Having arrived on the Chinese Hourai Island, the Black Knights are welcomed by Xingke and the eunuchs, and they start to settle in. The group has gotten a new shipment of Knightmares, and they also have a new warship, the Ikaruga, which uses the Gawain’s systems. Rakshata explains that the Shinkirou, a new Knightmare, also uses the Gawain’s systems since the Gawain was a mess when they pulled it out of the sea. As for the Siegfried that sank with the Gawain, Rakshata had searched for it but never found it. Diethard and Zero meanwhile put together an administrative unit, and though Kallen still isn’t sure if they can trust Diethard, Lelouch feels that it’s hard to get a man of his talent for information manipulation. Seeing Lelouch strategizing makes Kallen think that he’s okay again, though she then gets lost in thought and accidentally falls on top of him. While in this position, Lelouch asks Kallen if she’ll return to Ashford with him once this is all over, but he’s interrupted by C.C. who is looking for some Tabasco sauce for her pizza.
The three are then summoned by Kaguya to the Ikaruga because she has important news: the Chinese Empress is going to enter into a political marriage with Odysseus, the first prince of Britannia. Zero thinks of it as the worst case and suspects that there’s someone else behind this. At this very moment, Xingke is watching as Schneizel and Kanon arrive in the Chinese Federation, and he feels that the Empress is being sold off to Britannia. That night, a reception banquet is held for Odysseus and the young Empress, and two of those in attendance are Suzaku and Cecile. When Suzaku wonders if the Empress consents, Cecile notes that they can only believe what the other side says and that this is part of the road to peace. Gino and Anya are here as well, as are Lloyd and his fiancée Milly. What gets everyone talking though is the arrival of Schneizel with Nina, and since Nina is nervous, Schneizel reminds her that Euphemia was always regal. The three Knight of Rounds have been directed by the Emperor to follow Schneizel while they’re here, and when Nina asks Suzaku if everyone at Ashford is well, he points her to Milly.
While this party is going on, Xingke’s aide Zhou Xianglin is explaining to him at an undisclosed location that a secret agreement has already been arranged between the eunuchs and Schneizel. According to her, the eunuchs are getting Britannian nobility titles in exchange for the marriage and ceding of territory. Xingke’s men want to put an end to the wedding, but Xianglin points out that a coup d’état here would lead to war with Britannia. As he considers the options, Xingke recalls how he had once been captured for showing mercy to a prisoner and how the Empress had spoken up for him. Sometime after that, Xingke had decided to enter a military academy, and when he told the Empress, she revealed that she wanted to go see the outside world too. Because of this, Xingke had vowed to take her outside some day and had pinky-swore on it with her. He is thus conflicted now between protecting her or letting the alliance for peace go forward. Back at the party, everyone is shocked when Kaguya suddenly shows up with Kallen and Zero, and seeing Schneizel confirms Lelouch’s suspicions that he was the one pulling the strings.
Unaware of what’s happening in the main room, Milly and Nina are out on a balcony, and Milly is glad to see that Nina is doing well. She offers advice if Nina ever needs it, but Nina reacts by saying that she hates superficial women. Nina remembers how Euphemia hadn’t run away and had risked her life to save her, and she doesn’t want to hear just sympathy from Milly. She then accuses Milly of always playing around and using Ashford as a shield if she is troubled, like she’s doing with the engagement to Lloyd. Nina also feels that Milly is always looking down on her, and she thinks that although Milly pretends to be like a parent or guardian, she’s soaked in hypocrisy. Nina finally demands that Milly acknowledge her, leaving Milly at a loss for words. Meanwhile, back in the main reception room, the young Empress learns that the eunuchs planned to give the Black Knights as a tribute to Britannia. Guards surround Zero, Kallen, and Kaguya, but Schneizel instead proposes a temporary stop to the fighting because today is a festive occasion.
