Sadly, the praise train’s hitting another little bump with this episode…
One interesting quality in the previous episodes was the… beneficial irrelevancy of specifics of this universe. We knew our mysterious heroine was navigating a landscape thrown into conflict by an evil empire. We knew she was seeking vengeance against the leader of that evil empire. Whether she eventually found it or not was almost beside the point. The show was living more in the moment, with all the little one-off conflicts that Alka would intervene it.
I probably shouldn’t get any further with that. It’s an over-thought, as is. It’d be more to the point to simply say that the world building in this episode just didn’t work for me. It’s not that I was anxious for more action - - I just didn’t think that politics were coherently presented. The show’s done such a good job of putting characters before lore, so far, and yet this episode felt more like an exposition dump, without a strong point-of-view threading the events together too neatly.
Also, I think this outfit of supervillains with shadowmancy powers is still so far afield of Alka’s closer-to-Earth samurai action. Their side-by-side inclusion just feels a little jarring. The problem as simple as the show jumping straight into the huge, shadow monster set-piece a couple episodes back instead of gradually introducing it. Have one of the bad guys do a small shadow trick, then build up to the black-and-red monsters.
That’s a super-specific complaint, sure - - but that’s the point of these episode-by-episode write-ups. I’m still enjoying this series. The craft of filmic storytelling is still impressively engaging. Let’s just hope it can right itself quickly after this bump, so we don’t get bogged down in too much mumbo jumbo, too quickly.