Episode 11 of Arslan fills in some gaps and showcases an interesting display of changing loyalties.
The episode opens with Bodin trying to persuade the King to allow him to burn anyone and everyone he considers to be a heathen. Only those devoted to Yaldaboath should be allowed to survive. Despite resistance to his request he calls forth his personal army, “The Temple Kinghts”, and they march into Pars. The notion that Bodin has an entire army loyal to him begs the question of whether or not we are going to see a massive Crusade in the upcoming episodes. Furthermore, how will Arslan and his band handle an army designed for religious bloodshed?
The money winner moment in this episode goes to Silver Mask’s reveal of his true identity. It turns out that he is Prince Hermes, son of Osroes, who was Andragoras III’s older brother. It is his belief that he is the true heir to the Par’s throne and once Arslan has been eliminated he will have all the lagging threads cleared up so he can claim his rightful place. He reveals to Sam, who we thought was dead, that he and his father were betrayed by Andragoras III when he set the palace on fire, killed Osiris and left Hermes for dead. Silver Mask’s facial scarring is the remnant of that tragic time. We are left with the question of “Why Sam?!”. Was he loyal to Osiris? Does Silver Mask/Hermes have a bond with him from his childhood? He must be someone special for Silver Mask to think it wise to reveal his secret identity. Perhaps he’s hoping Sam will go the way of Kharlan (who was clearly in on the fact that Silver Mask was Prince Hermes) and betray Pars to join his cause. I am excited for Silver Mask/Hermes’s journey of revenge to collide with Arslan’s journey to become a great King. I am also interested to see who sides up with Silver Mask as he continues to carefully pick and choose who he reveals his identity to.
When we catch up with Arslan’s team they are steadily making their way to Peshawar. They are hunted down by Xandus, Kharlan’s son. He’s a hulking mass of a man and I loved the fact that he gave Daryun a run for his money in a fight. It’s nice to see somebody capable of holding their own against the famous Daryun. The team gets separated and when Elam is knocked from his horse, Arslan goes back to save him. It was great to see Arslan holding his own. In Episode 10 he functioned as more of a prop and we needed a reminder that he did in fact learn to defend himself back when he was in the palace. Due to Arslan’s act of selflessness and feelings of concern for someone beneath him in status (Elam), Gieve finally shows a different side of himself. Beneath his sarcastic, womanizing demeanor lies a man who has clearly been spurned by royalty and the class system. He begins to feel a respect for Arslan and I think he is starting down the path of being a full fledged loyal member of the team (for reasons that don’t involve trying to get with Farangis).
This episode improves overall in terms of animation. Some of the shots where Arslan and his company are farther out still look very shoddy but most of it holds together.
Episode 11 reminds us of why we watch Arslan. There’s a lot of people crafting plans in the shadows and each one is slowly building his way to a grand collision. There’s loyalty running every which way, questions about the right to the throne, team building, and some character development. Here’s to hoping the trend continues.