to see the other only heightened my anger. By the end of the episode, I was almost relieved that Zero Two had finally snapped and started tossing aside the other pilots. And it’s in this moment I realized the real impact of the cumulative denials. You experience the frustration of Zero Two time after time, and by the end you find your thoughts lining up with hers…
She’s stronger. She’s better. None of you understand. Let her speak to her Darling!
Of course, caught between it all is Goro – Ichigo’s faithful partner that only recently confessed his own feelings. The closing scene where he watches Ichigo confess her feelings to Hiro was particularly painful.
With a huge battle ahead, there are sure to be some complications on the battlefield. With Hiro’s only proven partner gone, how will he maintain his value to APE and the adults? Will Squad 13 be able to emerge victorious over the Klaxosaurs? Will our doomed pair ever be able to reconcile?
I know I’m looking forward to getting the answers – are you?
UPDATE: The new episode is here and we got some answers! Check out my latest review here!
Darling in the FRANXX - Episode 14 (Review)
- It's arguably as emotionally compelling as Episode 13, though it triggers feelings of anger instead of sadness.
- Goro is too good for this world.
- I understand the intention, but it was a pretty slow pace/dragged out