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The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9 – As the Plot Commands

Quick Summary of The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9

In The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9, “Episode 9,” Norman’s biological weapons prove extremely effective on the local demon population. Only Vylk appears immune. His daughter, too, after she drank some of his blood. Norman was poised to murder both. As he debated with himself, Emma and Ray arrived and tried to talk him down. Will he listen to his two old friends, now that his four new friends egged him on to exterminate demon-kind? Can Emma and Ray convince him not to plunge his sword into the blind demon and little demon girl in front of him? Or do the burning buildings and dying demons all around mean it’s too late?

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: My Turn to Host!

Welcome to our collaboration review of The Promised Neverland Season 2, Episode 9.  Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I have teamed up to give you insights and reactions to this episode. 

Review of The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9

Introduction

I see that you participated in Scott’s (from Mechanical Anime Reviews) Mecha March with your post, “Mecha March – What’s in a Design?” That looked like fun! How are things going overall? Having a good week?

Welcome indeed. It’s a pleasure to be here, Crow. I’m not sure if those questions in the first paragraph were for me because I know the answers. I bet most of our readers do as well. This is probably a very good time to warn you, that there will be spoilers. 

Yes I did write a post with Scott for Mecha March. It was super fun, at least for me. I enjoy looking at designs and considering how much Scott knows about engineering it’s always fascinating to get his insight.

For those of you who may not know, Scott is one of our fellow bloggers. He’s lovely and has a real passion for classic and contemporary Mecha anime. You should go and give his blog a read if you haven’t!

Was It As Bad As I Thought?

Irina, I don’t know if your experience was similar to mine, but this episode was hard to watch. In terms of character and plot, this episode felt like the farthest away from the pinnacles the first season achieved. The plot felt like it needed to go in a specific direction, and it was going to go in that direction — regardless of whether it made sense.

Nope, not really. I mean it’s still way too heavy handed and the stakes were undone completely which feels like a cop out, but that’s in the source material so I get they couldn’t diverge without majorly changing the story. However the plot actually felt like it was getting back on track to me. It’s super clumsy, but to me it didn’t feel catered or anything like that. And I even got a “be careful what you wish for” moment at the end. 

I can forgive a rushed plot. It’s impossible to tell what creative pressures a team’s under when they’re trying to adapt a manga into an anime series. I thought Angel Beats’ plot made some “interesting” choices, and I only recently found out they’d planned on 24 episodes and the order to cut it to 12 came as a shock. Still, I loved the series because the characters carried it.

Opening Thoughts on The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9

So I want to point out some cases where the characters failed to make sense. Irina, maybe you can point out how I’ve looked at some of these examples wrong. Because in this case, I’d really like to be wrong.

Before I dive in, any opening thoughts?

I played Angel Beats a while ago but I have to admit, I am not as big a fan of it as a lot of people seem to be. This said, the game is quite long so if you want to see more of the story, you should seek it out. It’s a pretty well made harem and there are some follow ups I believe.

Norman’s Motivation

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: Norman had an abrupt change of heart.

Norman’s decisions split the vote! Capture from the Funimation stream.

Let’s start with Norman. In the previous episode’s flashback to the Lambda complex, we saw Norman put down the captured demons in his quest to obtain intelligence. We didn’t actually see him do it, but I thought the narrative implied it.

Then at the end of the previous episode and the beginning of this one, Norman couldn’t kill Vylk and his granddaughter, despite being surrounded by mutating demons and roaring flames. Yet, his plan had set both conditions into motion. Why hesitate now? Sure, he’s a Good Guy. But after all he saw, after the tremendous drive we saw him show when he sent Ray and Emma off on the wild goose chase, hesitancy now felt contrived to me.

Irina, how am I doing so far?

That one wasn’t weird to me. 

I can see why a child would hesitate murdering an old man and small child that are not threatening him in any way and cowering in fear, even if that same child had been capable of killing a strong demon that was going to kill him. They are quite different situations. Also, if I’m not wrong, they weren’t surrounded by other demons at the time. There were some sounds off in the distance, but Norman was alone and in no apparent danger. And then when Ray and Emma showed up they were convincing him to stop and I think it makes sense that this would further make him hesitate.  

