Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond
Episode 6

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond (TV 2) ?

This episode treated us to perhaps the most straightforward adventure story that Blood Blockade Battlefront has had so far. When our heroes get locked out of their own headquarters by a swarm of rapidly-evolving bugmen (an event so typical to Hellsalem's Lot that the show doesn't even try to justify it), they all have to combine their powers to get HQ back in time to save the world from a completely different disaster. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and if Stephen doesn't get some playtime soon, I think his personality is going to start leaking out of his ass.

On paper, this episode's plot is probably the weakest of the show so far. The two villains are minimally characterized, totally unrelated to each other, and not all that memorable. The adventure doesn't even lead to us learning anything new about the principal cast. We already know that Klaus is our adorable savior, Zapp's a dick suck, and Stephen can get scary when he's grouchy. However, this lack of novelty doesn't end up hurting the episode much, mostly because it's filled with a bunch of great little character moments. It was fun to see Zapp and Leo conducting their requisite arguments with what seems like routine pleasure (they may be yelling and hitting each other, but I saw those two smiling). Stephen being totally stressed out with coding is very relatable, and it was cute seeing how Klaus takes care of people in Gilbert's absence. (The loyal combat butler was off attending a wedding somewhere. I assume that if he'd been around, this lockout situation wouldn't have occurred, since it seems like his job to manage security more intimately.) A new character, Yurian, appeared, but his job was basically to have super hacking skills and reference Ghostbusters. In the end, Klaus smashes the bugmen, Stephen freezes some other delinquents (they were sending an earthquake monster down to destroy Hellsalem's Lot just for the lulz), and Libra updates their cyber security system. All in all, a fairly normal day in the multiverse's rowdiest metropolis. (They never do reveal what happens to Alina though? I guess she gets saved from the bugmen, but if she never appears again, I'll have to presume that she was eaten. RIP Alina.)

Otherwise, this episode spent more time foreshadowing the season's likely endgame storyline. Leo continues to feel guilt over his sister's blindness and searches for a way to restore her sight at least, if not the rest of her mobility. He encounters Dr. Luciana Estevez again, (remember her?) and she tells him that any attempt to do this would probably end in disaster. Also, he shouldn't try to get rid of his God-Eyes, since that would probably just piss off whatever gave it to him and lead to a torrent of punishment. Of course, this means that something like that is definitely going to happen by the end of the series. After that, there's a flashback sequence that provides us with some interesting new information – Michella was not actually paraplegic since birth. She seems to have been using her legs fine as a kid, which confuses me since it had been previously established (by Leo in the first season premiere) that she was born with the condition that now prevents her from walking. So this is either a contradiction or they haven't explained the entire situation yet. Michella could have been born with some sort of degenerative disease that gradually stole the use of her legs as she got older, but that's not really what was implied by the line “my sister had been born with disabled legs.” Little Michella is kicking them around in the flashback, but I'm not sure that'd be possible if she'd suffered from some sort of serious impediment (albeit one that got worse over time) since birth? But whatever. I'm not a doctor, and this is either a contradiction or it isn't. It looks like a contradiction right now, but they could still manage to justify it? It's a weird distraction though.

Besides that, the flashback indicates that Michella views Leo as her protector. She draws him as a turtle-knight, suggesting that, while he's pretty harmless as an offensive threat, his true strength lies in his hardiness and determination of spirit. Leo went through a similar arc in the first season (which also framed him as the striving everyman to Klaus's Christ-like ubermensch), but that one didn't involve his sister directly. It'd be nice if they were to frame his story this season as a continuation of his experiences with the Macbeth siblings, since they acted as proxies for his own sibling dynamic last time. Their storyline, while excellent, didn't resolve Leo's own issues. It did give him courage and strong human connections with people he could relate to, but he's still holding on to the overbearing sense of responsibility for situations outside of his control, accelerated by his sister's sacrifice. He feels that his sister's blindness is his fault, even though they're both victims of that incident by any reasonable metric.

Ironically, Leo may be falling into the same emotional trap that befell Black. If you recall, Black's attempt to protect his sister from harm (without giving her much choice in the matter) led to him taking on an excessive burden, which nearly broke him and led to horrible disaster. Like Black, Leo refuses to accept Michella's efforts to protect him as well. They consider any losses that their sisters accrue (Michella's eyes for Leo's vision, White's life to kick Satan out of Black's body) as failures on their part, rather than part of a reciprocal relationship of selflessness in which siblings protect one another. In other words, Leo is being more than a little patronizing to Michella, and he should really know better following the whole Black/White ordeal. (It nearly destroyed the world, after all.) My bet is that this season has changed things around to involve Leo more directly in however Michella lost her legs. Maybe there was an accident where he failed to protect her (in his opinion) and she lost her legs that way? Leo then beat himself up over this ever since, which would make it extra bad when Michella accepted blindness for his sake. Michella, meanwhile, may have felt useless as the passive half of that relationship, taking on punishment so readily because she was eager for the opportunity to protect Leo.

Those are my predictions for how the show's endgame is going to go down, but it could still go in a bunch of different directions, so take all of this speculation with a grain of salt. I believe something like this would function both as a continuation of the first series as well as a standalone story that refers back to the manga. More than anything else, I'm just happy to be spending time with these characters again. Even if the big plotline is a total bust, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond would still be worthwhile to me on the basis of the episodic stories that it's told so far.

Grade: B+

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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