Sorry this post is a couple days late! I just started a new job and it’s been kicking my ass lately, so I haven’t been able to give Re:Zero my full undivided attention until today. But even still, I couldn’t wait to see Subaru’s confrontation with Beatrice that was teased in the last episode. While that scene was a bit too short for my tastes, we still got some suspenseful moments and a great scene with the anime’s most unsung hero.
It starts right where we left off, with Subaru beaten and bloody with a bodacious Beatrice standing beside him. Poor Subaru is exasperated, believing that he should have just died so that he could get another chance to save Frederica and Petra. Beatrice scathingly insults him while being genuinely concerned for his life, but he freaks out when he sees a copy of the Witches’ Gospel on the floor. This is the sign of a contract with a Witch – the book that Betelgeuse valued more than his own life. Beatrice tells him that everything she has done is according to the wishes of her “mother”, and calls Subaru a fool for believing he, a human, could have a real bond with her. Then Elsa arrives, putting this awful time loop to a close just as Subaru tries in vain to save Beatrice.
There’s a lot to unpack here! First, I’m worried for Subaru’s mental health. He seemed to let go of some of his troubles in the trial, but it’s worrying how little he values his own life. He may be able to use Return by Death to get another chance to save his friends, but is it worth relying on that? What about the excruciating pain he feels in the moment, or the trauma those around them must feel from having to watch him die? Even if time resets and no one remembers it, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Lore-wise, we learned that Beatrice is affiliated with the Witches’ Cult (who isn’t at this point?) and she’s presumably contracted to one of the seven witches as a spirit. The only other named spirit we’ve seen so far is Puck, and remember how powerful he is? Whether Beatrice is friend or foe, she’s sure to be a game changer. Speaking of Puck, where is that stupid cat? Emilia is really suffering and she could use his help right now.
Subaru tries to restart the loop as normal, but it doesn’t last long. When he tells Garfiel of his plans to take the trial in Emilia’s place, he beats Subaru up and locks him in a dungeon! He’s been a loose cannon for a while now, so his heel turn isn’t surprising, but the reason why presents new problems for our heroes. Garfiel can smell the miasma of the witch on Subaru, which is most potent whenever he dies and restarts. Each cycle of Return by Death worsens the stank, making the angry cat boy exponentially more suspicious and hostile. How can Subaru deal with him – and with Ryuzu, who seems to be plotting some nefarious scheme of her own?
After being tied up in the dungeon for three days, we finally get our prison rescue from an unlikely source. Yup, it’s Otto the Merchant, the comic relief sidekick that everyone underestimated until now! I haven’t talked about Otto much so far, but this arc is where he really comes into his own. He’s a valuable ally not for his raw fighting ability, but for his communication skills and enormous heart. Dude has apparently been having his own side adventures offscreen, running from Garfiel while picking up valuable information about Emilia organizing a search party. When Subaru wonders why Otto would risk his neck to save someone as dumb and useless as him, Otto just says, well, because they’re friends, and that’s what friends do. D’aww.
But because ending any episode on a happy note would be off-brand for this season of Re:Zero, we get a quick post-credits stinger of Otto and Subaru meeting up with Ram and Garfiel transforming into his beast form. I would have liked to see the whole transformation this episode, but I guess that will have to wait until next week!
Still, this was another great episode. I especially loved the scene with Beatrice. The music, voice acting and direction were all top notch. The whole season has shown White Fox’s commitment to this amazing series despite having difficult working conditions during the pandemic. It’s consistently been my favorite anime of the season, even if Fruits Basket and Deca-Dence have given it a run for its money at times. I’m psyched for the next episode. Be sure to have a nice hot cup of tea ready for it!