ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.
by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 9 of
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. ?
Community score: 4.5
Last week, I wondered where Natsume Ono and Shingo Natsume would take us from here. Luckily, it turns out there were a lot of enthralling places we could go, from Schwan's cunning manipulation of the first princess into going after Lotta to Magie following his own conscience and taking action against his prince's intentions.
After all the praise for Abend's unquestioning loyalty, this was a nice touch of protest that provided some much-needed development for Rail's little arc within the bigger picture. Their shared love for sandwich bread and its true princess ends up saving a life – at least I would like to think so, even if the abduction and assassination abilities of the first princess' guards left a lot to be desired, so Lotta never truly seemed to be in mortal danger. What tension there was got slightly dampened by Lotta and Rail's frustrating lack of subtle facial expressions, something earlier episodes of ACCA had excelled at portraying. Thanks to Ōru "coincidentally" showing up to save the day (he's about as far from being a bumbling fool as Schwan is from the buffoon I initially mistook him for), everyone is saved to enjoy the next piece of pie.
But the whole failed assassination business is really just there to ease us into a general sense of suspense, with the showstopper only arriving in the episode's closing moments. Just when we think Grossular coming clean about "his" coup has everyone united to pursue the goal of making poor Jean the next king under their shared guidance, it's time to reveal that not only have Lilium and Grossular been in cahoots since learning of Jean's heritage (I'm guessing they figured it out right around the time Jean's parents died), Grossular is even more of a pawn than Jean himself, with Lilium unveiled as the true master schemer.
Lilium had given off a vibe of danger long before we learned of his powerful family connections and almost royal wealth. Over the last couple of episodes, his screentime had to make way for the royal bloodline reveal, but there was always something of importance he would still have to do. While it looked like Lilium's own ambitions and rivalry with Grossular could mess up this coup, there's no rivalry left to speak of with him revealed as the true instigator. Behind the scenes, Lilium owns Grossular, and seeing him get pulled down by his hair was utterly humiliating and cringe-worthy in the best possible way.
Grossular proclaimed a coup to be inevitable, with one bound to happen in one district or another in response to Schwan's impending ascension, it would be in the interest of peace if ACCA assumed the role of leading a carefully controlled operation to avoid unrest, another civil war, and their own abolishment through a newly cemented autocracy. But is this Lilium's true objective? His insufferable character makes it hard to root for his shenanigans or believe in his genuine concern for the nation's future beyond a self-serving interest. More likely, he's looking for a figurehead with at least a notion of marketable legitimacy through which ACCA (already wrapped around his little finger) can rule supreme – an autocratic police state instead of absolute monarchy. Lilium certainly looks like a guy capable of pulling enough strings to hold leverage over more than one chief at a time, but there is someone who's been portrayed as incorruptible so far, the most unlikely person to be susceptible to blackmail and deception: Mauve, who respects both Grossular and the nation she serves. Hopefully, she will be able to subvert Lilium's personal ambitions so that no one will have to trade pies for arms.
Meanwhile, Jean is off on a particularly long inspection trip to several districts, all of them aware of his heritage. Now that Jean knows too, he's about to receive his first formal pledge of support beyond the customary envelope and cigarette, which makes him about as happy as running out of tobacco. I presume that his visit to Yakkara will finally provide some screentime for director Spades, while also allowing for some very quotable lines, from Yakkara's supervisor embracing the local culture to Grossular cynically appropriating the district's gambling motto for his own pitiful role in Lilium's scheme.
Apart from the slightly too harmless assassination plot, this episode showcased all of ACCA's strengths, from the wonderful soundtrack doing its best to create subtle tension against an army of sweets to the atmospheric backgrounds and sets that breathe so much life even into the more static scenes. The suspense is as low-key as justifiably possible, but the series' restraint also enables hair-pulling and champagne-spilling to serve as moments of utter shock and dramatic delight.
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