Miss my review from last week? You can find it here!
No synopsis/summary this week…so let’s just jump straight to the…
As the episode starts, we get a confrontation between Subaru and the Witch of Greed. And while this interaction had some great moments, there were too many that felt forced for the purpose of moving the story along. For instance, Subaru continually demands information from Echidna at the start of the scene and she generally avoids explanation. But the second she offers to answer any question he has, he refuses because he cares more about leaving then understanding. It’s such a complete shift from his previously established inquisitive nature that it feels like it was only placed there to quickly end the scene before spoiling all of the mysteries.
Even while I gripe about that scene, I also kind of loved it. When Subaru drinks the tea, he pulls a badass protagonist move and says “if you wanted me dead, I’d be dead already.” When he later learns that the tea contained a part of Echidna, he immediately sees the flaw in this reasoning. Echidna could have put anything in that tea for any purpose. It’s not like poison was her only option. Yet Subaru still thinks his knowledge of Isekai has perfectly prepared him and he acts accordingly.
That said, for an epic confrontation with the Witch of Greed, we actually learn very little in that scene. Sure, we learn that Subaru has Sloth’s witch factor in him, but that only confirms what we already suspected. We also get a bit of lore and introduction to the other Witches, but because of Subaru’s disinterest we learn none of the answers to our previous questions.
The interaction with Garfiel was a little less interesting. Unlike the previous scene which subverted anime tropes, this one was pretty by the numbers. Subaru runs into someone who is on his side but chooses to fight prior to introductions and Subaru holds out on giving the information that would prove this until the last second. Aside from the suplexing of a land dragon (which I admit was pretty cool), the scene didn’t really fill me with excitement or make me care about Garfiel as a character.
I did enjoy the twist with Sanctuary being anything but Sanctuary. The idea that Sanctuary was a prison for half-bloods was a cool twist. It kind of makes you wonder why everyone kept telling Emilia to go there without warning her, knowing she would be trapped, or why Roswaal brought all of the villagers to a location where he knew they would be trapped. Maybe he just expected to be able to beat the trial. All in all, it has a feel of “it’s this way because it would advance the story.”
Finally, I have mixed feelings on the ending and its attached hype. I’ve said before that it’s fun putting Subaru in positions he can’t escape by dying, but the return the real world thing is also a bit played out. That said, I love the way his father is portrayed as an overconfident goofball. It gives great context to Subaru’s similar personality.
This season has made a pretty big deal about subverting our expectations for this show. In Episode 1 it introduced two villains it completely forgot about. In Episode 2 it introduced a showdown with the Witch of Greed, but then shrugged that off as relatively unimportant. And now in Episode 3 it’s moving us out of the fantasy setting to do a real world vignette which could be five minutes or seven episodes long. In the meantime, we’ve seen Subaru’s power trigger once (ineffectively) and we’ve seen him use his dark energy magic zero times.
At this point, I am never sure what to expect from a next episode, both in terms of plot and in terms of quality. Despite my gripes, these last two episodes have been fairly well paced and have included plenty of moments that kept me glued to the screen. I’m interested to see where the show is going, but I am not yet ready to recommend it to friends who were fans of season 1.