The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Demon Ex Machina?

Quick Summary of The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4

In The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4, creatively titled “Episode 4,” Emma, Ray, Don, Gilda, and the other kids try to make sense of the cryptic message from William Minerva. Except, he’s not William Minerva, and he admits that the demons found him out. He also gives them another option, should they not want to stay in the shelter forever. What will they do? They needed help from Mujika and Sonju, and they are nowhere to be found. What’s next for our pint-sized heroes?

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: My Turn to Host!

Welcome to our collaboration review of The Promised Neverland Season 2, Episode 4. Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I have teamed up to give you twice the amazing insights. So that means Irina has to work extra hard! 

Yes, I feel a little guilty. 

Review of The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4

Opening Thoughts

Before we get this little show on the road, do you have any opening thoughts on the episode, Iriina? 

I like the mundane moments of fantastic stories a lot. Basically, I’m the one freak who was really into the very beginning of Harry Potter, before he discovers he’s a wizard. Oh sorry, Spoilers for Harry Potter… I guess while we’re one that I should probably mention that there will be spoilers for The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4. 

My point being that I really enjoyed the kids just sort of hanging out. In fact, I wouldn’t have minded if they stretched it out for an episode or two. Having them do laundry and bicker over whose turn it is to wash the dishes. Stuff like that. I’m all in for those quiet boring moments, especially when the entire show is ostensibly a tense nonstop fight for survival. 

I also like the shelter itself. I mean structurally. It’s a good layout. A bit spartan and stark, but I like fundamentals in architecture. A no nonsense layout like that is really the way to go for survival shelters in my opinion.  

The Episode Covered a Lot of Territory

This episode covered a lot of ground — literally! First, we got a recorded update from William Minerva that didn’t go where Emma thought it would. Me, either, for that matter. Next, we saw the kids as they tried to become self-sufficient in their new underground shelter. They did well and should be very proud of themselves! We got to see a bit of the aftermath of the kids’ escape, at least in terms of one of my favorite characters from the first season. And then, things… Well, you’ve heard the phrase “Hell in a handbasket,” right? 

They skipped the basket.

Irina, did I catch the high points?

I think I may have heard the expression but I’m not actually sure what it means. Let me look it up:

“Going to hell in a handbasket”, “going to hell in a handcart”, “going to hell in a handbag”, “go to hell in a bucket”,[1] “sending something to hell in a handbasket” and “something being like hell in a handbasket” are variations on an American allegorical locution of unclear origin, which describes a situation headed for disaster inescapably or precipitately. Via Wikipedia

Huh, that’s not what I thought it meant. I thought it was a situation that looked good or safe but turned out bad. I realize now that in my head, handbasket is a cute little woven basket with flowers in it, like in fairy tales but it’s maybe something like those metal baskets in grocery stores.

Irina’s Choice for High Point in The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4

As for your question, in my opinion the high points were seeing the kids all sleep together in that big room like it was summer camp. Seeing the little ones play in the underground passageway. It was just for a second but that scene visibly showed us how they are relaxing and letting themselves be children again which I thought was both super touching, effective and a great set up for later events. That is an awesome scene. 

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Emma and the kids finally got a moment of peace.

This episode featured some beautiful, quiet moments. Capture from the Funimation stream.

I’m not sure where you wanted to put the cut off, I assume in the first arc of the episode. I guess the other high moment in the first third for me was the classroom scene where they were discussing that Dominic had a good sense for hunting. Dominic is a bit disconcerting as a character, but I still think he’s a cutie. And I really liked the fact that they are already figuring out what each of them has as assets. I’m not sure how they are going about that but it’s impressive nonetheless. Again, it’s a mundane point that I really appreciate.

You should write an essay on Dominic’s character. That’d be cool. That’s not too subtle a hint, it is?

Finally, I liked the tasting scene.. Or at least what we can get from it. Although I understand the emotional motivation for Ray to volunteer as a tester and not let the two younger kids take the risk alone, I also think it’s really impractical to risk 3 kids one of whom is one of the pillars of the group. What would they have done if Ray had gotten poisoned?

That worried me, too!

And Most Cool of All…

But that’s not what I thought was cool. I thought it was really interesting that Emma did not try to stop Ray and didn’t have any impulse to volunteer. Because that says a lot about both of those characters in such an organic way. Emma knows she’s essential to the group. She knows her death or even just temporary incapacitation, would mean dire consequences for all and it is therefore her responsibility to stay as healthy as possible. Ray knows that his input is less physical.

Beyond that, however, Emma has never been a death seeker. She fights for her own survival more fiercely than anyone out there. On the other hand, Ray is. He actively tried to kill himself (to save the others mind you). And his willingness to take on personal risk even when no one is asking him to and when it’s somewhat ill advised, shows that he’s not completely over his guilt. 

