Angels of Death
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Angels of Death ?
The most shocking revelation in this week's Angels of Death is that Rachel can actually emote when she wants to! This hasn't been a horror series heavy on scares, but confronted with the bodies of her parents, her voice and face contort with hysteria and create an atmosphere of tension that really hasn't been present in the show yet. She doesn't want to lose Zack's companionship, but pulling them apart appears to be the final test they both must pass in order to earn their freedom.
What this means in practice is that it's Zack's turn to take over protagonist duties after Rachel passes out and gets locked in the living room with Danny. It's time for all the puzzle-solving skills he's gleaned from his time with Rachel to pay off as he searches for secrets from her past and—wait, nope, he's just breaking everything. A good chunk of the episode is devoted to Rachel's house (or a facsimile of it) doing everything in its power to kill Zack, while Zack only grows increasingly annoyed with each trap. The slapstick combined with Zack's exasperated and profanity-laden reactions had me guffawing at points, like when he sees a shiny thing in the water (a callback to Eddie's floor) and smugly reaches for it, only to pull back both a key and three hungry piranhas. Zack's a very unsavvy video game protagonist, but he's an excellent video game monster, with his near-indestructibility keeping him alive despite roofs and floors collapsing all around him. Even he needs a helping hand now and then, however, and with Rachel out of commission, it's Gray who steps up.
Gray does the villain thing and explains the rationale behind this building. He has a distaste for the way people tend to use the concept of God to justify their own selfish desires and fuel discord with other people, which is totally fair. What I don't exactly follow is why that means he thought it was a good idea to build a murder basement and fill it with serial killers in order to judge people. He's clearly delusional and evil, so his rationale doesn't have to be rational, but his plans for judgment couldn't have been very good since they all went belly-up as soon as Zack rescued Rachel from Danny. Gray admits as much, so he turned lemons into lemonade by making both Rachel and Zack his subjects for observation. I suspect that since his rehabilitation of Ray failed, Zack is now his pet project. In Gray's eyes, Zack is the “perfect” killer—someone who was only in it for the murder and nothing else—but as a kind of blank slate, he also possesses the most room for change. And Zack has changed since the beginning, which Gray prods at by asking questions about the catalyst, Rachel. Maybe she's a lost cause in Gray's estimation, but if Zack can go from a single-minded murderer to a doting big brother, that might be enough to satisfy him. At the very least, it explains why Gray saved Zack—like the audience, he's gotta see how this plays out.
Zack, of course, meets Gray's inquisitions with nothing but anger and annoyance, and I'm kinda with him on that. By design, he's just not as entertaining as the other villains (his “angels”), and the time devoted to him pontificating could be much better spent showing Zack narrowly escaping more wacky traps. Gray finally leaves, but not before giving Zack the hint he needs to open the locked door holding Rachel's secret. It's not much of a secret at this point, since as soon as Zack entered Ray's room and saw her collection of stuffed animals creepily sewn together, he should have made a connection to the bodies sewn together on the first floor. Zack's not too bright, but that's part of his charm, and it is cute how proud of himself he gets when he manages to correctly identify Rachel's nameplate despite his illiteracy. After backtracking to the locked door (because this is a video game), it opens to reveal a disappointingly normal room. I would have worried that he got the puzzle wrong if not for Rachel watching his every move through the security cameras and freaking out. Danny revels in her despair as the TV lights up and a news anchor describes the bizarre murder scene at Rachel's house, which helps Zack finally put two and two together.
Mostly this episode leaves me confused about why its big revelation is treated like this shocking twist and not something the audience pieced together for themselves a while ago. Even barring that, I don't understand why Zack would look shocked about Rachel possibly murdering her parents, since A) he previously praised Rachel for killing Cathy, and B) he murdered his own foster parents. He knows she isn't this cute and innocent little girl; she freaking asked him to kill her! This is built up as something that's going to break them apart, but if anything it should bring them closer together as kindred spirits. This will probably be the result in the long run (especially when it comes out that Rachel wasn't the one who started the killing), but I'm really not looking forward to an entire arc of discord based on a flimsy misunderstanding. Of course, I'm hoping Angels of Death can still surprise me.
It was so nice to see Zack back in action as his big lovable oaf of a killer self, and I would have been more enthusiastic if the show's M.O. hadn't been to immediately split Rachel and him up again. But it looks like the halcyon days of thwarting killer floor masters with the power of puzzle-solving and companionship are well and truly over for our motley duo. Outside of Zack's trap slapstick, this was another pretty unremarkable episode, but now that Rachel's past is out in the open, next week should see some more dramatic sparks fly. Or at least they'd better fly, because Angels of Death's justification for its 16-episode length is already on perilously thin ice.
Angels of Death is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Steve is a longtime anime fan who can be found making bad posts about anime on his Twitter.
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