Darker than BLACK – 21
Inside the Pandora facility at the Gate, an elderly scientist is conducting some research with a lens when a completely naked woman suddenly appears in front of him. The alarms soon sound and the guards rush into the room in time to see both the scientist and the woman disappear after she kissed him on the forehead. The only things left are his clothes on the ground, and Eric Nishijima soon gets a phone call informing him of the disappearance of Dr. Schroeder. Sometime later, Misaki and the other officers on her team are chasing a Contractor, and after they restrain him with an injection to the neck, Matsumoto finds an unarmed bomb in the man’s bag. Upon her return to headquarters, Misaki reports to Hourai that the man seemed to have been targeting the American embassy and was a member of EPR (evening primrose). They’re looking for clues to connect him to the mastermind, but Misaki notes that there are signs his memory had been falsified. She feels uncomfortable about this time compared to previous times, so Hourai tells her to get the American embassy’s alert level raised and to go meet with Harris Burnham who is in charge of its security.
Back at her own section, Misaki learns that the Astronomy Department’s results don’t match the three people they captured to the star that moved 11 times two evenings ago. With the Great Dark Spot not ending for three more days, Misaki warns her men to stay sharp. Meanwhile, Hei is dining at the ramen shop while the owner and his daughter watch a television program about how there have been a lot of mysterious phenomenon recently, and the commentator on the show thinks that it’s connected with the Great Dark Spot. That commentator also mentions people who have supernatural powers, so the store owner says that he’d like a supernatural power and starts trying to talk about it with Hei. Leaving the shop once he’s finished eating, Hei finds Mao waiting for him with a new job. Over at the American embassy, Harris is telling Misaki that the embassy’s security is flawless, especially with the addition of more guards because of the bomb terrorism incident. Misaki disagrees, but Harris tells her that if she wants them to act, she needs to get her government in negotiations with America. As they’re walking out of the embassy, Saitou notices November 11 standing nearby, and the first thing Misaki does is to check up on his injuries from last time. Seeing that he’s fine, Misaki tells him to leave this to them, causing November 11 to joke that he’s only here to see the explosion from the best spot.
In truth, November 11 wanted to pass along some information about the American embassy to Misaki concerning a scholar named Robert Schroeder. Misaki recognizes that name as belonging to someone researching at the Gate who was in the news for solving some mysteries, though she admits that she hasn’t heard his name mentioned recently. November 11 then explains that Schroeder has been working isolated in the deepest part of Pandora until recently. EPR had targeted him, and two evenings ago, he was kidnapped. November 11 won’t directly say that the American embassy is involved in this, but he does reveal that Schroeder had been tagged by a Doll since he was such an important person, and that trail was cut off here. In raising the possibility that there’s a member of EPR in the embassy, November 11 reveals that the mastermind of EPR named February used to be an agent with him. When Misaki thinks about this, November 11 surprises her by touching her forehead where her brow is furrowed. He then takes off his sunglasses and tells her that from now on, there are neither enemies nor allies, and that she should trust her instincts.
Back inside the embassy, Harris is telling his secretary Brita about how the Japanese police were here in regard to the embassy being a target. They didn’t have any concrete evidence, so he hadn’t cooperated as to not expose state secrets. Brita is concerned about the danger, so Harris tells her not to worry and starts to come on to her, but she leaves him hanging because she claims to have some important documents to take care of. She then heads to a house on the embassy grounds and goes underground to a room where a blindfolded Schroeder is being watched over by Wei. She tells him that they finally got the real Schroeder because the police are on the move thinking that EPR is targeting the embassy. Since both he and Brita haven’t heard any plans from Amber to target the embassy, Wei concludes that this is a bluff by the Organization to allow them to break into here. He then plays a recording of a man talking about using an accelerator and anti-gate particles to destroy the Gate’s stability. Although he feels that it’s possible this Schroeder could be a double with implanted memories, the information they’re getting from him might make it worth introducing him to Amber. Brita, however, thinks that they should wait a little longer because if this is the real Schroeder, their opponents will do whatever they have to.
