by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Overlord IV ?
Community score: 4.3
Like any story with an overpowered protagonist, Overlord's biggest challenge is finding a way to keep things exciting while everyone watching knows our hero is all but untouchable. For the most part, it does this by spending a large amount of its focus not on Ainz, but on the human characters affected by his actions. The question powering this story is not so much “will Ainz survive?” but rather “will anyone else?” However, while we viewers know in the meta sense that Ainz is covered in main character plot armor (as are his monstrous subordinates), Ainz has no way of knowing this—as this episode is keen to remind us.
In Ainz's eyes, he is still very much a stranger in a strange world (not to mention a strange body). Worse yet, he and his are now out in the open and an obvious target for anyone keen on crushing evil. Because of this, he is far more inclined to assume the worst-case scenario than be overconfident, which brings us to the key moment of this episode: the destruction of the two death knights.
As we've seen in past episodes, death knights are so powerful that even the royal guard of the empire would have issues taking on even one of them. So when two die mysteriously, Ainz jumps to the worst-possible conclusion. He flies past plausible explanations involving environmental hazards (like pitfalls and cave-ins) and goes right to the long-shot idea that he might be facing off against another player like himself—maybe even the one who controlled Shalltear in the first season.
Now while considering these worrying possibilities is important, Ainz is so fixated on them that he fails to connect the dots of what really happened even when confronted with obvious signs of the truth—i.e., the cut bridge. He even goes so far as to put Shalltear in the same mindset, insisting she act as if she is facing a superior foe. And to make things worse, when Aura notices what actually happened to the death knights, Ainz shushing her for interrupting him is interpreted as “I already know but I want Shalltear to figure it out on her own.”
In this case, it's all rather inconsequential—being more careful than usual won't stop him from easily crushing the Quagoa. However, it also shows off Ainz's biggest weakness once again: he's not nearly as competent as everyone thinks he is. His subordinates withhold critical information from him not out of malice, but because they think he is omnipotent and thus doesn't need to be informed. This is something that will definitely come back to bite him in the ass one day.
All in all, this episode cements this arc as one without tension. However, it does manage to keep things interesting not only by reminding us about Ainz's weaknesses but also by showing us how Ainz would act when facing off against an equal foe. It's surprisingly interesting—even if large portions of the episode are paint-by-numbers scenes focused on getting Ainz from point A to point B.
• Hair bows make for convenient notepad storage.
• Ainz isn't used to Shalltear playing the Albedo role. It's cute to watch her try to step up.
• Those poor dwarves had no idea that Ainz saved their lives by yelling at them. Shalltear would've killed them all in an instant if they rushed Ainz without his express permission.
• I love that the dwarven leadership's first big complaint about Ainz is that they can't booze him up.
• In Aura's defense, Ainz did explicitly tell her that this is basically a training mission for Shalltear.
• The reason Ainz is such a good leader despite his lack of knowledge is because he has empathy for those he is close to. (He truly does feel for Gondo whose passions are mocked by his society, for example.) And for the most part, Ainz's empathy is rewarded in the form of personal loyalty.
• Holy crap, that flashback to Ninya in season one was a punch to the gut. The reason Ainz is so likable despite his mass-murdering actions is the undeniable fact that he truly does treasure his friends. It is at the core of who he is and even his undead nature can't change that. He may have only traveled with the Swords of Darkness for a short time—and avenged them after their deaths—but he still feels regret and sadness for what happened to them. We may have forgotten them but he has not.
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