Anime

Review of The Promised Neverland Episode 8: An Unlikely Cheerleader and it All Came Tumbling Down

Welcome to the collaboration review of The Promised Neverland episode 8, 021145, between this site (I’m pretty sure you know you’re on Crow’s World of Anime, right?) and Irina’s I Drink and Watch Anime. If you haven’t watched episode 8, you should probably not read this review until you do. There’s no way way we can say anything meaningful about this episode without spoilers.

Well, we could say things like “great camera angles!” and “suspenseful pacing,” but where’s the fun in that?

Well I think it’s kinda fun… Irina here, happy week everyone!

I’ll play the role of plain text and Irina will play the part of bold. I suspect I should capitalize it: she’ll play the part of Bold!

If I had to describe this episode in one sentence, that sentence would be, “Uhhh…. Shock-shock-shock! Wait, what? Thaaaaat’sssss… terrifying! Oh, snap! Despair.” With a lot of Phil sprinkled in.

Aw, isn't that cute? Phil wants to tell you what he saw in this episode! And he saw quite a lot... Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Irina, any opening remarks before we dive in?

OMGWTFBBQPRUPLEDISWASHER WHOA

Well said!

The episode opens with Sister Krone reading the letter Isabella handed her at the end of the previous episode. It’s a letter of promotion! Krone’s going to be the Mom of Plant Four! She was shocked at the news; more shocked that Isabella had recommended her. When she heard she had to leave right away, she seemed to freeze. Was it just natural distrust? Or did she intuit something from Isabella’s demeanor? That’s the “Uhhh…” part of the plot.

Remember how all the ‘farms’ had these poetic cult names. Plant Four seems rather proforma by comparison. Are plants and farms interchangeable or is this Plant Four more akin to an industrial complex of some sort?

In any case, Krone did not seem happy at all.

Whatever caused her reaction, she headed to the gate, the scene of Conny’s “adoption.” The sound editing in this show again impressed me -- the sound of the bars raising, with the chains in the background, was chilling. As she passed into the archway, Krone met Grandma. I didn’t like Grandma’s smile. It reminded me too much of Isabella’s smile! Without much preamble, Krone handed Grandma the note she had found under the floor at the head of Ray’s bed. But I noticed something. Krone had prepared a pen and a small package along with the note, but she didn’t hand it to Grandma. Any idea what’s in the package, Irina?

No, this show does this to me all the time. We see the call back to the pen later on but you can’t really gauge its significance just from that. It was a nice pen though.

I don't remember my grandma smiling like this! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

The paper was Ray’s trump card (mother’s supposed weakness) but I still have no clue whatsoever what it could be and it's driving me nuts… I don't even want to think about that little box. I need to sleep at night Crow! I have a job!

Me, too! This show has no sympathy for its viewers...

Things go downhill for Krone. And by “downhill,” I mean down a sheer cliff. She had hoped that reporting Emma, Norman, Ray, Don, and Gilda were planning to escape might gain her some favor. But nope! Grandma pointed out that Isabella had everything under control. And here we start the shock trinity from my one-sentence episode description: Grandma remembered back to when she was the Mom, using the tracker, to find Isabella standing atop the wall. She had been looking outward, and then she looked back, a terrified expression on her face.

I wonder, Irina -- was it terror at what she had seen beyond the wall, terror that Grandma had found her, or both?

I had the distinct feeling that something was going over my head. In fact, the mention of Grandma was frightening to Krone from the start. Maybe her simple presence is always bad news.

Mothers shepherd the kids to the slaughter while Grandmas does the same for mothers?

Your sentence gave me chills.

What did a younger Isabella see that terrified her so? Or is this even Isabella? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

I suddenly realized something that y’all might already have figured out: Of course the smartest, most curious kids would want to find out what’s beyond the walls. It’s what kids do! It’d be irrational for Isabella and the other Moms to think otherwise. So, does that mean what Emma, Norman, Ray, and the others are trying to do are just part of the overall plan -- or does the plan make provisions for that?

