by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 22 of
GATE (TV 2) ?
For most of the season, GATE has been almost overloaded with story. With episode 22, the series actually feels like it is stalling. As a result, events that originally looked like they were going to play out this episode will instead be featured next episode.
As before, the story jumps around a lot. Back at base, the JSDF is waiting impatiently for the official “go” order, but that gets dragged out so it doesn't come up until near the end of the episode. (At least the dramatic build-up in the last minute or so is effective, giving a strong lead-in to next episode.) At the Jade Palace, the outnumbered Rose Knights are holding out due in part to the weak morale of the attacking troops, but exhaustion and short supplies are growing concerns, as is Pina's position, leading to the consideration of a breakout to Italica. They have right to be concerned too, because Pina's situation is bad; she gets dressed and chained up like a slave and thrown in a cell – in fact, the very one Tyuule was kept in, a point that the bunny queen makes sure to gloat about. Hence the episode title of “The Empress in Slave's Clothing” has a double meaning: it could refer to either Tyuule or Pina. The crucial difference is that Pina has allies and subordinates far more personally loyal and every bit as capable as what Tyuule had at her disposal. She's earned that loyalty for much more than just being a princess, so it's not going to waver in the face of crises. In fact, if anything it makes her underlings vulnerable to being overzealous in support of her.
That leads us to the biggest chunk of the episode: the events in Rondel. Shandy gets wind of the Pied Piper setting up another strike on Lelei, so Itami and crew are prepared. They thwart one possible assassin while waiting in line to get in for Lelei's Master presentation, but the scheme Shandy had uncovered also has to be dealt with. Lelei is popular and beloved right now though, so all the mages in the crowd were ready to come to her defense when the assassin showed herself. The crafty PP even had a second back-up, though: Shandy, who had been convinced that bringing back Lelei's head would help Pina's case. Fortunately for everyone else, Shandy is an idiot who forgot that part of the original plan was for Lelei to wear armor under her robes. With Lelei's Master confirmation looking promising but on hold until her trouble is dealt with, the gang hurries back to the capital with the notion of rescuing Pina. Meanwhile, the paratroopers are also coming.
The Pied Piper is one nasty bastard and definitely fittingly-named! Seeing what else he has up his sleeve should be interesting. I have more serious questions about Tyuule's game plan, though. Sure, taking Pina out of the picture makes some logical sense, as it assures that she won't be around to pick up the pieces once Zorzal screws things up. However, Tyuule's behavior towards Pina has more the taint of wicked glee based on highly personal revenge than merely moving a major piece into lockdown. So far, nothing has been shown to justify this move, especially since Tyuule has to know that they don't get along too well. Given the way that the series' writing tends to overplay antagonists, I think the more likely explanation is that this is just another example of the writing getting carried away with a characterization.
Although this was not an artistically bold episode, there were some interesting visual details. I've thought before that Pina looks prettier (if less dignified) with her hair loose, and seeing her dressed like a slave only reinforces that. This being Pina, the series naturally doesn't miss the fan service opportunity resulting from this either, although I suppose it could be interpreted as symbolic of how low she's been brought. (Yeah, like I believe for a second that the creative staff was only motivated by that.) The altered color scheme during Shandy's assassination attempt was also a neat effect. The real fireworks should be next episode, when the infiltration and big battle scenes land; maybe that cook will even get involved? Definitely something to look forward to.
GATE is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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