Oland wakes up in the morning after having spent the night sleeping under a bridge. Alice, meanwhile, wakes up in her own room at home and immediately salutes good morning to her mother’s picture. At breakfast, her sisters critique her way of dressing because they are worried about what her fiancé will think when he sees her. In fact, her father asks her how long she plans to continue playing soldier. Alice tries to defend her job, but her father believes that nobles have more appropriate roles. In response, Alice lectures her father and sisters about how she’s proud to be doing war relief with the third section and how it was originally their duty as nobles to help and to lead the people. However, her father shuts her up by pointing out that it’s easy for her to think like that since she has bread to eat every morning in this age of poverty. Alice ends up arriving late because she came by foot instead of the normal coach, all because she wants to be like a commoner.
Their mission today takes them to the south of the Empire to the Su13 tunnel that is in need of repairs. Alice sees this as a good chance for them to work and for them and the commoners to mutually understand each other, but Oland then overhears her stomach growling, which gets Alice quite embarrassed. When the group arrives at the tunnel with their mechanical drill, they find it ready to collapse. They also discover a boy from the nearby village stealing bread that’s intended for the laborers. Alice actually pats the boy on the head and allows him to eat the bread, and asking in return that he lead them to the person in charge of the village because she wants to place a construction order. The boy, whose name is Peter, brings her back to his village, but his father refuses Alice’s request. He explains that five years ago, a similar situation developed where the villagers were hired to repair the tunnel. But when the tunnel was completed, they weren’t paid and were instead given military draft exemptions. And so instead of dying from bullets, 12 people of this village died of starvation and disease this year.
Machs tries to assure him that they’ll get paid this time, but Peter’s father doesn’t trust them since the process will take a month after the work starts. In response, Alice idealistically suggests that the four of them will work together with the villagers, but Peter’s father still refuses. Defeated for now, the Pumpkin Scissors group returns to the tunnel site where Alice decides to start work herself. Oland brings her a meal, but she claims to not need it, despite her stomach growling. She feels that while all these people have been starving, she’s been indulged these 18 years. Oland is about to try to insist on her eating, but gets interrupted when Peter starts exclaiming about how amazing their drilling machine is. Alice shows him the drill and then offers him her meal, saying that she’s eaten enough during the time that everyone else starved. Despite Peter trying to make her feel better and his offer to help, Alice goes to work in the tunnel alone, knowing that Peter’s father can’t trust her any more than he can the Empire.
As she pounds at the rock with her pickaxe, Alice feels that she hasn’t known people’s suffering and has lived comfortably instead. What she doesn’t notice is that the physical activity is too much for her in her hungry state, so she soon faints. Alice dreams that when she was young, she had asked her grandfather if he was lonely living by himself in a huge mansion. Her grandfather had patted her on the head and told her that nobles are lonely by nature. When Alice wakes up, she finds herself holding onto Oland’s arm, so she slaps him, though she’s not sure exactly why. Oland once again tries to get her to eat, but she continues to refuse. The two discuss how this country is cruel and how the war damages are like the sickness and the people are like that patients. That would make them the doctors, but Oland thinks that the patients want the doctors to get sick too. The patients don’t want to become friends with the doctor or to understand the pain and suffering – they just want to be saved. These words have an effect on Alice and she decides to eat after all.
Early the next day, Alice goes back to Peter’s father and uses a different approach. She declares that she is part of the Malvins, one of the thirteen appointed noble families. Alice also shows him the base of what she calls a treasured sword, which has a crest that is proof of the next head-of-family, and she swears upon it that the military will pay them for now and for five years ago. With this, Peter’s father seems ready to trust her, but they get interrupted when Oreld comes running with news that Peter has taken the drill into the tunnel on his own. The entrance to the tunnel is now covered, but that doesn’t stop Alice from scaling up the rocks and finding a way in. As Peter’s father follows her in, Oland considers turning on his blue lamp. Alice and Peter’s father find a scared Peter inside the cab of the drill machine, but before they can get closer, Peter’s father saves Alice from a falling rock. Alice manages to turn off the drill and rescue Peter, but the three are still trapped inside the tunnel. Peter’s father reveals that five years ago, a similar cave-in occurred. Back then, the nobles abandoned the villagers – that’s the reason he hates nobles. But at the same time, he doesn’t feel that Alice is a noble because she didn’t do that.
Suddenly, the tunnel starts shaking again and Alice gets a premonition that causes her to push Peter and his father to safety. However, now she in directly under a falling rock. A bullet seems to come out of nowhere and shatters the rock, courtesy of Oland who activated his lamp. Since he blasted his way in, the three can now escape and are all safe. Afterwards, the villagers begin repairs on the tunnel, and Alice makes Oland, Machs, and Oreld help as she had originally promised. Watching everyone working, she vows to save this empire from the disease of war damages.
This was an Alice-centric episode with no tanks for once. Most of this was focused on Alice trying to atone for the fact that she was living a comfortable life while other people were suffering. By the end of the episode, she seems to be subscribing to Oland’s school of thought that the common people don’t want to make friends or anything – they only want to be saved. And so Alice is all pumped up at the end of the episode about saving the empire from the war damages. I’m not quite sure I like the idea of common people being so weak that they need to be saved, but then again I’ve never personally lived in abject poverty.
The other thing that they seem to develop a lot in this episode is Alice’s relationship with Oland. And by “develop,” I mean that she blushes every time he hears her stomach growl. I hesitate to say that they’re on any type of romantic path though because this isn’t that kind of series, at least not from what we’ve seen so far.
The last thing I have to note is that the animation quality this week was slightly worse than previous weeks, but it was a noticeable difference. Next time, it looks like we might be back to Oland fighting against tanks.