Tales of Zestiria the X
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?
This is one of those episodes that makes you glad that recap eps are largely a thing of the past. Tales of Zestiria the X jumps right into its second half without wasting time or breath overtly reminding us of what came before. There are a few small notes – a mention of Alisha, who is no longer hanging around, a reminder that Sorey decimated an enemy army without actually killing anyone, and a brief flash to let us know that there's still a missing Seraph out there who is probably infected with Malevolence to the point where he has become a dragon – but none of it is spelled out or dwelt upon. While this may mean that some viewers will want to refresh their memories of what happened way back in 2016, it largely does the job of gently reminding us of what came before while still moving straight ahead.
As you may recall, Sorey, Mikleo, and company left Alisha behind after the battles of season one and pressed on ahead with Rose, an assassin disguised as a merchant. (Or a merchant moonlighting as an assassin, whichever you prefer.) Rose is under the protection of Dezel, a wind Seraph, but she can't see any of them. This means that Mikleo, Lailah, and Edna are largely relegated to the background. We do see that Mikleo is generally right beside Sorey (and he contributes a few dry comments), but since Rose and her men aren't privy to his presence or words, he's pretty much left out of the action. This is probably the chief disappointment of the episode, as Mikleo's and Sorey's relationship was a highlight of the first season, and I hope that going forward (and meeting more humans) it will not get dropped or downplayed.
Really the main job of this first episode, which is technically the fourteenth, counting episode zero, is to reintroduce us to the world and remind us that Sorey's goal is like that of all Shepherds, to eliminate Malevolence from the world. To this end he is training with Lailah, Edna, and Mikleo every night, but Lailah remembers her time with a previous Shepherd, and it may be influencing her thoughts about Sorey's efforts. Thanks to new character Mavin, who is over one hundred years old, we know that within the last century another Shepherd walked the world, one who took a much more philosophical view. Lailah's memories of him show him overworking himself, so presumably his quest took over his life and exhausted his strength. It also seems clear that Lailah had a much less friendly relationship with this previous Shepherd, as her memories always show her standing at a distance from him or taking care of him while he was asleep. Sorey appears to take a much more friendly attitude towards his Seraphim helpers, doubtless because he was raised with Mikleo in the Seraphim village. This feels like it ought to give him an edge – he's already less prejudiced against different races by virtue of having grown up with one, and he's also immune to the mythologizing of the Seraphim for the same reason. Perhaps this will give him the extra boost needed to overcome the Malevolence that he himself may harbor, something that his predecessor seemed to struggle with. How can a Shepherd, the embodiment of the fight, have Malevolence within him? Sorey is uniquely positioned to overcome it with his upbringing and the help of Mikleo as his best friend.
There's not quite as much scenery porn in this episode, which is sad, but all of the people still look distinct, with clothing that speaks as much to region and profession as much as personal taste. Rolance, whose army Sorey clobbered last season, is not pleased to have him on their lands and want to arrest him, and the knight who was sent to do the job shows through his body language that he's not entirely comfortable with his mission. The final scenes of the Scattered Bones taking out a corrupt clergyman manage to feel sinister while still showing some fluid movements barely visible in the darkness, and they also form an important, albeit heavy handed, counterpoint to Sorey's inherent purity. All in all, Zestiria the X is setting its second season up to be a little bit darker than its predecessor while chronicling the journey of Sorey and the Seraphim. I'm looking forward to getting to travel with the group again.
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