Princess Alexia wakes up in chains and Cid takes on a brutal interrogation.
Recap & Reaction
The episode begins with Princess Alexia waking up to her being chained to a table. She wonders to herself if it was Cid that committed her kidnapping. Off to the corner, she notices a creature that looks like a demon chained up as well. Then, the “mad scientist” archetype approaches her with a syringe. In typical mad scientist form, he sadistically laugh about the opportunity of getting royal blood for the resurrection of demons.
Oh, this is going to be the Cult of Diablos related?
There’s no way to have a successful anime without some mad scientist involved, right? As Princess Alexia notices the other demon being chained up, the demon in itself acts as a foreshadow because no one knows exactly what it is. There isn’t some kind of indicator in the scene that hints at this creature being of “bad news.” If anything, it seemed more like a character that may end up helping Princess Alexia later by nature of their captivity. Either way, this is a great opening scene that gives the audience a ton of things to ponder about until we skip the opening credits.
After the opening credits, we are quickly reminded of the worst case scenario for Cid. He is also chained down and brutally beaten by a couple of Royal Knights while being interrogated for Princess Alexia’s disappearance.
At first, this scene has all the hallmarks of the audience being empathetic towards Cid’s situation. Being accused of something you didn’t do and getting savagely beaten down is one of those “worst nightmares” situation.
Cid loves the fact that he is being the perfect background character. The thought of the “NPC-ness”of this situation has him wanting to play this scene to its utmost potential.
This is a classic scene, but main characters sometimes end up in this position too Cid.
Cid chooses ham it up with over-the-top weeping and crying out that “he doesn’t know.” As Cid uses his most exaggerated cry, the interrogators stabs his leg at the same time while Cid convinces everyone that he is writhing in pain.
The joke here is a pretty good one. Cid is clearly faking it, but it looks incredibly painful at the same time. It had to be painful, right? 😂
It Could Have Been Worse..
Flipping back to the mad scientist and Princess Alexia, we end up finding out that the doctor had his lab destroyed and begins lashing out out in frustration. Princess Alexia continues being really candid with him, being the complete opposite to Cid’s reaction. She’s able to get into the mad scientist’s head by asking simple questions. As the mad scientist beats the chimera looking demon entity, for some reason odd reason Alexia reminds him of her blood. In a demented disgust, he force feeds her slops out of a bowl.
This is pretty interesting scene because of the candidness and composure of Princess Alexia. It tells the audience a few things about her. She isn’t the typical princess that cries out for help while screaming at how dire her situation is. She completely understands that she isn’t able to do anything and is able to manipulate the scientist by just being straight forward.
Then, when the mad scientist stomps out the chained demon, you could say that Alexia felt compassion for that creature by reminding the scientist the purpose of getting her blood. As he force feeds her off screen with the food slops dripping down, you could say that this isn’t as bad of a situation as it could be.
Princess Iris and Zenon Speak About the Kidnapping
Zenon approaches Iris Midgar’s office to speak about Alexia’s kidnapping. Zenon believes in Cid, but they still must monitor him. It was revealed that 5 days have passed during Cid’s interrogation. Iris explains in frustration that they just don’t have the personnel to go after her.
You don’t have the resources to save a Princess?!
Where’s Mario when you need him?!
Iris and Zenon begin looking outside where Claire is forcibly being halted by classmates, in defense of her brother.
It’s what Claire says about Cid that makes this scene slightly comical.
Iris has a flashback moment of her relationship with Alexia. Only when “crossing swords” have they been able to understand each other.
It’s the good ole’ “we only understand each other by doing this one activity” trope.
Other than the sister complex connection to Alexia, Iris doesn’t provide that much insight this episode. She’s clearly a higher up Royal member of some kind. By the episode’s end, she’s shown being flustered about everything that’s going on.
Catching Up With Alpha
After not getting any information out of Cid, he gets kicked out of captivity. Again, his biggest concern is to not be what a main protagonist would do. Cid contemplates his next moves as a couple spies watch onto his every move. He passes a blonde haired woman with a head covering that says to him, “later.” Walking inconspicuously into his room, he walks into Alpha.
Both end up catching up with Alpha explaining that “they are gaining influence” and are “making leads.” Cid is just happy that Alpha and the crew sometimes show up to “play along with him.” He’s quite convinced that they are just living ordinary lives.
Alpha continues that “The Cult of Diablos were the ones that kidnapped Princess Alexia,” confirming of her higher concentration of the hero’s blood to bring back the demons; meaning she’s still alive because they need to acquire as much of her blood as possible. She ends up confirming almost everything that has happened up to this point, including his “romantic relationship” with Princess Alexia. She asks to “dispose of the two men” interrogating him, but Cid claims that they actually did their jobs well. Alpha warns that the “Knight Order shouldn’t be trusted.” On the way out of Cid’s room, Alpha mentions that she’ll send the word when they ready with their operations to locate Princess Alexia.
Using Fan service for the Right Scene
This scene gave us the alluring eye-candy of Alpha, presenting “extra” care to Cid. The creators know what they are doing with these kind of scenes—show a little butt here and get a little up close and personal with Cid there. No matter what Cid says, you are winning as the protagonist when you have a harem of women tending to your needs. No background characters have a random harem of ladies!
