Kriegspiel (‘War game’) is an unorthodox chess game in which the players only know for certain the moves of their own pieces. They have to deduce where the opponent’s pieces are by questioning an umpire. It is played on three boards with partitions between them. – via Wikipedia

You know, Crow was a bit nervous about reviewing this show, I think I strong armed him into it. I felt a little guilty at first but man am I glad now. I am loving this show and in no small part because I get to have these wonderful conversations around it. Your comments have also been fascinating and insightful. Please keep them coming. I can’t get enough of these talks.

Strong-armed? Hardly! You said you would like to review it — very politely, I might add! — so I watched the first episode — and to keep a theme going, I’m glad I did! And you’re absolutely right about the comments! Thought-provoking and imaginative stuff!

Oh, and by the way, my turn to be bold! At least in print! (That was Crow)

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That’s quite a start

So remember last week when I said the arrival of Sister Krone could prove to be a disruptive presence for both sides!!!

Criminey, you weren’t kidding!

First though, let’s talk about that tiny bomb shell we got a the beginning. Every episode of The Promised Neverland packs so much in that it’s easy to forget the details, but one of the biggest things that stood out to me came from Ray, Norma and Emma’s conversation in the opening act, when they were still speculating on the transmitters. Apparently, it’s 2015!

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that font is so not 2015

Obviously this is an alternate world but it places us in a grey zone. The technology we’ve seen so far in their daily lives is certainly not quite up to 2015 standards, but the teaching rooms seemed to be overly advanced. The demons may have some form of very advanced technology not available to the children but we haven’t seen it yet and the frequent use of nature (especially flower) motifs makes the seem more mystical than technical.

I’m not entirely sure why, but having the story clearly situated in time like that, felt important somehow.

Maybe an alternate timeline. But honestly, I’m not 100% convinced this is Earth — as in Sol III. It looks the same, but we’ve only seen a small part of it.

I’m not either which means we don’t know the rules governing what’s “human” which  opens lot of doors!

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At this point we also had a little speculation on the world beyond the farm. The kids discuss the fact that they must not be the only facility and that livestock comes from somewhere. The idea that demons probably rule the world. The kids seem to have pretty much the same line of thinking as we did. Except they have more pressing questions and trying to guess what’s out there isn’t very productive right now!

I’m still amazed at how clear-thinking they are! No unreasonable leaps of logic; just applied thinking based on their observations and thoughts.

These kids keep their eyes on the ball, then again, they’ve never known any other world. Emma, Norman and Ray, having figured out last episode that there had to be some type of tracking device on them are now busy trying to figure out where it is, while we get to know the newly arrived Sister Krone.

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why not redraw the missing pupil? it would be so easy…jus for extra creepy?

I must say, with this much story and background to unpack, I don’t blame the show for resorting to Ray, Normand or Emma explaining the situation to each other (and by extension us) , but I couldn’t help but snicker a bit at Krone’s schizophrenic exposition. It was fun but just a little clumsy.

Did you like how she was portrayed? She almost seemed like a caricature, though her interactions with Momma (Isabella) were fascinating. And when she ran, she reminded me a lot of the T-1000 Terminator model from Terminator 2 Judgement Day!

I have to say, I quite like the notion of an addled, almost pathetic yet still threatening and entirely terrifying antagonist. Movies way too often play up particularly cruel villains as brilliant masterminds but I’ve always found that an opposite characterisation was very effective, and interesting. Someone who is just not bright or sane enough to tempt or coerce. Someone you can’t reason with….

Someone who’s bound to do anythingWhen I was really small, we had this electronic chess board you could play on. It had difficulty settings up to 10 (hardest). When you set it to 10 it would beat you instantly, unless you didn’t know how to play chess. You see, nonsense moves confused its algorithm. It would start taking forever, trying to figure out what your strategy was, while you were happily licking all the chess pieces or something. Once you get too smart, it starts to be very difficult to understand stupid, or senseless. Krone may prove to be a challenge… for everyone.

Meaning maybe Isabella won’t take her seriously as a threat — until it’s too late? This show has way too many ways to keep us off guard!

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there are no cameras, no need to look for them

Of course she immediately decided to betray Mama, which I predicted cause I’m totally psychic and no other reason whatsoever. Say Crow, any thoughts on the judgement call behind deciding to loudly sing your treason plans in a crowded house with only a thin wooden door to block the sound?

That’s what I always do when I decide to betray someone! Seriously, I had to wonder at her sanity. Why would she possibly do that? Was the show just being funny? Or was it telling us something about her — namely, that she’s not entirely rational?

