As he sits in a thinking position, Lelouch recalls how he had confronted Suzaku about his past in the aftermath of the Mao incident. He had told Suzaku that Kirihara (of the Kyoto group) once said Kururugi Genbu’s death was to suppress the hardline faction against resistance to the bitter end – both Japan and Britannia needed such a story. Suzaku is fine now and is sketching Lelouch with the rest of the class. They are having art class with Lelouch as the model because it’s art week, and today is also the inauguration ceremony of Clovis’ memorial art museum. Euphemia is at the museum at that very moment because she has to choose a grand prize winner from all the art pieces. She takes a liking to a painting of a house by a river, but the director tells her that the painter was found out be 1/4 Eleven. He instead directs her attention to a painting of her father, the Emperor of Britannia, done by the son of Duke Nikolai. Over at the Black Knights base, Kaname is opening up a bento made for him by Villetta when he gets interrupted by the arrival of the Toudou’s Four Holy Swords. They want the Black Knights’ help because Toudou has been taken captive by Britannia. Zero gives the go-ahead when Kaname calls him up because he considers their group to be allies of justice. After watching Lelouch hang up the phone, C.C. apologizes to him for what happened with the Chinese Federation. He tells her not to worry and is more focused on what he calls the two chess pieces that have fallen into place, though it is possibility that there could be one more – Suzaku.
When Suzaku comes by later and plays with Nunnally, Lelouch thinks to himself that sooner or later he won’t be able to be by his sister’s side. And with emergency cases like Mao, there needs to be someone here to protect her. Lelouch feels that that someone is Suzaku, but before Lelouch can talk to him about it, Cecile comes running to notify Suzaku of urgent business from Lloyd. Since Suzaku has to go, Lelouch tells him that he has something important to say when Suzaku gets back. Once Suzaku runs off, Lelouch asks Nunnally what she thinks of him. Nunnally says that she likes Suzaku, but the person she likes the most is still her brother. Around this time, Shirley is getting herself ready to go out and accidentally drops her hair clip. When she goes to get it, she notices a crumbled piece of paper lying in the space between her furniture. Over at the art museum, Euphemia is holding a press conference and one of the journalists is questioning her about Eleven contractors being excluded in the construction of the place. Euphemia attempts an answer, but Darlton cuts in to tell the reporter that they’re looking into it and are refraining from answering for now. Another reporter then asks about the rumors of Euphemia deciding her Knight soon, and Euphemia is once again uncertain of what to say. Cornelia had earlier presented her with a book full of candidates, but Euphemia still hasn’t chosen one. Fortunately, the museum director announces that they’re limiting questions to those about the museum itself.
The Black Knights mechanics are at that time working on the Crimson Lotus on a hidden spot underneath the highway when a voice tells them to be more careful. This voice belongs to Laksharta, the “mother” of the Crimson Lotus. Zero comes out to greet her and explains that he’s read about her work on medical cybernetics. Laksharta says that she hates talking about old times and instead changes the topic to the uniforms she brought from Kyoto that supposedly increases the pilots’ survival rate. Unbeknownst to anybody on their side, Toudou’s executioner has been changed to Kururugi Suzaku. The young pilot is at that moment with Lloyd and is trembling in shock because Toudou used to be his old instructor back when he was still a child at the shrine. However, his thoughts get interrupted because of a large explosion across the compound. Toudou’s Four Holy Swords have started the attack in their new Knightmares and are making mincemeat of the Britannia defense forces. Unaware of what’s going on outside, a guard has opened Toudou’s cell so that the captive can say anything he still needs to say before he’s executed. When Toudou explains that he doesn’t regret throwing away his life, Zero’s voice suddenly proclaims that if that’s the case, he will take Toudou’s life. The Crimson Lotus and Zero’s Knightmares then open up a hole in the wall, crushing the guard in the process.
Since Zero identifies him as the only person beat Britannia seven years ago in the miracle of Itsukushima, Toudou wonders if Zero also wants a miracle from him. Zero, however, doesn’t believe that it was a miracle, but rather a victory based on superior intelligence gathering. Seeing that Toudou doesn’t care about that anymore especially since they’ve now lost General Katase, Zero calls him spoiled and says that Toudou must take the responsibility for the miracle. Zero claims that the reason Area 11’s resistance movement has been especially intense is because Japan still had strength remaining when she surrendered. People are still holding onto the illusions of a miracle, and that’s why things like the Refrain drug spread. He then calls for Toudou to struggle until death, until the miracle namesake is worn out. Zero believes it necessary for the Japanese populace to accept their defeat, but then he has his own prophetic dream too. Toudou smiles and allows Zero to transport him out to the new Knightmare that awaits him. As he gets on, Toudou tells his men that they’ll be helping Zero and will be taking care of the remaining forces here. With Toudou now on his side, Lelouch thinks to himself that he’s completed all his objectives and Nunnally now just needs her Knight. As if on cue, the Lancelot appears.
