*Sigh* We’re never going to see that intro again, are we?
Opening with a heartbreaking shot of Rem still unconscious, we then cut back to Subaru’s second time confronting Betty in the library. She still has the Gospel, as before, but this time we learn the pages are blank. It stopped showing Betty’s future a long time ago. She is a spirit who contracted with Echidna, but was left in Lugunica without the Witch of Greed when she died. Now she is just following empty pages, directionless and alone. Betty laments her long life and begs Subaru to take it from her, in a scene much more tragic than I expected from this character when she was first introduced.
Subaru refuses, but of course, Elsa shows up again at the worst possible moment. Since the Forbidden Library uses doors for its magic, all she had to do was open every door in the mansion and eventually she’d get in. Wait, that’s all it takes?! Honestly, I’m surprised no one got in sooner. Oh, wait…
A spectacular fight breaks out in the hallway, spilling out into the courtyard as Betty fends off Elsa’s skillful swipes with her own brand of Shadow magic. But they soon find a new enemy waiting for them – or rather, an old one we didn’t expect! This is Maylie, the little blue-haired girl who told Subaru where to go to save Rem, way back in the Mabeast battle of Season 1. Turns out she’s actually the master of all those feral demon dogs! It’s a bit weird to bring such a minor background character back as a villain, but it is a nice call back and brings a bit more continuity between the various story arcs.
The villains of Arc 1 and Arc 2 (I guess) both outmatch and outnumber Beatrice, and Elsa lands the killing blow. But Betty uses the last of her power to warp a wonder Subaru back to the Sanctuary once more.
Subaru is still alive, back with Emilia. But something’s wrong. For one thing, it’s snowing again. For another, Emilia has gone completely bat-shit crazy! She showers Subaru with affection and confessed her deep love for him (definitely out of character for her), but simultaneously berates and gaslights him for not paying enough attention to her. Her wide yandere eyes confirm it – this is not the Emilia we know and love! Maybe she’s been infected by the miasma, or maybe she’s Satella in disguise. Or maybe poor Emilia has just snapped from the pressure of so many failed trial attempts. Either way, this is definitely the creepiest we’ve seen from her, and major props to Rie Takahashi for being able to pull such a wide range of emotion from her character.
Subaru leaves, and not even an enraged Garf can snap him out of his depression. With Puck still gone, though, there’s only one person who could have caused this snow – the mad magician, Roswaal. But this time, their meeting ends in tragedy. Garf tries to transform and kill the man who’s clearly been behind some, if not all, of this, but the sneaky Roswaal impales him – and Ram, who had jumped in front to protect the man she loves most. All with the same unchanging, sociopathic grin. He doesn’t weep for them, see, because he knows that Subaru can get them back.
With his darkest secret stolen from him, Subaru is beaten bloody and powerless to resist. And as if on cue, the bunnies appear to finish the job. Roswaal knows he is going to die, but he doesn’t care – in fact, he seems to delight in his own demise, throwing himself at the Great Rabbit with a sardonic grin. He explains that even if he dies, the next timeline’s Roswaal – the “me, who is not myself” will eventually finish the goal he set out to achieve. It sounds like madness – but in the world of Re:Zero, where death is everywhere but never seems to stick around for very long, maybe the only way to survive is to become mad yourself.
But Subaru survives the Great Rabbit this time, going back to the Sanctuary to die with Emilia. And here I’m going to bow out for a second and let Tappei Nagatsuki explain what happened, as it is in the novel:
His voice refused to come out. Light vanished from his black eyes.
Not noticing this, thinking Subaru had merely fallen silent, Emilia tilted her neck in adorable fashion.
Then she abruptly smiled, gently bringing her face closer, and–
–kissed the silent Subaru’s lips.
–The taste of her first kiss was the cold taste of death.
Really, I don’t know what else to add to that. There is so much to unpack with this episode, and I’m almost at a thousand words already. The art direction was phenomenal, especially the glitchy camera with the scenes from Emilia. It reminded me of those “found footage” horror movies that were all the rage in the early 2000’s. Beatrice, Roswaal, and Emilia were incredible this episode, showing new and darker sides to their characters and making the audience question the assumptions they may have made about them before. And there was a lot of great continuity with this and the events of the first season, showing the link between Elsa and the Mabeast attack. But have you realized we’re not even halfway done with this season, let alone this series? There is still so much left to see, much more of the world to explore, and so much suffering left for poor Subaru. I know some of y’all out there hate him, but I have to wonder what he did to deserve all this…