The Promised Neverland Episode 9 – Back Rank Mate

Back Rank Mate : A checkmate that occurs when your king is trapped behind a wall (usually a wall of your own pawns) on the back rank, and a queen or rook attacks on the back rank.

cookieYou know, I think I’m just going to reiterate my thoughts from last week – OMGWTFBBQPURPLEMONKEYDISHWASHER. What the heck is this show doing to me? All I know is that if I was to exist in the Promised Neverland universe, I would be pretty safe since this show has melted my brain. Hyperbole you think… maybe a smidge.

Still, I am grateful that Crow is here to keep me from completely losing it and you’re grateful too. Trust me. He makes these posts! Also, let me apologize in advance for this but I took an unreasonable number of screencaps again. If this post has been loading for  minutes…that’s why… sowwy…

But before we get started, how are you Crow?

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Well, for starters, I’m bold this week! And for another, there’s no way I’m getting through this review without dropping some spoilers, so everyone beware!

Come to think of it, “everyone beware” is pretty good advice for anyone watching this show! Purple monkey indeed!

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everything’s fine!

I’m just trying a little small talk to ease us in because this week got heavy! Unlike the usual light hearted slice of life comedy The Promised Neverland usually is….

This level of removal from reality is a different perspective for you! Looks like the show’s getting to you — and I certainly understand why!

If you’ve read our reviews before you know this, but it’s spoileriffic. If you don’t want to know what happens, please come back after you’ve watched episode 9.

The Promised Neverland Ep 9 (9)

oh no! not spoilers!!!

Last week ended on a double whammy courtesy of Moma as she broke the leg of one of her beloved daughters without hesitation, while gently announcing the execution of a beloved son. And this week brought us straight back to that devastating scene adding a few new details to the mix. I must say the impact was not lessened by repetition!

Just in case the show didn’t twist the knife quite enough last week!

If last week it dawned on me just how outmatched the kids were, this week the kids are starting to really realize it as well, and it’s heartbreaking. Don and Gilda were being held together by the other three but now that they’re seeing them unravel, they are left rudderless and very very scared. The juxtaposition of the bright sunny day and soft green grass, and the dire straits the kids are in made everything just a little sadder, don’t you think?

The imagery was great — it was almost taunting our heroes with a false normalcy.

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the ephemeral nature of life is both tragic and beautiful 

The scene went from Don, Gilda and Ray barely holding it together to a cool and composed Norman sweetly comforting Emma. I thought “this child is terrifying”. The composure…the strength. The sheer loyalty to Emma that he would consider his own life immaterial as long as she’s fine. Honestly Norman is one impressive young man.

Did you see what Emma did the instant she woke up? She reached for him. That gesture was heartbreaking in its simplicity; in the trust it implied.

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I saw – I screencapped

And then, his mask slipped. When finally alone, it became apparent that Norman was far from fine. He was horrified and lost. He did not want to lose his life. All of this was shown in a quiet patient scene. The emphasis and emotion expressed through long shots of nothing much. The lack of motion letting the emotion shine through rather than any overt display. I quite like that! So it turned out that Norman was just pretending for the sake of his friends. And I thought, Norman is a supremely impressive young man!

You could see the moment his will snapped. He had been pushed past what he knew he could handle, and he was faced with the question: What next?

While Norman was trying to calm himself, we jumped back to Ray who was by far the most agitated we’ve ever seen him. Ray seemed to accept his own potential demise with bitter but stoic resignation. However, the thought of Norman getting shipped out has gotten hm enraged and panicked. For a second, I thought it was a mix of feelings for his friend and of the discomfort of having his plans ruined. I thought Ray was intimidatingly impressive.

The sight of Ray, who for so long had plotted and planned and executed, coming to grips with the idea that not only were his plans ruined, but his understanding of their world was flawed to the point where he had no idea what to do. And still, after venting a bit, he started to rein himself in. These are pretty impressive kids! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that composed (or intelligent or — thank heavens — tasty to demons!) at their age.

