The children’s reunion is a relief to all involved. Norman explains what happened since he was shipped out, and reveals his plan to defeat the demons once and for all. Emma and Ray try to temper Norman’s scheme, but they quickly learn that there is more going on than they were told.
EXPOSITIOOOOOOOON! Also, spoilers.
Seriously, the bulk of this episode is made up of characters explaining things that happened off-screen, and it kills me. I think we all had a strong suspicion that Norman wasn’t going to stay gone forever, and considering how well the dynamic between him, Emma and Ray was built up over the first season, their reunion should’ve been an emotional high point. Instead, it mostly devolves into people standing around talking incessantly, and it takes a lot of the wind out of the episode.
During his extended explanation, Norman tells the others that he was taken to a special facility with other humans bound for experimentation. He destroyed the facility and escaped with several others, learning valuable information about the demons in the process. It turns out that Su was on the right track in her last review – most demons seem to devolve if they don’t eat human flesh. If this goes on long enough, it results in the feral demons we’ve seen in and around the forest.
We’ve seen elements of this devolution during our time in the village, and it definitely makes the relationship between demons and humans far more complicated. At first it seemed like humans were just a delicacy, and the demons were clearly monstrous for farming them. Now that we know what happens if demons can’t eat humans, the system is much more understandable, if no less horrifying. Norman proposes that to secure the safety of humanity in this world, they will need to exterminate demonkind.
Empathetic as always, Emma can’t bring herself to go along with this plan, but can’t stand up to Norman’s logic, either. In one of the better conversations of the episode, Ray tells Emma that she’d better come clean about her misgivings, or they’ll bubble up at the worst possible time. I appreciate how much Ray understands his friends’ motivations, even if he doesn’t share them.
Ray and Emma go to see Norman to see if they can find an alternative solution that doesn’t involve genocide, and meet some of his fellow escapees. These folks… they don’t sit well with me. All of them (understandably) hate the demons and are completely on board with murdering all of them, but there’s a level of sadism and instant distrust that puts me off.
It smacks of “both sides” logic, trying to make the clear underclass just as violent as their oppressors. That’s a much bigger topic than I have space for here, but I look forward to discussing it with the other Con Artists when we do our wrap-up review.
“But wait!” I hear you cry, “There are demons that don’t eat humans and they’re totally fine! What about Sonju and Mujika?” That is a valid point, dear reader, and one Emma and Ray try to make to Norman. However, just hearing Mujika’s name shocks him so much that he lets slip a very different name she may have gone by.
Well, that’s encouraging…
This season has gotten a bit dicey as we’ve moved away from Grace Field and into the wider world. There isn’t as much tension as there was before, and characters have started making bad decisions seemingly for the sake of advancing the plot. The huge reliance on long-winded exposition in this episode makes it feel like a grind, but there are some genuine moments between the kids and the drama potential between Norman and Mujika is keeping me going.
All of this is not to say that the show has gotten bad – but it seems to be in something of a slump. Perhaps the second half of season two will pick us up again.