Aldnoah.Zero Episode 23: The Unvanquished
The princess strikes back.
“I feel sorry… for her. And for you.”
Truer words were never spoken. That should be the tagline for Aldnoah.Zero, because when I’m not hoping for the characters to die, I’m most likely feeling sorry for them. To complete the pity party, I’m in turn feeling sorry for Lemrina, given that she’s been unceremoniously cast aside by both the spotlight and the one man she cares for with the return of her sister. It’s how she’s managed to gain such an accurate perspective of events though, and it is true that Assyelum should be the princess we have our attention on right now. If you’ll forgive my using such a crass analogy towards our delicate flower, this princess seems to have grown a pair of balls since the last time we saw her. And after her meeting with her now presumably deceased grandfather, both her resolve and her balls are as tough as the finest steel.
Fine. I’m okay with this. She did good. It’s what she should be doing, and the way she did it is along the right lines as well – because if she’s now the Empress of an autocratic regime, then absolutely no-one can call her out for what she may or may not have said in the past. Least of all Slaine, who was technically only under the control of the Emperor prior to the announcement that Princess made. It was noticeably clear that her resolve hardened throughout the episode, and in all fairness she did give one last chance to Slaine – by pleading with him to end the war. To me, Slaine did the diplomatic equivalent of spitting in her face – to be honest, it’s hard to call it anything different when he pretends to look regretful while muttering to his subordinate to send out a pursuit squad. I don’t know how empty either of their words were, but I think Asseylum already knew there wasn’t much she could do. And Slaine was just saying whatever in an attempt to get her to come back. He was probably quite worried, and rightfully so – this is the first time since the start of the season that Princess has left the moon base, and is thus no longer under Slaine’s control. It was interesting to see Eddelrittuo essentially try to justify Slaine’s actions, but it kind of makes sense. Eddie is the only one who both knows everything and has been beside Slaine for the entire time while watching his gradual corruption, and I can see why she’d think there was still some good in him. Maybe there is.
Oddly enough, you’d think it’d be Inaho who takes Princess away as her knight in shining armour, as opposed to Klancain. It feels a bit strange to me, given that Klancain is a character who was literally introduced merely an episode ago – someone like Mazuurek would have been more realistic, if they really didn’t want to have Inaho do it. The chances for a climactic battle between Slaine and Inaho over Princess is now less likely, and it feels like a longshot to have Slaine leave the moon base in the Tharsis and just happen to run into Inaho. The skirmish they had last week was anything but climactic. I do understand that they needed to get someone with the ability to have Princess do what she needs to do, and that automatically meant a royalist Orbital Knight. But for it to be Klancain must mean that Slaine is now wallowing in this cesspit of NTR jealousy towards someone that’s not even Inaho. This is the ultimate lesson that the childhood friend never wins: and now Slaine is commencing his last stand on behalf of childhood friends everywhere.
Or at least, he would have. I don’t think we can be absolutely sure – Klancain mentioned that many of the Orbital Knights were warmongering, and it very much depends on how exactly they balance up their loyalty to Slaine and his guarantee of war with their loyalty to the new Empress. Will they recognize her accession to the throne? Will they even care? Remember that the Saazbaum faction were willing to assassinate Princess, and I doubt they’ll immediately start listening to the royal family. This is how I think it’ll go down. Slaine and a couple of Orbital Knights who agree with his ideals will continue the war regardless, and that will make for a more manageable enemy for Inaho and the Deucalion to handle. Slaine has nothing left to lose now, except maybe Lemrina’s affections, so I see no reason for him not to try as hard as he can to achieve his endgame. The usurper has fallen, and Princess has ripped back control. Incidentally, this is the bit where Harklight and Barouhcruz will turn on him at light speed in order to save their asses. I still want a happy ending for Slaine, and also one for Lemrina. He’s been a dick, but he’s come so far and I want to see him survive this somehow. But if Asseylum really has managed to turn a good majority of the VERS Empire against him, there really isn’t much he can do. What a bummer.
Finally, we have Eggs. Now that his robot eye has relinquished control back to him, I’ve lost a lot of my interest in him. With all the foreshadowing, both through his pain and the worry of what seems to be every Deucalion crew member, he will probably die. The scenes with Yuki-nee and Inko worrying about him were okay though. Everyone’s talking about death flags and final showdowns, and I don’t know whether they’re trying to subvert the trope by overtly mentioning it or whether they’re genuinely going to kill someone off. If they can pull off an interesting conclusion without too many asspulls, then I’ll just accept whatever happens with the Terrans. All eyes are on the Martians. That’s how it’s been for the vast majority of this season, and rightly so.