In a way it seems almost encouraged. Those children didn't simply chose to play hide and seek in those woods instead of ball games or tag. Hide and Seek is the PERFECT game for both training and recon. Is that really a coincidence? Someone taught them and mother allowed it readily.

Because the next shock is what happens after Grandma tells Krone she can't be making trouble for Isabella, Grandma’s “necessary pawn” -- or for Grandma herself. One of the demons shows up -- a hideous creature about two meters tall. As the barred gate slices down and Krone turns to face the monster, the camera cuts back to the orphans, Isabella at the head of the tables, saying “Itadakimasu.” The parallel is appallingly clear. The shots of Isabella smiling at the children, interspersed with Krone fighting for her life and remembering moments from her trials to become a Mom, opened a new window for me on how cruel this world is.

The shot of Krone’s doll, in its original pristine form, felt so sad. So was the joyous hug the little Krone gave it.

Krone as a little girl had been so happy to receive her doll. She reminds me of Emma. And... Isabella. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

You spoke of sound design earlier, I’m going to cut in and mention soundtrack here. This week the music was much more present and somewhat hamfisted (again, The Promised Neverland is hardly a subtle series), but I really liked it. Partly because I simply enjoyed the choice of music, but also because the traditional almost cliched element of adding classical music to a violent scene moored the entire scene in a sense of familiarity that clashed with the themes and purposefully ambiguous plot elements. This dissonance, which is often played with in some way in the Promised Neverland, is something that draws me to the series.

Long story short… I thought it was cool even thought it was also a little corny. But please, go on...

Irina, did I interpret parts of her flashback correctly? As a little girl, Krone really followed Conny’s path until she actually met the demon? Then something happened, and she went in for additional training. Human doctors installed a bomb in her chest before she went for additional Mom training -- which included crafts, intense book learning, and hand to hand combat. Plus, we got to see where she found the pen, which a human doctor seemed to have dropped.

Did I interpret that right? Moms went through combat training?

Ah yeah… the pen.

Sorry, I got distracted. Yeah, I think you got it. Except… well little Krone (who looked a bit like HxH Canary which made me fall in love..) didn’t seemed that surprised to me. She wasn’t comfortable or anything, but she wasn’t as freaked out as any of the kids so far. She could have been an informant, in on the secret as well. 

And she did go through combat training, in a facility where we didn’t see a single “demon” but we did see adult men… Just sayin, maybe becoming a mother isn’t the only way out.

There were other adults outside the farms -- evens some men. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

The entire flashback was spectacular. The use of color poignantly conveyed both mood and Krone’s isolation and dread. The non verbal storytelling (something I happen to be very partial to, Up, Shelter, Blame…) was perfectly paced and managed to convey everything we needed to know while keeping us tantalizingly in the dark. You probably can’t tell but I really enjoyed this sequence. Even the cheap tearjerker insistence on the decaying doll hit the spot for me.

Am I just a sucker? What did you think Crow?

You had me at “Up.” That’s the perfect reference for this scene! I hope you’re not just a sucker, because I had the same reaction.

In those few moments, my opinion of Krone swung all the way from "she's evil to threaten the kids!" to “that poor woman!” Because even as the creature captured Krone and killed her, her last thoughts gave me the final shock of the “shock-shock-shock.” Sister Krone hoped the children would escape -- and not only escape, but “destroy this damned world we live in!” At the very end of her life, she was their most unlikely cheerleader.

Now it’s time for “wait, what?” As Emma and Norman dash for the fence to surveil the land around them, Don and Gilda watch a certain window. Ray’s goal was to distract Isabella by asking for her to help change the chemicals so Norman couldn't poison her. If his plan failed, Ray told Don and Gilda he'd dash to the window as a sign they should abort their plan.

What's Isabella so danged smug about? We find out seconds after this shot. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

As they’re walking, Isabella calmly announces that she eliminated Sister Krone. Ray’s freaked out and dashes to Krone’s room, which he finds empty and dark. This was kinda nerve-wracking all by itself, but then Isabella drops the hammer and says to Ray, “Our deal is over, right here and now.” All of his plans, all of his scheming and all of his efforts, gone just like that. Poof!

