Aldnoah.Zero Episode 18: The Rose and the Ring
DO IT, DO IT, DO— NOOOOOOOOOOO!
Well, shit. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.
For yet another week, Aldnoah.Zero shows off what I believe to be its core strengths: plot twists and beautifully choreographed action scenes. Which is just as well, considering that the rest of it is permeated with a cast of dysfunctional characters, the most irritating of which has just helpfully woken up. And this season was going so well, too. Funnily enough, it’s the final few minutes of the episode that brings the greatest scope of discussion, and at the forefront of that is the marriage announcement and its implications. This will affect everyone. Versian society will be both shocked and incredulous that a Terran will be wed to ‘Asseylum’, and whilst this might create even more dissent it will certainly be unvoiced given its potential consequences. The UFE and Earth may become even greater victims if or when they decide to start expanding to build their ‘new kingdom’. But all this matters relatively less when compared to the future trials facing a certain Count Troyard.
Put simply, it’s a doomed ship. It was doomed before they revealed Princess waking up. Clearly, this is what Lemrina meant by wanting to help Slaine, whilst accepting her role as a substitute. Implicit in that is a hint as to Slaine’s endgame, and at the rate at which he’s ascending in power and influence, I really should have seen this sooner. And Harklight probably wants to ride on his coattails as an easy way up. While I’m not sure as to whether becoming Emperor outright is what he’s after, especially as it’s fairly ambitious even for him, it’s definitely something to do with the creation of a completely new society. One that himself and Lemrina will be reigning over, and can thus control to make sure everything is perfect and wonderful. Anyway, Slaine is using her, and she herself knows she’s being used. The only reason she is okay with it is because this will be ultimate act of assuming Asseylum’s identity. What I think is that she will only be okay with it for now. Eventually, it’s going to hurt that she doesn’t have Slaine’s real love. It might not be such an issue if she’s helping him out with anything else, but a false marriage? Lemrina will have to be masquerading as Asseylum the entire time, in the knowledge that Slaine is in love with the hologram and not her. This cannot turn out well.
Of course, the irony in all this is that Slaine only accepted Lemrina after resigning himself to the reality that miracles do not in fact occur, and that Princess would never wake up. And that is exactly what has happened, perhaps even because Lemrina decided to turn deliciously evil and play around with her life support. The shock of cancelling all but one of the processes sustaining her must have jolted her awake. I was actually anticipating that she might do it, and just claim that she just died of her own accord in there. After all, that’s exactly what Slaine did to Saazbaum after gaining title to his inheritance. He’s the last person who should be complaining. I was hoping so, so much that Lemrina would press the last button. I felt slightly bad, but hey – Princess should have died at the end of the first season anyway. And note that I am only condoning actually attempting to murder Asseylum, as odd as that might sound. Playing around with the controls and pretending to go all the way, only to stop at the last hurdle and claim it was all a joke is kind of twisted. That was the best near-death experience for Princess yet though, I have to give Lemrina props. Rayet, Saazbaum and now Lemrina. Who will be the next to try?
The duel between Counts Troyard and Marylcian was much anticipated, and the episode actually delivered in that respect. I remember speculating it would be a curb-stomp battle, but the way they did it was more effective in the end – it’s significant in the sense that it’s the first real, staked face-off we’ve seen between two Versian Kataphrakts. And it was stunning, not least of all because both of the pilots were good. Although I’m not sure whether the corner Marylcian drove Slaine into was because of his auxiliary feature or because of his piloting skill. I didn’t think those laser-shooting homing missiles would be that durable, especially as they’re usually escaped from by making them run into other debris or material that happens to be present. As you would expect from the VERS Empire, Slaine now gets all his assets, and he rises up in prestige yet again. I was surprised to learn that a Slaine faction even existed, actually. It’s pretty much the remnants of Saazbaum’s faction who were loyal to the man himself and wanted to respect his wishes, but it’s still a pretty incredible prospect. Slaine now has military strength, economic assets, political support and a marriage tie to royalty. He’s outdone himself.
As per usual, meanwhile on Earth… nothing really happened. There was another cannon-fodder Orbital Knight, and it was only because of Inaho that it was taken out. Standard fare. I did gain a bit of respect for Yuki-nee though, she really had balls to face the enemy head-on and tell him to keep monologuing.