Barbara’s Motivation

The one that caused me to sit back in disgust was Barbara. Remember back in episode 7 when she was gnawing on a piece of demon like it was a chicken leg? I got the impression that she didn’t buy that drumstick at the store. She earned it the old fashioned way. She had dedicated herself to killing every demon in sight, and the demons out of sight, too.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: Barbara had an abrupt change of heart.

How quickly can one undo years of conditioning? Or had their conditioning been that superficial? Capture from the Funimation stream.

Yet, outside of the walls, after she had looked approvingly on their work in the burning village (at the end of the previous episode), she came across a demon with a degenerating child. Who knows why the degeneration had stopped. The demons in the village, after all, started degenerating and didn’t stop. But let’s say babies are less susceptible to the drug. Why did Barbara hesitate? She’d killed and butchered demons before. Why hesitate now?

Then why get all weepy when Norman said, “LOL JK. No more killing?” Sure, she tried to pass it off by saying “You’re more important than revenge, Boss.” But that’s not how I’ve seen revenge work. It warps a person. You don’t just hear a tearful argument and say, “Why, you know what? You make perfect sense! I had my life on the wrong track. I think I’ll be nice to all living things now!”

It bothered me so much it turned me sarcastic.

How far off base am I in this case, Irina?

It’s a Matter of Perspective

I’m a little scared. 

I guess Barabara did change her mind way too quickly. Sure. But I can easily accept not wanting to become a child murderer as reasonable motivation to have a change of heart. 

We have been watching reZero together this season and Emilia’s entire personality changed after one kiss. To me this was equivalent. I don’t think it’s good writing but I’m not confused by it. 

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: Okay, Barbara's change of heart was _very_ abrupt

Barbara turned her attitude around quickly. Capture from the Funimation stream.

As for people under a lot of pressure being grateful not to have to continue with courses of action that caused them great distress. Like soldiers being told the war is over so they no longer have to go out and kill all the other guys. Some of them might have trouble adjusting but most of them are generally grateful to have a reason to stop killing, even if they might not be happy about it. This would be even more prevalent in people that haven’t willingly gone into war and been trained for it. Right? Am I deluded about human nature? 

Let’s just say it doesn’t match my experience. 

I’m worried about how much time you spend with people who enjoy murdering children. Maybe it’s a Canada thing.

Might well be. I mean, when it comes to civilized behavior, Canada has it all over the USA. America isn’t distinguishing herself lately!

Vincent’s Motivations

The last one is probably the most difficult to accept. Vylk gave Emma (the human Emma, not the demon granddaughter Emma) a new pen piece that showed super secret plans to the headquarters. It even included guard emplacements and the location of the gate to the human world!

Putting aside how out of date that kind of thing could get in the five years since Vylk found it on a dying human, it was wildly convenient that the plans included Anti-Lambda Effect Drugs (ALEDs) that would completely heal Norman, Vincent, Barbara, Cislo, and Zazie (who I swear I haven’t seen before). What a crazy random happenstance, right? That’s not my problem, though.

My problem is that later in the evening, when everyone was asleep, Vincent contacted Grace Field and said he had information to trade. The dude is about to get 100% healed. He’s on the way to the human world. His every dream will come true if he follows Emma. So what does he do?

He tries to sell them out.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: Vincent goes in a different direction

Well, that certainly wasn’t very neighborly! Capture from the Funimation stream.

At least, I think it was him. I don’t know anyone else who has that pointy chin and glasses.

Did that seem as glaring to you, Irina?

The Divided Jury

See what I didn’t like about the scene was the fact that there’s a “cure recipe” on there. Why? Lambda is a testing facility, they must run different tests all the time, adjust dosages, try new catalysts,  what makes anyone think they are all suffering from the same thing? And even if they were, why is it on a chip with the info on the farms… I need a bit more backstory here.

As for Vincent. Let’s say things are as they seem, then I figure the incentive is that he doesn’t believe they will survive to make it to the human world and would rather work with the demons in exchange for his safety and health. Not unreasonable given everything we know. However, I just sort of assumed he had been a traitor all along and this may not be the first time he reported back either. 

