Overlord’s 11th episode, called “The Bloody Valkyrie,” raised as many questions for me as it answered.
The episode started with Ainz teleporting to Shalltear’s vicinity with Aura and Mare. Ainz immediately ordered the brother and sister to scout the area for enemies. Since they both carried world-level items, he gave them strict orders to retreat if attacked — the items were worth more than their lives (“…depending on the situation,” Ainz said).
Plus, more importantly, their retreat was part of his plan. Failure to follow his orders could throw his goals into disarray. As Ainz prepared to confront Shalltear, he had to admit that he still didn’t know what was going on — or who was behind it.
To say the latter was unhappy with the other two allowing Ainz to fight alone would be a profound understatement. At one point, he even suggested that if Ainz fell, that Albedo should step down as supervisor. That prompted Cocytus to accuse Demiurge or blasphemy. But Albedo said that even though she knew that Ainz wasn’t being completely up front with them, that she supported him: “I felt true determination from him. As a woman, it may have been irreverent of me, but when the man I love is that determined to fulfill his will, I just couldn’t continue arguing with him. And, the Lord Ainz promised me that he would return to this place.”
For a long time, now, Albedo’s been my favorite character. Scenes like this reinforce why. She is amazingly powerful, and at the same time, she’s completely devoted to Ainz. I find that combination compelling. Earned trust is such a powerful motivator…
The conversation then moved into territory I found troubling. Demiurge was still enraged because Ainz was “…the last supreme being that stayed behind… Lord Ainz is the last master we can pledge our loyalty to.”
It’s troubling because it goes directly to the question, “Is this still a game? A new kind of reality? Some combination, or even something completely different?” And what effect did their loyalty have on Ainz? How could someone who was, until the event in the first episode, just a gamer, fulfill the expectations of the Floor Guardians of the Great Tomb of Nazarick? Would the responsibility crush him?
Further, how could he find out who was behind that attack Shalltear’s attack?
As he prepared to confront Shalltear, Ainz revealed the real reason he couldn’t allow Albedo or his other Floor Guardians to fight Shalltear: he just couldn’t bear to watch them fight each other. I got this. I’ve played Role Playing Games (RPGs) since the very first Dungeons & Dragons set came out. Ainz (or Momonga as he was known in the “real” world) created many of these characters. His friends created the other characters. Together, they created the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Seeing it come under fire from any assailant would be hard to take. But not even knowing where the attack was coming from? That would be doubly difficult to accept.
Everything I’ve described happened in the first eight minutes of the episode. From this point, the style of battle between Shalltear and Ainz did not resolve the question of whether or not this was real or still a game. Just as in the game, Shalltear could not initiate an attack against Ainz; he had to strike first. Ainz used spells typical of the game to prepare for battle — was that an indication that we’re still in a game, or a reflection of their new reality? Within the battle, they discuss MP (magic points) and HP (hit points). Was that an indication they were in a game, or a reflection on how they perceived the new reality? They took turns attacking and defending. Was this a natural flow of combat, or part of the turn-taking combat system in the game?
Unfortunately, Shalltear’s reaction to Ainz’ first attack didn’t clarify matters. “Who is your master now?” he asked.
When Shalltear tries to answer, she said, “Why am I fighting you, Lord Ainz? No, that’s not it. Because I was attacked? … Why?”
The battle explodes at this point. Each takes turns — again, as part of a game structure? or as an organic give and take of a new reality? — until they stand, both diminished in MP and HP, in the sands created by their devastation of their battle.
As Shalltear approached her old master, confident that Ainz had exhausted his MP, he said that he was grateful that she had “…fought him without holding anything back.”
And so the episode ended. Is this world real? Is it still just a “game?” Who pitted Shalltear against Ainz, and why? These questions are critical, and yet there’s only one (known) episode left.
After 12 episode, I have confidence in Overlord’s writers. I have confidence that they will tie things up adequately, or provide an appropriate spring board to a second season.
To be honest, given the massive promise I see in this series, if they don’t, I will be profoundly disappointed.