“I’m sorry, Princess” -R
Summary: R pleads with Bookman to call off Hex, telling him that if he allows Hex to kill Jonah, Koko will become a monster for real. Bookman finally agrees and gives him Hex’s location. R rushes to catch up with Koko and Jonah, only to find them already under attack. With Bookman’s help, R is able to send Koko and the injured Jonah out of harms way while he stays behind to take on Hex. In the ensuing firefight, Hex is shot through her right eye, and R looses his life. The rest of Koko’s team arrive, and Hex and her two remaining men are forced to retreat. Koko is devastate to learn of R’s death and takes swift and horrible action to bring about her revenge. R is buried on a cliff by the sea, and Bookman shows up to pay his respects. After a brief meeting with Koko he leaves, only to be informed over the phone that Hex and her two men are dead and that Koko is behind it. While he laments the loss of two of his most valuable agents because he underestimated Koko, he vows to not give up on her.
Impressions: Wow. Yup. That’s about how I felt about this episode in a nut shell.
This episode took everything that the previous two had been building up to and ran with it, turning the dial all the way to 11. The action that had been so notably absent so far kicked into high gear with a shoot out that was particularly anxiety inducing. In the sequence leading up to it, we see R frantically pleading with Bookman to call off his rogue left hand because allowing Jonah to die would be akin to letting a mad bull out of its pen and waving a bit of red in front of it. The fact that Koko is using Jonah as a way to anchor herself to reality is kinda of a given (it might even have been touched on in previous episodes?) and without him there, not only would she complete whatever nefarious master plan she had going on, but she would probably turn fully into a “Monster” having lost all of her (remaining) humanity. As R rushes to Koko’s side, his tension is palpable because he knows exactly what’s at stake. Even though his loyalties are with the CIA, he’d rather reveal himself as a spy than let Jonah or her become sacrifices to Hex so he absolutely must get to them in time.
The fight between Team Hex and Jonah, Koko and R was done to the same high standards that were seen in season one, and what a fight it was. The tension of Koko and Jonah’s desperate situation was great, and there were a couple of moments where I was legitimately concerned for their safety. I heaved a sigh of relief when R showed up, even though it quickly became obvious that it would be too much for just him and the injured Jonah to handle. It was certainly a surprise that Bookman, of all people, would be the one to help them out in such a major way. While he has nothing to gain from letting Jonah live, I think it stands as a testament to his relationship with R that he let’s himself get talked into helping the woman who he’s working against. Jormungand once again goes that extra little step to show you multiple facets of every character, even the “Villains.” With Bookman using the far-reaching powers of the CIA to hot wire a get-away car, R is able to secure an escape for his princess and Jonah.
In one of many heartbreaking scenes this episode, R tells Koko that he is Bookman’s spy, and that once he has gotten her out of there, he’ll disappear from he life forever. The look on her face after learning this information is one of the most emotionally devastating ones I’ve ever seen in anime. It’s the look of someone who’s world is collapsing and who can’t do anything but stand there and watch it crumble. We know from previous episodes that Koko doesn’t handle the loss of her team members well, and when she’s faced with the possibility of yet another person (like Echo) dying for her, she starts to become a little undone. It’s one of the rare times where you see her smiling mask slip, revealing the scared little girl underneath. She would even go so far as to not tell anyone that R is a spy, if only he’ll stay with her. Of course the rational, logical side of her knows that it’s not possible, which is probably why after R says his good byes, she’s able to drive off without looking back.
R and Hex go head to head in a suitably epic fashion, deserving of its own paragraph. Hex is angry (to say the least) at the realization that she has once again been betrayed by her country as she sees just how far Bookman went to counter act her operation. With R as the only one left to take her anger out on, the two face off. From an animation standpoint, it was an amazing sequence, with the two shots each going through the eye of their opponent in an amazing fashion. I feel terrible for writing that, especially since one of the character’s dies, but the visuals were on another level there. R’s death was a hard hit to take. I knew it was coming (thanks Wikipedia! you spoiler-filled bastard…) and I was still left with my moth gaping open. Again, Jormungand does a great job at making you care deeply for all the characters, so when one dies like R does, you feel it like a punch in the gut. When you couple that with Koko’s reaction upon hearing the new, you have a very emotional moment for a show that has been more focused on action than anything else.
We see a lot of the different faces that Koko hides under her smiling mask this episode, from the scared and terrified girl to the hopeful princess that just wishes her knight would stay by her side to her business game face. But by far the most terrifying is the face that Koko shows at the hospital when she finds out R has been killed by Hex. It is a face of such rage that you can’t not be terrified. That is the face of the monster that Koko could become, if given the right circumstances, and it is not a pretty sight. It’s with this face that Koko exacts her swift and brutal revenge against Hex and her team. If ever someone deserved justice, then it would be Hex, but to go so far as to raise her hopes by using American bombers so she would think that her country (the only thing left she truly loved) had come to save her and then to crush that hope and carpet bomb the shit out of an area so much so that it changes the landscape in order to kill just one person, is a kind of justice that only be dished out by the demon side of Koko. Part of my was shocked that she would go to such lengths and another part of me was glad to see Hex get what was coming to her. With this episode, Koko proves that she is one lady that you do. not. fuck with.
The ending was also very emotional, as Koko and Jonah visit R’s grave. For some reason I found myself tearing up a bit, which is something that very rarely happens. Koko’s smiling face is by then, once again glued into place, but on the inside you know she must be hurting. Even the fact that she allows herself a single tear is telling of how much sadness she must feel, as she strikes me as the type to never cry lest she show any signs of weakness. Again we get a brief glimpse of Koko’s scary side as she lies to Bookman, knowing full well that Hex was already dead at that point. I will say that Bookman’s weird “dance” at the end was so WTF worthy that I had to laugh. So really this episode delivers everything that you could want and more in the space of a 25 minute episode. Not something that you can say about a lot of things these days. Next week looks like everyone’s favorite older brother is back and it he might be bringing trouble with him.
Final Thought: The music during the episode was really good and definitely added to a lot of the scenes. Music can really help with giving something a tense atmosphere, like during the fighting in the streets, or to give it a sense of grandness, like during the bombing scene (that was my personal favorite track of the episode). Jormungand was truly firing on all cylinders this episode.