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Ray was my rock…this shattered me

Having come back to his senses a bit, Norman decided to rejoin Emma. Did you notice the CG Crow? Of course you did, it was pretty obvious. And I think that was on purpose. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure the CG has been used as a narrative tool in this series.

The CG was only used in the scenes of Norman walking the hallway alone, even though we saw extremely similar scenes of Ray, Don or Guilda. And even though the CG was obvious, it wasn’t excessive. I think the slight uncanny dissonance, plus the impact on the character’s movement was used to make those simple scenes of Norman just walking that much more weighty and uneasy. I may be reading too much into this…

It reminded me a little bit of some of the photographic effects Alfred Hitchcock would use him his films. This show is very much in that tradition!

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ok, still images don’t give you the right idea

We then got another classic scene of three small kids talking in a bedroom. This is 98% of the show and it’s still giving me anxiety.

I’m sure the conversation was littered with clues and foreshadowing but quite unlike myself, I couldn’t pay attention to that. I was actually too emotionally invested. Weird huh?

I appreciated this quiet scene, because it helped me process everything we’ve learned in the last 30 or 40 minutes of storytelling!

Emma and Ray have decided that Norman getting shipped out was simply not an option and came up with a simple but promising plan. Norman should disable his tracking device and hide just beyond the wall until they can join him once Emma is healed up. At this point Ray explained some simple gut-wrenching facts. The children are afforded a comfortable happy life because they’ll taste better that way. That’s all.

As Ray was talking and Norman seemed dubious I started to wonder why did Ray seem so desperate for Norman to live? He was the one saying that saving everyone was impractical. Their plan is riddled with potential pitfalls and unknowns. Ray of all people should accept Norman’s willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. And when Ray cried out, “If you die then what were the last 6 years of my life for?”, I realized something.

The Promised Neverland Ep 9 (33)

Ray has a bad poker face

Ray isn’t the cool and composed mastermind he makes himself out to be. This boy who since the age of five has patiently collected trinkets to create a disarming device all on his own without anyone noticing. This boy was a bleeding heart hero type. He may not be able to save everyone, but he needs to save his friends at least. How cute and innocent. How naive to think you can just throw them out there. This is why he had to accept Norman’s argument that should he escape neither Emma or Ray would be taken in his stead and sacrificing another for your own life is unbearable. Because he’s just a kid who loves his friends, that’s all. Ray is truly and undeniably impressive.

Have you noticed how easy it is to be stoic on behalf of someone? I’m borderline competent on my own. On behalf of my family or friends? I can be quite a different person, or I can at least seem that way. I see that in Ray, and in how Ray reacted when Norman was trying to give himself up. The walls just come tumbling down!

I have but then again, I’ve never been in a situation where I really thought I could die. Maybe survival instinct would kick in..

Just when all that panic, fear and loathing cam crashing together, that’s when Emma decided to be Emma and do what she does best. Just smother everything in powerful optimism backed up by short sighted but surprisingly rational propositions. Break Ray’s arm. If they’re both hurt, then they won’t be replacements – Norman can escape with his mind at ease. This emotional release allowed the kids to get back to themselves a bit. A nice little reprieve.

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and just Norman

I couldn’t help but wonder – won’t Gilda or Don be chosen then??? It seems that wasn’t too much of a concern to the others.

They needed a little short-sightedness to keep themselves together, I think. I also wonder if either Don or Gilda would be considered a real replacement? If Emma, Norman, and Ray are prime grade, Don and Gilda would likely be choice. Still a fine grade, but not interchangeable. Maybe. I’m feeling strange talking about our heroes as grades of beef…

Say Crow, any thoughts about the fact that Ray knew right from the start? I think that may be better, since you don’t lose anything? Then again, maybe not.

The show’s doing such a good job at presenting Ray as a complex character that honestly, I’m not sure! It certainly could be!

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there was tons of Norman in this episode, really!!!

The next day, Norman’s escape plan is ready to go. They have a new rope, a last hide and seek game, everyone knows their part. Momma informs the entire house that Norman is going to be “adopted”. First – darn you Phil! Second – some of those kids were crying a little more than justified, don’t you think. Maybe Emma and co. aren’t the only ones to know the houses secret?