That night, Huang watches the embassy through hidden cameras while Hei and Mao get ready to attack. Misaki, Saitou, and Kouno are staked out nearby eating anpan and milk when a smoke grenade suddenly goes off at one of the guard posts. Unbeknownst to them, Hei is using it as a distraction to sneak onto the embassy grounds, and with Yin’s guidance, he makes his way to the correct building while avoiding the guards. Inside, he sets a bomb with a five-minute timer, but before he can leave, he hears the guards outside the room confronting someone else. Several small holes suddenly get blown through the door, and when Hei looks through one of them, he sees Wei killing men. Hei tries to run a different way, but Wei catches sight of him and confronts him. Meanwhile, Harris is at the gate telling Misaki that there’s no need to worry because this was just a prank. Misaki has realized by now that the smoke grenade was probably a diversion, and to Harris’ surprise, an explosion suddenly occurs on the embassy ground. Claiming that this has to be an accident, Harris runs off and leaves his guards with orders not to let Misaki and company in.
With no other choice, Misaki calls up Hourai and tells him that she can’t get into the embassy to confirm what’s going on. She thus has a request for him: give them permission to enter the embassy as a special public security measure so that they can rescue victims and so that they don’t lose any clues to help them find the mastermind. Soon after, Misaki gets her permission and begins an evacuation of the injured, but when she notices November 11 walking through the embassy gates, she follows him. By now, Hei and Wei’s fight have brought them outside, and each expertly dodges the other’s attacks. The fight gets interrupted when Hei notices Brita nearby, and she comments on how she doesn’t think his orders were to neglect Schroeder and fight. Brita then uses her Contractor power of teleportation to appear at Wei’s side, minus the clothes that got left behind in the process. After getting confirmation from Wei that Hei is the one Amber is after, Brita postpones the fight by kissing Wei and teleporting him somewhere. Hei then attempts to attack her, but she instantly teleports to his side and says that she’ll see him later before disappearing.
Brita reappears in Schroeder’s room, but as she approaches the old man, November 11 suddenly speaks up about her being the one who kidnapped Schroeder after all. Although initially startled to find him here, Brita notes that it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other, and November 11 says that he wants to see February. Claiming that Amber wishes for this too, Brita kisses November 11 on the lips and teleports him away. Shortly thereafter, Misaki rushes into the room with her gun drawn, but she finds no one there – the only objects in the room are November 11′s white suit on the ground and Schroeder’s robe sitting in a wheelchair. Still, she never gets a chance to investigate because she’s soon surrounded by – to her surprise – Pandora troops who make her drop her gun and force her to the ground. Outside the embassy grounds, Mao comments to himself on how late Hei is, and he is completely shocked when he hears a girl’s voice asking about him speaking. That voice belongs to none other than a smiling Amber who is sitting on a nearby tree branch.
Well that was pretty good episode. I thought that parts of the first half were a little long-winded (like Misaki’s conversation with Hourai), but things really started getting interesting when November 11 talked to Misaki. The part where he says that there are no enemies or allies from this point on and that she should trust her instinct is of particular note because of how he wants to see Amber at the end of the episode. That coupled with him wearing a black suit in the preview makes me think that he might just join Amber’s side and further blur the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.
That being said, I don’t think of Amber as the antagonist of the story anymore. I may be being fooled by her child-like behavior, but it just seems like she can’t be more evil/sinister than either Pandora or the Organization that Hei is a part of. We still don’t know the true goals of each group (though I have some vague ideas that Amber might want Schroeder’s research to get rid of the Hell’s Gate), so there’s probably a lot more we haven’t been told that could change or strengthen this perception of her. On a side note, Amber surprising Mao at the end of the episode was one of my favorite parts of the episode since it made me laugh with the priceless expression on Mao’s face.
Next episode looks like it’ll put into play pretty much the entire cast, which gets me excited since it seems to show things finally getting into high gear. Incidentally, this is also the final two-episode arc as denoted by episode titles, so the final three episodes 23 through 25 will probably one big arc to finish the series.