I knew it! I knew I could predict the future! Kinda, sorta, if you squint…. Maybe time leap machines are really quite common but no one has Reading Steiner? I’m just seeing echoes of a future past? I should reuse that line, it’s completely wasted in this silly preamble.
So friends, do you remember last week when I speculated that Steins;Gate 0 was throwing weird foreshadowing on Yuki simply to keep her relevant and make her romantic arc with Daru that much the sweeter? Remember? Ha!!! I was right! What? No one was disputing me? And it’s a little early to celebrate things could still take an unexpected turn? Well I was still right….
You know what else I said in last week’s review? I mentioned that Suzuha’s past was a barrel of nightmare fuel! We’ve always known this. Growing up in a violently war-torn country is just not going to be a picknick no matter what. Up until now though, we’ve only had a very vague outline. For the first time, Stein’s;Gate 0 gave us just a few tiny moments of Suzuha’s childhood. Like these things often go, it was both much better and much worse than I could have imagined.
The reason Suzuha held on to both her sanity and humanity despite the impossibility of her circumstances, is that she comes from a deeply caring family that loved her to the very tips of their fingers. The reason she is so rigid and uncompromising in her quest is that she saw that very family ripped apart and will do anything to avoid it. Both her softness and her resolve are built on that same love. And this week, Steins;Gate 0 gave us the very moment when that love bloomed. It shared it with all of us, like a little gift.
For all intents and purposes, this week was yet another filler episode. I doubt we learned anything essential to the overarching narrative. However, as a balancing element, it brought something valuable to the story. The plot has been hauling us around breathlessly for the better part of the season. Breaks have been ruthlessly brief and few. There’s something grounding and precious about being reminded that all this suffering isn’t meaningless. That under all the tension is the simple and warm promise of a happy life surrounded by loved ones.
We saw it through the images of desolate landscapes on which little families take lovely family pictures. Of a young Suzu sulking at having to spend time with her parents, for no real reason. As we all have at some point. This meeting of the tragic and comforting spoke to me. I would also do anything I could to protect such fragile moments. They are everything after all.
This episode also wonderfully softened all of Daru’s most jagged edges. The character’s been slipping into creepy territory all season so it was nice to see him get pulled back into firmly lovable for a moment. This is the Daru I’ve been waiting for. The one that’s hiding his insecurities beneath all that pervy bluster. The one who knows a good thing when he sees it but gets paralyzed by the wonder of it all. The fact that Yuki happens to be the exact same type of dork is just icing on the cake. We all knew exactly how it was meant to play out from the very start. Just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t satisfying. Yuki and Daru finally getting together was completely doki doki.
In the background of all this loveliness, events are still brewing of course. Steins;Gate 0 simply cannot stand still for one second. Maho is back and her presence promises future developments. Okabe and the mysterious Dr. L are getting closer for better or most likely for worse. And poor Mayuri, who’s really gotten to worst of it lately, is once again being pushed to the sidelines and ignored by everybody.
The delicate despair which is closing in on Mayuri is being carefully rendered in painful detail. Even if only in tiny moments during each episode. She has always been very important to the plot but as a catalyst and narrative device. Of all the characters, Mayuri is the one most consistently robbed of her agency. I wonder if they are slowly pushing her to the edge so that she may become stronger through trials and tribulations. I hope so.
I’m starting to think Steins;Gate 0 may be written for me. This is exactly the level of romance I am comfortable with. I enjoy my drama mixed with a good deal of comedy and mystery. As some of you may know, I’m a sucker for family dynamics. If I had been asked to write an episode – I would have written something completely different and much worse. We would all have missed out.
This week was a beautiful assortment of moments. That special instant when you connect with someone you really care about. That second when an idea takes over your mind and pushes everything else out. That day when you see your child as short-sighted and impudent and absolutely the very best part of you. That moment when you realize your parents are flawed and embarrassing and your heroes.
I was happy those moments were shared with me. I’m looking forward to more next week!
A Nerdy Pespective opened my eyes to the wonder of slideshow galleries so that’s what I’m using this week!