Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
The episode opens with members of Squad 13 tending to a patch of land outside of the headquarters. A brief flashback shows that the Strelizia Apus and other Klaxosaur forces took to the heavens to follow VIRM and bring the fight to them. Zero Two is not dead, but in an unresponsive state, constantly gazing into nothingness and not responding to food or interactions at all.
Strangely, Hiro begins noticing some pretty serious cuts on her arms, and he tends to her the best that he can as Squad 13 begins to formulate a plan for survival. They’re putting their hopes in the small farm they’re setting up under Kokoro’s guidance.
As Kokoro is assisting with the project, a tangle mass of corpses from the heavens crashes to the earth – VIRM and Klaxosaur bodies combined after a horrific battle. Seeing this, Kokoro collapses, having fallen ill numerous times before. Taken to the medical facility, she’s unceremoniously informed that she’s pregnant. She’s given the options to have the fetus removed in order to keep piloting her FRANXX if needed, and is left to reflect on the earth-shattering news.
Mitsuru knows that he had a past with her, but with their memories still scrambled, all he senses is responsibility, guilt, and shame. He turns to Hiro to ask for support, but Hiro is hardly his typical cheerleader self given the condition that Zero Two is in.
Then, the hits just keep on coming. The squad goes outside to survey their farm only to find that the plant-life has all died.
Attempting to repair the water purification and other systems are met with a denial from one of the remaining adults, who defers to Papa’s authority despite the fact that he literally ascended into the heavens after revealing himself as an evil alien race. So that’s a thing.
Just when all hope seems lost, a familiar face makes a welcome return: Nana!
The kids go to her, pleading for help, and she and Hachi get to work diagnosing issues and helping the kids come up with a plan. Hachi tells Goro that the reason their farm died is most likely because the extraction of Magma energy has deprived the soil of the necessary components to support plant-life. Hachi does some further research and discovers that Mistelteinn, the kids former home following the victory at Gran Crevasse, features soil from before magma farming was more common. As such, it can support the crops that they will need to survive.
At the same time, Hiro makes a startling discovery. While chasing down Zero Two, he notices that she gets hurt right in front of him while she’s looking to the sky. After mending her and laying her down to rest, their horns touch each other and he gets a vision of the Strelizia Apus battling the VIRM fleet in space. Zero Two’s mind resides within the Apus, and she’s fighting to protect the Earth from VIRM!
Hiro informs the rest of Squad 13 and lets them know that he’ll be going to space to be with her and try to support her in the fight against VIRM. Goro, setting up a plan to ensure their survival, lashes out at Hiro for his selfishness.
Hiro takes the verbal abuse, admitting that it may all very well be true. Even still, he’s determined to go to her. He says “If I can’t make her smile, I might as well be dead.” Ichigo and the rest of the squad are devastated as Hiro prepares for his journey to space aboard a large Klaxosaur ship that Hachi found while scouting for fertile land.
As Hiro heads out to the ship, he’s greeted by the squad, Nana and Hachi. When he asks where they’re going, Goro points to the sky and they tell Hiro their plan:
The remaining Nines are in for the battle as well, with Nana and Hachi resuming their role as advisors and support. So, the Squad is on their way to space to settle things with VIRM once and for all! With 2 episodes left…what drama remains to be unleashed?
Darling in the FRANXX, the Studio TRIGGER phenomenon that first took the winter season by storm, is approaching its end. It’s been a wild journey so far, battling back foes seen and unseen…from gargantuan super-weapons to a particularly protective group of friends. While the previous pair of episodes have certainly thrown a curve ball in terms of the plot, I believe that the series is still holding true to its character.
Episode 22 is the calm before the storm, and yet there was plenty of drama to be had. Hiro’s defeated look throughout the majority of the episode was enough to take the wind right out of you. Forever an optimist, Hiro had fought so hard to be with Zero Two – to be confronted with her non-responsive shell of a body was almost too much for him to bear. He did his best to contribute where he could, but the struggle was apparent to everyone around him.
Kokoro and Mitsuru’s saga also continues to evolve, as what we’ve guessed for a while now has officially come to pass: she’s expecting! The girl so fascinated with the concept of creating life and adding something to the world is getting her wish: despite the fact that her jumbled memories means that there’s far less joy involved than there should be.
Amidst the drama and tragedy, I can definitely say that the return of Nana was a well-needed breath of fresh air. Watching her come to terms with the fact that she’s the only resource for these kids now is helping her escape her pity-party and focus on the task at hand. Hachi is also surprisingly supportive when it comes to helping Goro find suitable land for farming, as well as a ship for Hiro to go save Zero Two with.
Of course, at the center of it all is Zero Two. In the distant stars she fights back an alien armada while her friends are clueless on the surface. I’ll be very interested to see more of Hiro and Zero Two’s interactions once they make it to space, and knowing Studio TRIGGER, there’s no doubt that the climax will be out of this world.
While I appreciate the purposefulness of the episode, it can feel like it’s dragging a bit at times. Still, I think that this “deep breath before the plunge” episode was well executed overall, and is getting us ready for an amazing finalé to come.
Darling in the FRANXX (Episode 22)
- Satisfying, if a bit slow, follow-up to last week's episode
- Episode takes the time to check in with Squad 13 as a whole - good character development
- Story appears to be heading into its conclusion without too many loose ends.
- Some good opportunities for the soundtrack to shine through this episode
- Feels a bit slow at times
- Not much explanation as to why the infrastructure remains after Papa has abandoned the planet