In the desert, a creature called a Jabal gets its claws on Mashiro’s body, but several volleys from one of the Aswald kill it. They bring Mashiro, who has the blue GEM in her ring, back to the Aswald village where Arika immediately recognizes her. Back at Garderobe, Miss Maria is complaining to Nagi about the occupation, but Nina steps in her way. Miss Maria leaves after warning Nina that she’s going to regret what she’s doing. Nagi tells Smith that his Ultimate Black Diamond is a last resort, and that as long as Smith doesn’t betray him, Smith’s wish will be granted.
Mashiro wakes up to find Mikoto peering over her. She’s overjoyed to see both her cat and Arika, but then Midori and Rado join them. Arika ended up in the desert with Mikoto after the battle and was picked up by the Aswald. Though she seems normal now, Arika was lifeless when they first picked her up. Mashiro tells Midori about what happened in the battle, but they still don’t know who is queen (though Mashiro doesn’t consider herself to be). Arika, who still has Erstin’s bandage, is bringing back some water when she’s teased by some of the children. She trips on one of the boys who is sporting a crutch, but Midori doesn’t want her to help him back up because an Aswald man should use his own power to stand up. The boy manages to do so and the rest of the kids all gather around for a hug with Midori; it’s apparent how much the Aswald people love her.
Meanwhile, Nao and Natsuki are hitchhiking their way to the Airies Republic. In trying to attract an oncoming vehicle, Nao cuts off Natsuki’s pants. The truck stops and several Airies soldiers come out to arrest them for indecent exposure. At Garderobe, the various Otome are all going through their own troubles. Tomoe, who bribes the guard so that she can view Shizuru’s jail cell, vows to help the Pillar Otome. Irina tries to get Nina to tell her what happened with Erstin, but Nina just gives her the cold shoulder. A lonely Chie reminisces of a time when the Trias were around, and then she continues writing a letter to Yukino. As for Shiho, she’s still up to her maki-maki ways, dragging Yayoi and Lilie in this time.
Arika tells Midori that the Sapphire was handed down to her as a memento of her mother. For that reason, Arika considers Rena to be her mother. At this point, Rado offers his apology to Arika. Fifteen years ago, the attack by Schwarz and Aswald was part of the Windbloom Interior Minister’s plan to assassinate the king and queen. Rena, who had already lost her Otome powers, still fought because of her loyalty to the king. The Aswald believe that a person, even if they are the enemy, who sacrifices themselves for a mission should be given the courtesy of a burial. But that never happened for Rena, and Rado regrets not being able to protect her remains from John Smith. According to Midori, John Smith is using Rena to create a new Shinsou for a new type of Otome. In fact, it seems that John Smith has already completed a new black crystal. Nagi says that it will allow anyone to become an Otome, whether they wish to or not. He wants Nina to find some people to test it, but Sergay comes in and takes the job instead.
Midori continues her story by telling the two girls about how the Aswald hometown was destroyed in the 12 Kingdoms War. The Aswald are now a cursed group because of the sickness that spread through the descendants. It is this sickness that forced Rado and the others to become cyborgs. Midori, who also fell victim, relies on her REM which was created after analyzing a GEM. Because of it, she is eternally 17 years old. And only with nano-machine technology of Garderobe can the sickness be cured. Midori asks for Arika and Mashiro’s help, but Arika still has Erstin in her memory and refuses to use her Otome powers. She runs out crying, with Mashiro and Mikoto giving chase. Mikoto tackles her, but then senses something scary nearby. A hole opens up below the two girls, and they get swallowed up by a Jabal.
After so many heavy drama and action episodes, we finally get another one that’s almost entirely plot development.
The Discovery Channel – Anyone else get Discovery Channel vibes from watching the furry thing eat the scorpion, and the Jabal eat the furry thing?
That Pose… – I was pretty amused watching Natsuki try to hitchhike again (yay for the reference to episode nine of HiME). Nao cutting off Natsuki’s pants technically did accomplish their goal of getting picked up, even if it is being arrested. Haruka’s going to have a field day with it…
All about Airies – The refugees were headed there, as are Nao and Natsuki. Chie is sending a letter to Yukino that refers to the “artificial 乙-HiME called ‘Valkyrie.'” Yukino and Haruka may play pretty big parts in the coming episodes.
Rena Revisited – So it WAS Rena that was in that weapon that John Smith used to shut off the Robes in episode 17. If her spirit is in the capsule, Arika (or whoever her real daughter is) may yet get a chance to talk to her.
Back at Garderobe – I hope Sergay has something planned that will screw over Nagi and John Smith’s plans. However, I don’t see his chances of surviving to the end of the series as being very high, especially if he tries to save Nina somehow. Actually, I think that John Smith might cross Nagi sometime in the near future too.
The Cyborg Connection – They explained a whole lot about Rado, Midori, and the rest of the Aswald, and what their goal is (to cure the sickness by using Garderobe’s technology). Makes more sense now why Rado refused the name Reito. However, Yohko’s relation to them is still a bit murky.
Oh, and Arika… – Though it’s still not clear who the princess is and who Rena’s daughter is, Arika considers Rena to be her mother. But with Erstin’s death, Arika now doesn’t want to be an Otome or use her powers anymore, which is quite the contrast to the beginning of this series. It’s probably going to be a life-and-death situation with Mashiro sometime next episode that will cause her to change her mind.
Aside from the aforementioned stuff, next episode seems to show Tomoe in a Meister uniform (perhaps because of the new crystal), and Cardair finally seems to be making a move. Lots of action in the preview, so it’s definitely something to look forward to.