Ray, Lannion, and Thomas prepared to test the fish for toxins

Emma didn’t try to stop Ray from volunteering to test the slime fish for toxins. Ray certainly likes danger! Capture from the Funimation stream.

I thought that was a good bit of character building without exposition and that drove the story forward.

Lannion agreed with you! He talked about Ray’s death wish back in episode 2

Emma Answers the Phone

When Emma answered the phone, she heard a recording of William Minerva. Except, he said that wasn’t his real name. His real name was James Ratri. No, I have no idea why that’s significant, or even if it is. But this show doesn’t do much without a reason.

He confirmed that he’d been the one to plant the clues in the books. He also built the shelter. But he shared something ominous: The demons found him out and pursued him. Is he still alive? Hard to say, but I’ll say this: he’s not in the shelter, which is telling. Also, we didn’t get an explanation for the “HELP!” written on the walls. 

He also said that they could stay in the shelter forever — or, they could type FUTURE into the pen’s interface and see the location for the exit to the World of Humans. I thought it was telling that he gave them the option to stay in the shelter first. I don’t think he was confident in the World of Humans option.

There are a lot of questions generated by this scene alone. Capture from the Funimation stream.

What’d you take away from that scene, Irina?

Smart set up. Once again, a perfect mix of hope and despair. Their savior is gone. He was just a normal person after all. But it wasn’t all a trap and there is an actual plan B. This is probably the first time any of these kids have had anything resembling an option.

The Kids, Still Holding It Together

I gotta say, I’m impressed they aren’t getting completely overwhelmed with all these decisions they have to take. Decision making is in fact rather exhausting and often difficult. I see it in adults every day so for kids that have had no experience with it, kudos.

They are pretty amazingly positive though. So that must help.

It’s a sign that these kids really are something special.

Satisfied that they were they needed to be, the kids set about making the Shelter their own. They settled into a comfortable routine, which included Nat playing piano while they all fell asleep. The kids took turns monitoring the screens to watch for intruders. They even shared hunting duty, which led them to hunt in the forest. 

The came across some strange slimy land fish they called Goowee. No one knew what they were, but they were all tired of only eating nuts, berries, and birds, so they drew lots to see who would taste test the Goowee. I mean, they had no idea what they were — they could have been poison! Nat drew the short straw, but he threatened to not play the piano, so Lannion and Thoma, who had proudly helped capture the land fish, volunteered. Ray ate it with them. Turned out, after 30 minutes, the biggest problem wasn’t a negative reaction. It was that Lannion and Thoma got so hungry for more that they started shoving land fish into their faces with wild abandon.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: The fish had no toxins

Well, it looks like the fish wasn’t toxic. Good thing, too! Capture from the Funimation stream.

The Rich and Diverse Environment

I enjoyed how the show wasn’t afraid of showing that surviving on their own meant gathering their own food. These kids showed some great teamwork and initiative.  What’d you think of their hunting trip, Irina?

As you know, I’m not a big fan of hunting scenes even if I respect that they have a place in the story.

What was way more interesting is the fauna and flora of the place. According to Sonju, this is Earth and the “Demons” just sort of appeared at some point. I figure they either came from somewhere else, as in they are aliens or pan-dimensional creatures, or actual demons from some type of hell. Or they were made, i.e. they are human mutations that became demons out of either purposeful manipulation or just freak jump mutation.

Neither of these explanations accounts for the state of plants and animals in the world. Same question applies if they are man made mutants. If they are natural evolution, do humans on the human side regularly turn to demons, cause Sonju said there was no crossover, ever. And if everything mutated with the passage of time, why did trees and birds stay relatively unchanged? I guess we can argue trees have much slower life cycles, but you figure there would still be a couple of weird species around, while birds mutate like there’s no tomorrow… 

Maybe Too Rich and Diverse?

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: The world is diverse -- maybe too diverse for Earth?

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore… Heck, it doesn’t even look like Sol III… Capture from the Funimation stream.

Ok, so the way I see it is that there are 3 explanations:

1- Drawing weird animals is fun and visually interesting for the audience but the artists didn’t come up with anything cool for the trees and birds. Not that deep bro…

2- Same as above but the trees and birds are mutated. Put your glasses on Irina!

3- There is an actual explanation for all this and it will be revealed next season…

I’m betting on number 3. Though, this is The Promised Neverland. They might come up with an option 4. 

Now things started to get even more interesting. Grandmother, who I think we got meet briefly in season 1, went into a prison. Two demons went with her. There, she visited an inmate and lamented the prisoner’s fall from grace. At first, I wasn’t sure, but as the episode went on, I realized it was her.