I had that impression, too — especially that one little girl Norman had to hug!

The Promised Neverland Ep 9 (49)

um..it’s going to be…”o.k.”?

That was an exciting scene. Much like the rest of the episode, it used quick cuts beween the main characters as we saw Norman making his way to the wall and finally climbing it, while Emma and Ray are simply waiting back at the house. It got my blood pumping! And those colours were stunning.

Did you see the looks the kids were giving Isabella? Chilling!

As evening set in and the kids were getting ready to go in for dinner, I was actually holding my breath a little. And then, Norman just slowly walked back. After which, we finally find out what’s behind that wall. Talk about a cliffhanger!!!!

I see what you did there!

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oh my

When we first see Norman climb to the top and look out, were you afraid we weren’t going to find out what he saw? I was all like, “Oh, no, Promised Neverland! Don’t you dare make me guess!”

And then we found out.

It might have been better had they made me guess!

And did you notice how self-satisfied Momma looked? Of course she knew what was beyond the walls. Of course she could guess what Norman’s reaction would be! Just another sign of her supreme control over the situation.

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Krone who?

By the way, we saw Norman discover Krone’s pen and box in a drawer, but once again they didn’t show us what was in it. ARGH!!!

So this is Norman’s last day. Their plans are in ruins; their emergency plans are in ruins; and Phil is still smiling way too much. I have no idea how they’re going to get out of this, and honestly, I don’t want to guess! The show is doing a delightful job of entertaining me, and I don’t want to get in its way.

Irina, what’d you think of the music in this episode?

I’ll be honest I didn’t notice it. My mind got kidnapped by the plot. But tell me about it!

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shhhs Phil

Starting just after Norman’s will crumbled , a simple piano melody starts playing. The camera switches to Ray, but the melancholy song continues and underlines their desperation — that begins to harden into resolve.

It’s a simple tune that lets the acting speak for itself. It ends when Norman enters and sees Ray and Emma’s serious expressions.

Later, as Norman’s running for the wall, there’s a more upbeat, drum-driven song with a woman’s beautiful voice harmonizing — no words. Emma and Ray try to stay calm, but the almost pop beat is more to support Norman’s spring to the wall than their attempt at patience. The woman’s voice disappears until Normal reaches the wall and makes it to the top. The crescendo? When he stands, shocked into silence, at what he sees on the other side of the wall. The music disappears, too.

The inarticulate voice lent an air of desperation that I recognized only in retrospect — when se see Norman’s shattered expression at the end.

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whoa! I need to rewatch this episode…if I can

This show, man…..

You know, when I get really engrossed in a show, I can’t stop taking screencaps…

 

 

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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27 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    To be honest, I was disappointed with this episode. I was hoping this show would get moving, but we’re spending another episode treading water. I’ve said for a while now that I’m more intellectually than emotionally involved with this show, but there wasn’t that much of this in this episode either.

    The cliff-reveal? It’s supposed to make me feel hopeless for them, but if you remember that as far back as episode one I considered the possibility that there’s no viable biosphere outside the plant, in comparison, a cliff is a rather minor set-back. Instead, what I got is confirmation that the plant is situated somewhere away from civilation: I didn’t see elictricity structures, towers, anything – just trees. That’s re-assuring. If they make it out there, they won’t immediately have to worry about people and their tattoos. Bascially, the reveal scene had the opposite effect on me, that the show probably intended. It was re-assuring.

    The let’s-break-Ray’s-arm strategy sounds so much like a desperate last-minute plan that you want to believe in: they’ve never had confirmation that they’re brains really are the delicacy, as far as I know. Are they just assuming? And then they fail to take their captor’s perspective: won’t they just ship out somone. What’s worse? Delivering slightly worse ware or not delivering at all? Will they try to go around breaking everyone’s limbs?

    Basically, I’m seeing they’re plans mostly as the smart-kids version of the headless chicken running around before it drops, but that’s not too effective for me, because I’m not emotionally invested enough.