This said, even with her very limited presence this episode, I still find Moma to be the most chilling presence on screen. I also suspect that Moma let Krone know about the *older* children who had discovered the secret, for a specific reason. She doesn’t strike me as a woman who trusts readily or speaks carelessly. (I do both!)

I think your observation is spot on. There’re reasons Moma’s where she is, and one of them is that she’s astute. I think your title for this post is perfect. It’s Moma on one side of the board and Emma, Norman, and Ray on the other. Krone doesn’t know it, but she’s just one of Moma’s pieces.

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terrifying I say

Speaking of deceptively smart, even though the series has so far established Ray and Norman as the masterminds of the series, with Emma seemingly playing the role of the enforcer, it was Emma who came up with the brilliant insight that the newly arrived baby might still have a scar from the tracing device incision. And when ging to check for herself, she also came up with the brilliant line of reasoning that the demons would probably not want to eat the implanted tracking device so it would have to be somewhere “easy to remove”…. Turns out, it’s the ear! That’s where we tag cattle – makes sense.

Remember I talked about feedlots? Yeah, we tagged the calves’ ears. The newer tags nowadays even have microchips in them. This is all terrifyingly familiar!

We are slowly seeing themes of human connection. The baby’s fingers coiling around Emma’s, creating that visceral instinct to protect our most vulnerable. It reminds us on this base level of the idea that we are all human and in this together. I assume this blatant set up is to only make those upcoming hard decisions even more devastating!

I’m having flashbacks to Made in Abyss… Which is to say, I think that’s exactly what they’re doing. And we’ll see those hard decisions through Emma’s eyes!

I desperately want t see that. I should get whatever platform i’s on…

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they look a little alike

After having found the tracking device, or at least a likely place for it, it was time to turn to the practical question of escaping with everyone. Ray very appropriately pointed out that the smaller kids would have a hard time keeping up in their current state. Thankfully, it seems that hide and seek is already the main form of entertainment there, so this comes in handy for practicing kills like running away and, well hiding…

A game with Norman as the seeker serves as an excuse for Ray and Emma, serving as teachers, to show the kids some tricks. I quite liked this scene. It had all the ominous implications but because most of the kids think this is a simple game it was presented as joyful and sunny and relaxing. The contradiction was interesting to take in.

Very effective, dramatically. I felt like it also made the upcoming decisions that you already referenced feel even more dreadful. Those kids playing so happily will soon be running for a much different reason. With a much different consequence for being found.

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well maybe not completely unaware

Speaking of blissfully unaware. More than once, the episode went out of it’s way to point out how beloved the caretakers are and how happy the children. Ray and Norman are eve gearing up for the possible necessity of lying to everyone because there’s a strong chance they would simply refuse to believe the truth and get them all killed. Once again, we’re being confronted with the limitations of Emma’s mercy.

It’s a great moral dilemma. Is it permissible to lie to save someone? And if you do, how far can you take the lie? Because once the kids found out they’ve been lied to, there’s no telling how they’ll react!

Krone had been eyeing all the older kids ever since Moma told her someone had discovered the truth. By not reporting it immediately, it seems Moma as broken the rules. Krone figures that if she can figure out the culprits and turn them over herself, she could usurp Moma’s role and become the new Moma.

Seeing the children play, Krone sees her own chance to do some recon and evaluate the children’s skills at the same time.

At this point, the game got a lot more menacing. How did you feel about it Crow?

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Oh, yeah! All those subtly menacing feelings we got while the kids were playing tag alone got bumped up a couple notices. Remember when she gathered up several kids at once and picked them up? I thought that was terrifying!

Having Krone discover a cowering Emma hiding two small children was pretty chilling, but not quite as much as Norman looking down from that boulder as Ray snuck up on Krone to win the game… See what I mean about Norman, gotta watch out for that kid.

He and Ray make a dangerous combination. I just hope they’re dangerous enough! And by winning, I wonder if they just made Krone more resolute? Or do you suppose that’s Moma’s plan — to make Krone and the kids focus on each other and leave her more free to operate?

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how do they keep their clothes so white?

So test run no. 1 went a bit better than expect with Norman and Ray coming out on top. Still, depressingly predictable, Emma’s insistence on trying to save two small children, so they were all caught. Let’s hope it’s not foreshadowing…but it totally is. (I don’t know, this is as far as I got in the story)

It sure felt like foreshadowing! But if it was for a terrible decision Emma will have to make, or if it’s showing Emma preparing the kids to control even their breathing, only time will tell!

