Snow White with the Red Hair
Episode 19

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV 2) ?

Raj is one of those characters I went through most of the first season disliking a great deal only to be pleasantly surprised by him in this second season. He's gone from a spoiled brat to a character with actual emotions and thoughts, and this episode is really the high point for him as he defies his own reputation with the working class of Tanbarun to rally them to his cause. While we don't see his actual speech, the glint he gets in his eye just before throwing back his shoulders and beginning to talk followed by his merchant fleet appearing before the pirates is more than enough to show us that he's convinced his people that he's more than his reputation. He's still not the world's greatest diplomat or deepest thinker, but he's evidenced a real will to change. It would be easy to give Shirayuki all of the credit for that, but we really have to give it to Raj himself – after she was kidnapped it would have been easy for him to retreat behind a bluster that would hide his guilt, and it certainly wouldn't have been difficult to let Zen handle the entire rescue operation. But Raj got himself out there, and on the ship he's the only royal figure in charge. Shirayuki may have been his catalyst, but Raj made the changes himself.

This is actually a pretty good episode in general for people helping themselves. Although Shirayuki does break down once the action is over – and who could blame her, especially since it's so well illustrated by her grip on Zen – she also actively participates in her own rescue. This is naturally limited by the fact that she spends most of it tied up, but I almost prefer how that limits her, as it doesn't make her into a character she isn't by adding fighting skills heretofore unseen to her resume. Instead she relies on biting, squirming, and screaming, all good tricks in and of themselves, and much more in keeping with her character. She's not a damsel in distress, but she's also not artificially badass. On the other hand, we get to see Zen, Obi, and just about everyone else bring the pain to the Claws of the Sea in a short but impressive battle that almost makes up for the fact that the characters are once again not looking their best. Raj in particular suffers from off-modelitis, but no one is looking particularly great this week. Fortunately the action scenes are smooth and impressive, particularly Umihebi's use of her weapon.

Umihebi gets points for being the series' most unapologetic bad guy. Even the lord who locked Shirayuki up last season wasn't nearly as gleefully vicious as Umihebi, who utterly refuses to admit defeat even when it's staring her in the face. She's always certain that she can get out of whatever situation she's in, and that's actually kind of admirable, even as she bluffs her way into thinking about how much more money she can get for Shirayuki now that she knows she's worth something to royalty. She also must be a damn good captain, because those whirlpools she navigates through utterly destroy Raj's vessel when he follows, and I have to say that those are the scariest looking waters I've ever seen in a lifetime spent on boats.

The end of the episode this week does give us the reveal that a lot of us were expecting, and I'm looking forward to Zen's and Raj's reactions next week. More importantly, however, I'm very much afraid that Obi is about to do something truly stupid as “repentance” for having allowed Shirayuki to be kidnapped in the first place. He wouldn't do that, would he?

Somehow I think that he totally would…

Rating: B+

Snow White with the Red Hair is currently streaming on Funimation.

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