In “Hidden One,” episode 114 (or 11) of D.Gray-man (HALLOW), we learn that any given Cardinal might not be quite the respectable pillar of the community that you might expect; that Allen Walker has some previously unknown relationship to Innocence that puts him at elevated risk of death; that Road Kamelot really does care enough for Allen to put her life on the line; that the Black Order’s leadership, and the leadership of the church in general, is hell-bent on ignoring fact and making knee-jerk decisions; and that Howard Link was earnest when he confessed his sorrow to Allen.
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What Happened (Spoiler Free)
The Cardinal, leaving unconscious guards in his wake, enters Allen’s cell. Howard hesitates to intervene. After all, the man’s a Cardinal, and all his life, Howard’s been conditioned to obey the church’s leaders. Allen’s screams of pain quickly weaken Howard’s resolve.
Finally, Howard gives into to reason and tries to stop the Cardinal using binding talisman. The Cardinal’s too fast and begins using the same kind of attack on Howard that he used on Allen. Allen gathers his wits and retaliates, suddenly horrified when he punches an appendage of Innocence through the Cardinal’s head.
But the Cardinal doesn’t die.
He marvels that Allen’s still able to control Innocence at all, and the clearly inhuman Cardinal resumes his attack on our hero. Dispatched by the Earl, Tyki Mikk arrives and tries to protect Allen and the Fourteenth.
Just what is the Cardinal?
How will the Church leadership react to the Noah so easily entering Allen’s cell?
The rest of this review may have spoilers, so please be careful!
What Happened (Spoilers!)
As Allen’s skin turns darker, more Noah-like, and as he begins to lose consciousness, a Cardinal (high-ranking bishop in the Church) enters the cell. Howard is shocked not only to see the Cardinal, but the guards sprawled on the ground outside the cell. The Cardinal says that the Heart is very concerned about Allen and that he’s here to heal the Exorcist.
Allen’s screams at the Cardinal’s treatment galvanize Howard, who tries to bind the Cardinal. The bishop’s too fast, and he begins the same assault on Howard that he was administering to Allen.
Beginning to regain his senses and worried for his colleague Howard, Allen tries to attack the Cardinal. He succeeds in puncturing the latter’s skull. Horrified that he has apparently killed an agent of the Church, he’s even more horrified when the Cardinal expresses surprise that Allen could still function. The Cardinal, Allen’s finger constructed of Innocence still protruding from the back of his skull, resumes his attack on Allen. Allen begins to see the Cardinal’s memories. He sees the Cardinal put the gun to Cross Marian’s forehead and pull the trigger.
The magical seals all around the room flicker and go out. Tyki Mikk‘s butterflies appear, along with the Noah himself. He quickly strikes and knocks the Cardinal to the ground. Tyki says he’s waited seven thousand years to find this creature.
Road Kamelot also arrives and throws herself on Allen. She’s distraught that he’s in so much pain.
The Cardinal begins reassembling his body, much to Allen’s shock. The two Noah explain that the Cardinal’s no human. He’s a sentient form of independent Innocence named Apocryphos whose only goal is to protect the Heart of Innocence. The creature immediately launches a counter attack.
For a brief time, Tyki holds his own. Apocryphos finally pins him the the wall and begins degrading his life force. Allen launches himself into the being of Innocence and demands an explanation for Cross Marian’s death. All he gets is another attack, which he surprisingly brushes aside — and insults Apocryphos in the process. The creature demonstrates a singular lack of humility and loses his temper. He moves to destroy Allen.
Road interjects herself between them. The blast frees Allen and knocks her unconscious. Howard regains enough strength to free Timcanpy, who blows a whole in the ceiling and takes Allen and the Noah to safety.
Apocryphos makes Howard pay the ultimate price for his act.
In response to Apocryphos’ threats that he won’t let them escape, Allen, Road, and Tyki begin running through the woods towards the coast. The Church leaders meet in the aftermath of what looks like a Noah jail break to free the Fourteenth, and they revoke Allen’s status as an Exorcist.
Lenalee Lee is unwilling to believe Allen’s in league with the Noah. She rushes into the forest to find the truth.
What I Liked
Allen’s first instinct, when the Cardinal went after Howard, was to try to help Howard, even though Howard had been instrumental in Allen’s imprisonment. That’s why I like Allen. He does what he sees as right regardless of, well, anything. I admire his singular focus on helping others.
The “feathers” or whatever they were that grew out of people’s eyes when the Cardinal finished with them were seriously creepy. Like, nightmare-fuel creepy.
So no one’s more deeply connected to the Heart — or more unstable — than Allen? That’s interesting. I wonder if the Heart of Innocence could even be considered “good” at all? Or is it its own existence, separate from good/evil, demanding its own allegiance and sacrifice?
The Earl’s serious about wanting the Fourteenth to survive. He even sent the Noah to protect Allen and the Fourteenth from the Cardinal — while Allen was in Exorcist custody!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it again. I like Road. It was endearing when she threw herself on Allen after Tyki first put the Cardinal on the ground. I choose to believe she’s earnest in expressing her feelings about the Exorcist. I can’t condone her or the Noah’s actions (like, you know, tricking humans into becoming Akuma), but I have to admire true affection when I see it.
The Cardinal’s native form is seriously creepy with a name to match: Apocryphos. I think it’s an interesting commentary on the writer’s philosophy that a creature presumably of pure righteousness (Innocence) is so brutal and unforgiving.
