Tales of Zestiria the X
Episode 20

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 20 of
Tales of Zestiria the X (TV 2) ?

This may not be a particularly busy episode of Tales of Zestiria the X, but it certainly feels like it. That's probably due to the fact that Alisha's major storyline takes strides toward resolution – not only does she resolve the whole Bartlow issue (as far as we know), but she also learns the major source of Ladylake's Malevolence problem and proves herself to be an excellent squire. On top of that, Sorey shows Lailah and Zaveid that he's quite possibly the best Shepherd ever by purifying the dragon that was causing the tornadoes, which means that now he's ready to fulfill his promise to Edna. Since all of this happens with no down time, the whole thing moves at a rapid pace.

That's more of a curse than a blessing, unfortunately. Both halves of this episode could easily have stood on their own and allowed for more development, and Alisha's final confrontation with Bartlow and her father's demise at least deserved that. (Arguably, Mikleo and Sorey could have had more of a conversation about the possibility that Sorey would fail to purify the dragon and die, giving their friendship more of the role it had in the previous cour.) Alisha's entire storyline in both seasons of the show has revolved around her troubled status as a lesser princess and the machinations of Bartlow to bring her down, so to resolve the whole thing in under ten minutes really doesn't do her plotline justice. While the revelation that she was perfectly aware that her mentor's capture was a trap set by Bartlow and that she was going to use his assumption that she'd run to the rescue against him was nicely handled – Alisha really is a good tactician – her meeting with her father and his subsequent death goes by far too quickly.

Last week, we thought that Bartlow had successfully turned the king against Alisha; while it's heartwarming to know that he did love his daughter, we're also left with a sense that far more just happened than we had time to process. No sooner has Alisha seen the Malevolence writhing around her dad than he's telling her she looks like her mother and throwing himself on Bartlow's sword – does that mean that he saved her because she looks like her mother? Or did he realize that his love for his child was greater than a politician's scheming? We'll never know and don't have enough to make a good guess because it's all over and done with so fast. Likewise, Bartlow's suicide happens far too quickly, especially since he's been the face of evil for most of the series. Unless, of course, he isn't actually dead – Alisha may have seen a corpse, but the viewers sure didn't, and this is anime…

Rushed as this whole thing was, it did confirm Alisha as an intelligent woman with the strength to stand up for her principles, as seen when she tells Bartlow that she won't kill him because she wants him to face a trial. She's definitely someone you want on your side, as we see once again when Sorey, Mikleo, and Rose are in the process of purifying the dragon. Rose can barely handle supporting Sorey on her own, but when Alisha shows up, she lends her strength to not just the Shepherd, but to her fellow squire as well. Supporting Rose both physically and by taking some of the channeled Malevolence, Alisha is the final factor in the dragon's purification.

Not that Sorey doesn't deserve most of the credit, and Zaveid certainly seems inclined to give it to him. His stunned expression when he watches the dragon fall indicates that Sorey may have another Seraph on his side as he sets out to save Edna's brother, which can only be a good thing. And on the subject of Seraphim, did anyone else notice the way Dezel looks at Rose when she faints after the dragon's demise? It's really sweet, no matter what it denotes (this show isn't big on romance), and it's definitely one of the nicer throw-away scenes this week.

We're running out of episodes unless there's going to be another season announced, so I'm afraid we'll be seeing this faster pace for the remainder of the show. With Edna's brother's purification looming on the horizon, let's hope there aren't too many other threats that need to be taken care of, so that the remaining weeks can be given the time and impact that they deserve.

Rating: B+

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

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