This episode of Steins;Gate represented a confirmation of a couple of developments that had been strongly hinted at for a while. First, that something bad – very bad – was going to happen to Mayushi. And second, that we were going to get something of a “finale” midway through the season. After this ep, it’s clear that thing can never be remotely the same.
So much happened here that it’s hardly possible to keep it all straight in my mind so soon after viewing. In any other week, time itself stopping would certainly be the headline act. But this week, it had so me pretty intense competition. Just a few of the major developments:
– As strongly hinted by the continuing portrayal of Mayushi as the universally loved innocent in the cast, she either had to face a severe crisis or prove to be a spy. Well, she was shot – apparently in the head – so thing’s aren’t looking too good there, to say the least.
– Moeka turned out to be the SERN spy. Not wholly unexpected but mildly surprising to me.
– Suzuha pretty much confirmed she was from the future. She insisted that Kurisu “would become” a SERN spy – and immediately new something was wrong as soon as the trains stopped. She was tempted to warn Okarin that something was about to happen – but apparently fled to safety instead.
– Future Gadget #6 is a light saber.
The obvious trend towards a darker tone really paid off, starting with the opening scene – Okarin’s dream that he and Mayushi were speaking 70 million years ago and she basically predicted her own death. He’s been increasingly aware that he was in the deep end, now, and when Kurisu seemingly perfected a plan for the memory transfer device using the hacked collider at SERN, he finally stepped back into caution – declining to conduct the experiment using a human guinea pig. Rather, he decided to announce it to the world and let someone more “responsible” take it over – a decision everyone (especially Mayuri) was happy about, except Kurisu, You could sense her disapproval of what she saw as scientific cowardice on Okarin’s part – though she was more than pleased when he called her a “dear assistant”. I suspect this was SERN’s plan all along – it was clear Okarin and his team were onto something, so let them do the work and finish a prototype – then step in and take over.
It’s a pity that Okarin came to his senses too late – too late for poor Mayuri, who he clearly loves and feels responsible for. But she held no value to Moeka and SERN, so when she showed up an S & M leather suit with her hit squad, she pulled the trigger and appeared to end Maysuhi’s life. No more “tuturrus” – or even the uber-moe “Tadaima-turru!”? It hardly seems possible. Kurisu has already come back from the dead once, so I won’t write Mayushi off yet. But without a time machine…
So many questions now. Just how did time stop (sort of)? What are we looking at in the second half of this series – a thriller, where Okarin and team try and fix things? Something more reminiscent of the first half, where we experience multiple timelines again? Is Mayuri really gone forever? What of the romance element between Okarin and Kurisu? In terms of the process of rolling out a series of mysteries and upping the tension ante every week, the first cour of Steins;Gate was a marvel of great execution. My gut tells me we’re going to be looking at a very different type of series in the second half – maybe just as good, but still a radical change in tone and style. We’ll know a lot more after next week’s episode.