Shortly after Rolo announces to Li Xingke that he’s come to kill Zero, his cell phone rings. To his surprise, the person on the other end is Lelouch who’s checking to see if he is safe. This confuses Rolo because Zero is still in the middle of the speech, causing him to wonder if the current Zero is someone else. Villetta then pulls the phone away from Lelouch and confirms to Rolo that Lelouch has already returned to school for some supplementary lessons, so Rolo decides to leave the Chinese Consulate-General. Guilford and his forces, however, arrive soon after and surround the compound in what quickly turns into a standoff. Inside, Kallen is watching the news coverage when Zero walks in. Kallen thinks that it’s Lelouch, but the person in the Zero costume turns out to actually be C.C., and she reveals that she and Lelouch switched places before the recorded speech. Kallen isn’t happy that this was kept a secret from her and the other Black Knights, but C.C. observes that Kallen is really just talking about herself.
The next day, Lelouch is cooking with the other student council members for a party commemorating how he and Rolo made it back alive. It is during this that he observes that no one remembers Nunnally – or to be more accurate, she’s been substituted by a phony little brother. This means that it wasn’t only his memories that were changed. Rolo meanwhile heads to the secret base underneath the school where Villetta is holding a meeting with the other members of her Secret Intelligence Agency team who have been keeping Lelouch under surveillance. Villetta thinks that this surveillance is so flawless that it leaves Lelouch no place to use his Geass, and she finds it strange that he would return to the school if he were Zero. She also reasons that probability of C.C. being at the Consulate-General is low if C.C. hasn’t yet come in contact with Lelouch. This means though that they still don’t know where C.C. is. Because of that, Villetta decides to continue trying to capture her and keep Lelouch under surveillance. What Villetta and Rolo don’t realize is that Lelouch is already onto them, but what he’s most concerned about is still Nunnally because he suspects that the Emperor of Britannia has her.
Elsewhere in the world, Britannian forces are conducting an amphibious assault on an EU-controlled beach when Suzaku arrives in the Lancelot. The EU forces are already familiar with the famed Lancelot and are surprised to see one of the Knight of Rounds at the front lines. Suzaku infuriates them by asking them to surrender, and when they don’t, he takes on the entire enemy force by himself. Watching the battle from a warship positioned off the coast, Schneizel suggests to his subordinates that Suzaku’s promotion might be a good thing because he has an awareness and a sense of responsibility as guides in a world overflowing with sadness. Back at Ashford, Lelouch is going through a set of student council event photos – all of which feature Rolo – and notices something about a particular photograph. Rolo walks in during this and quickly changes the topic from the photos to how Lelouch escaped from the Babel Tower after the Britannian military completely surrounded the place. After Lelouch points out that Rolo should be asking how he escaped from the terrorists (as opposed to from the Britannian siege), he reveals that he took an emergency passageway and had tried to call Rolo on his cell phone.
On the topic of cell phones, Lelouch notices the locket attached to Rolo’s phone and recalls that he gave it to Rolo as a birthday gift. What pisses Lelouch off is that it was on October 25th – Nunnally’s birthday. When Lelouch tries to talk to Rolo about it and nearly touches the locket though, Rolo pulls back and declares that the locket is his, so Lelouch decides to back off. Rolo then reports to Villetta at the underground water circulation room, and while they’re talking about Lelouch, one of the men on Villetta’s team accidentally interrupts them. Rolo reacts by activating his Geass power that briefly freezes all the people around him, and he promptly kills the man with a knife because the man could have overheard them talking about Geass. Meanwhile, still at the Chinese Consulate-General, Kallen thinks that the standoff won’t last forever and worries about not getting any new instructions from Lelouch. After taking a shower, she sees the bunny girl outfit in the laundry basket and realizes that it would have made matters easier if C.C. had worn it. With only a towel on, she goes to confront C.C. about this and notices too late that Gaohai and Li Xingke are in the room with C.C.
C.C. teases Kallen about being Zero, but Li Xingke already knows that Kallen is actually the Guren Nishiki’s pilot and explains that he is interested in them. Their conversation is interrupted by a Black Knight who has just learned that Guilford has brought out all of the captured Black Knights – including Ougi and Toudou – and is threatening to execute them all the following day. In exchange for those lives, Guilford wants Zero to fight against him fairly. Lelouch is watching the television broadcast of this announcement when Shirley comes into the student council room looking for help getting a present for Villetta’s birthday. She’s surprised when Lelouch suggests that they go out together to choose something, but she happily agrees to do so. A short while later, as he’s getting dressed, Lelouch takes out the contact in his right eye and recalls how C.C. had given it to him back when they were in the Babel Tower. She had warned him about what would happen if his Geass got stronger, but Lelouch was confident that he could settle everything by then. In any case, Lelouch leaves after telling Rolo where he’s headed, and Rolo ends up following him with Milly and Rivalz who had heard what was going on.
