Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
What’s In This Post
In A Cruel Fairy Tale, the eighth episode of Izetta: The Last Witch, Rickert begins his spy mission deep in Eylstadt; Bianca gives him some unwitting (and then witting) aid. Archduchess Finé and Izetta attend a ball at Earl Redford’s estate, where they meet two unexpected and quite likely unwelcome guests. Rickert places Izetta’s secret in extreme danger. Finally, international politics asserts itself in an unexpected and dark way.
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- As he rides in the airplane on the way to the drop site in Eylstadt, Rickert brushes up on the official version of the White Witch’s fairy tale. He finds it differs from the historical version that Major Belkman told him before he left — in significant ways. His parachute drop left him far from the target, and he has to rely on the kindness of strangers to get back on track. He coincidentally hitches a ride with Lotte and Bianca as they head for the old capital.
- Finé and Izetta prepare for Redford’s birthday party, which serves as a cover for the allies’ meeting to discuss Izetta’s success against the aircraft carrier. At the same time, Sieghard Müller and Elvira Friedman discuss a spy spotted near the old capital’s castle. They’re determined to resolve the issue before the Archduchess comes home.
In the Inn where they are were staying, Rickert is eating dinner with Bianca. She confesses that she’s always loved the White Witch’s story, especially its ending where the witch protects the people for all of her days. She’s shocked and infuriated when Rickert shares the alternate story that he heard: that the prince who the White Witch met was already married, and that after the prince’s death, the court — and princess — turned against the White Witch. Bianca excuses herself and storms off.
- At the birthday ball, Izetta is so nervous that Finé takes her outside where they can dance alone. Unfortunately, a man they hadn’t met before, a silent and anemic-looking woman with white hair on his arm, greets them. Finé doesn’t know it, but the man is Belkman. As they were trading pleasantries, the white-haired woman pushes forward and kisses Izetta so hard she draws — and swallows — Izetta’s blood. Then the white-haired woman passes out, and Belkman makes excuses and leaves. They disappear before Finé can learn anything about them. Afterward, at the allies’ meeting, the United States of Atlanta commits to sending troops to fight Germania.
Rickert and the same spy who had tried to get information out of Jonas break into the White Witch’s secret room in the castle. They discover and photograph the map of ley lines. When they’re almost finished, an artifact he had in his pocket seems to react with something in the room, and a blood-red stone bursts out of the wall. Rickert pockets it just as Bianca and members of the Imperial Guard burst in. She’s shocked to see Rickert; he’s shocked to see her. Then the bullets start to fly. The two escape via a tunnel, but Rickert’s already hit. He leads Bianca to a battlement, where he apologizes for shattering her belief in the White Witch’s happy ending and laments what might have been. When he draws his pistol, she’s forced to shoot him. Meanwhile, other members of the Imperial Guard find and shoot the other spy from a distance. Unfortunately, another agent who had been hiding in plain sight picks up the package and heads for Germania.
- The Atlantan ambassador recommends that their troops move against Germania — and the witch, as well, because she represents a power that could threaten the United States.
What I Liked
Poor Rickert. I know he’s the enemy intent on killing our heroes, but I had to feel sorry for him. For one thing, his first parachute drop is at night and into a forest. For another, he encounters kind and helpful citizens, which makes him begin to wonder why he’s fighting against them. Of course, things get considerably worse for him later…
Rickert saw right away that Bianca wasn’t a maid. He mistook her for Lotte’s mistress, but he knew she her bearing was too refined to be a maid.
The introductory scenes did a great job of showing Rickert coming to understand the people who his State called enemies weren’t bad people at all. I suspect Belkman’s under no illusions, but Rickert’s still young enough to buy into the propaganda that Germania is righteous and great, whereas their enemies are backwards and brutal. The reality was not what he expected. By the time he finally bit into the apple he’d received, it tasted sour to him. That was a nice touch.
Sieghard Müller seems to genuinely feel some guilt about having to shoot Jonas. At the very least, he doesn’t want the young man’s sacrifice to amount to nothing. I’m slowing reducing my suspicion of Müller being a double agent. But given this show, I don’t think I can be sure!
Rickert’s version of the fairy tale came out in bits and pieces through the whole show. I like how it almost provided a frame for this episode. I also enjoyed how it thematically demonstrated the differences in the national characters: Germania being harsh and realistic, Eylstadt being more open and willing to believe in ideas like the White Witch. The latter is with a tinge of hypocrisy, though: as we find out later, it was Eylstadt’s royalty who dictated the fate of the original White Witch — and the need for two separate endings.
