「Necessity Has no Law」
As we approach the end of this adaptation, it’s clear that certain themes are repeating themselves. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence – the traps which we lay for ourselves are a big part of this story, and while, the faerie creatures make a point of tut-tutting over how silly humans are to continually foster their own suffering, I don’t get the sense that the ones in this story are remotely immune from the same habits. As with Natsume Yuujinchou, this series is about what creatures from both sides of that divide share as much as what separates them.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say a miasma hangs over this episode in many ways, though for a time it seems both Chise and Elias are immune from it. The irony here is that it’s taken something as ominous as the dragon’s curse to show them both a resolve they didn’t know they possessed – Chise to do whatever she can to live on (with Elias), and for Elias something he cares enough about to pursue single-mindedly for its own sake. And that this crucial catalyst – and their mutual convictions – have sown the seeds of division between them and posed the greatest threat so far to their bond.
Lindel is sad because he must rely on Adolph to the point of exhausting him in the effort to bring the captured (and saved) dragon home. Adolph is sad because he’s unable to be more help, ultimately because he was unable to become what Lindel needed him to – a mage (possibly to replace him as caretaker, since Lindel is a prisoner as long as there are dragons left in the world). I thought the moment, minor as it seemed, when Lindel noted that Adolph’s regret and weariness had “turned him into a child” was tender and quietly powerful. And, of course, the whole episode with the witches’ coven is sad – because they can’t offer any advice to free Chise of her curse. In fact, the invitation by Mariel – and her entire interest in dragons – really amounted mostly to a scheme to try and help the leader of her coven be freed from her own curse.
Mind you, that event was not insignificant – because Mariel, in fact, does reveal to Elias the true path to saving Chise: “Only a life can be exchanged for a life”. It’s easy to cast blame on Elias and even Ruth for what happens next, and there’s no question it is a reminder of their essential nature. Ruth is a familiar – it is indeed his very nature that he will always prioritize his master over all else. And while we’ve seen humans in Mahoutsukai do terrible things to try and save the one they love (Matthew springs immediately to mind – and Joseph was meddling there, too) in Elias’ case we see that he’s something quite alien to what humans are. He’s not driven or bound by what might check our actions – as long as Chise lives, everything else is on the table.
The problem (among many) here is that Elias’ understanding of humans is still too incomplete. Chise could never accept him sacrificing any innocent, much less her friend, in order to save her. So, in effect, even if Elias’ plan works he’s depriving himself of being with Chise either way. While Elias’ desire to save her is genuine, I don’t think it can be separated from his desire to be with her – and thus, “success” would amount to failure for him. That’s not even factoring in that he’s also motivated by envy of Stella for the comfort level he perceives between the two of them. Elias is still very much a child in emotional terms, and his actions in this episode are a reflection of that.
Chise, as she so often does, finds her resolve in a conversation with Nevin – even if it is a Nevin she’s created an image of in her own consciousness, sort of an after-image (I’m not so sure). She shocks herself into wakefulness by stabbing herself in the thigh (she’s got real moxie, this one) and proceeds to try and foil Elias’ plan. The issue here is that it’s already been foiled, because Jospeh has revealed his hand – he’s been in possession of Stella since their “chance” meeting in London. And he wasn’t about to let Elias finish what he’d started.
Can what’s been broken here be healed, physically or spiritually, literally or metaphorically? Things are a bit of a mess, generally speaking – not only is Chise laboring under a death sentence, it’a hard to imagine her faith in Elias being easily restored after he’s committed what in her eyes is a grave and terrible act. Joseph offers her a deal once her nature reveals his presence in Stella – but a deal with Joseph is sure to come at a terrible price, based on what we know of that ageless creature.