Welcome to the collaboration review of The Promised Neverland episode 10, “130146,” between this site (Crow’s World of Anime, and if you forgot that, I need to do some more work on my branding!) and Irina’s I Drink and Watch Anime.
Before we get into this, some bookkeeping. I’m in the standard font; Irina’s bold, which is appropriate! And if you don’t want spoilers, then please go watch the episode before reading this post. Because as usual, there will be spoilers!
Last week, we left off on a major cliff-hanger! Thanks to Irina for that mental image, by the way! It’s from our last review. The story this week picks up right where it left off. Before we dive in, any opening thoughts, Irina?
Did this episode just do what I think it did? Did Norman…
I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?
Have you ever read Frank Herbert’s Dune? It is an amazing book, and I’m about to compare it and its themes to The Promised Neverland. There is a scene in this episode — can you guess which scene? — that reminded me of this quote from the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam of the Bene Gesserit: “You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There’s an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.” (Herbert, Frank. Dune (p. 13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.) Oh I did this with Gurren Lagann….Great minds….
Norman’s time is up. He’s to be shipped out for processing tonight. Yes, this very night. Before he goes, he’s determined to share his observations, which included his deduction that Grace Fields is part of a complex that’s contained with hexagonal shaped walls. As he’s explaining this, the ever present Phil shows up to tell him Momma is waiting.
Norman figured this out through a combination of sheer bravery and geometry. So if anyone ver asks you what use geometry is in the real world… Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
Norman did run along the wall! Even in his shocked state last episode, he pulled it together for intel. Why do I ever doubt this kid?
I know that considering what comes next this may seem sort of moot but to me it was a true act of defiance. Of fighting against the most impossible odds. It was also an act of trust. He never doubted that his friends would make good use this information. That’s why it was important to get. He didn’t give up hope, it simply took another form.
The cool thing about acts of defiance like that? You never know how far their ripples will spread! It don’t think it’s moot at all!
But in the moment they’re talking to Norman, Emma and Ray are aghast. Is Norman really giving up? Unfortunately, from their perspective, he’s through through the implications. He knows that if he tries to escape or hide, someone else will have to go in his place. So he’s accepted that that he has to die.
Part of me refused to believe it. He had another plan, right? Ray or Emma would come up with something! Norman’s one of our heroes, right?
Then he said, “I did what I can today. I’m leaving the rest to you.”
And if that didn’t convince me, when Emma tried to argue, Norman threw his arms around both of them. He thanked them for a good and happy life. And then even Ray wept.
“Because of you I had a good life. I had fun. I was happy. I was fortunate…” and sob
I think this was the moment that convinced me Norman thought he was finished. Capture from the Crunchyroll steam
Irina, who did you resonate most with in that scene? Ray or Emma?
Ray but I always resonate with Ray. The character is the one that most closely resembles me (and is consistently the least popular of the 3 so…) But I was shattered and not in a frantic desperate plea for life shattered, in an empty hollow shattered. Like a small child.
I’m not good with pain. I don’t like sharing mine and I want to take everyone else’s away. It’s a greedy, naive sentiment. Childish and short sighted. And when I finally crash into the unavoidable, I deflate. I don’t like that about myself. I’m very flexible, very adaptable… but that also means, I give up too easily. I search for another way, and easier way, the road of least resistance, even if that means despair.
Ray was my tiny proxy. Similar enough in his smartass introverted ways for me to see a bit of myself in him, but idealized enough for me to admire him. Watching him fall apart in such a visceral way was incredibly effective on me.
I wanted to save Emma, comfort her, cheer her on and beat some sense into Norman, but if Ray can’t keep it together, what chance do I have?
The show gave us an effective flashback — as if we needed to feel any more sympathy for Norman, Emma, and Ray! Remember when they talked about the string telephone? We got to see the story dramatized. I have to say that seeing our three heroes as even smaller children made things even more painful.
The little bit of humor — Ray assuring Emma that she couldn’t get sick from Norman’s cold because “This book said idiots don’t get sick” seemed to make it worse! Ray already knew the truth of the place at that time…
If you look closely, you can see Ray pointing to the passage that proves his point! That’d be wildly adorable until you consider that Irina’s right — Ray knew the truth of Grace Fields by this time… What’s going on in that little powerful brain of his? Capture from the Crunchyroll steam
I know this isn’t the episode for petty nitpicking but all their hair was exactly the same as small kids. And they all have pretty short hair. Does Mom spend an entire day each week cutting kids’ hair?
It was a sweet interlude. Emotionally manipulative but effective. However, I’m starting to get really paranoid about this show. It would be easy to assume this flashback was just twisting the knife in the wound (which I think it was) but I suspect it may have served another purpose too. More on that in a bit!