Shirley and Lelouch’s destination is the mall, and, aware that his friends are following him and that he’s under Britannian surveillance, Lelouch enacts a plan that starts with him Geassing a store employee. Shirley meanwhile is conflicted about whether this counts as a date or not and gets embarrassed while watching another couple kiss. When Lelouch asks her what she’s looking at, she gets flustered and points instead to large sign that has a picture of a cable car on it. This reminds Lelouch of what happened with Shirley, Mao, and the cable car over a year ago, and he still blames himself for her memories being erased. He also feels responsible for Milly and Rivalz’s memories getting altered, and he thinks about what he’ll do when this is all over. For now, he tells Shirley that Milly and the others are following them, and he proposes having her stand in front of a changing room like she’s waiting for him while he secretly leaves the store to go surprise the others. His actual plan though takes advantage of how there aren’t surveillance cameras around and how, even if this fails, it won’t affect Shirley.
Lelouch gets things going by calling up mall security and threatening to set off some bombs. This leads to security broadcasting a warning message that only the mall employees understand to be a terrorism alert. With that in place, Lelouch sneaks out of the store and waits for the employee he Geassed earlier to hit the fire alarm. Once this happens, a panic spreads through the mall, and Lelouch’s pursuers lose him in the crowds. When Rolo realizes that Lelouch is gone, he returns to the secret control room at the school but finds the place empty. There is someone else in the room with him though, and that person is none other than Lelouch with a gun. Lelouch had used the fact that the Britannians’ top priority was capturing C.C. to create a situation where Villetta had to go out to the mall, and he used his power on one of his pursuers in order to relay false information to her. He now plans to use Rolo as a pawn to find Nunnally, but Rolo shocks him by disappearing and reappearing behind him with his gun. Telling Lelouch to die with his demon eye, Rolo prepares to pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, at the Chinese Consulate-General, C.C. and Kallen suddenly hear an explosion coming from nearby. One of their men tries to report something about the Chinese Federation, but he’s not able to finish his sentence before Li Xingke knocks him down and declares that the Black Knights will perish there.
You know what’s so great about CODE GEASS? I can know exactly what happens at the end of the episode, and yet the whole thing will still surprise and excite me. If anything, the leaked segment from earlier this week just made me curious about how they got to that point, and I enjoyed watching Lelouch outwit Rolo all the way until the end. I thought he would be too busy addressing the world as Zero to care about Rolo, but he was actually thinking a few steps ahead in order to throw Rolo off his trail and used what I thought was a classic Lelouch strategy with the C.C. switch.
Rolo’s equalizer of course is his Geass power, which turns out to be not quite time-stop but rather the ability to freeze the perception of time of the people around him (notice that the water is still flowing behind Villetta while she’s frozen). If it has any limitations, once-per-person like Lelouch’s power is not one of them because Rolo’s now used it at least twice on Lelouch – once in the Babel Tower during the Knightmare battle and once this episode. And that reminds me: if the power indeed only affects people’s perception of time, then how exactly did Rolo escape the explosion of Urabe’s Gekka? Even if he used his power, an explosion would have kept going just like that water kept flowing. It leads me to wonder if there might be something else at play here, perhaps even related to that locket that Rolo is so really emotionally attached to. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how Lelouch gets himself out of the jam he’s in at the end of the episode.
Another thing I found interesting about this episode is that Lelouch actually shows a bit of his more humane side by feeling guilt over what happened with Shirley in the first series. It made me question again if Shirley is really the one he has true feelings for, especially since he appears to be referring to her when he talks about what’ll happen after this is all over. Granted, he could just want to tell her the truth or apologize or something, and he does think about Milly and Rivalz too, so maybe it’s really nothing. Still, I suspect that Shirley’s character isn’t going to just go away as the series progresses – I don’t think they’ve kept her around this long for no reason.
Aside from all that, I also really enjoyed watching the relationship between Kallen and C.C. The scene where Kallen runs into the meeting wearing only a towel was pretty funny, and the look on her face when she realizes that there are others in the room is priceless. Speaking of which, Li Xingke noted in that same scene that he was interested in the Black Knights, yet by the end of the episode he’s attacking them with no real explanation why. I wonder if it’s all part of Lelouch’s plan – he still needs a way to free all of his captured men, and that’ll probably be what next week’s episode is about.