Up until now, Steins;Gate 0 has been content to torture us with the memories of Kurisu’s death and the effects of the trauma on Okabe. While Steins;Gate 0 has been great up until this point, the focus has been heavily weighted towards the introduction of Amadeus and the effect of AI Kurisu on Okabe’s happiness. Aside from some short scenes with Suzuha, the apocalyptic future alluded to in the original Steins;Gate has not been featured. Episode 4 changes that.
Episode 4 starts off with a literal bang with a future Okabe running from a well-armed threat with a small group of soldiers. It is unclear as to whether Okabe escapes or is captured, but he winds up sitting in an office across from some high ranking official. Okabe’s phone rings and he answers it, causing what appears to be a shift in timelines.
The vision of the future we get in the beginning episode acts as a stark contrast to the ending of Episode 3 where the focus was on Okabe’s heartbreak in realizing that AI Kurisu is just a lie – an imitation of the real thing. In fact, when the episode reverts to that moment, Okabe notices a shift in timelines, similar to what we saw in the vision of the future. From that point forward, the dead Kurisu story line takes a backseat to the war-torn future story line.
The shift in focus between Episodes 1-3 and Episode 4 is slightly jarring, giving the audience relatively little time to focus on the feelings of loss awakened within Okabe. Yet the shift comes at an opportune time, allowing the show to move forward with new plots instead of wallowing in the past.
And boy does the show move forward. Within one episode we get teased with multiple mysteries. First there is the recurrence of Okabe’s Reading Steiner – his ability to notice shifts in timelines. The fact that he noticed a shift indicates that someone somewhere is messing with time. It is unclear what was changed for this shift, but if the original series is any indicator, shiftws in timelines should be noted whenever they happen because they will become relevant later.
Then there is the introduction of Mayushi’s adopted daughter who traveled back in time with Suzuha but got separated along the way. The girl shows a remarkable resemblance to Kurisu, bearing the same long red hair. It is unclear why the little girl suddenly turned on Suzuha or why she has reappeared at Rukako’s place, but the mystery surrounding her is intriguing.
Then there is the question of the professor and his intentions. Earlier in the episode, the professor remarks that a side goal of the project was to determine whether he could get AI Kurisu to fall in love with Okabe. It is unclear why love as a concept is so important to the professor, why it was not brought up before, or why it is being brought up now. While the mention of love could exist solely for the purpose of enshrining Steins;Gate 0 as a harem anime, the professors’s other activities make him suspicious. At one point, Okabe sees the professor skulking around at night, but the professor vanishes around a corner that has no apparent exits.
And finally there is the reintroduction of Moeka at the end of the episode as Daru’s go-to people finder. We always knew Moeka would find some way back into the series as she was an integral part-time villain in the original and makes a perfect trigger for Okabe. The fact that she is somehow online friends with Daru makes her introduction more interesting, since she did not have this connection to him originally.
Each of the additions feel well-woven into the plot and give us as the audience more to question going forward. It is unclear how all of these parts are going to come together, but they create a fun and engaging set of mysteries to unfold in future episodes. I am excited to see where the next episodes of Steins;Gate 0 will take us.
- Focus on future World War III
- Someone is messing with the timelines
- Mini Kurisu story line is compelling
- Introduction of Moeka raises the stakes
- Sudden introduction of a character Suzuha has apparently cared a lot about but not mentioned until now
- Addition of AI love subplot is confusing given how hard the professor had been shipping Okabe and Maho