by Anne Lauenroth,
How would you rate episode 10 of
D.Gray-man Hallow ?
Not knowing is scary, isn't it?
Alma is dead. Seeing Mugen covered in rust, Kanda is at least as dead as Cross Marian. lavi and Bookman have been taken prisoner by the Noah, with lavi likely facing torture and Chaozii in critical condition thanks to a nasty Noah parasite infection. The Third Exorcists are still nothing more than pawns, now in the hands of the Millennium Earl. Allen has been imprisoned by the Order, which is also debating torture as a justified measure to force one of their most dedicated soldiers to give up the location of his dead comrades, so that this heart-warming organisation can continue using them after they've already given their lives for the cause. No matter how many super-deformed faces and giant Timcanpys feature in this episode, things have really hit rock bottom for the characters in D.Gray-man Hallow when the entrance of a new player makes even the detestable Lvellie look like a charming fellow.
But Allen is right. Not knowing is by far the scariest state of existence. A lack of understanding of their comrades' and enemies' motives has been a major weakness for all the characters. If Kanda and Alma had known about their true nature, chances are a lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided. The fear born out of this state is dangerous, as it's only a small step from fear to hate. Realizing he took the easy way of hating when he didn't understand the Third Exorcists, Allen resolves to get to know The Fourteenth and try to understand his motive instead of simply detesting him as a Noah (who just happens to slowly kill his human host).
But, as the Millennium Earl so aptly put it, there are rules to this game, and understanding your enemy's motive isn't required to play. In fact, the rules are rather simple: We have to fight to the death using our own Gods! Luckily, the Earl has turned from scary clown to a rather intriguing character that seems to wear his clown costume as a disguise to hide all feelings unnecessary to playing his part, making this very simple game a lot more interesting. The guy who used Alma and Kanda's tragedy as a move in the game without batting an eye is surprisingly vulnerable when he's not hiding his face underneath that freakish grin. The fact that the wonderfully melancholic Musician's song is playing in the scene between him, Road, and Tyki further adds to the very human side we've recently come to see of this giant clown.
The Noah are caught in a similar discrepancy between playing the role they've been cast in as the involuntary heirs of Noah's memories and their lingering human desire to understand why. And this time, it's not just Tyki. When Sheryl interrogates Bookman, threatening lavi doesn't only serve his sadistic tendencies. He really wants to understand the Earl and their place in the game, turning the Noah into more than mere pawns. He's also the one to drop another plot bombshell, disclosing Bookman's connection to the previous Noah and The Fourteenth until around the time the latter killed the former 35 years ago. Reveals like these make me wonder when exactly Kanda and Alma originally died, and if there might even be another connection left to be revealed in the future, although I'm not quite sure if this would be a good idea.
Allen's resolve as an Exorcist and the Noah's desire to understand are proof that it's possible to stay true to the role life cast them in without losing their human identity, something the eternal doormat and watchdog Link should really take note of. While he has the excuse of becoming the Church's puppet at an early age, his actions as Lvellie's unquestioning lackey have nonetheless played a critical part in the demise of his Third Exorcist friends, not unlike Kanda's did when he let himself be manipulated into stabbing Allen and truly awakening The Fourteenth. Link was the one to deliver the Dark Matter that created the Thirds and turned Alma into an Akuma to Lvellie, and his feeling of responsibility is quite justified, even if he was ordered to do what he did. The fact that he's willing to admit this responsibility to himself could be a sign that he's finally on the road to recovery and might turn into a real human being with his own agency at some point. I look forward to seeing this change.
Link is not the only one able to accept responsibility for their involvement in the recent tragic events, be it voluntary or unaware. Zu May Chang seems honestly remorseful about Alma and Kanda's fate, even going so far as to speak up in Allen's defense in front of the Church. The misfits of Science Section One are willing to get themselves beat up to petition for Allen's release. In a world where the war between the Order and the Noah feels more and more like the re-enactment of something that has long lost its original meaning, little displays of humanity like these provide much-needed comfort, especially when the ED has never been so sad.
With only 3 episodes left, Kanda's story truly looks like it ended without anything but a moment of warmth and happiness before its inevitably tragic conclusion. With only 3 episodes left, I'm also asking myself if we will go beyond what always felt like the natural cut-off point in chapter 205 of the manga, a point we have almost reached already. There are still so many questions left unanswered: Who or what is the Heart of Innocence? What truly happened to Cross Marian? Why is the Millennium Earl so obsessed with The Fourteenth? Why did The Fourteenth kill his fellow Noah? What will happen to lavi? And the most important question for the protagonist of every tragedy:
Is it possible to change things if I learn the answers to those questions?
D.Gray-man Hallow is currently streaming on Funimation.
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