Everyone at Ashford is relieved to hear that Milly is okay, and Lelouch offers Shirley a handkerchief because she had been so worried. Rolo then takes Lelouch to the underground base via the secret entrance in the library and scolds him for getting carried away. This Lelouch is worried about keeping the real Lelouch’s personal relationships smooth while he’s gone, but Rolo feels that it’d be a problem if the double does too much. Removing the Lelouch mask, Sayoko claims that she understands, and both she and Rolo are subsequently worried to hear from Villetta that Schneizel has entered into the standoff scene in the Chinese Federation. Around this time, the Chinese Federation starts bombing of the mountain where the Black Knights are holed up, and Zero realizes that this means that the Eunuchs have forsaken the Empress. Li Xingke tries to stop the attack, and he’s furious when the Eunuchs reveal that they intend to bury the current Empress here and use a new one. He’s not able to strike against the Eunuchs though because Gino and the Tristan gets in his way.
Toudou, Asahina, and Chiba Nagisa then enter the battle in their respective Knightmare Frames, and C.C. joins in an Akatsuki as well, with Lelouch warning her to escape if things became unfavorable. When they start taking on the assault forces, Suzaku flies in on the Lancelot to face them, and down below, Anya uses the Mordred against what she considers to be the rebel Chinese forces. Onboard the Avalon, Nina observes that if Anya used the Mordred’s Stark Hadron cannon, then she could destroy the mountain tomb in one shot, but the others point out that they don’t want to be the ones directly responsible for killing the Empress. In the midst of all this, Zero contacts the Eunuchs to try to get them to stop the attack because the Empress will die, but the Eunuchs claim that she’s easily replaceable. Zero makes sure to bring up how the Eunuchs are ceding territory and the unequal treaty they’re entering into, but the Eunuchs don’t care about betraying their people because they’ll be Britannian nobles. They call Zero an idealist and feel that there will always be plenty of people since people are like insects, and this disgusts Zero because of what he calls the noble obligation.
The young Empress herself eventually has had enough of all this and emerges on the deck of the Ikaruga to yell for everyone to stop fighting. Reacting quickly, Xingke flies towards her and reaches her before the Chinese forces can kill her, even as the Tristan tries to get in his way. He’s able to protect her with the Shenhu and tells her to run away, however she doesn’t want to leave without him. With the Shenhu now taking hit after hit, Xingke wonders if he can save her and thinks about how everything he had prepared for the past six years was for her sake. In desperation, he calls for someone to save the Empress, and to his surprise, Zero answers the call in the brand new Shinkirou Knightmare Frame. The Shinkirou uses the Gawain’s Druid System and has the world’s best defense with its absolute protection field. It also has a significant amount of offensive capability via a special crystal that it can shoot out of its chest which allows it to reflect a devastating energy blast in all directions. Schneizel, however, is less concerned about the immediate threat and more interested in why Zero chose this timing to come out.
Zero uses a lull in the battle to call Xingke pitiful for being betrayed by his countrymen and not being able to save a single person, but he thinks that Xingke should now understand that only they can join forces. Though Zero appeals to Xingke’s ability to lead a country, Xingke has doubts about Zero being able to change the tide of the war with just the Shinkirou. This causes Zero to assert that the tide of the war is controlled not by tactics but by strategy, and at that very moment, the Eunuchs get word that an uprising has started in Shanghai. It’s not just in Shanghai either – this has simultaneously occurred in 14 other locations including Beijing and Islamabad – and it’s all because the earlier communications between Zero and the Eunuchs had been leaked. Xingke is shocked to realize that Zero talked to them because he knew that they’d betray their citizens, and Schneizel concludes that, given how fast things are going, Zero was using a plan that had already existed. Indeed, Zero, with the help of Diethard, had sparked a civilian uprising to match the coup d’état.
C.C. and Nagisa meanwhile attack Anya, and as the two Akatsukis clash with the Mordred, the Geass marking on C.C.’s forehead suddenly reacts. It causes her to experience flashbacks of Marianne and young Lelouch, and Anya feels something too. All this gives Asahina an opening to slash at the Mordred, and he succeeds in cutting off a wing and sending the Knightmare crashing into the ground. The rest of the Black Knight ground forces then emerge from the mountain, and although the others advise Schneizel to try to win by bombing the Black Knights from the air, Schneizel decides to retreat instead. He reasons that a country is made up of its people, and since the Eunuchs have lost public support, they aren’t qualified to enter Britannia as representatives of the Chinese Federation. Upon hearing of the retreat, Lelouch thinks to himself that he knew that his brother would do this, but he suspects that his father might have done differently. He then heads to the main Chinese vessel – where Xingke is now executing Eunuchs – so that he can get Kallen back, but Xianglin reveals that Kallen was handed over to the Knight of Seven, Suzaku. This frustrates Lelouch because it appears like Suzaku is trying to take everything from him, but he refuses to let that happen and vows to get Kallen back.
