There is a certain cruelty in finding out that people who you’ve been led to believe were your enemy, are people as well. With their own ambitions and reasons for opposing your views. Your actions. Your desire to control them.
Edit2: Welp, I made a mistake without double-checking, thanks to Regris_Kallen on twitter for reminding me this was an anime-original production. I got sidetracked on an outside conversation and it ended up being a discussion on the hit or miss nature of LN adaptations and it bled into my thoughts while I was writing the post. I apologize to folks who are reading this. (Edited 1934 EST, 11/20/2016 rev 2)
Rickert night-drops into Eylstadt, all the while mulling over the version of the White Witch legend that Bassler has told him. At Lord Redford’s estate, Izetta recovers from her battle while Finé explains that Lord Redford’s birthday party is going to act as a cover for a meeting between the various allied leaders.
Back at Eylstadt, Rickert encounters the normal people and has some misgivings of tricking the kindness of the people due to him being their enemy. After falling into a stream after a particularly bad lorry driver, he is picked up by Bianca and Lotte, who don’t suspect his true affiliations, and drive him to the old capital. Lotte seems to pick up Bianca’s flustered self when Rickert compliments her, and Rickert seems to have opened his eyes a tad more when interacting with the two.
Back at Landsberg, Sieg explains to Elvira that he had to involve the Royal Guard due to the appearance of the Germanian spy, Lorenz, at the old capital. He wants it taken care of, else his murder of Jonas, Jonas’ sacrifice to keep their secret, will have been in vain. Though he doesn’t tell this to Elvira.
Gaining a room in Lotte’s sister’s inn, he finishes recounting the currently accepted version of the fairy tale, before being summoned for dinner. While discussing the fact the castle is off-limits, he inadvertently discusses the more tragic version of the fairy tale to Bianca, who had mentioned to him that she loves the ending. Bianca becomes upset at the more tragic version due to her near-idolization of Izetta.
When Lotte explains to Rickert about Bianca’s own feelings on the matter, the young lad is visibly upset at his actions, and goes to apologize. Pausing before her door, he hesitates before hearing her shriek, only to barge in on her being given a bath by Lotte, with rather predictable results.
Later that evening, after some light teasing by her subordinates, they confirm that Lorenz was seen by the locals. Ordering to maintain the search and to lock down the castle. Elsewhere in the old capital, Rickert meets with Lorenz who explains that Jonas was most likely eliminated to keep his secret safe.
Back at Lord Redford’s castle, the party is at full swing as Izetta, Finé, and Lord Redford mingle. At a predetermined time though, members of the party would go off to discuss what they need to discuss, while Finé leads Izetta outside to the garden, who is getting embarrassed at the people staring at her. Outside though, they are met by Berkman and a young maiden with snow-white hair.
Thinking of making their way back into the ball, the girl suddenly kisses Izetta, biting her and drinking her blood before becoming comatose. Instantly aware they knew who they were, they don’t answer, and are interrupted by Lord Redford. Asking him if he knew who they were, Berkman and his girl disappear, as Lord Redford, puzzled, tells them the meeting had concluded. The news is rather promising, with the US ambassador promising to recommend that the Atlantean president send troops to Europe.
Back to Rickert and Lorenz the next day, the two would infiltrate the castle using an unknown passageway, and make their way to the secret room, all the while explaining the more tragic version of the story. When the White Witch came back to save Eylstadt, the Prince was already married. The wife, scorned by her husband’s love for the witch who saved their country, had the white witch enslaved by a neighboring country, and burned at the stake by the Inquisition. After the princess died, the people locked up the secret of the witch under the castle.
Finding the leylines room, Rickert finally understood what Berkman said Izetta’s weakness was, and starts to take pictures of the map. Unfortunately the room reacts to the vial of Izetta’s blood Rickert used to access the room, and a gem falls from one of the murals. Picking up the gem, they are confronted by the Royal Guard, with Bianca and Rickert reacting to each other’s presence in shock. Lorenz is quicker on the uptake and fires at the guards, who chases them.
In the underground passageway, Rickert gives Lorenz the gem and photos, indicating he was shot and will draw them away. Heading to the ramparts, he confronts Bianca, who informs him that if he surrenders, they’ll be lenient. He thanks her, but says he can’t betray his fatherland, something she isn’t any different of being. He apologizes for his actions the other day, and explains that everyone seeks a happy ending in stories even if it isn’t true, because there is no avoiding the tragedies in life, like the prince and the white witch. Or of Rickert and Bianca.