The prisoner was Isabella!

A Dangerous Narrative Decision about Isabella

Apparently, the escaping kids displeased the demon overlords. Grandma said she’d rapture them, and apparently she had a plan. After Grandma left, though, things got interesting. He said that if the “current operation” (which we’ll talk about in a minute) failed, he would give her a chance to recapture the kids. He asked if she thought they’d get away from Grandma.

She answered that of course they would. Why? Because “they are my children, after all.”

Isabella remains proud of her children.

Isabella expected these to be her last moments, and her last thoughts were around her pride for her children. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Even imprisoned, even at the apparent end of the line, Isabella stil burned with pride for her kids. Damn, that was cool.

Her reward? Freedom. And not just “hey, I can walk about town if I want” kind of freedom. He’d let her leave the farms, he’d remove the device from her chest, and, if that weren’t enough? He whispered something to her that we couldn’t hear, but Isabella was clearly interested. Gaspingly interesting, in fact, if that’s a word.

Irina, what’d you think of seeing Isabella again?

Loved it. Isabella is one of the all time best villains, in my opinion, and seeing her again is bound to bring a lot of interesting elements to the story. However, it also runs the risk of trivializing her character if they don’t know what to do with her. She is fantastic, but when considering the set up of the current arc, she’s also a bit superfluous to it.

If she’s smart, she’ll find Norman. That would shake things up and create some phenomenal conflict!

Hell Without a Handbasket in The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4

Remember the “hell in a handbasket” reference above? Most of the kids were almost asleep. Don and Rossi watched the monitors. They hadn’t seen anything when a massive explosion blew the main hatch open, and commandos slid down ropes and brought their machine guns to the ready.

Yes. Human military with assault rifles invaded the shelter! The implications here are staggering, but they could wait, because now, the kids were in mortal danger. Fortunately for said kids, they didn’t panic easily. Emma, Ray, Don, and Gilda got them all into that secret entrance that I was sure was a demon access point, and they prepared to flee. There was just one small problem. Gilda discovered they were two kids short! Don and Rossi were still in the observation room.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Humans soldiers with machine guns?

Is this The Promised Neverland, or did Half Life 3 finally get released? Capture from the Funimation stream.

There was one soldier prowling through the interior. Two were up top; they didn’t know if there were any more. I thought it was very brave when Rossi distracted the solider who burst into the observation room as Don broke a chair over his head. The solider had a helmet, so he just staggered, but it was enough. Don and Rossi made a run for it. Ray gave them cover with a bow and arrow as they dove into the exit.

As they neared the surface, another soldier stopped them. When Emma asked how he’d found them, he said these shelters always had two exits.

Shelters? How many of these things are there?

More Than One Shelter?

Irina, what’s you make of that?

I’m sorry I don’t know how many there are. But in all the years the farms have been in place, I figure humans have escaped a lot. And you know how we are, if one shelter worked, they probably reproduced it every chance they got. 

The builder part of me is dying to know more about the logistics of building shelters in that environment!

Good thing the kids practiced with their bows and arrows, because they were able to distract the soldier with arrows while Emma and Ray pushed him over the ledge. It wasn’t a sheer cliff, but it got the soldier out of the way. The kids emerged on the surface, and Emma and Ray urged them to run for the trees. They took a moment to look back where the entrance had been. It hadn’t been their home for long, but it had been important to them. They lingered for just a moment.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Ray and Emma would miss the shelter

It hadn’t been their home long, but they would miss it. Capture from the Funimation stream.

In the back of my mind, I thought that, “Crap, that tree line would make a perfect ambush!” And it turns out that two other entities thought the same thing. The first was another group of soldiers. They’d already captured the rest of the kids. Now, they demanded that Emma and Ray surrender. The situation was grim: Emma and Ray each had bows, but there were four or five adult soldiers with rifles that reminded me of Japanese Type-89 Assault Rifles

Demon Ex Machina

The second entity? The big-ass, monstrous, six-armed demon about the size of a military troop carrying aircraft. It slaughtered the soldiers who tried to fire their weapons at it. Surprisingly, assault rifles fired wildly at a massive demon like that are ineffective! It nomed the five soldiers in seconds. 

But let Ray shoot one arrow, and he hits and eye. Let that be a lesson to soldiers everywhere: Aim carefully!

The kids did the sensible thing: They ran for their lives into the forest. There was no way they’d escape that thing in open ground. So, they ended this episode as they’d started the first episode of this season: at a dead run, trying to stay ahead of the demons.

What’s you think of the Demon Ex Machina, Irina?