Irina, we’ve already established that I get so caught up in the plot that I don’t think critically about what might be coming next. Did you see this coming? Or were you as shocked as I was?

I was floored. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Ray is my favourite. Sorry kids… and I just want him to have his happily ever after. I don’t know if I wasn’t expecting it or if I refused to acknowledge the possibility that something bad could happen to him. I went straight to denial.

My brain was thinking, no, he’s expecting this, it’s all part of the plan, Ray is always 3 steps ahead….

Denial. That’s an insightful description.

Why did Ray cough at 12:20? That seemed too random to be random….

I didn’t even notice - I may have been panicking.

Next is the “Thaaaaat’sssss… terrifying” part. Isabella heads out to intercept Emma and Norman. Emma has just retrieved the bag with a rope in from its hiding place when they hear footsteps. She throws the bag away and sees that Isabella has found them, and her tracking device is in her hand. Momma’s face had its usual serene smile, which in this context was unnerving. She tells them they’ve been living together for 10 years, and now’s the first time they’re going to talk without acting. She even introduces herself to them as if it’s the first time!

That’s not the terrifying part. That’s only a little terrifying compared to what’s to come. She admits she’s their caretaker and they’re being raised for food! But even that’s not the terrifying part! The terrifying part is when she tells them that she honestly loves them. That she wants them to give up their struggle so she can love them and they can be happy and not scared and eat pleasant food and not suffer at all.

Isabella's plea that the kids behave and enjoy themselves until they're eaten didn't sit well with Emma. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

“A warm home filled with love and delicious food,” she says to them. She tries to make the case that them being happy and content up to the moment where they’re quickly (and humanely) put down is best for them -- even if it ends with them as a meal.

That’s terrifying!

At least, that’s what it seemed to me. Irina, what did you think?

The truly terrifying part was the tiny part of me that thought… what if she’s right? What if the world is so terrible and harsh that a short but happy, carefree, and comfortable life really is a kindness? A gift. Adults shelter children from the world and limit their freedoms and knowledge for their own good all the time. Maybe this is the best version of that for The Promised Neverland… I know of farmers who seems to truly love the animals they eat.

There was something there though. Momma slipped in that speech. For a few brief moments, she looked not totally in control. A little broken, a little crazy. Just a little bit like Krone. For a second, she seemed a bit pathetic and that made her (not the situation), a smidge less terrifying to me.

As usual, you bring up some great character insights. And to be honest? The questions you raised? They occurred to me to. As I was all “you shouldn’t destroy their freedom,” a tiny part of me whispered, “But what if?”

Isabella asks them to give up and just enjoy their lives until they die -- she even extends the offer to all five of them! But our heroes are heroes, and heroes can’t just roll over and die. Emma charges Isabella, intending to hold her while Norman retrieves the rope and scales the wall.

Remember when I said “Oh, snap!” was part of this episode?

Remember how, in Krone’s flashback, we saw the Moms going through combat training?

The crack we hear reminded me again of my farming days. I’ve talked before in these reviews how the scenario reminds me of livestock feed lots. That sound reminded me of breaking bones, and for a horrible moment, I thought Isabella had snapped Emma’s neck. Fortunately, it wasn’t her neck. It was only her leg. It looked like it was broken in two places.

In a single instant, their understanding of the world changed. It wasn't in their favor. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Isabella then did something that gave me a whole new understanding of the world defiled. She picked Emma up, held her tenderly, stroked her hair, and said, “There, there. It’s okay!” Just like a mom would have done for her injured daughter.

As if she hadn’t caused the injury.

This is an affront to everything a parent should do. This is a defilement of the very idea of motherhood. And it carried a powerful emotional punch. It was like the moment summarized our heroes struggle against Isabella -- and the chances of their success.

How did you see this scene, Irina?

I was still in denial..

I’m probably the only person in the world that thinks this, but I felt sorry for Isabella. Like mothers with severe post partum that try to kill their children to protect them from the world.

Remember what I said about keeping the mementos? I likened it to serial killer trophies, and that may still be true. The thing is, keeping trophies is a great way for serial killers to get caught. It’s an irrational move usually born from a damaged thought pattern. Although I shouldn’t make such sweeping assumption, I would still go as far as to say, a damaged brain.