    As a result, this episode had very little to offer to me, and I felt like I was treading water.

    • Irina says:

      I’m pretty sure they’re suppose to sounds like desperate silly plans. I mean the plans were all super childish from the start and the arm break one is particularly silly. I don’t think we were ever suppose to think they could work but the fact that we still almost hope they would is the trick the show is going for.
      But yeah it’s small children talking for 8 episodes.

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I wish I could have easy confidence in that while I’m watching the show, but I’m lowkey on guard all the time. If the writing were better, I could be sure the plot is silly, and I’d slot into easy suspension of disbelief. Sadly the anime falls into an awkward in-between slot: not obviously bad enough, but also not good enough. I wonder if that’s a problem because the anime goes for suspense? I heard the manga has interior monologue for many characters, including the grown ups – that could change things for me, who knows?

        • Irina says:

          Personally, I like the writting. I don’t think it’s silly. I think the 11 year olds are suppose to come up with plans that sounds awesome to 11 year olds so those would of course seem ill thought out to adults but that doesn’t mean the overarching plot is nonsense.
          At least that’s my hope but I’m pretty sure I’m just enjoying the show more than you are. My standards tend to be lower.

        • “not obviously bad enough, but also not good enough.”

          I’m not sure how my perspective is different, but I’m impressed with the writing so far. Maybe it’s that I know they could just have played the “poor children” card, but they decided not to. Instead, as Irina said, “the 11 year olds are suppose to come up with plans that sounds awesome to 11 year olds so those would of course seem ill thought out to adults.”

          Maintaining fidelity to those two perspectives, while at the same time providing for small small hope that our heroes can come up with a plan in spite of the crushing obstacles, impresses me.

          Of course, just because I can’t do it doesn’t mean it might be easy for others; or that I’m interpreting something as impressive when it’s not.

          Still, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a better writer this season. In fact, I have to go back to Planet With and its economy of character and plot to find writing of a comparable skill; or maybe Zombieland Saga for its deft handling of character.

  2. Lynn says:

    Did you see Ray kick the bucket? Foreshadowing maybe! Hope not, but it’s impossible not to read into everything they show us.

    I want to know if Norman ran the length of the wall just to check. I certainly would have.

    Still waiting for Phil to save the day…

  3. Fred says:

    You know, spoilers have never bothered me. The last time I saw a movie where a spoiler would have ruined the surprise was ” The Crying Game”. That was in 1992.

    • Irina says:

      Spoilers don’t bother me either

      • Brooke Cannon says:

        They don’t bother me much either… except, I always get tempted to watch the end of a Romance show or (depending on the show) an anime but at the same time, I want that bubbly, warm feeling to be savored and enjoyed once the show is over instead of thinking, “Yeah, I already saw this, I’m done,” and moving on to another show that looks cool/interesting…. Unless it has sex, I’m not allowed to watch anything with that yet, and I cringe when I find out it’s about that…

  4. Karandi says:

    This show… I felt so incredibly bad for Norman and all the kids this week when all their plans and potential plans just fell apart and it became clear they had never had any chance of escape.

    • At the end of episode 8, all of their plans had been shredded. At the beginning of this episode, they scrambled to put something — anything — together! And when they thought they had another shot…

      The last few seconds of this episode were just punishing. I am dying to know what happens next!

      You know what would be terrible? They all wake up in the Enterprise’s holodeck. That would really be terrible.

      • Karandi says:

        That would be terrible.
        I’m hoping next episode gives us something, anything, to cling onto in hope for these kids. Part of me kind of wonders if the story has the guts to do Norman in or if we’re going to have a last minute reprieve, or he gets given some other role other than being eaten, or something along those lines.
        Either way, I’m definitely hooked by this anime.

      • Irina says:

        You can’t tempt them to turn it into star trek. Reverse psychology isn’t going to work here

    • Irina says:

      It as this great way of putting the audience in the kids’ shoes

  5. ramon3ljamon says:

    A cookie for me too please

    Otherwise I might accept the pointless cruelty of life & embrace the eternal void of death

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