As was stated in last week’s review of episode 11, this episode can’t really be discussed without dealing in spoilers, so fair warning to you all. Go ahead and check the episode out yourself if you want to see how things play out first.
Emma and the older kids have reached the top of the border wall and are rushing to get the younger children up. We learn how she, Don and Gilda coordinated to train their friends for the escape while Isabella focused on her and the other elite children. As the kids make the desperate crossing over the chasm separating the farm from the outside world, Isabella arrives just in time to see Emma make the leap.
This is it, folks. Emma, Ray, and their friends are making their big push for freedom after some masterful deception last episode. This episode shares many of the best elements of its predecessor, as well as some of its stumbles, but is overall a solid ending to the season.
The first part of the daring escape is punctuated with flashbacks as Emma explains how they prepared the younger kids for the breakout. I enjoyed seeing how their seemingly childish games and challenges were used to cover for their training, such as using water bottle rockets to launch their ropes or making a zipline out of bedsheets and coat hangers. It’s a great demonstration of the kids’ inventiveness that’s easier to believe than some of Ray’s more implausible reveals.
Though I enjoyed the mechanics of the escape, I would’ve preferred to see some of it in action during the episodes building up to this. Other than the water bottle rockets, I don’t remember seeing any of the other training going on in the background. Perhaps I’ll notice it when I go back to review those episodes, but nothing else springs to mind at the moment.
Another aspect I liked was how the plan had evolved since the children first hatched it. With Ray and Emma both out of action for the most part, it fell on Don and Gilda to work with the younger kids to bring everything together, and once things were set in motion, it required all of them to work together to pull it off. They also made the decision to leave the youngest children behind, with the goal of returning within the next two years before the oldest of them gets shipped out. It makes sense, and adds a dramatic hook for the second season; breaking back into the prison they fled to save those left behind. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out if their assumption that the youngest kids won’t be harvested before they can save them is correct.
I’m not exactly thrilled with how Isabella came across in this episode. After demonstrating how cunning and ruthless she could be previously, she doesn’t even come close to stopping Emma and the others. We get a series of flashbacks almost identical to the one that happened when Krone was about to be executed, but if fails to engender any kind of sympathy or understanding. Isabella’s apparent change of heart as she lets her precious children go isn’t convincing, and I don’t mean that she’s planning to somehow come after the escapees or use the remaining children against them. I mean that the act itself is unconvincing and feels like a letdown for such a dramatic episode.
More bizarre than Isabella’s decision to let the kids go is the reveal that Ray is apparently her biological son. It was revealed earlier that the title Mom is more literal than we had assumed – all of the headmistresses of the farms have given birth to at least one child. Yet having Ray be her child feels like a reveal for the sake of having a reveal.
It doesn’t re-contextualize their relationship, because she thinks of all the children as her own, in a twisted way. She gave Ray special treatment because he was her mole. That was enough of a bond to make their interactions interesting. Otherwise, she treated him much the same as the other kids. Remember when she thought he had killed himself? She wasn’t distraught because her son had apparently self-immolated, she was desperate to save his brain so it could still be shipped out and help maintain some of her standing. Making them related by blood and then doing nothing with it feels like a cheap twist because there’s no payoff. Maybe this will be explored in the second season, but I’m not sure it was necessary to begin with.
In spite of my misgivings on Isabella’s characterization, I enjoyed this season’s ending, and I’m looking forward to next year’s follow-up. Aside from some slowdown in the middle, the show’s pacing is decent, and it looks good throughout. The interplay between the characters and how their personalities evolve throughout the show makes for some great TV, and when the show throws a solid gut-punch like the initial reveal, it lands wonderfully.
We’ll have more to say about the show in our end-of-season podcast, so look forward to that coming out in the near future. Let us know what you thought of The Promised Neverland, and if you have any theories or hopes for the second season coming in 2020. Until next time, folks!