Tales of Zestiria the X
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 18 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?
Don't you just hate it when you kill a guy and then end up at his father's palace? Rose and Dezel sure aren't thrilled when it turns out that Sergei has brought them to the king of Rolance's home. (Then again, is Dezel ever thrilled about anything?) Fortunately for them, the king is only interested in talking to Sorey, and he seems to actually be a nice human being, descended from a long line of seemingly nice human beings with regal facial hair. He's much more concerned with the fact that Rolance is in serious trouble from Malevolence than whatever his errant son is up to. Although he cannot see Malevolence himself, an earlier incarnation of Mayvin the Storyteller gave his family knowledge of it; it has been passed down from parent to child, now providing an answer for all the strife that the kingdom has been experiencing.
This also gives us a much more organic way to work the Berseria story into Zestiria's plot. The tale Mayvin told was Velvet Crowe's, of how she was the only human to retain emotions after a misguided attempt to free the world of Malevolence by removing emotions from people. Although the king doesn't name names, it seems likely that the first Shepherd may have been responsible for this attempt; in any case, having Velvet's story told as an embedded narrative makes it much more palatable, and while I still worry about random Berseria episodes every time we get a preview, this feels like a real possibility for keeping “the X” in the title.
Of course, we could take the meaning of that addition a little differently – it could be “cross” not as in “cross-over” but instead as “crossing Sorey.” Two of the Seraphim are definitely doing that in terms of sharing or withholding information that might have an effect on his decisions. In the case of Lailah, this is a little more troubling – she neglected to mention that making someone his squire means that if Sorey dies, so do they. Sorey had no idea that this was part of the deal when he asked Alisha to be his squire, and now that Rose asks to be one too at Dezel's behest, he's pretty shaken by the revelation. Of course, Rose already knows about the condition; Dezel is much more open than Lailah, so he mentioned it when he was telling her about this new way to do good in the world. It really highlights the difference between Lailah and the rest of the Seraphim; Mikleo, Dezel, and even Edna are concerned about Sorey, Rose, and Alisha as people they care about, while Lailah is all about the job. If she has to keep something from her Shepherd in order to make sure that things get taken care of, she'll lock that information up and throw away the key. I wish we got more of Mikleo's reaction to each of these little revelations, because I can't think he's okay with it, but regardless, it makes me suspicious of Lailah. While it's true that the fate of the world is involved, her disregard for the individual, or at least his will, seems to tread dangerously close to the Malevolent line.
Speaking of Malevolence, something is literally rotten in the state of Rolance. The source of the Malevolence that's polluting the kingdom is the rotting corpse of a dragon sealed in a church. We don't know how long it's been there, but the Malevolence has built up to the point where Sorey cannot deal with it on his own, forcing him to deputize Rose in order to save Rolance. They are able to purify the area together, because we've got a lot more plot to deal with and no time to waste, but that's not the real triumph of the week – that would be when Dezel catches Rose after she faints, and she wakes up to see his face for the first time. It isn't a romantic moment, but it's a powerful one. She finally gets to see the person who has been with her through everything, finally dispelling the temptation to doubt that he was real. It's brief, but it's touching and one of my favorite scenes of the series thus far.
Next week, Sorey and Co. are off to Ladylake to meet back up with Alisha, who is once again in political trouble. I'm looking forward to having the whole team back together, as well as to seeing Rose interact with the Seraphim – to say nothing of whether or not she actually gets Mikleo to make her ice cream.
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