Radiant
Episode 10

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Radiant ?

Sometimes even a middling show can step up near the end of a season with some great episodes. For Radiant, this week is not one of those times. With the city gearing up for a major festival, Seth is eager to test his newly honed skills by competing in a broom race. He gets even more motivated after meeting Nick, an obnoxious rich kid and the odds-on favorite to win the race. Not only is Nick a jerk in general, he makes the mistake of talking trash about Alma, which is number one on the list of ways to get on Seth's bad side. After some explosive interference from Majesty, the race comes down to a sprint to the finish line between Nick and Seth. Nick takes the win, but only after Seth stops to rescue Nick's two henchmen.

While there are a few glaring issues this week, the biggest problem here is the abundance of flashbacks scattered amongst the new content. We revisit Alma protecting Seth as a child, Seth arguing with Alma as he cleans the side of the house, and their farewell scene where Alma gives Seth her broom. There's nothing wrong with giving the audience a quick reminder of past events when necessary, but these clips are anything but quick. In fact, they're so long that they place the episode into an awkward middle ground where it isn't technically a full-on recap episode but still feels like one. The overwhelming impression here is that Radiant needed to fill screen time because there wasn't enough new content this week, since there's no other plausible reason to re-run these scenes in such excruciating detail.

That lays the blame for the uneven pacing on the flashbacks, but it's not as if they're breaking up a particularly good story. The new content centered around Seth's race against Nick suffers from a lack of originality, even by Radiant's by-the-book standards. Nick and his two minions are walking caricatures of the “snobby rich dude” archetype, almost to the point where they'd be more at home in a genre parody. There's no nuance at all to their personalities or perspectives, and Nick's eventual moral defeat is neither significant enough to be satisfying nor comical enough to be amusing. Even Nick's basic role in this episode is somewhat unconvincing; since he has no tangible connection to Alma, his insults feel less relevant than they might have been if they'd come from someone who actually knew her. From beginning to end, he's the kind of disposable character who leaves no lasting impression.

The one upside here is the broom race itself, which is at least mildly entertaining as a chaotic action scene. It's not going to be competing with top-tier shows any time soon, but it's a fun little use of Radiant's sky island setting. Majesty's giant mechanical broom-ship is a good fit for his tendency towards bombastic excess, even if he himself remains a somewhat strange presence in the show's overall narrative. My only major gripe with this sequence is that its ending feels like a rehash of Seth's most recent run-in with the Bravery Quartet. We've already seen him go out of his way to save an antagonist from falling out of the sky, so there's little to be gained by having him do it again with Nick's lackeys. While not a major problem, it does play into the episode's general lack of relevance or progress.

Frankly, that's this episode's problem in a nutshell. There's just no reason for it to exist. Seth's interactions with Alma happened recently enough that they shouldn't require a recap, Nick is instantly forgettable as the villain of the week, and the broom race is amusing but lacks any narrative significance. Wasting this much screen time is a bad idea in general, and doing it this close to the end of the season is even worse. This is not at all what Radiant needed to do this week, nor is it good enough to justify the detour.

Rating: C-

Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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