Episode 13

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Radiant ?

It's all fun and games until someone starts a city-wide riot. While Rumble Town is still full of Nemesis, Konrad's attention is focused elsewhere. He uses the fear and confusion stirred up by recent events to turn the population against immigrants, sorcerers, and anyone infected by the Nemesis, and some predictable violence ensues. Seth's group is also divided, with Doc declaring that it's too dangerous to stay in Rumble Town any longer. However, before he can leave, Doc stumbles upon a Nemesis nest and is taken in by the Inquisition. Meanwhile, Seth and Melie manage to rescue Taj from an angry mob, but they soon end up cornered by Konrad. As the chaos unfolds, Dragunov appears to put his original mission aside in favor of countering Konrad's plan. With plenty of key players yet to make their moves, this rumble is just getting started.

While it was obvious last week that the tension between the immigrants and the rest of the population would play a role in this story arc, I was hoping it would be a bit more nuanced than what we get here. Konrad's “let's round up all the bad people” routine avoids subtlety and shades of gray in favor of a stock, black-and-white scenario. Even if you cut the show a little slack for trying to make things easy to understand for a younger audience, Konrad's speech is such standard villainous fare that it's hard to believe it would convince the entire population to go into “burn the witch” mode. The impending arrival of General Torque seems likely to knock Konrad down a peg or two, but I worry that throwing more Inquisition leaders into the mix will just exacerbate this storyline's overpopulation problem. The stage is already so crowded with rival factions that Grimm doesn't appear at all in this episode. If you can't find enough screen time to check in on the protagonist's most recent opponent, tossing more characters into the mix doesn't seem like an ideal solution.

On the upside, Konrad's underwhelming rise to number-one baddie status is balanced out by some decent developments among the supporting cast. Dragunov and Doc are especially worth mentioning, as they're both facing crises of conscience that leave room for moral ambiguity. In Dragunov's case, he once again finds himself in a situation where his supposed allies in the Inquisition are just as much of a problem as the enemy he's been sent to deal with, if not more so. If he does end up turning against Konrad, that would push him intriguingly close to becoming a full-on protagonist instead of his usual role as Seth's constant pursuer. As for Doc, while his decision to skip town isn't terribly compelling early in the episode, his moment of indecision between running away and warning Seth about the Nemesis could be the first spark of some meaningful character development. Frankly, these characters who fall between the obvious hero and villain roles are the most interesting part of the show right now. Heck, even the Domitor controlling the Nemesis seems to have more going on than just a standard evil plan. Perhaps Radiant would be better off turning down the volume on Konrad and giving these folks some extra attention instead.

Amongst all the heavy-handed dialogue and imagery of the angry mob sequence, we do get one satisfying moment of personal progress for Seth. His last-second rescue of Taj is essentially a carbon copy of the time Alma saved him from a group of crazed villagers, and the similarity is almost certainly intentional. That connection drives home the idea that Seth has not only learned to fend for himself, he's also reached a point where he can protect others. Sure, the guy's gone out of his way to help people before, but this is still a nice affirmation of his progress from wannabe hero to independent sorcerer. If Seth can offer Taj some useful guidance before this is all over, it'll be a nice way to cap off this portion of his character arc.

When all is said and done, I find myself with mixed feelings towards this episode. On one hand, we get that nice moment of personal growth for Seth, and the characters who occupy Radiant's moral middle ground put in some decent performances this week. Unfortunately, those positive elements are overshadowed by the bland and heavy-handed presentation of Konrad's anti-immigrant scheme. The way it plays out is simply too predictable, and I find myself wondering if the series is leaning too heavily on one of this story arc's weaker pieces while letting more interesting things fall by the wayside. A slight course correction (or at least some stronger writing) might be in order for next week.

Rating: B-

Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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