Down but not out, Emma Norman and Ray come up with a make-shift quick scheme to keep Norman safe. The escape can be planned again, but the focus now is making sure Norman doesn’t get shipped out. This is a complicated matter and as the clock ticks down the kids are about to discover how dire the situation really is.
This is very soul crushing episode. As Dan stated in Episode 08, our heroes are smart children but ultimately they are just children. In the beginning this works in their favor. While Emma is out for the count until her leg heals, her and Ray waste no time coming up with wild and crazy plans to help Norman disappear and ensure that neither of them get shipped in his place. Towards the end though…well, children’s hearts are fragile and when they break, they break hard.
The highlight of this episode is something that makes me feel a little queasy to admit. It’s Norman’s breakdown. In many ways Norman is the driving force of the 5 core-kid team (I’m tossing Don and Gilda in there because they are in it for the long haul!). He’s got the reality check that Emma lacks and the compassion that Ray’s seemingly shed out. He tries to ensure that everyone remains calm and doesn’t make foolish knee-jerk decisions. His impending doom is the one thing I fear could cause our team to crumble for good.
Norman is also in many ways…the true optimist. While that role would go to Emma, I see her as the idealist. Norman though, takes tough situations and spins them on their head, always believing he’ll get a good result. There’s a sequence in this episode where Norman goes to get Emma a glass of water. The camera follows his actions from behind and then it ends with him at the sink (trough?!). It then gives it a few seconds and…he collapses in grief and fear at the situation. All of this is done in silence outside of the natural foley. Without words or shounen style cries of despair, I felt all the sadness in the world in this scene. It feels like the audience’s hope is dying with Norman here.
That sequence is immediately followed up with one where Norman goes into full on conviction mode. This time it’s conveyed with the camera sitting in close up mode at eye level. I will never stop hyping how amazing the facial expressions are in this show. Fear, joy, despair, sadness, conviction. It’s all on display by shots of character’s eyes alone in may instances.
I want to for the first time give praise to the show’s use of color. When the kids are discussing how best to help Norman escape his fate, the whole thing is shot with a red hue. It makes the conversation incredibly ominous.
The lowlight of this episode is…Ray’s BS AF backstory. Ray has always straddled a fine line for me. He’s a master spy (Mama sees through him but she’s some sort of psycho genius mastermind so that hardly counts), master strategist, clearly has an understanding of RF and electronics theory, not to mention some mechanical engineering in there, but with the reminder that Mama is a PSYCHO GENIUS MASTERMIND I let this slide. The kids all have to have some freaking edge if they want to stand a chance against this madwoman. All would have been well except…Ray has memories from the womb.
Yeah you heard me right. When asked about how Ray has known about the farm situation all along, he responds that it’s because he doesn’t have infantile amnesia. He claims he has memories of being in his mother’s womb and then in the infirmary, where he remembers seeing demons. Okay…I’m not as patient as Brendan, so this isn’t going to go into a scholarly discussion about infantile amnesia. However, nobody has memories from the womb. Your brain is so not developed enough for that at that time. I think this ability is only necessary because the writers painted themselves into a restrictive corner with the appearance of Carol.
Since we know children come to the farm as infants, Ray would have HAD to have seen the demons before then for his knowledge to make sense. Hey writers, couldn’t you have just…had him be two or three and had Mama talk to the demons with him around, not knowing he would remember such things? That would make a hellofalot more sense. I know I’m being picky here but the show’s done such a great job of giving each kid (within the confines of the show) believable strengths and weaknesses. This pushed me over the edge a bit. It felt like the show took the limiter off in a bad way.
The show continues to impress artistically and musically. The music choices in addition to the moments of silence are just wonderful here.
There’s a final hopeful sequence for Norman towards the end that just…breaks you at its conclusion. As I’ve done in previous episode reviews, I won’t state what this is because you need to see it feel that impact. Let’s just say it results in this…
Aside from Ray having a new and incredibly stupid ability I am totally hooked on Promised Neverland. Wow this show continues to be gripping and heartbreaking and thrilling and OMG WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN TO MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN?!?! This episode in particular really showcased strong emotions by show rather than tell and I am at the edge of my seat for more. I just…don’t know if my heart can take it.