The last thing I’ll say is that it looks Isabella’s back. She’s a Grandma now (congratulations on the promotion!). She’s also working with crazy-eyed Peter Ratiri, who wants to turn all farms into Lambda farms because, you know, it was so stunningly successful before. It looks like the last few episodes will be Isabella trying to trap our heroes when they come back to save Phil and the rest. Isabella’s idea was to use the radio, which she knew the kids were monitoring, to say Phil and the rest were being shipped out.

For some reason, it made me cringe. Irina, what do you think?

Very Divided…

So Peter mentioned right now that everything was going according to plan. That’s a weird ass plan that involves destroying a village and a testing facility. I don’t think the demons cared at all for that village but the lambda escape seemed brutal. 

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: Isabella's back and she's a grandma now.

Isabella fulfills a very different role in this season. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Explanation wise I would say, they wanted to get rid of that village. They had been starving it for a while and thought it was a reasonable sacrifice. The destruction of the facility might also have been a calculated loss. It makes the escapees sure that they’ve succeeded and therefore makes them let their guard down and it’s kind of an easy way to get rid of some pesky scientist sympathisers. I think it’s ridiculous but I have seen plots exactly like that.

The ultimate purpose I would guess would have been to 1- test that weapon on their own population while keeping their own hands clean, should they ever need to squash a rebellion or something in the future, 2- recover the rest of the Grace Field kids and 3 – lure out the evil-blooded girl.

From what I’ve gathered, the evil blood (i.e. the power to not degenerate) is something that the leaders of the demons do not want to have propagated. Most likely, controlling the supply of human food is a source of great power. And having a weapon that, with a little tweaking, could make degeneration worse without killing the population would exponentially heighten that power. As well as having a more steady and cheaper supply.

A Shift in Genre

So that’s what I got from the episode and I think it isn’t bad. Shifting it to a political thriller isn’t a bad move. It could have been done so much better but I do think the bases buried under the narrative were not bad at all.  

I’m thinking that shifting to a political thriller in episode 9 doesn’t make sense. I mean, talk about blowing the Seven Point Plot System out of the water! But I’ve been wrong before. Also, I readily admit that I’m still using the first season as the standard by which I judge the second. 

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: The demon child Emma was very wise. Must be something about the name.

Maybe I was just in the wrong mood to watch this episode. Stranger things have happened! Capture from the Funimation stream.

Considering some of my favourite anime are Kyousougiga and Penguindrum, I obviously have no problem with thematic and genre changes at the last minute…

We should probably do a couple of posts about that — those shows are the exceptions that prove the rule! Talk about well-executed…

This was a downer episode for me. I have to say I’m as pessimistic as I’ve ever been about the series. What do you think? Any closing thoughts?

Closing Thoughts

I think our experiences of TPN and reZero are inverted. And you definitely represent the view of the majority on this one. I’m saddened that Promised Neverland went for this exciting, tense little gem of a thriller to a contrived and stilted drama, but I do like some of the notions they put forth. And I don’t find it painful to watch.

What I didn’t like at all about the episode is that the village was saved apparently so no living with those consequences. Oh man, thank god we avoided exploring a complex and difficult moral issue with wide reaching implications. And the lab rats are getting a cure? We just hate anything that could have an actual impact, don’t we?

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9: What a crazy random happenstance!

Good thing they found the ultimate cure for what ails them! Else, there might have been Consequences! Capture from the Funimation stream.

This said, I will fully understand if you want to drop here and I can finish off the season.

First, the idea that I might agree with the majority about anything is significant cause for alarm. I haven’t experienced that before. It’s probably the Fifth Horse or something.

Second, I finished Taboo Tattoo. I can finish The Promised Neverland! Seriously, I’m still viewing it through the expectations that the first season set. I should probably stop beating that dead horse, because I don’t think he’s getting back up anytime soon.

And third, I see that you had some concerns about the plot, too! Those bothered me, too, but not to the extent of the ones I brought up.

On a brighter note, I was glad to see the Power of Emma come through again. She’s a sweet character, and it’s nice seeing how much Ray and Norman support her.

