Despite the FLEIJA warheads taking out more and more of his forces, Lelouch orders his men to keep attacking the Damocles and make it continue firing. Unfortunately, its defenses are nearly impenetrable. Lelouch eventually decides to gather his forces around the Avalon to make a charge – with the hostages still on board – because Lloyd and Nina have finally finished what they were working on. Schneizel’s actions against the Britannian forces meanwhile prompts Xingke to question if Schneizel is going to destroy the hostages, and Xingke insists that the Black Knights haven’t been defeated yet, so Schneizel gives them ten minutes to accomplish something. The Shenhu thus leads an assault aimed at punching a hole through the back side of Lelouch’s forces, and Xingke and Toudou both engage Suzaku. When Toudou questions what Suzaku wants, Suzaku claims that he merely hopes for the future, and he then destroys the Zangetsu, forcing Toudou to eject. While Suzaku is occupied, Xingke fires the Shenhu’s main cannon at the Avalon and manages to break through its shield. This damages the Avalon’s Float System, and to make matters worse, the Black Knights board the ship.
Because of these developments, Lelouch decides to let the Avalon land in the Pacific. He tells Lloyd, Cecile, Sayoko, and Arthur to go forward with Mission Apate Aletheia before thanking them and leaving the bridge. Meeting up with Nina, he acknowledges that what he’s doing is his own desire, and when Nina points out that it was Euphemia’s as well, Lelouch asserts that that’s why he has to do it. Nina explains that the final program for what she’s developed requires the input of environmental data or else it won’t work, and so she insists on going with him. Lelouch feels that she’s helped him enough even though he’s Euphemia’s murderer, and although Nina won’t forgive Zero, she has at the same time decided that she has to find her own answer. The two then part ways, and Lelouch proceeds to meet C.C. in the Knightmare hanger. He plans to go out personally with her as an escort, and when she notes that he might have to kill Nunnally, he claims that it can’t be helped if Nunnally is an obstacle to the Zero Requiem. C.C. then asks if he bears a grudge against her for giving him Geass and changing his destiny this much, so Lelouch explains that it was because of the Geass she gave him and because she was there that he was able to begin moving forward. Him taking responsibility for everything that happened from that point on prompts C.C. to say that this is the first time she’s been with a man like him.
The pair’s moment together is interrupted when the Guren suddenly bursts through the wall. Kallen is ready to kill Lelouch, but C.C. stops her using the pink Lancelot and gives Lelouch enough time to make it into the Shinkirou. Lelouch’s concern for her well-being makes C.C. happy, and she tells him to go and then return later and give her a smile. The Shinkirou heading towards the Damocles causes Schneizel to have Nunnally fire the next FLEIJA warhead at it, and Lelouch gets to work inputting environmental data in order to use the counter that Lloyd and Nina developed. He manages to succeed within the tiny window of time that he was given, and he has Suzaku throw the FLEIJA ELIMINATOR at the blast, nullifying it. What’s more, because the Damocles needed to lower part of its shield in order to fire the FLEIJA, Lelouch is able to keep that hole open with the Shinkirou and allow Suzaku and some of his men through. This forces Schneizel to use what he calls his last plan: keep Lelouch inside the Damocles, escape, and then destroy the Damocles with a FLEIJA warhead. Schneizel feels that the Damocles and FLEIJA are merely machines that can be rebuilt, and he’s going to abandon Nunnally because he feels that there’s no comparison between world peace and a single life.
Meanwhile, Lelouch and Suzaku are attacked by Gino in his upgraded Tristan while they are making their way through the Damocles. The Tristan disables the Shinkirou, so Lelouch has to proceed on foot while the Lancelot keeps the Tristan busy. The battle outside the Damocles also rages on, with Jeremiah facing Anya, and Kallen going up against C.C. Kallen feels that people who don’t have reason to fight should withdraw, but C.C. claims that she has a reason – a promise. Kallen thinks that this means she loves Lelouch, however C.C. just says that she wanted to bring an end to the accumulation of her experiences. The Guren ends up demolishing the pink Lancelot, and when C.C. gives Kallen the win, Kallen claims not to care about that. As she ejects in the cockpit and falls toward the ocean, C.C. is surprised that she herself still cares about winning or losing. Over on the Avalon, Xingke has found Kaguya and the young Empress along with all the other hostages. Sayoko, Lloyd, and Cecile are with this group and are pretending that they were only helping Lelouch because he threatened them. At around the same time, far away on Penglai Island, Cornelia is recovering and tells Guilford that Schneizel didn’t kill her. She feels that Schneizel doesn’t have any desires and would have made an excellent king if times had not changed, and she calls herself a fool for not figuring that out.
