Angels of Death
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Angels of Death ?
Welcome back! After a week's hiatus, we are once again amongst the angels. In case you didn't know, Angels of Death finished its run on regular television with episode 12, but there are still 4 episodes left that will be airing weekly on Amazon Prime in Japan and on Crunchyroll here in the US. That means there's plenty of horror left for us in this most hallowed of months, so let's get to it!
We pick up exactly where we left off, with Zack watching the Exposition Channel on the television as a news story spills details about the murder of Rachel's parents. The screen then flickers to one of Danny's interviews with Rachel, and it's still kind of hilarious how he can't help but bring up his creepy obsession with eyes before Rachel even gets a chance to speak. I really like how this scene uses the camera though, and we get several different shots of Ray framed and looking slightly distorted in its lens. It drives home the voyeuristic nature of this conversation, which is doubly drummed up given Danny's particular predilections. But as an audience member, I also couldn't help but be curious about exactly what turned Rachel into a small serial killer.
The answer is as simple as an abusive household. Ray's father was an alcoholic cop who beat her mother, and her mother in turn snapped and also became abusive and resentful of Rachel as well. We're thrust firsthand into a flashback where her father hits her mother repeatedly as her mother laughs hysterically. It's not a graphic scene, thankfully, but it's still extremely uncomfortable to watch and hear, and it definitely deserves a content warning for anybody with firsthand experience with domestic abuse. This isn't the first time the show has walked down the path of shitty adults ruining children's lives, and it'd be one thing if the show wrestled with these issues even a little bit, but the flashback is so short it really doesn't accomplish anything beside linking Zack's and Ray's backstories together. It feels like it was added for shock factor, yet it even fails at that because it's such a common trope in these kinds of stories. Yes, it explains why Rachel has serious (and I mean serious) abandonment issues, but it also doesn't really explain why she goes from “I want to take care of this puppy” to “I'm going to become an amatuer taxidermist.” Why is her thing specifically sewing? That's a more interesting avenue to explore than trying to handwave Ray's behavior with a backstory about abusive parents.
Zack eventually gets annoyed at all of the frame stories going on and drives his scythe through the TV. He wants to hear the truth directly from Ray, and, in that lovably extra Zack way, kicks his way through all of the doors leading to the living room. I mentioned last review that I didn't know exactly what Zack would take issue with in regards to Rachel lying, but I think I understand it now. Obviously he's not upset that Rachel killed her father, because he's been there himself, and Rachel even technically did it out of self-defense. The real problem is that Rachel has been a floor master all along like himself, which Danny reveals happened at his own recommendation. At some point, Rachel read the Bible (probably Gray's fault) and learned she was an unforgivable sinner, which caused her to have some kind of breakdown that (I assume) led to her being shuttled to the bottom floor. She got it into her head that her only salvation was death, but it had to be a death sanctioned by God, and when her ideation of God was shattered by Gray, she projected it anew onto Zack. Thus, their relationship was no longer as simple as “I'll help you escape if you kill me.” Zack has to be her God; otherwise, her death is meaningless. Zack is no longer her murder buddy—he's another thing she must hold onto and never let go, no matter what it takes. Helping him escape is no longer a priority. Naturally, Zack feels betrayed and flatly rejects the notion of being her God, and Ray deals with it the same way she dealt with that puppy and her parents.
Danny loses his mind with glee as Rachel once again embraces her role as the master of the first basement floor. From a structural perspective, it's a neat bit of role reversal as now Zack is the one trying to survive Rachel's attacks, as opposed to their first meeting on the bottom floor. From the perspective of my warped priorities, I'm delighted to see more deadly slapstick as Rachel throws traps that electrocute, explode, and summon a comically oversized wrecking ball from out of nowhere. Luckily, Zack is as indestructible as ever, and for as absurd as this scene is, it cements how much I've come to love his character. In spite of everything, he's still trying to have a real conversation with Rachel. Her main anxiety was that he'd abandon her as soon as he found out she was lying, but obviously that's not the case. There might be some choppy waters ahead, but their bond is too strong for him to abandon entirely, and hopefully Rachel realizes that. Ultimately, this whole arc might just be an extremely twisted screed against idolizing friends and partners, and I'd be okay with that.
The episode ends on a classic cliffhanger, and even though we technically have to wait a week to see its resolution, I'd say there's a 99.9% chance that Rachel does not actually shoot Zack. And even if she does, that's far from the worst thing that's happened to him. He'll be fine. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This episode answered a lot of questions, but they're mostly answered for the sake of having an answer, rather than for the sake of being interesting. I enjoy a good plot twist now and then, but Rachel's heel turn is motivated by a bad combination of esoteric and convoluted factors that rob the moment of the gravity it might have otherwise had. That said, Angels of Death still looks remarkably good for being 13 episodes into its run. It's never been a virtuoso production, but the character art remains clean, and this episode in particular has a great eye for scene composition. It's a very watchable show! It'd just be nice for the plot to pick up some of the slack.
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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