「帳の陰」 (Chou no Kage)
“Behind the Curtain”
This show is not afraid to straight dirty.
This week, 91Days decides to focus on someone it’s neglected substantially. We finally get into the head of Corteo, someone who’s gotten a whole lot of screen time but practically nilch character development. Very little has been explained of his motivations. Why is someone who hates the mafia so much willingly selling his life’s work to them? Is his friendship with Avilio believably strong enough to put him in the situations he’s in? What’s his endgame here? What’s keeping him going?
While none of these questions were really answered here, the episode still does much to illustrate what’s going on in the guy’s head. We at least got the sense—if briefly—that his friendship with Avilio is immensely important to him. The only real thing keeping him involved in all this messy mafia business. So it can’t probably be conveyed how earth-shattering it is to have Avilio renounce Corteo from his life—especially as brutally as he did. This no doubt serves as a catalyst for the guy’s psychological tailspin throughout the episode.
However, this brings about a couple of issues. As I said before, the show has done very little to establish anything of Corteo, let alone how much this friendship means to him. The very little shown here was not enough to do so, and came off more as a surprise than anything else. In general, the bond between the two has been so devoid of development that any sort of narrative advancement based on it would have a hard time being convincing. We’ve had moments here and there where it’s just them sort of expressing what’s on their mind, but these was more for the sake of progressing the plot than anything else.
On that note, one might think that Avilio comes off this episode as something completely unfaithful to his development thus far. He appears far more integrated into the Vannettis. He seems truly faithful and committed to them. However, one must realize that this is all from the perspective of Corteo—this is coming from his own paranoid, deluded insecurities about their own friendship. It would make sense that—framed from Corteo’s view—Avilio would appear this way in the episode.
Regardless, though, the episode still delivers on a myriad of intense and dramatic developments. First and foremost, it’s surprising to see how cold and ruthless Nero’s gotten. His brother’s death must’ve seriously hit hard, as he seems far more calloused and willing to go to dark, extreme lengths—such as wiping out a target’s family in order to sustain the family business and carry on just the same. While he still seems to retain some of his comedic charm, it takes a merciless heart to efficiently run a mafia family, especially with a target on your back 24/7.
It’ll be really interesting seeing what direction Corteo’s character goes from here. If they continue with how things are, the narrative will suddenly shift to focus on Corteo—something it’s done anything but until now. However, if they switch back to Avilio and Nero, all of this week’s development will really go to waste. Hopefully they can maintain this momentum while steadily and organically progressing the plot.