This scene to me was about Isabella rather than the kids (I’ll tell you more about that in a second). I decided then that Isabella was to be pitied. That trauma -- physical, emotional, intellectual or more likely all of the above -- had rendered her incomplete, lost, and searching for a way out. She probably believes that she loves those kids and how is that different from actually loving them. It’s very sad and very scary.

"Very sad and very scary" indeed! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

You’re not the only person. In that moment, as much as I was horrified at what she was doing, I remembered when you pointed out in a previous review that Isabella had kept those trophies. And your conjecture about her motives informed how I saw this scene. I tell ya, this show has built such a complex reality that if I can get past the horror, I’m in awe.

As she put a splint on Emma’s leg, Isabella calmly explained that she would control them to the very end -- when her cherished children would become a meal that only the special Ones could eat.

The soundtrack that was playing as Isabella carried Emma back reminded me of a major battle sequence -- all operatic and stuff. It fit perfectly.

Irina, did you notice that Phil looked at Emma and Isabella, then turned away as if uninterested -- while the other children looked on in horror at her injury? Any idea what that meant?

I did notice… I’m on the lookout for Phil now! Of course I don’t know what it meant. I don’t know what any of it means!

Now, most series would have stopped with the plot points waaay before this. Heck, this episode had enough smacks in the face to fill five or six normal episodes (or maybe two episodes of Planet With). But The Promised Neverland had one more despair grenade to throw -- the "Despair" part I mentioned earlier.

What was that grenade? Isabella congratulated Norman. Because the “higher ups” had set his shipment date.

All of their plans weren’t so much as in tatters as they were burned and their ashes scattered at sea. “Back at square one” would be an improvement for them! Emma’s down hard; Norman’s going to be shipped out; Ray’s fired; and Don and Gilda are too terrified for words.

What must it be like to see your world implode with your hopes? Norman's reaction gives us an idea. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Irina, what are your thoughts at this point?

OK, so you may have noticed that I haven’t been talking about the kids much. It’s that denial I was talking about. The second Isabella turned the tables on Ray, my brain kicked into gear to protect my heart and created this simple little fantasy that everything was a part of the kids’ plan. Or at the very least that they had some type of contingency plan in place. Basically I was just going "this isn’t happening" the whole time.

Up until the last second I was waiting for Emma to stab Mom with a concealed shiv or bite her ear off then use the camera to explode the bomb in her heart or something… 

And it didn’t happen.

Not only did it not happen, but the kids were completely outmatched. It was an almost laughably one sided struggle. That’s when reality set in. These are five 11 year old children against a highly trained adult who’s lived her entire life in struggle and strife and is backed by an established and structured organisation. They never stood a chance. Like you mentioned above, of course this has happened before. It probably happens every year or two in every single farm. The children are literally bred for intelligence and physical ability. This exact thing is probably going on in dozens of farms right now…

There’s no reason for Ray, Norman and Emma to be different. They might be smart kids, but at the end of the day they’re still just children. They’re not special. It took me the entire episode to come to grips with that… the entire 8 episodes really. And as I write this, I still don’t want to believe it. To me, that was the real showstopper and it floored me.

"They never stood a chance." And now they know it. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

Isn’t that the sign of a great narrative? To push our heroes so hard that there’s no visible hope of victory? There’s not even a reason to think they should try anything but to enjoy what time they have!

And yet… The box. The pen. Krone’s dying wish for the children. Plus the sheer impossibility -- it all comes together to make me want to see the next episode.

When you suggested we review this series, I was intrigued. After the first few episodes, I was increasingly interested. Now, I’m invested. I really want these kids to “destroy this damned world we live in!” What’s more, I want to see them remake the world into a better place.

And now, we wait for the next episode!

Holding my breath...

