「敵か 味方か/」 (Teki ka mikata ka)
“Friend or Foe”
The show finally jumps into a larger story arc with this promising entry.
Up until now, Luck and Logic has primarily concerned itself with developing its characters individually from episode to episode (to mixed results). While this week’s installment doesn’t ditch the singular focus, it blends itself elegantly into the beginning of a multi-part narrative arc—far more ambitious than anything that has come before.
An Unsung Hero
It does this by tapping into the insecurities and concerns of a character who we’ve become well-acquainted with throughout the series: Olga. Although Olga’s been a reliable source of comic relief from week to week, he’s often displayed a surprising level of depth and competence, such as when he risks his well-being to save Nanahoshi, or when he offers Tsurugi some well-deserved advice on dealing with Athena—words which were motivated by his own pain from being without a covenanter. The show has done a marvelous job of developing Olga in the background of all the action without drawing any focus away from the central narratives.
As a result, the decision to put him into the spotlight paid off wonderfully. In previous character-centric installments, it was sometimes the case that the episode would focus on flaws of the individual which were hastily introduced, often resulting in a half-baked degree of development. Here, the episode touches on and expands a variety of previously-introduced insecurities and qualities of the character.
The episode really pried into the lack of fulfillment and sense of worthlessness which came with not having a covenanter. While all of other members of the main cast were off honing their skills as a unit in the training center, Olga was diligently training away by himself. This shines some light on what our green-haired friend was up to whenever the other characters were out in the field—he was laboring away, keeping himself fit and able-bodied. The fact that he doesn’t have a partner is absolutely no excuse for him not be working as hard as any other logicalist. In fact, he may work even harder, for many of his peers allot him the nickname “Mr. Hard-worker,” so we very much get the sense that he’s wholly devoted to being a competent logicalist.
This makes us all the more sympathetic when we see him personally anguish over not having a covenanter. While Tsurugi and Nanahoshi seemingly stumble into their respective partners, Olga just cannot find anyone, no matter what lengths he goes to. As a result, he’s seen as lesser than his peers—as not even a legitimate part of the team, even though he arguably works himself far harder. The show does a really good job of conveying the anguished soul which lurks beneath that veneer of confidence.
As a result, we more profoundly feel his grief after he loses his logic card (something which the series has still neglected to explain in detail, but whatevs). When we find out later that he in fact did not release the foreigner, we feel a little ashamed at having doubted his morals, resulting in a greater perception of the character. The scene where members of the main cast scour the landscape of the battle in search of his logic card, all the while exchanging compliments towards our unsung hero is a particularly powerful statement of his character, although one which perhaps comes all too late.
The Devil has Arrived
This character arc weaves beautifully into the more formal introduction to our main villain, Lucifer, who finally steps into the forefront of the narrative (and to great effect). We’ve gotten nothing more than morsels of his character in past episodes, and the writers wisely refrained from explicitly spilling all the details this week. I think this is to get us to trust him—to keep us ignorant of his past injustices—in order to sympathize more with Olga when the commander prohibits their partnership.
The way he completely bamboozles the Agency—while perhaps a little too effortless—manages to effectively convey his impressive strategic ability. Through a mole, he was able to identify early on Olga’s deep-seeded inferiority to his peers, and opportunize on it accordingly. When the two finally trance at the episode’s conclusion, I feel an odd contrast of emotions. On one hand, I’m of course ecstatic for Olga that he finally got what he wanted all this time, and on the other, I feel remorse that he’s played right into Lucifer’s hand—nothing more than a tool for his ultimate plan, and likely a far cry from the covenanter-logicalist bond Olga always wanted. His hard work both has and hasn’t paid off, leading to a fascinating conflict of feelings.
Luck and Logic churns out one of its most impressive installments yet while at the same time, changing gears and picking up the pace for a grander plot. The episode masterfully blended insightful character development and villain exposition—I feel both sympathy for Olga as well as intimidation at what Lucifer is capable of. I look immensely forward to how Luck and Logic will attempt wrap up this season.
Also if you squint your eyes real small for this shot, it looks like Olga’s got some wicked chest hair.