In regards to the scene, it’s the self-reflection or recouping moment with the violin playing in the background, presenting this calm and relaxing mood. It’s one of those “the calm before the storm” kind of scenes with Cid looking forward to what he needs to do next. It’s the submissive nature of Alpha that makes this scene even more calming and relaxing. She takes off his shoes and even feeds him.
There’s nothing more satisfying to a man than a beautiful woman tending to your every need!
These kind of scenes are pretty flexible because it’s usually the important uplifting dialogue from these characters that care about the main character, looking to build resolve in the main character, by revealing something specific that they notice about the main character.
Essentially these characters like Alpha, shape the main character back into form. In this case, she is reminding him how important he is as “Shadow.” With her helping change his clothes, it plays exactly into how this scene typically goes for the main protagonist. If the main character stumbles on their way, it’s the other characters around them that help whip them back into shape. Changing clothes is like changing to “play your part.” Alpha helps guide Cid into playing his role is Shadow.
Cid’s Hilarious Setup
Knowing that Beta would soon come to see him, he models his room to build the kind of setup that bad guys typically have. As Beta enters his room, he adds a little bit more bass to his voice to present his well prepared monologue to her. With the Shadow Garden facilitating an operation to save Princess Alexia, Cid pulls out a letter in dramatic fashion for his “prelude.”
The scene shifts to Cid walking down to the two men that were interrogating him. It was all a setup for the two men to have a reason to dispose of him. They throw one of Princess Alexia’s boots at Cid in an alley way, hoping to arrest him so he can take the fall of Alexia’s kidnapping. However, Cid was well prepared for what was going to take place.
This is the exact scene that I would use to describe The Eminence in Shadow!
Do not underestimate how great of a scene this is to show how satisfyingly dark Cid’s retaliation is. He drops two dead guys right behind the two “false flagger” knights. Then, he stabs one of them in the back as they are looking at their dead comrades. Once the blonde knight turned back to face Cid, his arm goes flying off into the dark night. To cap it off with Beta writing in her diary about her fondness of Cid and her description of the scene, that was the sadistically comical contrast that puts the bow over the dead knights’ bodies to the audience’s delight.
Dark humor. You got to use it sometimes.
Princess Alexia Escapes
With the Shadow Garden commencing their operation and the Knight Order floundering, the mad scientist decides to inject a “prototype” syringe into the sitting demi-human captive, turning it into a massive version of itself. It decides to slash off Alexia’s chains, setting her free.
As Alexia is trying to make her escape, she runs into none other than Zenon! Not being very surprised, she remarks how she always knew something was up about Zenon.
It turns out that Zenon funded this entire project in order to obtain a spot in the top 12 ranking of the Knight Order. Hitting all the nerves of being compared to Princess Iris, Alexia takes on Zenon. They have a quick bout with Alexia pulling out a new technique that Zenon wasn’t expecting. But, if there is anything we learned from episode two, men punching girls in the face is a full-go in this anime.
As Alexia is on the ground on all four, Cid approaches with Alexia shocked by who she sees. In epicly dramatic fashion, Cid shows up with his saying of “he who lurks in the shadows in order to hunt the shadows.”
I can’t help but burst out laughing at this because of the running joke of Cid role-playing himself into this character. In scenes typically as epic as this,it becomes more about the joke rather than the dramatic entry to face the bad guy.
The Shadow Garden’s Role
So far, the characters in the Shadow Garden are just playing a specific role with Alpha being the most privy attendant to Cid. Four episodes in, this might be the most “moving” of all Shadow Garden character scenes. It’s very surface level with very “teasingly” gratifying scenes that plays well to a male audience. Other than that, these characters are still just kind of there as the eye-candy fantasy of a harem fighting for Cid. The Shadow Garden provides the fan service, the flashy fights and the comical relief to The Eminence in Shadow story.
The first 3 episode presented a little flash here and there, but it was absolutely the story’s ability to develop these side characters using Cid as the main catalyst. This episode further develops Princess Alexia, building admirable characteristics within her captivity. She kept her composure, showed empathy and fought back against Zenon. Zenon turning out to be the antagonist all along plays perfectly into Princess Alexia’s best trait of being able to see people’s flaws. Within 2 episodes, this character has won me over more than any other character because of her depth, playing beyond the tropes and archetypes.
For all the praise I give the story for developing central characters to the plot, the payoff is still the action. Cid being put in a situation where he gets setup to go to jail, he quickly turns the tide and disposes of the members of the Knight Order in brutal fashion. Beta providing that ounce of dark humor writing down in her diary of her admiration of Cid killing those men is us, the audience, seeing the satisfying death of those that wronged us. It’s the darker side of justice that gets exploited within us.
Sometimes it just feels good to see the destruction of those that have ill will.
The Downside to This Episode
The only real downside to the episode is the use of the “mad scientist” trope. Sometimes you just have to use easy to understand characters and that’s just something more subjective than objective for me. The mad scientist could have taken “darker” actions towards Princess Alexia, but the writer elected not to make it THAT dark. It would have made the mad scientist character a lot more sadistically interesting if he wasn’t as “mad.” In the end, the mad scientist was just cannon fodder and a means to an ends to reveal Zenon as the perpetrator all along.
Overall, this episode further confirms how much I’ve enjoyed and liked The Eminence in Shadow. This anime is a strong 9 out of 10 with each episode carrying it’s own weight, providing an almost perfect collection of episodes that carries from each episode to the next.
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