Ray’s point was funny, but it wasn’t the important part. The important part is the contest of wills between Norman and Emma. Norman knew what he knew. He would not allow his safety to put his friends in danger, so he intended to let Isabella take him away. That would give his friends more time to perfect their plans. But Emma’s Emma, isn’t she? There was no way she was going to let that happen, at least not quietly. You could just see on her face that she wasn’t ready to give Norman up yet.
Then there’s the part where Norman packs his suitcase. It’s a farce of course. He knows he doesn’t need it, but he still does it. Calmly, with a smile off on his face. Granted, he only puts the string telephone in there (ow ow that knife) but the gesture means something. There’s a ritual to it. A significance to having generations of children pack useless suitcases.
Something about Norman’s determination to go through the motions, to smile and keep up the pretense, chilled me. In a way it kept the fantasy of a last minute deus ex machina rescue burning in my mind. It’s going to be o.k., look how well Norman is taking it! It also made the entire situation crueler somehow.
I’m not going to forget Norman’s smile anytime soon…
So we come to the scene where Norman is saying goodbye to everyone. It’s brutally reminiscent of Conny’s goodbye scene from the first episode. Except this time, instead of a vague sense of unease, we know what’s coming.
We know what awaits Norman beyond the gate.
There was no way that Emma could remain Emma and not try something like this to keep Norman alive. Capture from the Crunchyroll steam
Emma, on crutches, waited until Norman had said his goodbyes. Then she launched herself at him. That little indomitable will adamantly refused to give up. She’s brought Ray’s tracker disabling device up to Norman’s ear, and she was about to fire it. He had to throw her off and cover the device to protect her.
There just wasn’t any way she was going to let him go quietly, was there, Irina?
Oh she couldn’t. Fundamentally it would have made her into someone different. I doubt she ever really had any other option.
[ please do say stuff about Emma and Norman’s conversation — it’s almost too much for me, and I fear it’s beyond my current vocabulary ] I hope you leave this in – I think it illustrates the scene better than I ever could…
Irina and I did something like this in our Zombieland Saga reviews — kinda like drawing the curtain back on the creative process! This show… Well, it exceeds my ability to describe it at times!
Emma and Norman’s last conversation was all in what wasn’t said. I find that really important moments are often like that. Words just bleed from you and you end up having these flimsy little exchanges, but the understanding goes beyond that.
Emma saying “please run” wasn’t Emma saying “please run.” Normally that would have been a request or a friendly ribbing. Coming from Emma, those words hold some authority. This time it really was a desperate plea. It was a small child saying, “Please just make this situation go away, somehow, anyhow….”
And Norman’s frustration quickly melting into his fondness for Emma was also typical. This was his moment. His chance to really lay it all out for her. He got this far, it’s not like he has anything to lose. Yet, he willingly pulled away at the last second. Leaving the most important part in his heart. Taking it away with him, along with that string telephone and the image of Ray sulking in the infirmary. His most valued possessions. The only things he couldn’t quite leave behind.
Just read what Irina said in the previous paragraph. I still don’t have the words… Capture from the Crunchyroll steam
As Norman starts to walk away, Isabella pretends to comfort Emma, treating Emma as if she’s just sad her friend has been adopted so the other kids think this is normal. Lest we forget who she is and what the stakes are, though, she tells Emma in a low voice, “If you cause another commotion, I’ll kill you.”
The motherly smile was a punch in the gut. Emma had to let Isabella and Norman leave.
I was under the impression that Norman was done. I was under the impression that he had accepted his fate and had handed the fight to Emma and Ray. But Norman had one more gift for his friends. As he walked beside Isabella on the way to the gate, just after she praised him for doing the right thing, he asked, “Hey… are you happy, Mom?”
Her expression was like he tore the mask off the world.
For the briefest of instants, we saw all of Isabella’s conceits revealed. Her own will that had forcibly kept the doubts at bay since she witnessed the cliffs herself, for an instant faltered. She remembered her fear. The lie of her life staggered her.
What did you think of that moment, Irina?
There’s two ways of seeing it. She really did seem to waver for a second, but it was just a second. And she bounced back really quickly.
I think Mom is scared. I’m sure there’s more trauma buried in her than I can even begin to conceive of. And yet, I’m not entirely sure she was lying. In my head, Mom really does believe she is doing her part out of love and kindness. She is creating a safe, comfortable childhood filled with joy for children she cares about. This is probably something she considers honourable and fulfilling.