Finé saw how embarrassed Izetta felt in the company of all of the nobles, yet she still wanted Izetta to enjoy herself. So, she led the witch to a courtyard outside where they could dance by themselves. That decision was so typically Finé. It’s almost tragic seeing how she’s motivated by a desire to see her people happy, whereas so many of the other leaders around her seem more concerned with abstract concepts like maintaining power or pride in country. She doesn’t know it, but she’s completely out of her depth among those people.
Little touches of realism mean a lot to me, so I got a kick out of Rickert gingerly touching the red stone before picking it up. For all he knew, it could be burning with volcanic heat!
I don’t think Rickert really tried to shoot Bianca. He knew he was about to die, and he honestly didn’t want to betray his country. So he made a show of firing so she’d have to kill him. That’s really too bad. He seemed like the sort you’d want to have on your side.
What I Liked Less
I think I could have enjoyed the scene where Rickert mistakenly rushes to Bianca’s rescue, only to find her in the tub, if instead of looking embarrassed, she had been more annoyed. She’s an officer in the Imperial Guard. Sure, she has a soft side (what Lotte called her maidenly heart), but she’s also a soldier. I didn’t think her looking embarrassed to the point of tears was consistent with her character.
On the other hand, Lotte gets points for immediately stepping between them!
Was the white-haired woman with Belkman his witch prototype? Did she need Izetta’s blood to awaken her powers? At first, I thought that maybe the blood was needed to send to Rickert to use in the castle; but the timing seems off. So, how’d Rickert get that blood? Or was it just the white-haired woman’s blood that he used?
This section is going to be a bit of a downer, so if you’re not in the mood for it, please feel free to bail out now. I won’t mind!
In fury of her husband’s infidelty with the White Witch, the wife turned the Witch over to the Inquisition. The Witch, who had saved the kingdom, was tortured to death. That doesn’t seem like a fitting reward for her efforts.
But is that really any different than what we see today?
In this series so far, the commonly-accepted story of the White Witch was dramatically differnet than what we just learned is the reality. Isn’t that true for us, even today? Except that today, there’s a term for it: it’s called “spin.” A company buys a competitor, and the spin is that the move creates market synergies that improve the profitability of the surviving company. And that’s a good story, isn’t it? It fits what we expect to be the case: the workers and management at the surviving company worked hard, so our system should reward them, right?
What about the workers in the non-surviving company? The ones whose jobs are eliminated because of redundancies or simply because of a change in management direction? Where’s their reward? The economic system does not guarantee rewards for hard work. It rewards those who are in charge when they make decisions based on arbitrary laws that their influence helped create. The workers not only have no say; they’re not encourage to speak up. But even here, the survivors have a spin: if the non-survivors had only worked harder for their executives, then their company would have been the survivor. It’s all their fault; they didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain. So they got what they deserve. After all, isn’t that how the free market works?
People advancing this argument conveniently forget that there is no such thing as a free market. Just ask AIG…
It works with countries, too. The United States invaded Iraq. We “liberated” that country. The spin is that we’re making the Middle East safer for everyone’s benefit. The soldiers who fought received a promise that their country will take care of them afterward.
According to Military Times, 20 US veterans a day commit suicide. Where’s the support promised them while they served? The support that was part of convincing them to go into harm’s way?
I know of military veterans fired from civilian positions for using the skills, experience, and attitudes they earned in the military. These people clearly identified problems, lined up resources, and tried to execute the mission — only to run afoul of arbitrary corporate cultural or political issues. Instead of trying to come to some kind of accomodation, the companies fired these veterans.
I’ve often reflected that firing is a poor way to thank veterans for their service.
The soldiers who took the risks clearly didn’t benefit. Who did? Imperial Life in the Emerald City answered that question…
This is the kind of reality that this series shows Izetta living through. She’s only trying to help her Princess. She doesn’t care about international politics. She doesn’t care about expanding her sphere of influence. She had no agenda other than protecting the woman she loves. Together, the two of them are taking all the risks, along with their military. She putting herself into harm’s way with an expectation or hope that this’ll give her Princess a way to make the world better.
I’m afraid they’ll never see the rewards. I’m afraid Izetta’s not going to get to see the kind of beautiful ending spin will paint — after she’s dead.
Am I being too pessimistic? If you think so, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- Cooler Nights — That Means It’s Time for the Fall 2016 Anime Preview (Part 1) (discusses Izetta: The Last Witch)
- Izetta Eps 1 and 2: A Nazi By Any Other Name…
- Izetta Ep 3: The Sword in the Heavens
- Izetta Ep 4: The Secret of the Witch
- Izetta Ep 5: A False Miracle
- Izetta Ep 6: On a Quiet Day
- Izetta Ep 7: The Battle of Sognefjord
- Izetta Ep 9: The Sellun Corridor Burns
- Izetta Ep 10: Iron Hammer of the Witch
- Izetta Ep 11: Finé