Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III
Episode 12

by Rebecca Silverman,

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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III ?

As we started with Shylock's words in The Merchant of Venice, we end this season of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon with Jacques' speech from Act II, Scene vii of As You Like It, the monologue known as “All the World's a Stage.” It's a reference that comes in the midst of Hermes' own comedy of errors – although I'm not sure he'd see it that way – when his efforts to force Bell to stand upon the stage of Hermes' choosing backfires in a fairly spectacular way. Hermes' surprise announcement to the Xenos at the end of last week's episode turns out to be his way of manipulating events for his own benefit, as is a trickster's wont, with the added interest of Hermes not framing it in that light. He seems to think that forcing Bell into becoming his ideal hero is for Bell's sake, if not all of Orario's, and that the Xenos pose a threat to a status quo that has worked very nicely for everyone up to this point.

Well, everyone except the Xenos. But in Hermes' worldview, monsters should just be monsters, and he's really being quite magnanimous in offering that only four of them have to die instead of all of them, like others are calling for. The catch is that those others don't realize that the Xenos are intelligent beings, while Hermes is completely aware of that fact. He just doesn't care about it. It's a callousness that we do tend to associate with gods, although not necessarily with Hermes, who up to this point has had flashes of darkness but still generally seemed like a decent guy. He might even argue that he still is, even as he tries to force Bell to kill his friends in the name of becoming a “hero,” completely overlooking the fact that if he forces this to be one of the many parts Bell plays, Bell won't be a hero to himself – he'll be the guy who killed someone he considered a friend.

It brings us to the question of what a hero really is. Literature and mythology certainly can give us definitions and tell us about “heroes' journeys” and other similar plot patterns and devices, but when you come right down to it, there really isn't a single definition that makes sense all of the time. Odysseus is a hero, but if you look at his story from Penelope's point of view (or even worse, his dog's), he comes out looking more like an ass. Glooskap is a hero, but one of his ideas to save humans from themselves was to put all the game animals in a sack in the river to prevent overhunting, which earned him a scolding from Grandmother Woodchuck for his foolishness. There is no hero who is always in the right, who is immune to making an ill-considered choice, and so it is up to us each time we're presented with a would-be hero to decide if we agree with their actions enough to grant them that title. Bell, I would argue, is more of a hero for refusing to blindly follow the plan Hermes has thrust him into – he won't kill Gros, he won't sacrifice Eina, and he won't give up what he's been fighting for this entire time. He defies a god for his own morals, and that's pretty damn heroic in my book.

We could almost say the same of Asterios in this episode. The minotaur also follows his own code in his fight with Bell, breaking up Hermes' orchestrations but ultimately not quite going down the path that Freya and her familia are herding him towards either, choosing not to prolong the fight until he knows that they can face off on more equal ground. Unlike many of the humans we've seen in this arc, Asterios wants a fair, equal fight with Bell, and if this isn't the moment to fulfill that dream, he'll wait until the right time comes. Yes, Freya would have been angry if Asterios killed Bell, but that wouldn't have been satisfying for Asterios either – he's no Theseus, using tricks to get where he wants to be.

If, as Shakespeare tells us, all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, then Danmachi's world suffers a surfeit of directors. Hermes' plans don't come off, while more domestic gods like Hestia and Freya manage to carry the day. In Hestia's case, that makes a lot of sense – in Greek mythology, she's the hearth, the center of order in all things. If the hearth's fire goes out, nothing can happen, and in Danmachi the fuel for her fire is her children. The success of Hermes' plan would have snuffed out at least one log as Bell – who, let's remember, is a fourteen-year-old boy – did something he wouldn't be able to forgive himself for. But with Bell's defiance, the fires of order burn a bit longer – and fire, it should be remembered, is something that both helps and destroys. Yes, the Xenos living may eventually cause a crisis in Orario again one day, but the thing about anything burned up in a fire is that when the ground cools, something new can be rebuilt.

Whether the gods like it or not.

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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE.


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