While all this has been going on, over in a desert land, Bartley and his men find themselves in front of V.V. and Jeremiah. V.V. had gathered them here because they were the ones who reconstructed Jeremiah in an attempt to reproduce C.C.’s power, and Jeremiah thinks that it’s an honor for someone to make the final adjustments to him. The following day, back on the Ikaruga, Xingke is reunited with the young Empress and vows to protect her through all eternity. Diethard feels the annulment of the Empress’s wedding needs to be trumpeted across the world, and he suggests that it’d be a good plan to have her marry someone Japanese instead. Kaguya, however, voices her vehement opposition because she sees this as an issue of love rather than politics, and it doesn’t help that C.C. agrees with her. Zero is able to avoid addressing the issue because Tamaki has come looking for him, though in the end, he takes a phone call from Shirley instead of listening to Tamaki. Shirley wants to talk about Milly’s graduation event, but Lelouch quickly changes the subject to how he can break up a couple who doesn’t want to be broken up.
Speaking from experience, Shirley talks about how love is power and how you think about the person you love every day, and she makes Lelouch realize that he has someone like that: Nunnally. Because of this, Zero decides to tell the young Empress that her future belongs to herself, and when Diethard protests, Zero asserts that the heart is the source of their power. Feeling that he understands Zero a little now, Xingke shakes his former opponent’s hand in an agreement to move forward. Meanwhile, at the Ashford library, Shirley is thinking about how Lelouch has been acting weird recently when she runs into Sayoko disguised as him. Sayoko panics because she doesn’t want Shirley to see the exposed secret entrance to the underground base, so she kisses her. The real Lelouch is at this moment telling C.C that he’ll be returning to Area 11 for the time being, and he isn’t too concerned about the Chinese Federation situation now that the people have risen. At any rate, he can now turn to their original goal involving the religious organization that creates and researches Geass users because controlling this organization would allow him to surpass the Emperor in the Geass aspect.
C.C., however, points out that this organization has been carefully concealed from the human world, and whenever its head changes, its location does as well. She had learned from the head who came after her – V.V. – that the current location is inside the Chinese Federation, but she notes that the country is huge and that even Rolo doesn’t know the exact location. Lelouch thinks that there must be traces of its existence via things like power supply or communication records, and C.C. guesses that he intends to find it using the power of the country. Regardless, he appoints her to remain there and wants her to contact him as soon as they get information on the organization. Upon his return to Japan, Lelouch is met by Rolo and Sayoko, and Sayoko tells him that she’s written everything that’s happened in his absence into a file. In talking strategy with Rolo, Lelouch reveals that he needs to figure out some countermeasures against the Knight of Rounds since he now has to face the Tristan and the Mordred as well as the Lancelot. When he arrives back at Ashford, one of the first people he runs into is Shirley who is looking despondent and wants to talk about what happened yesterday between them. Their conversation, however, is interrupted by the appearance of Anya and Gino, both of whom have decided to start attending the school.
So the question of who’s Lelouch’s double turned out to be not really a big deal at all since they revealed the answer first thing this episode. More interesting is the fact that Sayoko appeared to have kissed Shirley, and Lelouch doesn’t know. It probably means that Shirley will be a key figure again, at least in the short term, and that’s good news if you’re a Shirley fan. It also makes me wonder again if the resilience of her as a potential love interest will ultimately mean anything (i.e. Lelouch ends up with her). He’s always had a soft spot for her, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that happened.
The other significant plot development this week (aside from all the Chinese Federation stuff) was the conversation between C.C. and Lelouch about the religious organization/cult. Assuming this is related to C.C.’s powers and maybe the whole Jupiter thing, it finally feels like the story is starting to delve into some of the background topics that we’ve been waiting so long to hear about. They didn’t, however, really explain what happened between C.C. and Anya during the battle, or what C.C. appeared to realize from that.
Speaking of Anya, there’s the interesting angle developing where she knows Lelouch’s royal identity, but may or may not have told anyone else. Given that she’s now enrolled at Ashford, chances are pretty good that she’ll ask him about it, especially since it appears that we’re headed for another Ashford-centric episode next week. On that note, I do question what the purpose of next episode is since it feels like they’d be better served either trying to get Kallen back or searching for that secret organization. We’re already about halfway through R2, so I hope there’s no more dallying around with another Arthur-chase type episode. Having said that, the preview had this brief shot that really caught my attention. At first I thought it looked like Cornelia, and the fact that she’s holding a sword seems to support that, but then I remembered that Miyake Hitomi is supposed to make her debut voicing a character named Meeya I. Hillmick next week. It’s hard to tell from the preview who it really is, however it does make me very curious about who’s going to show up next week.