15 thoughts on “Review of The Promised Neverland Episode 8: An Unlikely Cheerleader and it All Came Tumbling Down

  1. Right now those kids are in a worse position than a slave in the deep South that was unaware that freedom even exists. If there is any hope at all, there has to be communication from the outside and some kind of resistance for them to flee to. Or maybe an invading army overruns the concentration camp. They would be completely incompetent regarding any technology or social structure they encountered. If a batch of 11 year olds with zero awareness of their surroundings simply runs into a pocket of paradise, I won’t believe it.

    And Emma is a lost cause. She would have to be carried anywhere.

    1. “If a batch of 11 year olds with zero awareness of their surroundings simply runs into a pocket of paradise, I won’t believe it.”

      I’m with you! I’m confident in this show’s writers, though. I can’t see them doing something like that.

      “And Emma is a lost cause. She would have to be carried anywhere.”

      And Norman gets shipped out in what, a couple of days?

      Our heroes are in a very bad way!

  2. This episode was just brilliant at bringing all of the world building so far together and did such a great job of crushing the heroes. I’m hoping they rally again and come back before the end of the season, otherwise this is going to be seriously depressing, but right now they are in a really tragic place and I love the story for doing this even as I really worry for the characters and what will come next.

    1. “but right now they are in a really tragic place and I love the story for doing this”

      I that’s a great way to summarize where we are.

      “even as I really worry for the characters and what will come next.”

      Me, too. I haven’t been this anxious about a character or characters since re:ZERO.

      1. It is always great when a narrative makes you fret so much about a character. You know you are really invested in the story at that point and you actually care about the outcome. It doesn’t necessarily need to be life threatening either. I felt the same kind of anxiety for Rei in March Comes in Like a Lion before he played a shogi match because I’d come to really care for his character.

  3. A lot of what happened I expected. Isabella was pretty much the character I thought I was ever since she took down Conny’s painting in episode 1. Krone was being pushed into a no-hope situation, and I bet you a dime she’s sending a little time bomb from beyond the grave. That’s also something I expected. What caught me off guard is the pacing. They’ve been going fairly steadily, and now they’ve opened the flood gates. Emma’s leg is broken. Well, it’s all over. They’re shipping out Norman. Ray commits suicides. And Isabella breaks Emma, so she ends up the next mom. Time skip.

    Or just maybe not. Phil looking back didn’t seem to me to be uninterested. It felt more “Hm, what happened here? Here’s Mom, and Emma’s hurt. Now where are the others?” (Just earlier he asked about Krone.) At the moment I’m thinking he’s been preparing the real escape plan, while the big kids distract the grown ups. When it comes to Phil I’m paranoid, as no doubt the show wants me to be. (In a twist of fate he’s a liasion for the PETA demons…)

    I’ve always watched the show as a farming metaphor (so far it worked), and – well – I suspect organic farms for the rich, and mass production for everyone else. What if they escape, and as a result future generations don’t get that sort of life? I’ve been thinking about that; not about the kids’ fate, but about what they’re doing to future generations. Responsibility’s tough, Shounen protagonists will always choose life, though, and so far the show hasn’t demonstrated the guts for such ambiguity.

    The best they have so far is Isabella. With that respect, the scene with little Krone meeting the aliens: Most likely it was her time to be shipped out – unless she was willing to work for them. That would be an excellent time to pose the question to someone who was spying for you all along, no? Give them an image to pin to your fear, and make them make a choice, so you can push responsibility on them. At twelve years old, your going to feel very guilty about that decision and then you cope and rationalise. I’ll bet that to Isabella Emma’s a good candidate, especially since the psychological profile Krone cited a few episodes back says she’s naive (they’re underestimating shounen-protagonist conviction). [I sort of wonder if the alien workers have been genetically engineered to look super scary for recruitment purposes. They were speaking Japanese (with those teeth?) in episode one. Back then, I thought that was a weakness in the writing, but what if not? What if they’re all humans?]

    It’s a little messy right now: Ray was playing Krone, and Krone was probably playing Isabella, and Grandma seems to have her own agenda, too, and – dare I say it – Phil, too. I don’t find anything so far too surprising, but unleashing it all at once is a very good way to keep me guessing. Great episode!

    [I said earlier that I have a high intellectual, but low emotional investement in the show. More true than ever. I’m more intrigued than worried.]