Man, I hope they can get themselves out of this mess!

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oh man…this is so cool!

The episode ended on yet another bombshell and I must say I adore this one. After the game, Krone decided to back off, while Moma had completely disregarded Norman, Ray and Emma despite her obvious suspicions. The three soon come to the conclusion that the adults aren’t bothering with them because someone else must be keeping tabs and reporting back. But there’s only one option left, that someone else must be one of the kids.

This mic drop moment was spectacular. It completely changes the dynamics and interaction of the narrative. And since we the audience don’t have any extra information, we get to share in the kids’ paranoia! This was perfect!

If Emma’s hopes to get everyone out before looked unrealistic, now they look self-defeating. Because if they try to take everyone, and if “everyone” includes the snitch, then, to quote Han Solo, “This is going to be a real short trip!”

They’ve built a lot of suspense in three episodes, don’t you think?

I can’t believe this is episode 3. It could have been a built up season. Yet – it doesn’t feel rushed. Magic I say!

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I may have said this before but: terrifying!

I just got over my Tsurune screencap disease and now The Promise Neverland is trying to drag me right back into it!


26 thoughts

  1. It’s 2015? I thought it was 2045. That’s what the episode titles seem to suggest: 121045, 131045, 181045. I thought that was the date? Maybe they just have an old calendar? Maybe I’m imagining things?

    Glasses girl is called Glinda? I didn’t catch that. Interesting name. “The Good Witch of the South” from Wizard of Oz, no? “Neverland” sounds like a Peter Pan reference. I wonder where this goes.

    I personally don’t think the way the show frames her is a misdirection, but it’s possible. I have this theory that Isabella’s recruiting her as staff, in a rather cruel either you’re with us or we ship you out manner. That would have the added advantage of making her act suspicious, making her a target for Krone’s schemes. And Isabella would know when and how she moves. (I’m good at overthinking things; it’s why I’m often wrong.)

    Did you notice that whenever we see the aliens (I’m not calling them demons; the technology talk is way more compatible with aliens) there’s a sense of jealousy, that the small fry don’t get to eat the best children (or any at all, not even a little finger, if they’re just grunts). The whole show seems to set up a stratified system with people wanting to rise up, and Emma seems to be the main counterpoint (while Ray seems to be familiar with the mindset). It’s entirely possible that Emma, just by being who she is, prevents ultimate treason, leading a kid being shipped out early (I worry for Glinda). I mean, according to what Norman said about Emma, if she weren’t there, and they found out he found out, what would he have done if they offered him a job?

    Shounen protagonist naivety wins over people is a rather common element in shounen shows, and it would work especially well in an environment where everyone suspects backstabbers. They seem to be setting up such a setting.

  2. I’m really loving this series. I not sure the reveal that’s its 2015 is all that relevant. However, I though if they’re on an alien planet why would they use human time. Finally, the characters have a bad habit of constantly having important conversations out loud and with all those little children around how come they never interrupt them?

    1. They were in a library – no one ever goes there….joking
      I’m not sure the year reveal is relevant at all ether but for some reason it stuck with me personally. Why bother giving us the information if you’re not going to do something with it.

  3. I thought the mentioning of the year a little odd. Firstly, how can they trust anything that they’ve been told at this point, and secondly, how does that affect their understanding of technology.

    Two scenes felt off to me – Krone talking to her doll and the demon tea party. Both could have been handled much better, the later being left out completely.

    Personally, I think the stuff with Gilda is misdirection. It wants us to think that Gilda is the spy but I feel like Krone suspects that she is one that knows about the harvest. Going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Mother is without a doubt too cool and calculating to let Krone run around causing trouble, but there was also the line about memorizing the kids details would be easier than getting perfect scores everyday. Makes me think they were in an orphanage together and survived to become staff. There’s more to their connection I think.

    1. I also think Gilda is misdirection but with this show having the simplest explanation pan out could be a twist…

      1. True, but then that was the goal with the reveal in week one. All trust has gone. We don’t know who to trust and what their motives are. Makes for a very engaging show.

        I’m now wondering if Mother isn’t getting a bad rap and could be planning something much bigger like overthrowing the world order… probably not, but it’s hard to believe anything at the moment. Loving it!

          1. Waltzing in here with its cute face and finger grabbing skills. Don’t worry about the fake scar behind my ear. Also, doesn’t the new baby look kind of like Emma! Clone maybe?

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