I think I may finally have gotten that filler episode I’ve been clamoring for. Steins;Gate 0 took a deep breath this week and just sort of chilled. We didn’t get any major revelations or action sequences, instead the show took a little time to indulge in some silliness, some light-hearted humour and some dubious fan service.
I was, and am, divided. Want to come on a ride with me? Too bad, we’re going!
I’m not sure my of you read these without watching the episodes first but just in case this is what happened:
Amadeus has been restored and Maho meets up with Okabe to re-establish his mobile link. We learn that Maho has entrusted someone with cracking the password on Kurisu’s old laptop. Meanwhile, she’s made a complete mess of Faris’s place and the gang is all there to help clean up under the supervision of an adorably strict Nae. (Some of you may know that Nae is quite capable of harshness to say the least, but this was the cutsey type). After which, Faris, Moeka and Maho had a sleepover in the freshly cleaned apparent, cause apparently that’s what people with friends do and groping ensued, cause apparently you can’t leave two girls alone together without that happening.
I really need to get more girlfriends.
In the rundown, Maho explores Akihabara with Okabe and visits the site of Kurisu’s murder where the latter reacted rather emotionally. Maho has long suspected that Okabe’s connection to Kurisu is much more complex than he has stated but hi obviously pained reaction leads her to share the existence of Kurisu’s with him. The episode closes n Okabe’s panic that the secrets within will precipitate WWIII, making all his sacrifices moot.
I finished the episode and I thought…meh. I figured Steins;Gate 0 could just keep escalating the stakes as it would become completely untenable but as far as filler episodes go, this was so so. It was decent but largely useless and introduced some less likable elements for no particular reason.
For instance, I’m a Daru apologist, he happens to be one of my favorite characters and I have made my peace with his odd relationship with Suzuha as the more touching moments compensate for the uncomfortable ones in my opinion. Not to mention that Suzu can take care of herself. Seeing Daru openly perv out over very young Nae was neither funny nor relatable. I understand that they were going for a traditional joke here, but it sullies the character quite a bit and is behavior difficult to defend even by me.
The sleepover was similarly useless and although not as creepy it really emphasized the most annoying sides of Faris driving me to mourning once again. Well I figured…it was bound to happen.
I went for a walk with Buddy feeling a little let down and started to frame the post in my mind. The scene I kept flashing back to is Maho stashing Kurisu’s laptop in a locker for her hacker friend to retrieve. It wasn’t a particularly important scene but it beautifully paralleled one in the first season. That I quite liked. It seemed elegant compared to the rest of the episode.
As I was trying to build on that a bit more, I realized something. Everything I just said about the episode still stands, except for the largely useless part. This episode wasn’t about filler, not exactly. And it wasn’t about introducing recognizable old school fanserve either. It was a reimagining of Steins;Gate, with Maho in Okabe’s role.
Maho is the only new character in the main cast and the only one that needs to be properly introduced to us. However, in this worldline, she’s already oddly familiar to audiences of the original, because she mirrors Hououin Kyouma.
While Okabe is relatively normal and surrounded by friends, she is the socially awkward isolated one. Maho is the science otaku pouring her time and passion chasing after ingenuity. She is the one obsessed and haunted by Kurisu. Sure, Okabe still feels the pain of her loss but it’s Maho who can’t seem to let go. She’s even the one talking about changing the past. This episode was about showing us Maho’s story. Her own difficult yet beautiful relationship with Kurisu. It was about sharing her wonder and pain. It was..nice…
I have shared how connected I feel to Okabe but that connection was forged through hours of shared experience. It was built carefully from the ground up and cemented over years. I related to Maho instantly, from her first line of dialogue. Let’s face it, you make the character pale blonde and I could probably sue. Maho is so deeply familiar to me that I don’t need to have her explained. I know exactly why she does what she does and how she feels.
This is why I found it so heart wrenching to see her colleagues pushing her towards a man obviously in love with someone else. When push comes to shove, Okabe is a harem main character and those are NOT good boyfriend material. Maho can tell it’s not a good idea but she also can’t help being intrigued. And when nothing comes of it, she’ll shrug and keep whatever disappointment she feels buried deep inside. I know. That’s what I would do….
I got a few ore screenshots for you guys! Hope you like them: