It might shock you lunatics but, even though I seem like a super-powerful creature, I’m still only human. I’m fallible. I make mistakes on occasion. And sometimes, when the numbers start piling up on these series, I’ll take too quick a glance at the titles on Hulu and accidentally skip an episode.
Which is what happened here.
If you’ve watched enough TV, you start getting a little charge out of even the slightest happy accident in your viewing experience. I remember when Tarantino was promoting GRINDHOUSE, he explained how he was inspired to randomly cut ahead in the story at a certain point in order to reproduce the intriguing ambiguity he found while watching a film print that was missing a reel at a critical point. The “edit” changed the context of the “out point” scene in a significant way.
In this case, it came down to the fight between Clare and the Lion King. On my first go round, I went from seeing Clare chop of his arm to dicing him to pieces in a matter of only a few steps. The might sound like it was anti-climactic, but my first thought was actually, “Damn. They cut right through all the bullshit, didn’t they? Again, when you’ve watched a countless number of shows, you do get a rise out of anything that flips your expectations upside-down, even if it technically breaks the “rules” of story structure.
You might think that what I’m trying to get at is that we had an episode or two of “filler” here, but that isn’t the case. Seeing what actually happened was just as valid, but different in a way that definitely changes the flavor of the plot. The first go round made Clare’s leveling-up seem like it accelerated at an staggeringly-aggressive pace. The second go round harps on how this fight has to play it like hatchet work, and that’s something I appreciate just as much. My favorite “final bout” in FMA BROTHERHOOD’s concluding arc was between the Armstrongs and Sloth, and that was precisely because it was messier and less glamorous than the rest. You really felt like the heroes were doing everything in their power to defeat the big brute because he was that formidable of a threat, and you could then just feel their exhaustion and cathartic release when they finally just barely beat the guy.
We’re in the final thrust of this series, here. An inevitable grudge match with Priscilla is surely looming but, as far as big climatic battles go, I appreciate how this is such nasty brawl going down in the thick of the gloomiest blizzard. It’s not some grand battle happening on some lush field, nor even some honorable duel being waged above some awesome volcano mouth. It’s bitter and ugly, and that very much suits the spirit and texture of CLAYMORE.
Actually, to say a little more about the spirit and texture, it’s interesting how this show’s mythos has been revealed in such minimalistic strokes. For all the detail we’ve gotten about ranks and states of awakening, not much of anything has been said about how all this madness got started in the first place. There’s no creation myth to explain where the Yoma came from or how the Organization got together and started creating Claymores (presumably through some kind of black magic or alchemistic science.) The plot’s almost all about execution. The viewer’s got to fill in a lot of details in between the key points on his or her own.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been liking it so much. It gives me enough little morsels that I’m just writing the rest of the story in my head - - and of course that’s going to be my liking. Specifically, I feel like there’s got to be some deeper meaning to how social outcast Clare’s been able to control her awakening while goody-goody over-achiever "turned" irrevocably. I want there to be some dialog about that, but the time’s getting short enough that I feel like there’s going to be no such explanation. We’ll find out soon if that proves to be frustrating or “respectful of my intelligence” when all the cards are finally dealt.
Watch these episodes "Invasion of Pieta (Part 2)” and “Critical Point (Part 1)” below, decide for yourself and then read my comments on the previous episode here.