to the abandoned Sacred Beasts
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
to the abandoned Sacred Beasts ?
Hank was laid low last episode as he felt wracked with guilt over all of the former companions he had killed, but apparently he still had even further to fall. And Schaal, the person in the story probably least deserving of more pain, has to bear the brunt of it.
Of course, both practically and dramatically there was no one else Hank could turn to, although the circumstances also raise a lot of questions. How Schaal was able to find him on her own after he drops into a ravine, and how she was able to tote someone as beefy as Hank into a cave are things I would love to see explained; doubtless she's stronger than her petite build suggests. However, those are ultimately trivial necessary details to provide the opportunity for Hank to completely fall apart in front of Schaal. This outcome isn't at all surprising; from his viewpoint, she's unexpectedly alive and healthy, she's the one person outside of the Incarnates who does somewhat understand his predicament, and perhaps most importantly, she's present to support him in his time of greatest doubt and suffering. Even if he hadn't already equated Schaal with Elaine on a few occasions, she still acted as an angel of mercy at that time and place.
Even so, asking Schaal to be the one to kill him was asking too much, and Schaal was completely right to refuse. Hank willingly took on this mission (even if it stemmed from his sense of duty), so it is his responsibility to complete it. That eventually leads to one of my favorite scenes in the series so far; after being left behind by Hank while he goes out to confront Roy again, Schaal still follows him to provide backup, with the promise that she will take him out only when he truly starts to lose his humanity. In the process, this stops Hank from sacrificing himself to finish Roy off, though she'll probably never be aware of that. This marks the first time that the duo has worked as a team, and it's satisfying because of the grit that Schaal has shown in becoming an active participant rather than just an observer. This also makes the irony of Roy's final comments in the flashback all the sharper.
None of this detracts from the other main feature of the episode: the all-out fight between Roy and Hank. If bloody battles between hulking beastmen is your kind of thing, then this episode goes all-out to satisfy you, even throwing in some dramatic vocals in the background and making convincing use of powerful strikes and fighting maneuvers. Earlier scenes where Roy goes after assorted Coup de Grace members with a cameo from Claude pale by comparison, though those scenes also have their edge. I also found it interesting that a younger person preventing an older, more experienced person from doing something suicidal seems to be a theme for the episode, since it also happened on the Coup de Grace side.
Now that Coup de Grace is finally confronting Hank, this is where things should get really interesting. Even though there are only 2-3 episodes left in the season, the impending conflict against Cain is on the horizon. I am eager to see what the payoff will be.
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