by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Steins;Gate 0 ?
Now that it's set up its new cast members and reestablished the repartee of our more familiar faces, it's time for Steins;Gate 0 to get down to brass tacks and dive into its plot. Okabe's slowly evolving relationship with Amadeus is definitely a good place to start, but it wouldn't be Steins;Gate if Okabe was the only one with something to do. The whole Future Gadget Lab needs to be involved too, and episode 4's primary job is giving us an idea of just what their mission will be.
As a result, this week's story feels somewhat interstitial, dropping many tantalizing breadcrumbs without moving the plot too far in any one direction. We open on a view that may well be a flash-forward to the dire, war-torn future that Okabe has been warned about – bodies litter the streets as our tattered scientist is dragged around by a cadre of soldiers, though before long he finds himself in front of a faceless general, who bids him to pick up his ringing phone. Okabe wakes afterward, unsure if this is merely a dream or a sign that he is travelling to new world lines yet again. The latter possibility suggests something quite disturbing: someone else has developed a time machine capable of changing the course of reality.
However, the main development this week is Suzuha revealing a side operation she's been working on ever since she landed in the past. It turns out she wasn't alone when she made the trip; for years, Suzuha has been searching for Mayuri's adopted daughter, a war orphan named Kagari Shiina who went missing ten years in the past. This is understandably a lot for Okabe to take in, and he hasn't even seen that Kagari looks eerily similar to Makise Kurisu. It's way too early to unpack the implications of this resemblance, though I do have some theories. Heck, Okabe is already being treated to an unwelcome surprise, as Daru's contact turns out to be Moeka, who viewers will remember as the woman responsible for murdering Mayuri hundreds of times back in the original series. Combine that with the brief glimpse we get of Rukako's mysterious visitor, who I would bet is a grown-up Kagari, and it seems like S;G 0's story is gearing up for a ton of twists in the coming weeks.
For now though, the Kagari stuff is still in setup mode; it's gotten Suzuha, Daru, Okabe, and even Rukako and Faris working together again, though how all this relates to the Amadeus plot (if at all) remains a mystery. Alexis has revealed that his ultimate goal is to prove that Amadeus can fall in love with Okabe, though Maho is quick to point out that Amadeus' love could never replace a relationship with a real human being. Her prickliness regarding Amadeus/Kurisu's relationship with Okabe seems to imply that she's going to be fighting with her own AI for Okabe's affections, though it's also possible that Maho's feelings are more focused on Kurisu herself. I'm personally not interested in seeing Maho set up as yet another love interest for Okabe, especially since S;G 0 is so rooted in Okabe and Kurisu's relationship, but we'll just have to see where things go from here.
All in all, this was a solid episode of S;G 0. The direction and animation continue to be somewhat underwhelming, but the characters and their dynamic remain as compelling as ever, and though we may still be in the phase of the story where we're getting more questions than answers, Steins;Gate has proven that it's more than capable of playing the long game. Even with unnecessary love triangles looming on the horizon, I'm excited to see where the story will go from here.
Steins;Gate 0 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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