Recap: Mikoto dips her toes into the DARKNESS and finds the people that created Febri. While investigating one of their labs, she runs across some familiar faces.
Jel’s Thoughts: While I’d say I’m enjoying this final arc of Railgun S, this episode may have been the first time I genuinely felt excited about what was going on. It might be the continuing buildup to what I’m hoping will be a super powered slug fest, but I think I enjoyed Mikoto’s character moments more than anything. Telestina’s hammy performance actually worked better than I expected, particularly her attempt to intimidate Mikoto with the chocolate. It was just over the top enough to keep the scene from trying to be DAAARK but with enough malice to make her cameo effective.
Mikoto’s somewhat reckless responses tied in nicely with her thoughts on the train about wanting to save everyone and how Touma must feel. I really loved that moment since it put the two on equal ground, giving her some actual reasons for falling for him aside from being rescued. It’s not often you get to see both sides of a romance (can we call it that? I want to call it that) to that extent so I’m glad they’ve put the format to good use. I know the odds are slim, but I really do hope the series does something with their relationship at some point. It would be disappointing to let moments like that go to waste.
I suppose those moments were really only a small part of the episode, as the rest of the plot continues to go exactly as expected. I would have a hard time believing Shinobu was complicit in the NERDS plan, so I wasn’t surprised to see her trying to undermine it. It was more interesting seeing Takitsubo clearly pick up Mikoto’s presence as the dummy lab and not say anything to Mugino. Is she setting up a trap or does she actually have some sliver of conscience? ITEM is never quite depicted as super evil as they are self serving, so I suppose that could be possible. Ultimately I don’t really care that much so long as they get to fight it out in the end, so let’s hope we stay on course for that.
Zigg’s Thoughts: You’re losing me a bit here guys. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised how much of an actual story these filler episodes have had, but it definitely felt a bit like the showrunners were scrabbling a bit here. There’s just too much here which seems rushed and/or inconsequential. As I mentioned last week, it’s great to have Telestina back, as it builds continuity, and she’s enjoyably slimy and nasty in the screentime she’s given. The problem is, the whole confrontation sort of fizzles out – Mikoto basically just stands around going TELL ME TELL ME TELL ME until Telestina gives in. And even then, she doesn’t really reveal anything new. Febri is an artificial being and the city is full of DARKNESS. Also your friends are only your friends because you’re famous. Did I mention DARKNESS?.
Afterwards, the plot’s only able to progress through a hopeless contrived coincidence (Kongou spotting the exact dude she saw on the monitor) and some pretty limp-wristed exposition from Uiharu. It’s not terrible storytelling but it feels lazy and dancing at the very edge of plausibility. Perhaps the very worst example is the ending where evil nerd pulls the old PUT DOWN THE POWERS AND STEP AWAY trick on Mikoto, who then proceeds to do exactly as he says, despite it being one of the most obvious traps ever to grace the screen. If you have to incapacitate her for story reasons, perhaps consider doing it in a way that makes the villains look smart rather than our heroine look completely stupid.
With all that out of the way, there was definitely stuff to enjoy here, especially character-wise. Mikoto and Kuroko’s quick heart-to-heart (with obvious but funny ending) was a great little scene and Mikoto’s musings about Touma do a good job of reinforcing the growing role he’s playing in her life. Definitely good to see more of ITEM too although dear god Frenda please lay off that swimsuit. Railgun is definitely coasting to the finish but there’s still enough here to make it worthwhile. It’d be nice if it could rediscover some cutting edge for the finale though.