It may not always be easy but it is good. You may need to be harsh or even brutal, but that’s because you need to keep the place safe and comfortable for all the other children. You are responsible for giving them a wonderful life. It’s an important and beautiful task.
I think Mom may be happy. I think Mom may love the children. That is what makes Mom so deeply terrifying in a way the human eating demons will never be.
For an instant — and just for an instant — her mask slipped. What’s that mean? Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
I suspect we might be describing the layers of human rationalization — and it’s great that the depth of this show’s characterization supports this kind of discussion!
She tried to recover by saying she was happy because she could meet someone like Norman. But we saw her expression. She can’t take that back.
I stand by my statement. Guilt and sadness come and go. This may not be her favourite part of the job, but that doesn’t mean she hates the job. She isn’t happy Norman is going through this particular moment bu she does love him and is happy she gave him a good life and proud to do so for others.
They reached the gate, and Norman confronted the charnel wagon. The brave little soul walked up to it, ready to meet his fate, but Isabella surprised him. She asked him to come into another room first. The double doors opened, and he began to walk through.
He saw something that… Well, I’m not sure how to read his expression. Surprise? Shock? Dismay? He was prepared to die, so what could possibly evoke those emotions?
Irina, what do you think?
I think they didn’t show us something super important again and there’s only two episodes left! That’s what I think!!!!
In Conny’s scene, the demons did come out of that room so it may actually be the usual way this things go. For absolutely no reason, I’m going to say that room is filled with potted flowers. Lovely unless you happen to recognize those flowers.
The scene ended without us seeing anything. We only heard the doors slam shut.
I should read ahead when I write these but I think it’s ok. Our posts get a little jumbled and go back and forth. They aren’t always easy to follow. We step on each other’s thoughts from time to time.
What do you expect with a show that constantly throws you off balance and toys with your feeling in the most brutish way? Of course we get a little dishevelled.
We are nearing the moment that the Bene Gesserit foretold, but there’s one important scene we need to get through first. We’re treated to multiple scenes of Emma and Ray in various stages of despair. Emma only weakly interacts with the other children. She’s often seen with a blank or despondent expression.
Saying that Emma and Ray missed Norman is likely a terribly inadequate understatement. Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
“I’m really tired,” he said, staring at the floor. For all the world, he looks completely broken.
This is going to sound really odd, but seeing Ray’s hair fall as he hung his head was a powerful visual cue for me. It changed his silhouette and profile considerably. Ray’s hair is gravity defying normally and almost like a helmet. Seeing delicate individual strands lay over his eyes all limp and lifeless… Well, as we’ve said before, The Promised Neverland is not a subtle show, but it still gets to me.
At one point, Emma collapses on the bed and sobs. Isabella tries to comfort her, again telling her to give up so she doesn’t suffer any longer. She goes on, saying that it’s the best thing Emma can do, and after a moment, something occurred to me.
Irina, did it seem like Momma was trying as hard to convince herself as she was trying to convince Emma?
You are really trying to make me doubt my Mom headcanon here. You want to humanize her because you’re a good kind person who believes in the potential redemption of those around you.
I think she was trying to convince Emma because she believes being a Mom is the best possible option.
Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe… Human rationalization is almost as scary as Isabella herself!
When Isabella asked Emma if she’d like to be a Sister or a Mother, I thought it was the worst thing possible. That is, until Isabella brushed aside Emma’s nearly spoken outburst by talking over top of her, saying, “Who would become such a thing? Is that what you thought? But then, what can you do? You can’t do anything. You can’t save anyone. You can only curse death. A cycle of suffering. Live and strive to become a Mom..”
I think this gives even more weight to the idea that Isabella is villain of the season. Maybe of the year. What’d you think of her performance, Irina?
Like I said, I really do think she was earnestly trying to convince Emma. Her very harsh choice of arguments was not because she sees it as an option of desperation, in my opinion, but because 1) these are the arguments most likely to convince Emma at this particular point and in her current state; and 2) if they don’t convince Emma to become a Mother, they will at least discourage her from trying to escape which would be the worst for Emma.
I might be reading too much into this character.
In most shows, this would be a touching little moment. But this is The Promised Neverland. Look at Emma’s eyes… Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
One thing that really struck me about the conversation though, was Mom’s brief explanation of the logistics of becoming a Mother. First you get a recommendation (we already knew that part from Krone), then you have a child, and if *they* like you, you get promoted to Mother.
The child part did not seem optional at all. Isabella isn’t that old. Where’s her child? What happens to those children? She didn’t say you have multiple children (as in you become a breeding female), she clearly said a child. Why? Why would they add that detail and why would the demons want the Mothers to also be biological mothers? What about the fathers? It may be irrelevant but it bothered me.
