Moriarty the Patriot
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Moriarty the Patriot ?
Whenever a story diverges from its source material it's worth asking why. In the case of Moriarty the Patriot, most choices aren't hard to fathom – whether it's making a character more worth killing off, adjusting for historical detail, or sidelining chapters until later for probable plot reasons (I'd bet the chapter skipped before the Noahtic storyline will come in when and if Mycroft Holmes is introduced), there's largely been a good reason behind each noticeable change. There are a few options for why some other things in the seventh episode were altered in the anime version too, but they aren't quite as strong as, say, changing candles to gaslights for reasons of historical accuracy.
The major change was actually made last week – the steamliner Noahtic's maiden voyage is being marked by the first seagoing performance of a ballet. Prominently placed posters tell us that the ballet in question is Giselle; manga readers, however, may recall that originally it was the first oceangoing opera that was being performed on the Noahtic, which frankly makes a whole lot more sense given the way ships at sea move. That makes the decision switch from opera to ballet a little odd, leaving me to surmise that it was less about fidelity and more about choosing something that more viewers would understand symbolically, with the assumption that more people today would be familiar with Giselle over the opera Aida. And whether that's true or not, Giselle's entr'acte is perfect for Moriarty's plans to expose Enders' murderous ways: Giselle dies at the end of act one of the ballet, and act two opens with a danse macabre wherein Hilarion is frightened out of the forest by the ghosts of maidens who died of broken hearts. While the victim here is definitely not a lovelorn maiden, the symbolism of the first act ending with Giselle's death by blade and the second opening with the ghosts of those cruelly killed by heartless men really works with what's going on on a much less romantic level. Blitz Enders is absolutely heartless, and his victim takes on the role of the ghosts frightening away an audience full of Hilarions.
The other very noticeable change is one that leans more into the idea of Victorian melodrama: rather than just going over the rails of the ship, Blitz Enders somehow scales a spar and then is shot off of it by Moran. It's definitely more visually striking (and we should probably be glad we didn't get a puff of red water as the engine sucked him in), but it also gives him more drama than he deserved. On the other hand, Moriarty is putting on a show, and this death absolutely makes the villain memorable while still effectively destroying him and sticking to the dramatic conventions of period literature. I don't love it, but, like with the shift from Aida to Giselle, I can understand why it might have been done, because my god, does this show love it's symbolism. With the advent of subtitles for the theme songs, we can all see now that the lyrics are perhaps a bit too on-the-nose, but it's also worth noting the parallels that this episode takes pains to make between Enders and his hunting victims as he runs through the ship. Again, subtle it is not, but it does work, showing Enders for the animal he is as his role is flipped around and he becomes the one forced to flee for his life. He was chosen, all right, just not by who he thought, and those chosen by Moriarty for a role in his morality play aren't likely to wash up on a mountaintop when the rain stops.
But flipping Enders' role from hunter to hunted also stands as a reminder of what could happen to Moriarty himself. He remarks to Louis, Moran, and Fred towards the end that there may be someone that they need to keep an eye on going forward, and that someone is, of course, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes' desire to speak with Moriarty about the Enders case after the ship has docked lets Moriarty know that there's someone out there with the kind of knowledge he definitely doesn't want them to have. That could end badly for him, but the fact that Holmes hasn't realized that Moriarty set the whole thing up, and that Moriarty could tell significantly more about Holmes than Holmes could about him, may mean that Holmes is…usable. Just how he might factor Holmes into his schemes may start to come clear next week, when Moriarty the Patriot dives into A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle's first published Holmes story.
Everything up till now may have been a prologue. Let's see how the main game, wherein the improbable becomes possible, plays out.
Moriarty the Patriot is currently streaming on Funimation.
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