Allen’s friends like Johnny Gill are still trying to help him. They’re even willing to put themselves at risk to advocate for him. I particularly liked the conversation between Krory and Miranda. They both felt they owed a lot to Allen and his past kindness. Not for what he said; not for what he promised; but for how he treated them. They were heart-broken that they couldn’t do more. Even Miranda, who’s so shy and adverse to confrontation, agreed to help — despite her anxieties.
The Earl was true to his word. He redeployed the Third Exorcists to support his own ends. A CROW patrol encountered them and even tried to call the Third Exorcists traitors — but who betrayed whom?
Pretty epic fight between Tyki and Apocryphos. The Noah really thought he had the upper hand — until he didn’t. Apocryphos is a nasty piece of work.
Allen was more angry about Cross Marian’s death than about anything else. Maybe that anger gave him fuel, but even Apocryphos was surprised at Allen’s ability to resist.
Apocryphos’ voice was hauntingly smooth and horrifying. It had a breathy quality that I found disquieting. When he said he wanted to save Allen, I’m guessing he didn’t mean anything that Allen would consider saving.
Road took Apocryphos’ strike on Allen’s behalf. It looked like the blow hurt, too. But it gave Howard time to release Timcanpy, who was in turn able to save Allen and the Noah. Unfortunately, Howard seems to have paid the ultimate price. Again, I’m faced with the apparent contradiction of Innocence (righteousness) versus goodness. Why did Howard have to die for helping his friend? There’s no objective justification for it.
The plot setup a scenario that was almost the fulfillment of the Church hierarchy’s vision of Allen: he’s on the run with two Noah. The hierarchy doesn’t know (and presumably doesn’t care) that they pushed him to it, or that Apocryphos was behind it all. They only know the appearances, and they’re willing to destroy him because of it. Hard to blame them with such strong circumstantial evidence, though a more radical dedication to the truth should have inspired them to find the facts.
Lenalee Lee didn’t accept the public version of events. She went off in search of Allen to find the truth. I think she’s one of the most tragic characters in this series. She’s very, very powerful; but she’s essentially kind and good. Straight-up fights she can handle. The machinations of deceitful politics is beyond her.
What I Liked Less
Only two more episodes left in this season! I was just getting used to my old friends being back…
Why did Apocryphos kill Cross Marian? What mistake did Cross Marian make when he didn’t ask Allen’s name at their first meeting? If this were almost any other show, I’d be worried that we’ll never learn the answers. But this is D.Gray-man, I’m looking forward to the reveal.
The show draws an illuminating contrast between righteousness on the part of the Church and goodness on the part of Allen and his friends. The Church has a righteous duty to protect humanity from the Noah, and those in charge use that as an excuse for all manner of torture and indignities. Just look at the bishop’s attitude towards torturing Allen in the last episode!
Allen sees his role as dispensing mercy: mercy to the souls trapped within Akuma so they can achieve redemption; mercy to Yu Kanda and Alma Karma so they’d have peace in the end, beyond the reach of the Church’s cruelty. Krory and Miranda mentioned it, too. All through the original series’ run, Allen never hesitated to help anyone around him, regardless of the threat to his own life.
Speaking of those threats, Tyki Mikk even killed Allen! Does he hold a grudge? No. Mercy is way more powerful than hate, at least in Allen. That’s one of the reasons he represents goodness in this series.
Even Apocryphos acknowledges that Allen has a special relationship to the Heart of Innocence.
Why, then, does the show portray such a disconnect between righteousness and goodness? What point is it trying to make?
We need look no farther than our own political headlines in the United States.
Cloak your message in “righteousness,” and you can pretty much ask for any atrocity. In some circles, if you claim the righteous goal of protecting the country, you can justify torture. Claim you’re trying to keep children safe? You can condemn entire ethnic groups. Raise the banner of protecting unborn children? You can brand terrified and helpless women as murders, then feed them to the justice system.
Dehumanize first. Exploit second.
Those are the kinds of dangers D.Gray-man’s trying to warn us against. Despite any power structure’s claim to the contrary, righteousness without compassion (almost a synonym for goodness in the context of D.Gray-man) is not only worthless, it’s dangerous and terrible. Isn’t that why we root for Allen and root against the Church leadership in this show?
At least, I hope you’re rooting for Allen!
What do you think of the show’s symbolism? Do you think I have the right idea — or am I so far out in left field that I’ve left the stadium? Leave a comment with your perspective!
* Yep! I know that non-religious sources have committed heinous crimes against humanity (Stalin, anyone?). My point isn’t that religious groups are unique in that regard. My point is that D.Gray-man is focused on the particular kind of atrocities that the Church and its leadership commit. If you’re inclined to argue which is worse (religious or secular), I think you may be missing the point.
Both are bad.
I’d suggest we debate how best to advance the cause of goodness.
Reviews of Other Hallow Season Episodes
- Episode 104 (episode 1) HALLOW: The Fourteenth
- Episode 105 (episode 2) HALLOW: Lonely Boy
- Episode 106 (episode 3) HALLOW: It’ll be Fine If I Wash My Face
- Episode 107 (episode 4) HALLOW: Blood Crusade
- Episode 108 (episode 5) HALLOW: Alma Karma
- Episode 109 (episode 6) HALLOW: Friend
- Episode 110 (episode 7) HALLOW: The Truth about a Sterile Flower
- Episode 111 (episode 8) HALLOW: Awakening
- Episode 112 (episode 9) HALLOW: Little Goodbye
- Episode 113 (episode 10) HALLOW: Sinner in Despair
- Episode 115 (episode 12) HALLOW: My Home
- Episode 116 (episode 13) HALLOW: Walker