You found it that contrived, huh. I suppose it was, but it’s not completely out of nowhere. They established these creatures in the very first episode and had it as a recurring theme in episode 2 as well. So that’s like 2 out of 3 episodes reminding us of the huge wild monsters in the forest. I figured there was a reason for that.

Questionable Tactics?

Is it weird that they send humans with machine guns to capture the children? It’s real easy to accidentally shoot the kids that way and I think they want them alive (fresh…) for that flower ritual to work. And I perfectly understand why they would send Isabella after the kids as she is familiar with them and has an insight to their thinking, but I figure she’s going to be flanked by demons. However, what advantage would these unrelated humans have? Especially as it seems the local environment is a huge threat to them. 

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Machine guns were not effective against this demon

I don’t know who these humans are, but their anti-demon weapons and tactics were somewhat less than effective. Capture from the Funimation stream.

I have not done the measurements on it (yet…), but do you think it’s because the shelter was too small to accommodate an average demon comfortably. They might have been built that way on purpose. It’s the only reason I could think of, but I would still have sent a couple of demon handlers to wait above ground.

I guess I’m acting like this is an all out war or something, when really, they’re just a bunch of farmers going after prize cattle. It’s not like they have military training necessarily.

I grew up on a farm, and while we had hunting rifles, we didn’t use assault rifles! Though, this is 2021, and times change…

More Questions than Answers

This episode answered a lot of questions… Okay, no it didn’t. It raised more. Where is James Ratri now? How many shelters are there? Where did the human military come from? Where will the kids go next? What does Grandma underestimate the kids?

One thing’s for sure: I’m glad as heck that Isabella is back in play. 

This season just keeps getting better and better!

I loved the episode, but I’m seeing some potential for the season getting bogged down a bit. I don’t know if you read Game of Thrones, but at one point, book 3 if I remember, Martin fires his editor and you can tell. He sort of writes a bunch of characters into a corner, and it takes him a long time to figure out how to get them out of there again. I’m just a tiny bit afraid something like that could happen.

It’s happened to better stories. That just makes waiting for the next episode even more interesting! 

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8 thoughts on “The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4: Demon Ex Machina?

  1. Okay, so our kids are now chased by human shocktroopers? First, how do demons allow this unit to exist? What’s the organisation here? And second, who then was the demon guy who chased them in the first episode, and who we last saw facing off against Sonju?

    My problem with the show is that the first season didn’t leave me fully trusting the world building, so I can’t just content-speculate; I always find myself meta-speculating, too. Take for example the return of Isabella.

    She’s been raised on the farm, and then trained to take care of one. Why in the world would it be a good idea to send her out after them? If you’re a demon, do you really want to give really smart humans who have no emotional connection to you information that they could use to undermine your position (especially given the war background)? So you could conent-speculate: Maybe there’s checks and balances in place? Maybe demon society runs on mindgames? But you can also meta-specualte: maybe the writer just liked Isabella too much to leave her sidelined and just hasn’t spotted the implications?

    Season one worked on suspense, and the suspense worked because of the limited environment. But if you open up the setting and include various factions the gameplan changes. You don’t have two party mindgames between highly skilled players, you have a free-for-all chaos that nobody can control. And being good at the former often has different requirements than being good at the latter.

    Basically, I’m getting the feeling that the writing is in over its head, here (only the anime, since I know nothing about the manga). But I have no real arguments; it’s just some sort of intuition. Especially since so far I have no concrete quibbles with anything in the writing.

    1. “Okay, so our kids are now chased by human shocktroopers? First, how do demons allow this unit to exist? What’s the organisation here? ”

      Those kinds of questions bothered me, too. That’s why I jokingly referred to Half Life 3: These troopers reminded me a lot of the Combine soldiers from and around City 17 in Half Life 2.

      The best I can figure is that work for Grandma, but that leaves every one of your questions still open.

      Why would demons allow armed humans around? Unless human weapons can’t easily kill demons? Then why would the humans risk even going _near_ a demon-infested forest?

      “Why in the world would it be a good idea to send her out after them?”

      I can’t speak for Irina, but I _think_ that’s part of her objection to Isabella. I still want to hope that the writers have a handle on things, and really, only time will tell.

      But things like that worry me.

      “Especially since so far I have no concrete quibbles with anything in the writing.”

      I like that distinction — nothing clear, just some cautions and warning indicators!

  2. “Apparently, the escaping kids displeased the demon overlords.” What?! You’re kidding! 🤣

    1. I know, right? Who knew?

      I remember growing up on a farm. We were none too pleased when the Angus beef cattle escaped their feed lot! Of course, they didn’t have a master plan (that I knew of, anyway), nor did they have inside help.

      Though my uncle looked a little uneasy on that day…

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