Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 16

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 16 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?

Rose has always been a killer. In this episode, we learn a bit more about her past, and while we do discover the specific circumstances that have made her into the woman she is now, we also find out that the Scattered Bones are a direct descendant of the Windriders, a mercenary group run by her adoptive father Brad – and Brad didn't keep the truth of what they did from his daughter. Rose learned to wield a knife early on, but what happened to the Windriders made her create the Scattered Bones as assassins rather than mercenary soldiers. It's a small but important difference, prompted when Brad (and Rose) were betrayed by a prince named Konan who, after promising to marry Rose as payment for the group's help, instead killed all but two of the mercenaries. Right about now, he's probably wishing he'd finished the job.

It's almost more important that Sorey finds out what Rose does rather than why she does it. Seen through the ordinary lens of fiction, Rose's motivations are perfectly legitimate – revenge fiction has been around almost as long as fiction itself. There's no arguing that Konan treated Rose and her family incredibly badly – the smile on his smarmy face when Rose sees him wipe out her family, as well as the glee with which he later discusses creating a market of drug addicts to fill his pockets, makes it abundantly clear that this is a truly evil human being. But does that make it fair for Rose to kill him?

Sorey says no. He's definitely been suspicious of Dezel since the church incident, to the point where he and Mikleo have agreed that they need to keep an eye on the wind Seraph when the two groups part ways, and Edna is clearly in agreement with them. What they don't realize until midway through the episode is that it isn't Dezel they've misjudged, it's Rose. When Edna and Mikleo figure out what's really going on, Mikleo races back (by stealing a horse, if I'm not mistaken; theft is apparently okay for Shepherds and their Seraphim) so that Sorey can stop her. But is that the right move? Is this a case where an eye for an eye will make things better? The episode ends before we can really find out, but Dezel clearly thinks that Sorey, Edna, and Mikleo are being stuffy and self-righteous when they try to stop Rose from taking Konan out. Maybe they are – it's Rose's past and burden, and Sorey and Mikleo have arguably led pretty charmed lives, leaving them in no position to judge her. It's interesting that Lailah doesn't appear to be participating in this battle at all; perhaps she's more of Dezel's opinion.

In any event, I feel like this is a pivotal moment for the characters. Whether or not Rose has actually killed Konan or if she prefers to leave him wallowing in a life of agony à la The Princess Bride will determine how Sorey deals with her from now on. (Or not – he's awfully forgiving.) Maybe killing Konan will make Rose ready to put down her swords. Whatever the outcome, this is a morally and philosophically weighty episode, and the show handles it well – the music is especially good, even better when it cuts out at the end so that all we hear are footsteps on the stones as Rose races towards her ultimate decision.

This heaviness is probably what prompted the particularly goofy episode preview, where Mikleo and Sorey host a “cooking” show. In all honesty, I'd probably watch that if it was real, just because I really enjoy seeing the two of them interact. This episode brings some of that back within the story as well, reminding us of how close they are as they plan for Mikleo to follow Dezel and have Mikleo be the one to catch Sorey when he's attacked. It's a cheery spot in a fairly dark episode, timed to distract a bit without detracting from the heavier parts. This is a strong entry in a consistently good series—and happily, it looks like it will be Berseria-free for a little while longer.

Rating: A-

Tales of Zestiria the X is currently streaming on Daisuki and Funimation.

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