Aldnoah Zero – Episode 9 Review – “Darkness Visible”
Slaine was captured and tortured for information by Count Cruhteo. Slaine only gave away one vital piece of information; the Princess may still be alive. Cruhteo reached the conclusion that she was still alive, and Slaine was in actuality a valuable ally. Just as we thought Slaine might catch a break, Saazbaum killed Cruhteo, destroyed his Sky Castle and took off with an unconscious Slaine. The Terran group did nothing of notice last episode. 😛
Slaine awakens to find himself recovering from his injuries, propped up in a comfortable bed. Saazbaum reveals that even though he is the mastermind behind the Asseylum assassination plot, he also owes Slaine’s father his life. Later Saazbaum and Slaine have a very interesting conversation at dinner. One that adds a layer to Saazbaum as the show’s villain, and makes him more than just a carboard cutout.
With the Terran group, Rayet asks permission to run some of the battle simulations with Yuki. She holds her own pretty well, but when Yuki simulates Trillam’s Kataphrakt, Rayet is visibly shaken. She verbally takes her fear and anger out on Asseylum, who tries to be friendly with her at lunch. Rayet can’t understand why the Princess can be so calm and composed in the face of the war. Elsewhere, the same simulation equipment is used to treat Marito’s PTSD. And then the episode takes a very intriguing turn…
Fleshing out Saazbaum’s character was definitely a good idea by the showrunners. Katsuhiko Takayama has written him in a way that still makes him a villain, but one with a attainable and realistic goal. (Gen Urobuchi didn’t write the characters this time around, he has said he only created the “mainframe” for the show) His rationality behind his mission is also understandable. For him, Vers is not a perfect empire but rather a deeply flawed one. Yet he isn’t that partial towards the Terrans either. He may not like Slaine, but honours his debt to Dr. Troyard. This one episode has elevated my opinion of the character quite a lot.
Slaine and Rayet are the two most interesting characters in the show, and they largely haven’t gotten enough screen time in the series – until this week. The show seems to have recognized that Inaho really isn’t what’s keeping the ship/show from sinking. In light of what occurs in the final minutes of the episode, both of them became even more important to follow. I’m curious to see what their next moves are in particular. There still needs to be more Slaine in the show however.
Speaking of that ending – it was a bombshell to be sure. I will admit that I did not see it coming, and it will likely be a sparkplug to the plot. On a slightly sillier note, it was nice to see bad things happen to someone either than Slaine this episode! And while that twist didn’t feel out of place, the bits with Marito’s treatment did to an extent. Marito feels like a character that could have been more compelling, but he’s remained too stagnant over the course of the series. He doesn’t jump out at you as one of the people that you absolutely need to follow, despite how much screen time is devoted to him.
My last note is that the only scene involving Inaho this episode was the one that was the least engaging. Are we really going down this “he has a crush on the Princess, tee hee” path? That’s incredibly boring and lame, and just doesn’t fit his character at all. Please don’t continue down this rival in love route, as it’s stale odour will only make Inaho even more of an afterthought. I’m all for an emotionally distant and logical protagonist, but just be prepared to do something suitable with them. Having said that, this most recent development might throw an interesting wrench in.
Next: “Before The War”