Long live the king.
Toll for the Brave
Count Slaine Saazbaum Troyard. One life, no bombs, no continues, lunatic mode. But I swear, he’s milking that one life for every goddamn drop its worth. Looks like one of my previous criticisms was needlessly mooted – Slaine was biding his time all along, and certainly hadn’t forgotten or forgiven Saazbaum for the numerous attempts he made on Asseylum’s life. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the way in which he exacted his revenge though, and the tattered scraps of morality deep within Slaine probably didn’t either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Saazbaum. I really liked the design of the Dioscuria, and he did try to kill Princess, which is worth points in my book – but he was also a bit of a dick. But I sensed in Saazbaum a genuine fondness for Slaine when he was named as his heir – it was an action that would no doubt lower his standing with his fellow Orbital Knights, and yet he decided to reaffirm his gratitude towards Slaine for saving his life. Put simply, it was an action of goodwill, which Slaine promptly responded to by turning traitor and killing him. For real this time. It is highly unlikely that this would have happened had Saazbaum not practically adopted him, but all that means is that Slaine still had a use for Saazbaum beyond getting Princess hooked up to life support, and perhaps even anticipated something like this happening. It’s ruthless, cunning and admittedly very intelligent – but I can’t say I like him very much after what he did. Well, that’s nothing new.
There’s also still the issue of the ongoing war, which Slaine now has a direct hand in instead of just serving someone who did. In doing a Suzaku, his endgame presumably has something to do with a large-scale revolution from within, to change the VERS Empire for the better – in order to improve living standards for the impoverished like Harklight or the oppressed like the Terrans. We know he has a dream of some sort. There’s a slight problem though, and it’s that it involves the total destruction of Earth and a siphoning of their resources, which is a sight Princess is unlikely to appreciate if or when she wakes up. It’s also odd, because that in turn would involve continuing the very war Princess condemned so strongly. To be honest, with Saazbaum dead, Slaine is in an arguably even more precarious position within Versian society. Saazbaum was an important buffer for him, both socially and militarily – and that’s clearly evident in the scene where Slaine encounters those two Orbital Knight expies. Slaine can take sufficient care of himself militarily, and that issue is adequately solved by his rise in status. But I seriously doubt the other Orbital Knights will accept him easily at all, much less the emperor – actually, I’m not even sure what lies he’s been told by Saazbaum at this point. Nor will they just be beta as fuck and accept the collapse of the social hierarchy they currently reign over – Slaine may not have any other choice but to live up to his name and slaughter them all to remove his opposition entirely. Then there’s Lemrina, who’s profited handsomely from all this. Due to her activation factor, she’s currently the only Martian who can exert any sort of significant influence over him. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually learns of the true circumstances behind Saazbaum’s death, and uses it as leverage against him. In many ways, she’s the real winner here.
I found it quite funny that Inaho was nearly shot down in the very battle after Cpt. Magbaredge expressed her unwavering confidence in him. The Tharsis can see one turn ahead a la Onjouji Toki, and as Slaine grows in confidence with manoeuvring it and incorporating it into his piloting, Inaho will slowly be losing the overwhelming tactical advantage he’s had against pretty much everyone in the entire series. This bodes really well for their future clashes to come, because it’s high time Inaho was exposed to a realistic risk of injury and death. Coincidentally, the last time he had that sort of experience he was up against Slaine as well. Time to start assigning more tasks to some unused brain cells to optimise his processing. And brainstorming ideas by talking to his cybernetic eye. Really, Inaho?
I think that’s all I have to say. It was an exciting episode. And nothing’s ever boring with Aldnoah.Zero. The rivalry between Inaho and Slaine is something I feel I can get invested in again, especially as they look set to have many future encounters with each other – and it’s the one constant amidst the many plot twists of Slaine’s life. Each run-in is also another chance for Slaine to blast the yolk out of Eggs, so that’s good as well. While Slaine’s goals seem far too confused for me to offer any wholehearted support for him, he now has the overwhelming amount of power he’s always wanted. How he uses it will be interesting to watch, if nothing else.