Villains aren’t hard to come by, but there’s a few special ones that can transform the entire atmosphere of a show whenever they’re on screen. Darth Vader is one. Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII is another. And though it’s too early to compare her to those guys yet, I think that Satella, the Witch of Envy, does the same thing with Re:Zero. Even though she’s only had, like, 6 minutes of screen-time so far, everything that’s happened in the story is because of her. And her though we know little about her personality yet, this episode gives us a terrifying taste of her power – and a tiny glimpse of her humanity, under the hood.
Last time, Garfiel barely saved Subaru from Satella’s attack last episode, but tragically, they were the only ones to make it out alive. Everyone else – Ram, Roswaal, Otto, and even poor Emilia – were swallowed up by the Witch’s black fog. Just as soon as this new timeline has started, Subaru has already failed. He’s devastated, but as long as he has Return by Death, he can save them, right?
But Garf isn’t going down without a fight, and brings in the cavalry for his last stand – an entire army of clones of Ryuzu, seemingly empty shells, who launch themselves at Satella in an obvious suicide mission. Even Garf’s cat form, which was deadly just a few episodes ago, can’t put a scratch on Satella’s deathly pale face. She just stands there, repeating “I love you” over and over to Subaru as she slaughters everything in her path. It triggers Subaru’s jealousy more than hers, as he confirms his love for both Emilia and Rem.
But when Satella lovingly touches Subaru’s cheek, it’s all over. Subaru gets some trippy flashbacks of his time at the mansion, mixed with what appear to be memories of her previous victims. And as his life slowly fades, he finally gets a glance at Satella’s real face. It looks just like Emilia’s – beautiful, terrible, angelic, and yet so very sad. Not sure if he can, or even should, Subaru tells the Witch, “I’m going to save you”. Then he dies.
When he comes to, he’s back in the temple with the unconscious Emilia. He tries to comfort her as he did every time before, but this time he can’t. He just breaks down, out of grief, worry, anger, and his helplessness of it all – and Emilia ends up comforting him instead. Subaru laments his moment of weakness, but Emilia takes it in stride. I know he wants to give off this aura of stoic manliness to impress her, but I don’t think he should bother. Emilia likes Subaru as he is, vulnerabilities and all.
But Subaru has no time for moping. There’s still some sleuthing to do, and “one” person he hasn’t talked to yet. He uses the memories he learned from Satella to find Ryuzu, and finds the original in one of those weird Evangelion vats they always put clones in. One of the clones tells him that all the Ryuzus were created 400 years ago by Echidna so she would have spare bodies to put her soul in. The experiment failed, but Echidna can still control the clones – as can Subaru, as he gained some of her power through the magic tea she tricked him into drinking. Wait, does this mean Subaru could potentially gain the Authority of Greed from drinking enough of Echidna’s bodily fluids? Let’s not think about that part too much.
Late that night, Subaru has another wholesome scene with Emilia and we get a few moments of Otto being adorably tsundere with Subaru. (Every other girl in Lugunica already has a crush on him, but we can’t leave the guys out!) When the day breaks, though, he rushes back to the mansion to re-do his meeting with Beatrice. It’s a terrible idea, of course: Elsa the Bowel Hunter is waiting for him, and he doesn’t even have Ram or Frederica to back him up this time. But Subaru isn’t concerned with his own life. He knows he can just come back, after all. It makes me wonder how blurry the line between life and death really is for him. If all he does is prepare for the next inevitable death, he’s not really living, is he?
The episode ends on Subaru’s re-reunion with Beatrice, which will surely set up another action-packed romp next week. The episode was great overall, but seeing Emilia again made me realize I’ve missed her these past few weeks! She got a little development at the beginning, but hasn’t been around much since. And since her full backstory isn’t shown until later, it’s hard for anime-only viewers to understand why the trial traumatizes her so much. I know Re:Zero has to be The Subaru Show sometimes, since he’s the only one who can use Return by Death and advance the plot. But considering that Emilia is taking the trial to free the Sanctuary and prove herself worthy as King of All Friggin’ Lugunica, you’d think we’d see her perspective on things a bit more.
But considering they’ve introduced a new character or plot twist almost every episode, I can’t complain too much. This has been a stellar season overall. And with just three episodes to go before the mid-season break, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out out! Without spoiling anything, next week will be insane. In a good way.