Back inside the Damocles, Nunnally had dropped the key to the fortress during an earlier explosion and is now on the ground trying to find it. She feels that she has to stop her brother, and she suddenly turns her head to exactly where the key lays on the ground. Elsewhere, Schneizel, Kanon, and Diethard board a shuttle to escape, but they are met by an image of Lelouch on the video screen. Schneizel immediately realizes that this is checkmate for him, and he wonders how Lelouch figured out his plan. Lelouch explains that it wasn’t Schneizel’s plan that he was able to read but rather Schneizel’s true nature. He had observed that Schneizel didn’t play to win but rather so that he couldn’t lose, and so he knew Schneizel would abandon the Damocles. Schneizel thinks that Lelouch is planning to kill him, but Lelouch first asks if Schneizel was going to use the Damocles to seize the world. Schneizel claims that he only wanted to create the peace that everyone wished for, and when Lelouch thinks that he’s ignoring the true nature of people, Schneizel calls it a difference of opinion. Lelouch then notes that Schneizel wanted to lock the world into the present, but he feels that an unchanging life is not living – it’s just an experience.
Lelouch goes on to assert that Charles wanted the past, Schneizel wants the present, and he personally wants the future. Schneizel points out that the future may be worse than the present, but Lelouch insists that it’ll be better because no matter how long it takes, people will continue to seek happiness. The two go back and forth a bit further about happiness and the will of the people before Schneizel has had enough and tells Lelouch to kill him. He knows that Lelouch will die as well via the FLEIJA warhead, and he thinks that peace will be achieved through their two lives, but Lelouch is already one step ahead of him. Despite being on the video screen, Lelouch is actually in the room with Schneizel, and he uses his Geass to make Schneizel serve Zero. He explains afterwards that Schneizel’s assumption that he’d be killed led to this defeat. Refusing to accept this, Diethard kills the guard holding him and tries to kill Lelouch as well, but Schneizel shoots Diethard first. As he lays dying, Diethard asks Lelouch to use Geass on him, but Lelouch feels that it’s not worth it. Lelouch then tells Schneizel to cancel the self-destruct of the Damocles, but Schneizel reveals that the control switch is in Nunnally’s hands.
Suzaku and Gino meanwhile have taken their battle outside the Damocles, and although the Lancelot slices apart the Tristan, Gino succeeds in first bringing down part of the Damocles’ shields. This allows Kallen and the Guren in, and Kallen feels that the time to settle things has come. As this is going on, Lelouch makes his way to Nunnally’s room and finds her back in her chair. She knows that he wants the Damocles’ key, and she feels that she can’t avert her eyes any more, so she opens them. This shocks Lelouch because he realizes that she used her own will to break the Geass on her, and Nunnally then asks him if he intends to use Geass on her as well.
Now that was an exciting way to end the episode – Schneizel Geass’d, Diethard dead, and Nunnally finally opening her eyes. What was interesting to me was that after all of that time spent on making Schneizel look like a villain, he turned out to not really be one at all – at best he’s just an obstacle who shares Lelouch’s goal of peace but has a different way of doing things. In fact, you could even say that Cornelia being alive is a sign that Schneizel wasn’t really evil since he (at least it’s so implied) got her to Penglai and out of harm’s way. If this series had a real villain, it’s still Charles in my mind, and part of me thinks Charles will appear again before this is all over, particularly since we’ve got some thought-to-be-dead characters showing back up.
As for Nunnally, her opening her eyes isn’t a surprise so much as it is an exciting development given that I’m sure many of us were anticipating that it’d eventually happen. It’s nice to see her acting on her own will and challenging Lelouch head-on, but I still don’t see her as a very big final obstacle – Lelouch probably has something up his sleeve that’ll convince her to let him do what he wants. Thus, the finale becomes less of a question of Lelouch going up against a “final boss” type character and more of a question of whether he and Suzaku can achieve their goal of Zero Requiem, whatever that is. In any case, although I’m not too keen on the fact that some of the cast have been magically brought back for the finale, I’m going to back away from calling this a trainwreck because there appears to be some direction to all this, and I can see how things could get wrapped up nicely next week. I’m sure we’re in for a few more surprises too, especially since the preview doesn’t really give any hints on what’ll happen.