By now, the museum press conference has turned into the awards ceremony and is awaiting Euphemia to select a winner. She’s torn about what to choose, but luckily she never gets a chance to do so because cell phones soon start going off around the room with news of the Black Knights attack. They even project onto the large television screen the ongoing battle between the Lancelot and Toudou’s Four Holy Swords. Toudou trusts Zero to instruct them on how to deal with the Lancelot, and in fact Lelouch has actually done an analysis of the Lancelot based on past data. He knows that there is a fixed pattern in its movements, so he directs his new allies in a way that catches Suzaku off guard, allowing Toudou to attack from behind. Toudou uses his sword to slice open the Lancelot’s cockpit, revealing Suzaku in the pilot’s seat. Lelouch, Kallen, and Toudou all recognize the boy, but Lelouch is hit hardest as he realizes that all the encounters he’s had the Lancelot have really been with Suzaku. In addition, his plans for Suzaku to stay beside Nunnally are now ruined. Since the Lancelot can still move, Suzaku continues the battle and locks himself in a swordfight with Toudou’s Knightmare. Toudou decides to open his cockpit too and reveals himself to his former student.
Since Suzaku can’t believe that Toudou would do this, Toudou challenges Suzaku to execute him according to schedule. In response, Suzaku tries to tell Toudou that denying the current society has no meaning. Seeing Suzaku adamant in his beliefs, Toudou advises him to go down that path and explains that if you don’t do your best with everything you have, you can’t get anything. This is applies for both countries and individual people. Much to Kallen’s dismay, the Four Holy Swords then join the fight. Because of the dire situation, Lloyd radios Suzaku to release the Harken Boosters by inputting a password – Lloyd’s favorite food – into the Lancelot. Suzaku successfully pulls this off and disarms Toudou and three of his men all in one attack. He then throws his sword to take care of the remaining opponent, but they’re all still able and ready to fight. Zero finally ends it by yelling for everyone to stop. Conflicted with his feelings, he tells them that they’ve accomplished their objective so they should withdraw at once. As if they were the reasoning behind Zero’s orders, a fleet of Britannia aircraft carrying reinforcements suddenly appear in the sky. Making the distinction between an unwinnable battle and a lost battle, Toudou admires Zero’s knowledge and creates a smoke screen with his men so that they can make their retreat. When Suzaku tries to give chase, they shoot up his leg to stop him.
After watching the entire battle on the museum television screen, Euphemia thinks to herself that Suzaku did admirably. However, the reporters don’t feel the same way: some of them question why Suzaku didn’t pursue and others call him a traitor. Having heard enough, Euphemia announces that she’s going to answer the earlier question about deciding on a Knight. Motioning to the screen, she declares that Kururugi Suzaku will be that person. At that moment, Suzaku saying to himself that he is Toudou’s enemy now. Back at their hideout, Kallen and Kaname are worried since Zero hasn’t gotten out of his Knightmare yet, but then Kallen starts to hear something in her earpiece – the sound of Zero laughing uncontrollably. Standing above them, C.C. looks down as Zero’s laughs ring through the night.
Suzaku’s secret getting out is a pretty big event, though I think that if or when Lelouch’s identity is ever revealed to everyone all at once, it’ll be an even bigger shock. In any case, it’s clear that Lelouch is the one most affected by this revelation because Suzaku was such a close friend that Lelouch was planning to trust him to protect his precious sister. However, it may not all be bad. Lelouch knows Suzaku’s identity, but Suzaku has no idea that Lelouch is really Zero. This means that theoretically, Lelouch can use Suzaku – through GEASS or just pure manipulation – to strike at Britannia or do whatever needs to be done. When Lelouch finds out that Suzaku has become Euphemia’s Knight, he could use the guy to get at Cornelia.
This episode also had the biggest evidence yet that Shirley’s memories could still come back. Although finding the letter she started writing back in episode 14 doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll soon remember or figure out everything, they would seem to hint that there is a path to recovery. At the very least, it means that the writers haven’t been giving us extra bits of Shirley for no reason, and I expect her to play a big part sometime in the future.
Other notables this episode include the introduction of the very playful sounding Laksharta (voiced by Kurata Masayo), the oddly amusing insert song when the Four Holy Swords were wreaking havoc (Sakai Mikio‘s 「ピカレスク」 (Picaresque)), and C.C.’s academy outfit. Unfortunately, next week is a recap episode. I’ll of course still watch and blog it to get my weekly GEASS fix, but I’m not expecting anything new. Hopefully episode 18 will more than make up for it…