In a foggy and desolate city filled with bloody splatters, body parts, and stacks of bodies, a man wearing a biohazard suit reports back to his superiors that he doesn’t understand and can’t explain what happened. When this man trips on a human leg, he takes off his helmet and starts to throw up. He then notices a glowing plant growing nearby and is shocked when a pod pops seeds into the air in front of him. Sometime later, Li is going about his normal life hanging up laundry and cooking loads of food for himself. On his way to work, he runs into the landlady who has managed to capture Mao. In their conversation, the landlady mentions that the Chinese eat almost everything with four legs, so Li replies that although he hasn’t eaten a cat, he thinks it might be delicious. This of course gets Mao pissed off and he starts fighting with the landlady. Li then heads by a small neighborhood store that’s being operated by Yin and nonchalantly picks up a pack of cigarettes and a wristwatch. At work, Li is assigned to deliver a package to a man named Tahara who is the only person remaining from the first investigative team that went into the Hell’s Gate. Li finds Tahara’s office to be filled with books and quite messy, though he notices that all the literature is about gardening, including the magazine that was in the package.
Elsewhere in the city, a junior high school girl named Mai blanks out while waiting for a train and comes to her senses again in front of a pile of burning garbage in an alley. She gets caught trying to put out the fire, and a little later, Tahara receives a phone call from her school. In a hurry to get there, Tahara has Li drive him. While waiting outside the school in the car, Li gets paid a visit by Mao who reports that employees of the Meyer & Hilton Company have arrived at a Shinjuku hotel. These men are under the watch of Huang and had been talking about needing Tahara’s power. Li is actually listening in on the conversation going on inside the school through the special watch that he switched with Tahara’s earlier. Mai, who has a very strained relationship with her father Tahara, is denying that she burned anything and claims that it was burning in front of her when she came to her senses. Hearing this, Tahara finally speaks up and drags Mai out of the principal’s office. On the car ride home, he asks Mai if it what she claimed is true and then peppers her with questions about if this is the first time or if it’s been happening frequently. She doesn’t answer him and instead says that it’s unusual for him to be talking to her. Tahara responds to this by trying to grab her, but she frees herself from his grip on her bandaged arm.
While the car is stuck in traffic, Mai sees some friends on the sidewalk, so she gets out and runs off with them. Concerned about her, Li asks Tahara if this is okay, but Tahara says that this has nothing to do with Li and tells him to drive them back to the factory. Mai goes to a fast food restaurant with her friends and tells them about how her father never comes home, so she’s always alone since she lost her mother. When one of her friends invites her to dinner, Mai ends up excusing herself by saying that her father might come home today. However, Mai finds no one at home, so she runs back out into the city at night. At that time, her father is in his office angrily rejecting a phone call invitation from the Meyer & Hilton Company men. After hanging up, Tahara notices that the flower he has on his windowsill is glowing and goes to water it. Mai meanwhile attempts to shoplift a CD and gets caught, but Li happens to be in the store and saves her. He then helps her out again when she gets stopped and questioned by the police for being out alone at this late hour by pretending to be her brother. Thinking that her father told Li to come watch over her, Mai yells a bunch of hateful things before she starts crying. Li wipes a tear from her face and when she says that she doesn’t want to go back to that dark and empty home, he suggest that they play until morning.
Li first decides to take her to a closed amusement park and instructs her to close her eyes. He then uses his powers to turn on all the lights and rides in the area, creating a colorful scene that captivates Mai. She’s thrilled, but the fun is short-lived because the two have to run away when the alarm goes off and the security guard comes after them. Their next stop is a ramen stand where Li eats bowl after bowl of ramen while Mai takes on a huge parfait. By daybreak, Mai has learned that Li is from China and is telling him about how her family used to live in Africa when she notices that he’s looking at her bandaged arm. Since she trusts him now, Mai shows him what’s underneath: a dimly glowing blue light. She explains that it used to glow brighter, but it’s been dimming gradually and has even disappeared on occasion recently. When she was young, her father had told her that this is where the charm that would protect her entered. Li starts questioning her about her father, but Mai only knows that he was doing research. She then asks him about his own family and feels a connection with him upon learning that he has none. Mai comments on how he’s really like an older brother, but things soon turn serious when Li notices two men approaching them. They try to escape, but get rushed by two more men, so Li attacks them so that Mai can get away. As Mai flees to a nearby construction site, the first two men bring out their guns and start shooting at her. Cornered by them and facing their guns, the light on Mai’s wrist disappears and her eyes become lifeless as flames appear. Back in his office, Tahara is shocked to see the withering flower fall off its stem. Misaki of the police force has meanwhile just finished taking a swim when she gets a call telling her that a star has appeared. Indeed, there is now a new star in the sky and a huge plume of smoke from the direction of the construction site.
I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but this episode actually made me feel much better about the show as a whole. Maybe it’s because they appear to be doing a good job revealing more about the back-story, even with the bi-episodic approach (which is something that I had been worried about originally). The opening scene gives off a very creepy, post-apocalyptic atmosphere with all the blood and body parts, and it really makes me wonder about what happened inside the Hell’s Gate back then. The flower that Tahara discovered would appear to suppress Contractor abilities, but apparently the effect eventually wears off and the flower withers. Thus, Mai’s flame powers (suddenly I’m reminded of Mai-HiME/Otome) are awakened. I can’t help but wonder if she’s going to die next week, especially since this show so far has been pretty good about killing off Contractors.