by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Doc's not always the easiest guy to like, but sometimes you at least have to feel sorry for him. His crush on Melba makes his life tough to begin with since it means he has to endure her awful coffee experiments, but the consequences are even worse this week. He's kidnapped right out of the café by a coffee-crazy sewer monster, and while Yaga insists that it doesn't usually eat humans, Doc's persistent coffee scent might just enough to turn him into brunch. After a couple of failed attempts, Seth and Melie finally manage to rescue Doc, only to find that he's befriended his monstrous captor.
This is clearly an episodic, “monster of the week” storyline, but it does have two beneficial effects for Radiant. For starters, it creates a decent excuse for Seth and Melie to work together. Aside from their brief attempt at playing mentor and student last week, this is the first time since Melie's introduction that the two of them have had a chance to take on a proper challenge. Their chemistry is amusing if unspectacular as they fumble their way through multiple failed attempts at saving Doc, and by the end it does feel like their friendship has grown a bit. In particular, there are a couple of moments where Seth and Melie feel like they're in sync with one another, like their exhausted response to Yaga's umpteenth sudden appearance in the middle of a scene. It's slow going, but this duo is gradually becoming more dynamic.
Doc himself also deserves some credit for finally giving the audience a reason to like him, even if it is a rather silly one. After showing a general lack of interest or empathy toward any human whose name isn't Melba, the old grouch manages to display some warmth and compassion for a sewer-dwelling squid monster. The unlikely friendship between Doc and “Devi” even makes sense in a way; after all the agony he suffers because of Seth and Melie's rescue attempts, can you really blame Doc for thinking he's better off with the Kraken? I get the feeling we won't see much of Devi after this week, but at least it helped bring out a more likable side of Doc. While he's still stuck playing the buffoon, that role is more finely balanced this time around.
Unfortunately, these mild comedic antics come at a cost. Specifically, Radiant essentially has to put the entirety of its main story on hold in order to make time for this detour. Sure, there are a couple of throwaway references to Seth's training and potential as a sorcerer, but no amount of appearances from Yaga and Dragunov can disguise this episode's lack of relevance to the central narrative. Radiant really needs to reestablish some momentum after the tedium of the last two weeks, and a humorous side story isn't exactly the best way to do that. Sure, it's kind of fun, but it does little to erase the impression that Radiant is chasing its own tail.
What we have here is an episode that sacrifices big-picture progress in the name of short-term entertainment. Taken in isolation, the Devi saga offers some comedic interactions between the main trio, with Seth and Melie acting more like a team while Doc settles into a more appealing side of his personality. In context, however, this marks another week where Radiant has been all talk and no action when it comes to the subjects of the Nemesis and Seth's hidden powers. The longer it dances around these storylines without addressing them directly, the harder it will ultimately have to work in order to regain viewers' emotional investment when things get serious.
Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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