Raising their guns to fire at each other, Bianca nails Rickert in the heart, and he topples over the ramparts, while Bianca (seemingly) unhurt, stares in shock at what she’s done. Elsewhere, Lorenz is sniped by one of Bianca’s subordinates, but before the body could be recovered, a villager who was seen throughout the episode recovers the camera and jewel, revealing himself to be another Germanian spy.
Back in Londenium, Ambassador Stanley starts to write his recommendation to the Atlantean president. Noting the danger of the Germanians, he also sees the great danger in Eylstadt’s witch, and proposes to go to war not only against Germania, but against Eylstadt due to the uncertain threat Izetta poses.
I think, of some things I’ve been told, Izetta has finally shown they’ve needed to speed things up a bit. This episode could’ve easily had been divided into three episodes, due to the three distinct subplots that was afforded to us.
You’ve got Rickert’s mission and his softening attitudes to the people of Eylstadt, and meeting Bianca and gaining a short-term romance with the boy-shy Royal Guard. You’ve got Berkman’s introduction of a possible artificial witch (or possibly even the true White Witch), and also of Izetta and Finé trying to gain the support of the untapped giant that is the United States of Atlanta.
But with how the episode is shaping out, it seemed to be more focused on Rickert and his mission, and I would’ve honestly been fine with that. Had it spread out to two episodes, it would’ve allowed more time for Rickert to gain some doubt, if not some misgivings about his mission, or at least injected some empathy for the people living in Eylstadt. It would’ve allowed a bit more time to develop some emotional connection, if however brief and futile, between Bianca and Rickert.
That would’ve made the eventual revelation of their true identities more convincing, and of Rickert’s death at the hands of Bianca more impactful for the audience.
It would’ve also meant it would allow the operation to infiltrate the castle to be in the next episode, after spending the latter third of this episode focused on Lord Redford’s party, a bit of the deliberations, and Berkman’s arrival with the maiden that used to be in the cylinder (?!).
But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a train wreck. While we as an audience was leaving with a less-than stellar ending between Rickert and Bianca, to the characters, they were significant enough, with Rickert no doubt having feelings for Bianca, and Bianca realizing the polite young Eylstadtian man who was all knightly and the like to her was actually a Germanian spy.
The shocker of an ending though is of Ambassador Stanley’s recommendation to open a European front due to the threat posed by Germania to Atlantean interests, and of Eylstadt with their witch being an equal or greater threat. I don’t think this was the result that Lord Redford or Archduchess Ortfiné was envisioning. But I’m guessing with the beleaguered Allied leadership, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, noting that while they might be allied with Eylstadt now, they wouldn’t know when they would turn their witch on them.
Speaking of witches, it seems Emperor Otto, in his search for the White Witch, seems to have developed one of his own, so now I can only wonder why Izetta was captured. Was it to replace her, or to feed her? The fact she went comatose on just a small amount of Izetta’s blood meant she might be incomplete, but now with the magical gem in the hands of Germania, I cannot foresee any good coming from this. That might be the last step for Germania to release their ultimate weapon, and a reason why Izetta might’ve been barred from revealing herself or idolizing the White Witch by her grandmother. It would just lead to pain and suffering.
But if Izetta had never revealed herself, wouldn’t that had meant that Germania would have an ace up their sleeve when they eventually roll out their own witch?
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
I look forward to seeing where this all goes. I’m not particularly too hopeful on Light Novel adaptations with such a short episodic run, but Izetta has managed to keep the ‘hump’ episode as late as they could have. Unfortunately for us the audience, with so much converging plots now coming into fruition, it was hard not to try to rush the plot.
Edit2: Welp, I made a mistake without doublechecking, thanks to Regris_Kallen on twitter for reminding me this was an anime-original production. I got sidetracked on an outside conversation and it ended up being a discussion on the hit or miss nature of LN adaptations and it bled into my thoughts while I was writing the post. I apologize to folks who are reading this. (Edited 1934 EST, 11/20/2016 rev 2)
Edit: Goddamnit, this was a fleeting thought of mine.