    1. “Krone was being pushed into a no-hope situation, and I bet you a dime she’s sending a little time bomb from beyond the grave.”

      I’m really curious about what’s in that box!

      “Emma’s leg is broken. Well, it’s all over. They’re shipping out Norman. Ray commits suicides. And Isabella breaks Emma, so she ends up the next mom. Time skip.”

      That’d be… depressing! But I don’t think it’s completely out of the question.

      “At the moment I’m thinking he’s been preparing the real escape plan, while the big kids distract the grown ups.”

      Do you think the big kids know about Phil’s plans? He seems to be operating independently… And he’s too darn happy! Of course, he’d just a kid, but this show has me jumpy…

      “What if they escape, and as a result future generations don’t get that sort of life? ”

      You think that the general human population — outside of some medical processionals — are unaware of the farms? And that if the kids escape, outage would shut them down? That’s really interesting.

      “and so far the show hasn’t demonstrated the guts for such ambiguity.”

      Honestly, I hope it doesn’t go that route. I’m all for moral ambiguity, but I really want to see the kids succeed — clearly succeed. Of course, I think that with the right world conditions, the show could change my mind.

      “That would be an excellent time to pose the question to someone who was spying for you all along, no?”

      That was my take on the scene.

      “Back then, I thought that was a weakness in the writing, but what if not? What if they’re all humans?]”

      For a moment, I thought, heck, maybe they’re just suits? But we had a shot earlier where a bunch of the “demons” had gathered around a table. I _think_ they’re actually non-human, but again, this show…

      “but unleashing it all at once is a very good way to keep me guessing. Great episode!”

      I’m impressed with how the writers crafted the plot points to explode in the same place — without feeling forced and without telegraphing too much too early. I think we’re seeing some impressive writing here.

      “[I said earlier that I have a high intellectual, but low emotional investement in the show. More true than ever. I’m more intrigued than worried.]”

      The show invokes my “Dad” mode too easily. So I end up worried and intrigued at the same time!

      1. I was joking about Phil. I can’t tell how much he knows. He could know more than our protagonists, less, as much… He could have an agenda, even a plan. He could have associates. I’m reasonably sure he’s on the protagonist’s side, but not even that is certain.

        ***”You think that the general human population — outside of some medical processionals — are unaware of the farms? And that if the kids escape, outage would shut them down? That’s really interesting. “***

        Actually, the opposite. We’ve heard that Mom produces exceptional meat, so maybe her way of doing things isn’t the norm, and maybe – if they escape – it’s deemed too risky. Pilot project cancelled. Factory farms are good enough. No freerange kids anymore.

        What you suggest here is possible, but unlikely, if the stamps point towards a resistance (rather than a single person). And I do think there’s a resistance as of this episode, because Krone not only wants them to escape, but also to smash this system, and that’s unlikely something they can do on their own (unless of course your idea here is right, and simply revealing their existance is enough).

        1. “I was joking about Phil.”

          I figured, but you know what? I’m not so sure! I’m only partially kidding.

          “Factory farms are good enough. No freerange kids anymore.”

          The materialized risks would overrun the costs. Ouch.

          “And I do think there’s a resistance as of this episode, because Krone not only wants them to escape, but also to smash this system, ”

          I am enjoying how much conversation and conjecture this show’s generating!

  4. Now, I need to rewatch Krone’s flashbacks because I could have sworn there was only one man, the one that dropped the pen.

    Best episode yet and simultaneously the worst! All that hope shattered in the blink of an eye.

    It strikes me that it’s a life or death struggle for Isabella too. Maybe she’s accepted her role, but she knows what will happen to her if she lets the children outsmart her.

    Just waiting for Phil to save the day…

    1. You might be right about us seeing only the one male. Maybe I’m guilty of making assumptions, but unless there’s some hidden message here (like, maybe the show will become a strange harem comedy later?), I _think_ seeing one man means there’re more.

      Though, with this show, it’s hard to be certain of anything!

      1. Anything’s possible. I assumed that was why she kept the pen, some sort of strange momento from the time she saw an actual man. I’m sure Phil will explain all in good time…

Please let me know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.