There is so much about this world that we don’t know! That the children don’t know, either!
And now we come to the foretold moment. The moment where Emma and Ray show why they are the heroes, and why we’re just the viewers. It’s just before Ray’s birthday — the day when he, too, gets placed on the menu.
To all appearances, both of them had descended into even deeper depths. Despair seems to have utterly consumed them. Ray’s humming to himself in the library when Emma enters. She’s only on one crutch now, so she’s getting around a little better. Ray’s eyes are sunken; Emma looks like she’s lost weight. He tells her he’s saying goodbye to the house because it’s his last night. As she approaches, he seems to pause.
“You haven’t actually given up, have you?” he asks, his face transformed into a more determined expression than even he’s had up until now.
There’s a reason tyranny almost almost comes to a bloody end. There’s a reason slavery can never endure and there’s a reason that even the most insidious traps to limit human freedom will eventually fall.
It’s because of the human will.
It’s because of the furious hope that Emma and Ray had both kept alive.
It’s because of the almost feral smile Emma gave Ray in response to her question.
In that moment, I almost felt pity for the demons.
Both Emma and Ray had feigned death (despair). They had endured the pain. Now, they were planning to eliminate the threat to their kind.
Irina, what did you think of that scene?
This is one of those moments that took my breath away. Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
It was sort of implied that they’d never given up in the first place. They were sad, devastated even but they didn’t despair. Just like Norman, frantic and dismayed on top of that wall hadn’t despaired.
So I can’t despair either, now can I?
I have no idea how Emma and Ray will do any better than Norman. To be honest, I’m not sure Norman’s dead. He saw something that seems to have dismayed him, but what, I don’t know. But I ask myself these questions:
Isabella’s not happy with the compromises she made within herself. Where’s that leading? The demons weren’t there waiting for Norman. What’s that mean? Isabella seems to think that Emma and Ray have given up. How will that affect her decisions?
We’ve established that this is one of the rare times Crow and I disagree. I believe Isabella is right on track and for her, nothing has changed. Nothing at all!
Maybe, but I come back to this: Seeing Emma’s expression, I believe they have a chance. In spite of all the information in front of me and in spite of all of their defeats of the other children before them — and there are many! — I still think they can pull it off.
And I believe 2 more things:
1 – Norman found Krone’s pen and box. For a minute there, I thought that’s what he was putting in his suitcase. I think those have a bit of significance but we haven’t seen them again. Did he leave them behind for Emma and Ray to find? He had a plan that was more than just head out the front gate. You could see it when he was discussing the layout but he didn’t spell it out.
I think one way or another, Norman still has a few things up his sleeves – although he may no longer have sleeves.
Ouch! Wait, that’s no better…
2 – The show has gone out of its way to establish that Isabella collects momentos from the departed children. It’s been *insisted* upon. Also (remember when I said we’d get back to this) that flashback scene was a bright spot in a very grim episode. It stands out. And the emotional high point was that string telephone. The show want us to notice and remember it. It wanted us to really pay attention to it when Norman put it in his suitcase….
They had me fooled. I thought both Ray and Emma had given up. Glad to be wrong! Capture from the Crunchyroll steam.
There’s this concept in screenwriting called the Rule of Three (it’s somewhat similar to Chekhov’s gun). It goes this way: Set Up – Call back – Payoff
You establish an idea, you call back to it so your audience remembers, then you resolve it.
That flashback was the set up for the string telephone, the suitcase scene was the call back. I spent the last 3rd of the episode looking for that string telephone. Lingering in the corner of Mother’s room before being stowed away. Maybe sitting on a shelf in the secret room barely visible behind some old toy. But it was never there.
I’m not saying the Promised Neverland is an perfect production, but the editing has been on point. You don’t just cut the Payoff in the Rule of Three. That’s really basic filmmaking. Where’s the string telephone? I’ll let you make up your own mind.
More evidence that Norman might be alive! That’s the most hopeful thing either of us have said in this review, so I think we’ll end it there.
And now the waiting for the next episode continues…
Reviews of the Other Episodes
- The Promised Neverland Episode 1 – 45,000,000$
- The Promised Neverland Episode 2: 131045
- The Promised Neverland Episode 3: 181045
- The Promised Neverland Episode 4: 291045
- The Promised Neverland Episode 5: 301045
- The Promised Neverland Episode 6: 311045
- The Promised Neverland Episode 7: 011145
- The Promised Neverland Episode 8: 021145
- The Promised Neverland Episode 9: 031145
- The Promised Neverland Episode 10: 130146
- The Promised Neverland Episode 11: 140146
- The Promised Neverland Episode 12: 150146