You know, for all the times I’ve said that this show makes me think of EVANGELION, the way it so deftly balances animus and anima in this particular episode brings ESCAFLOWNE to mind. Which is a headier way of saying it pays equal respect to the masculine perspective and the feminine one, giving equal screen time to equally credible girl talk and guy talk.
You’re seeing one of the real benefits of a series being allowed to run for as long as this has, here. This whole episode’s devoted to understated payoffs of character development and relationships that would’ve been squished in a shorter series or cut altogether.
Seriously, the mecha action takes a backseat to a make-up tutorial and a joint shower/sauna session (which was maybe a little weird, come to think of it, unless we chalk it up to cultural customs or that reliable cop movie trope where tough conversations are always hashed out in the communal shower.) It might not sound that exciting that this episode finally addresses Eureka’s scars and Renton’s lack of… * AHEM *… action, but there’s been so much build-up that they’re actually more cathartic than any aerial showdown.
Of course, the biggest payoff comes in Holland finally telling the story of the day Renton’s big sister broke his heart. Again, the “back story” actually plays more powerfully precisely because it never gets that melodramatic. It starts with her getting him to ask him out on what’s basically a whim and theN ends on an argument that’s almost a non-event. Really, the more touching side of the story is how we find out that he actually met Renton as a kid (a scene that eerily reminds me of the pranks I used to pull on my big sisters before their dates.)
Damn it, there’s some genuine pathos to how this outlaw was first introduced to this planetary savior while he was just a shoe-snatching, raspberry-blowing little troll.