「神前決闘」 (Shinzen Kettou)
“The Duel Before the Gods”
What a tense battle. For once, you don’t know whether Daryun was going to make it out alive.
A True Test of Daryun’s Skills
Daryun is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest warriors around, and time and time again, he’s shown it. Mostly by mowing over crowds of mooks who didn’t stand a chance. This was the first time in a while, and perhaps in the entire series, that I didn’t know how the unstoppable Daryun was going to make it out alive.
Bahadur was a beast. Perhaps literally. Farangis mentioned animals in human guise, and if there are any, he was definitely one. My first thought was that he was like an ogre, though at least he could talk enough to at least still seem human(ish). So he was clearly tough. But we still knew Daryun would win, right? Well, yes. He has only slightly less plot armor than Arslan, and more than anyone outside of maybe Narsus. So we knew … but that’s not the trick.
The trick to making a battle dramatic when it involves a character the audience knows won’t be killed isn’t to make them honestly think they’re about to die. It’s to make them doubt. Not for long! Their logical mind will still reject the idea. Just make them doubt it for a split-second, to wonder, “Man, how the hell are they going to get out of this?”, and that’s enough. And between Daryun losing his shield, losing his sword, and taking a shot to the head, and being driven to the edge of the pit of fire, they did that in spades.
Bonus points go to not taking the easy way out, i.e. Daryun somehow tricking Bahadur into running into the flames. How he still used the flames (and his cloak! It’s not just to look badass, people!) to open his path for the killing blow was great. A little misdirection at the end made it all the sweeter.
The Gods’ Mistakes
Gadevi’s refusal to honor the results of the duel was, if not a foregone conclusions, certainly not surprising. I laughed at Gieve talking about the gods making mistakes and foisting them off on humanity all the time. Perhaps true, Gieve, but once you submit to their ruling, you’ve got to live with the results! Which Gadevi should have done … he still maybe could have Andragoras’d his way to the throne later on, but this way, he totally screwed up his chance. No way he has the forethought to realize such a thing, though.
Looking Ahead – Choose Your Liege Wisely
The question still remains: How is Jaswant going to join Team Arslan? I thought it was through Rajendra winning and Mahendra becoming his adviser (taking Jaswant with him), but that’s off the table. It could have to do with Mahendra’s plea for Jaswant to choose his liege better than Mahendra chose his own. It all hinges on what Rajendra does next.
The preview is hinting at the Sindhuran crown prince being an Archer-level faker, or perhaps even more—of being such a liar that he fooled even himself. Is he going to betray Arslan? It would disappointing (to say the least) for Pars if they emerge from the Sindhuran Campaign with only Jaswant to supplement their forces. Of course, the king is still alive (for now), and he seemed wise enough. Perhaps Pars will still get its aid. Maybe Rajendra was lying to himself about being a good man, and believes it to his core. That seems too easy, though. We’ll find out next week.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Daryun duels an ogre, & nearly loses. What a tense fight! Plus an aftermath that ends w/ a win for Team Pars … hopefully #arslan 17
- Daryun seemed pretty confident in his skills there at the beginning. Rightly so, in the end. It just reminded me … last episode, tokinokanatae mentioned some of the foibles of Narsus and Daryun, which have been largely absent from the anime, but present in the novels (not sure on the Arakawa manga). I wonder if they’re trying to slip more of that in, or if I’m just looking for it more now.
- Hello, angry Arslan. If we didn’t (at this point) know better, I’d almost think he was Andragoras’ son from that alone.
- Elam and Alfreed do get along sometimes. Now if they’d just stop fighting over Narsus, they could actually be friends! (Down shippers, down.)
- I think it’s safe to say that it was only a matter of time.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Absence (from work) makes the heart grow fonder, The Kingsman princess joke, Be the anime blogger, and If you find yourself using buzzwords, STOP.