Episode 18 was definitely one of the more action-packed of the series so far. It transitioned the mystery of 16-17 to a sort of Agatha Christie exercise on the train back to Saubere. While there were a few plot holes – I’ve more or less come to expect them here – it was a pretty enjoyable ride.
It’s clear know that the rivalry between the Science Ministry and the Occult Ministry is driving much of the conflict that runs through this story. The train was full of undercover agents from both organizations trying to procure the memento box, from a young “orphan” girl to a blackmailed brother trying to rescue his kidnapped sister. Hunt was apparently killed for being a Science Ministry agent as well. It isn’t as obvious just why the box was so important – it’s revealed as belonging to the still-living Jupiter Roget, now head of the Science Ministry and briefly introduced in the Leviathan arc – revealed by the contents of the box to be a Gray Wolf.
Where the box’s importance is more clear is that it represented a sort of test from Cordelia to Victorique, to see whether she could solve it’s mystery and save herself under her own power. She had massive help from Kujo of course, but that’s part of the love story at play here. Victorique kept one item from the memento box – her “trump card” – though it’s clear that she herself is the real trump card for all the agencies and interests in conflict here.
I don’t worry so much about the aforementioned plot holes – such as the involvement of Lesglant and why he was even necessary (was he the one smiling at Victorique at the end of 18?). They’re a bit annoying, but I like the fact that the mysteries on the show are becoming increasingly interconnected, with even seeming stand-alone arcs feeding into each other in a direct line. Leviathan set up Beelzebub’s Skull, which set up this one. There’s a kind of nesting doll effect, which each answered question raising new mysteries. That, for me, is better writing than the contents of the actual mysteries themselves.
Of course, the best writing here is the dialogue between Victorique and Kujo. There really wasn’t anything new there this week so much as a reaffirmation of where their relationship is going. The risk is that the relationship has tended to become a bit static at times, with the master-slave interplay becoming tiresome. Their dynamic is much better when it’s evolving and growing rather than standing still, and that’s been the overall trend over the last few arcs. It’s the primary reason I’m interested in seeing how the final arcs play out, more so than the plot itself.