After last week’s episode, I expected Willem and co to head to the surface this week, but it looks like that’ll have to wait for next week. This episode was Chtholly’s show from start to finish, and is also one of the best episodes yet. Suka Suka has always excelled at character moments more than plot, which is the entire focus of this episode.
When Ithea goes out to check on Chtholly’s mental state and comfort her, we learn a shocking truth: Ithea went through the same process as Chtholly many years ago and the original Ithea is long gone. The one we know now is the spirit of the person she used to be who’s been living Ithea’s life for her after reading a diary that she left behind. This revelation puts much of Ithea’s previous behavior in context. Ithea was always goofier and more flamboyant than the rest of the girls, which makes sense now that we know she was playing a character. Everything she’s done was her trying to be someone else, someone she only read about in a diary. The original Ithea may be gone, but this Ithea does everything she can to live as the original would have.
This revelation leaves a big impact on Chtholly. Even after learning that the Ithea she used to know was never there, she still accepts the current Ithea as her friend and takes a new perspective on her fading. She resolves to live in the moment without worrying about her fading memories or what might happen in the future. She continues going about things with a renewed vigor. Even though she’s accepted that she’ll eventually fade away, she doesn’t let that get in the way of living her life. It’s fatalistic, but it’s also kind of uplifting-for all that Chtholly knows she’s going to disappear, she’s still happy. Little things like her knitting scarves for the children she knows she’s going to forget are both tragic and uplifting with how she still cares and still works to be happy.
One of the more interesting implications of Chtholly’s inevitable fading is the context it gives the first scene in episode one. The red-haired girl fighting to save Willem may very well be Chtholly after she’s fully disappeared and become someone else. The way the show’s been paced, we might not get there by the end, but it’s still an interesting thought.
This episode also further confirms the romantic bent of Chtholly and Willem’s relationship. There aren’t any big romantic scenes, but little things like Willem complementing Chtholly’s dress and Chtholly asking Willem to teach her how to tune dug weapons all have some definite romantic implications. Their relationship is executed well enough, but it’s a shame that it’s going in a more typical route. Having Willem take a more fatherly role towards Chtholly was far more interesting than a more straightforward romance. Still, it’s well executed and they’re still both interesting characters on their own. Their relationship just could have gone in a better direction.
There may not be much plot momentum here-they don’t leave for the surface until the end-but that’s never been the focus of Suka Suka. Chtholly accepting her fate without giving up on life is both powerful and tragic, and character moments like that have always been where Suka Suka has shined. It would be easy for the show to oversell this and turn tragedy into comedy, but it’s executed with a quiet grace that emphasizes the drama without overdoing it. Chtholly’s inner thoughts are sad, but her upbeat demeanor balances it out and keeps the show from going too far. With the expedition to the surface underway, a lot’s going to happen soon, and I hope it’s as good as this episode.
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