by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 117 of
Black Clover ?
The revelations of episode 115 radically upended the plot of Black Clover, forcing a game-changing realignment of all statuses of ally and enemy. The impact of episode 117 may be even bigger: it strikes at one of the most fundamental cornerstones of the setting, in the process forcing a reevaluation of the series as a whole. In the process it introduces one new character (or, rather, the true form of one of the series' most long-standing characters) in one completely unexpected revelation and brings into the current time a character only even seen before in flashbacks as another eye-popping twist. What other big surprises could the series possibly have left at this point?
Three major developments happen in this episode, and in the grand scheme all are roughly equally important. Probably the most unexpected of them is the return to life of Lumiere Silvamillion Clover, the original Wizard King, through the revelation that the statue on the giant demon's skull was actually him sealed in a petrified state and the magic stones work to break that seal. To my recollection, this hasn't even been hinted at in the episode content before it happened, but in a couple of ways it makes sense: Licht is back around as well, and who better to help the Magic Knights defeat the demon than the biggest of big guns in the Clover Kingdom's history? The second revelation is that the bird Nero is actually a young human woman named Secré Swallowtail, who was the loyal servant of the Lumiere wayyy back in the day; that Finral even half-controls himself from hitting on her is a sign that he's either matured or at least understands the gravity of the situation.
The backstory which gets inserted as they drop off Finral and zoom to the Shadow Palace initially looks more typical both of how the series has handled flashbacks and how shonen action series in general do, but by showing Secré's viewpoint it reveals the human side to the elves' story that has long been absent and thus allows some utterly crucial information that no other viewpoint has allowed: what actually happened after the rest of the elves and Licht's human wife (and Lumiere's sister!) died. Licht's four-leaf grimoire turned into a five-leaf because of the corrupting despair, hence explaining where Asta's comes from and why he's always been able to summon weapons identified as far back as the 30s as originally belonging to Licht. (Why that grimoire fell to Asta still, for the moment, remains a mystery, however.) Much, much more importantly, the final scene reveals that the demon which threatened the Clover Kingdom – the one which has been shown in episode intros since the very beginning as the foe whose defeat established the Wizard King – was Licht, transformed by the release of all of the negative energy he'd absorbed and concentrated. In other words, the wizard who would become the Wizard King earned the title by killing his best friend and brother-in-law.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time that a revelation in a shonen action series impacted me as much as that one did. It shows that the heroic feat from which the whole story is based is actually a tragedy. That doesn't make Lumiere's reputation any less deserved, but it puts a more mournful note on what it means to be the Wizard King and raises expectations much higher for what will happen when Lumiere and Licht reunite.
Compared to all of this, the action elements earlier in the episode, where Yami and Charlotte continue to fight the demon and the squirming mass comes forward, are practically an afterthought. At least better reason than normal was given for Nozel sending the Ast/Yuno/Patry trio on while he oversaw rescue efforts; “if the people come out safe, we win.” It's heartening to see someone in his position who's not so arrogant that he doesn't understand where the priorities should be. Get comfortable, folks; with the original Wizard King set to arrive on the scene, this wild ride is far from done.
Black Clover is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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