Knowing that Zero might try something against Schneizel, Suzaku steps in between them, and Kaguya tries to diffuse the situation by asking Suzaku if he remembers her since she’s his cousin. She also reminds Suzaku that Zero had saved him once before and questions if Suzaku would carry out capital punishment for such a person. Zero then challenges Schneizel to a game of chess, and if he wins, he wants Schneizel to hand over Suzaku to Kaguya. He knows that as long as Suzaku isn’t around, he’s free to use his Geass power on everyone at the party. Schneizel’s condition, however, is that if he wins instead of Zero, then Zero has to remove his mask. Zero accepts, and so the two begin playing. The chess match is tough for even Lelouch, and he decides to make a play using his King, but Schneizel responds with his own King piece. The two get close to a threefold repetition, but instead of letting that happen, Schneizel moves his King forward to the space right in front of Zero’s King. Zero views taking this as surrender, but he can’t accept such a disgraceful move, so he moves his King back. Seeing this, Schneizel comments that the Emperor wouldn’t have hesitated to take the enemy King, and he feels that he now understands a little what kind of person Zero is.
Just as Lelouch is getting really pissed off at Schneizel, Nina attempts to attack him with a knife. When Suzaku holds her back from trying to avenge Euphemia, she questions why he’s doing so and reminds him that he was Euphemia’s knight. Realizing that she’s right, Suzaku loosens his grip on Nina enough for her to free herself, however Kallen then stops and disarms her. Nina thinks that Kallen should understand because she’s half-Britannian, but Kallen asserts that she’s Japanese, and this leads to Nina calling Kallen an Eleven and demanding her goddess Euphemia back. As Nina falls to the ground in tears, Suzaku concludes that she’s another tragedy that Zero caused. Lelouch, on the other hand, feels that he can’t turn back. With the incident over, Schneizel brings things to a close by asking Zero not to attend the ceremony tomorrow. Over at the main table, the young Empress realizes that after the marriage ceremony, she’ll be able to leave the palace, but it’ll be going to Britannia as a prisoner, and she won’t be able to come back.
The young Empress heads into the wedding ceremony the following day with this on her mind, and she’s shocked when Xingke suddenly bursts into the chapel to put a stop to everything. As he fights through the waves of guards, Xingke realizes that though he wishes for the starved people to be saved, he’s thinking about the Empress now. He doesn’t know if him doing this is in line with what she personally wants, and he thinks that she probably doesn’t remember what happened six years ago, but he had sworn to bring her to the outside world, and so that’s what he’s doing. To Xingke’s surprise, the Empress suddenly starts calling out to him and waving her pinking in the air, signaling to him that she does remember. Before he can reach her though, Zero suddenly appears beside her and thanks Xingke for making it easier for him to make his move. He points a gun to the Empress’ head to prevent Xingke from approaching, and though he goal was to stop the wedding like Xingke wanted, Zero intends to take the bride. Xingke calling him evil only causes Zero to start laughing evilly.
Meanwhile, in a desert somewhere, V.V. and Jeremiah are discussing Zero’s true goal, and V.V.’s made some arrangements for him. Jeremiah feels that as long as the adjustments are completed, then C.C. and Lelouch are no match as enemies, and he promises to do his utmost to live up to expectations.
You know, it’s only been two weeks, but I really missed watching CODE GEASS. This series has a knack for filling its episodes with exciting moments, from the KallenXLelouch tease to Nina going crazy again to the crashing of the wedding. And I certainly didn’t expect to see Lelouch capture the Chinese Empress like that, though it makes sense now why Xingke was opposing Zero in the preview for episode 10 that aired last week. In any case, my gut reaction was that it’s kind of stupid for Zero to pull this kind of maneuver. He could theoretically have Xingke’s faction on his side if he hadn’t, and they could have worked together to take down the eunuchs and Britannia, but now he’s everyone’s enemy. I think part of this reaction stems from how much of the episode was spent portraying Xingke as
a lolicon an honorable guy, and so Zero’s move alienates him and paints Zero as, well, evil.
They of course saved the best for last (or the fan favorite anyway) with Jeremiah’s reappearance. Him being with V.V. is as dangerous a combo as having him under Schneizel’s scientists, perhaps even more so since it appears that V.V. has told him everything and has improved him with a new mask and all. I thought Jeremiah’s appearance at the end of the first season bordered a bit too much on the fanservice side, and I hope that he’s better utilized as a character this time around. This end-of-episode cap, by the way, is too amusing not to mention.
Next week looks to be one big battle between the Black Knights, the Britannians, and Xingke’s faction. The preview indicates that the match-ups will be Kallen vs. Xingke (in his new Knightmare) and Toudou vs. Suzaku. Maybe we’ll get to see some of the new hardware that Rakshata was talking about too. I suspect Xingke won’t be finished off so easily, but I really have no idea how this’ll get resolved, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.