Galif single handedly derailed Junketsu no Maria this week. The result is an episode that felt like it was split in half, suddenly and out of left field. Plans were put on hold and several characters were pushed into the background.
Still, as random as Galif’s seduction of Sir Jean’s lady friend was, and as insignificant as Galif has been to the story so far, this development seems to have pushed Bernard in a new direction and given Maria a minor revolution: not all conflicts need to be disrupted.
And we got two nicely animated fight sequences too.
Make that well animated, brightly colored, with detailed period costumes and authentic-feeling tactics. Definitely win-win.
The good: Galif gets a little character development — he’s still a power mad mercenary but he understands social consequences. He must fight the knight and the local lord must sanction the fight to ensure both the mercenaries and the cavalry can maintain honor. (and be ready to defeat the English like he and Bernard have planned)
We also see Galif looking past expectations. He wins his fight because he hides a weapon in his cast and plays defeated, trapping the knight with his own expectations of weakness in a wounded mercenary.
He may well have anticipated the entire scenario from the beginning — seducing the knight’s woman because he could see she didn’t belong on the road and wanted to be seduced, and ultimately that he could long-shot win against a knight who would demand a duel and make a tidy profit for his troubles.
The fact the Joseph is deeply worried about his safety but doesn’t ask Maria to stop the duel outright AND that Maria doesn’t stop the fight even though she’s there and watching it were interesting moments too.
When you add in Bernard, who’s also observing the fight and adding Galif to his list of plot elements, and Viv, who’s floating next to Maria and leading her to question the impact of stopping all conflict, we really did have all the main characters there. Just not on the central stage.
So why an 8? Well… the seduction and subsequent duel really did come out of no where. The show eve bounces back and forth between Bernard explaining what actually happened and why it’s important around the midpoint because it doesn’t seem confident we as viewers know what to make of it.
Worse, the second half is much louder than the first, which makes the subtle machinations lost in the shuffle. Worse still, I’m not even sure the first half was all that interesting to begin with, which begs the question why the episode included it at all.
Another, much smaller criticism is the total lack of Maria’s familiars or Ezekiel playing a roll this week. They were around, but didn’t interact with anyone else, which made them feel superfluous… which is sad since Ezekiel started to develop last week.
So it was a good episode. Really good from a production stand point but whatever they were trying to do with a two-step story didn’t connect with me.