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7 thoughts on “The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 9 – As the Plot Commands

  1. Not very much made sense to me. Yeah, the underlying direction might make sense. An example: Barbara failing to kill cowering child demons is fine. You can drone on about revenge, but you won’t know whether you have it in you to kill someone innocent and afraid until you do. It’s the turnaround that follows that makes no sense at all. You can get to that point eventually, but the show skipped the entire character development necessary to sell it. The entire episode is like that, except for the sudden cure, which looks like a ridiculous deus ex macchina.

    The final betrayal? I could see this be part of Norman’s plan. The return of the chess game from season 1, so to speak.

    Personally, I’m having more fun with Re:Zero this season, even though it annoys me more, too. But then I’ve also preferred Re:Zero’s first season to Neverland’s first season. Neverland was never anything special to me. (And to be honest, Re:Zero isn’t either; I just find it more entertaining, when it’s not being overly melodramatic.)

    1. I really thought the narrative had established Barbara as someone who was quite willing to get her hands dirty. You make a good point: Her attitude could be turned around, given time. But we didn’t get to see anything like that.

      See, from the case studies I’ve read, a child soldier can be deprogrammed, but, as you said, “the show skipped the entire character development necessary to sell it.” Until that deprogramming occurs, Barbara would not have seen a cowering child. She would see a cowering demon, which is very different.

      I mean heck, the US placed children in cages on the border, and there were vocal defenders of that atrocity. Not quite to the level of outright slaughter, certainly. But a step down that path, based on what I’ve seen in our history.

      I’d have to say that my reaction to this episode was bitter disappointment. I did see the first season as something that was beautifully and tightly plotted, with solid characters and a well-developed villain. I’m missing most of that here.

      I can’t argue your point about Re:ZERO being melodramatic! It’s strongest when it presents its lore, or when we get some really solid fight scenes like Garfiel vs Elsa. I like its characters, too.

      But its drama is cringey!

      1. *****I really thought the narrative had established Barbara as someone who was quite willing to get her hands dirty. *****

        Willing, sure. But able? Those were cowering children. We don’t know what they’ve done so far, but it’s perfectly plausible to me that they’ve just vent their anger on pursuers so far. I see her reaction to the kids as a defining moment; it fills in some blanks the show left open so far:

        *****a child soldier can be deprogrammed*****

        Sure, but child soldiers are programmed by grown ups to begin with. Our troop here a highly intelligent and very angry escapees. What they’re dealing with is not indoctroination or rearing, but peer pressure and trauma. That’s a very different set of circumstance, I’d say.

        But there are still similar mind sets to deal with, like “I can’t kill those demons? Why? What’s wrong with me?” It’s just that they come from different places; the way out of this mindset isn’t the same, and with the lack of a punishing organisation behind them and in very small group where there have been no sempai before them and where everyone knows everyone else, this is going to be everyday messy. I’d say it’s not about deprogramming, because there was no programming in place to begin with; just group dynamics and peer pressure. They’re more like a mini mob with torches and pitchforks than child soldiers, though their degree of organisation makes them look more like the latter.

        One problem the show has here is that we’ve hardly seen Norman’s group. What do we know about their group dynamics? Norman is the leader, but why? Who trusts him, who uses him, who likes who, what traits are rewarded within their group, what traits are frowned upon… We know very little about that. So what happened here isn’t implausible to me; I can retro-engineer their group from that. The problem is that it would have taken time and more resistence, more conflict both within and between the kids. If you go through all that, even the betrayal at the end (if it is one) might make sense.

        As it is the episode just tossed all the ingredients into a hot pot and hopes for the best.

        *****I did see the first season as something that was beautifully and tightly plotted, with solid characters and a well-developed villain. I’m missing most of that here. *****

        I do agree about this. Season one was a good suspense show where the stakes were clear for both sides and character motives were clear. Season two has its heart in the right place, but it seems to have its brain in the same place…

        1. “Willing, sure. But able? Those were cowering children.”

          My impression from previous episodes is that Barbara had done the killing. So much that a minor issue like age or disposition wouldn’t matter. A demon is a demon.

          But you see what’s going on? We don’t have the data we need from the narrative, so we have to make things up. Norman and Barbara’s decisions were critical to both the basic plot and both character arcs. Yet, the narrative didn’t prepare us.

          To me, that’s the central issue.

Please let me know what you think!

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