Riko and Reg leave Ozen and company behind and descend through the Third Layer of the Abyss. The center of the shaft is smooth and impossible to climb down with Reg’s arms, so the pair finds their way down by using animal dens. In one of these dens, a powerful creature attacks them, and Reg is forced to use his Incinerator to kill it. This leaves Riko alone in the Abyss for two hours while he’s unconscious. She immediately gets herself into trouble, but perseveres through it, finally coming to the realization that she couldn’t have made it without Reg (who finally awakens as the episode closes). It’s a lesson that will surely be reinforced frequently as they approach the Fourth Layer.
The show makes a hard shift away from the compressed time on display in the previous episodes, putting every minute of Riko’s fight to survive the Third Layer without her protector into clear focus.
I must say I prefer it this way, as the exploration from the characters’ point of view is much more interesting than having a summary of what happened, as we did with Ozen’s survival training. There’s plenty to take in, from the strange ecosystem of the Abyss…
…to the ruins of the civilization that lived here…
…to the unique structure of the caves here.
Of course, while I’m enjoying the scenery, Riko and Reg don’t have that luxury. Riko’s impetuous exploration quickly places her in mortal danger.
As with the hippo from last episode, Riko stands stupefied in front of her impending doom, with only Reg’s quick intercession keeping her alive.
This attracts the attention of an even larger monster that the pair are barely able to evade before Reg falls asleep, giving Riko a warning not to move until he awakens. Riko, finally aware of how tenuously she clings to life down here, sits down to wait and – oh, who am I kidding. She immediately, like within 5 seconds, realizes she’s hungry and decides to go find food, dragging Reg along with her. She doesn’t seem to have a single self-preservation instinct in her body, a point made crystal clear when she follows the scent of fruit deep underground (red flag!) to find it emanating from a glowing (double reg flag!) hole in the ground (klaxons to full power! Sound the alarm!). Instead of wondering, she steps right up to it and is eaten by a large plant filled with digestive juices.
To her credit, she quickly realizes the position she’s in and begins stabbing her way to freedom.
She gets points for determination and quick thinking, but if this had been anything but a stationary monster with a slow death by disintegration, that probably would be the end of the show right there. I don’t know what it’s going to take for Riko to start assessing her surroundings before charging ahead, but she really needs to learn that lesson soon.
The rest of the episode sees her confront an upward slope, which under normal circumstances would be a minor inconvenience, but here in the Abyss is a nigh Sisyphean climb.
On that terrible incline, she confronts auditory and visual hallucinations caused by the curse and comes to the realization that she couldn’t make it without Reg. As Reg finally awakens and the two stand at the entrance to the fourth layer, I hope she takes that lesson to heart, because things aren’t getting any easier.