Stein’s;Gate – 19

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A couple of words come to mind when considering this episodes of Steins;Gate Intense, certainly Dark, definitely. But the one that really captures it for me is “joyless”. And while it was probably a necessary evil at this stage in the story, that didn’t make it any easier to watch.

I’ve seen the early discussions of the ep focus mainly on the right and wrong of what Okarin did to Moeka, both physically and emotionally. I don’t want to wade too heavily into that quicksand. I can totally understand Okarin’s perspective – he was desperate to save Mayuri, and angry as hell at Moeka for what she did. He’s seen where things go, and it’s a bad end for Moeka as well as Mayuri (and the world). Under those circumstances I could see where almost any action might be justified.

But while it may not have been wrong, per se, it sure didn’t feel right. Yes, I did feel sorry for Moeka – very sorry for her, despite the fact that she allowed herself to be manipulated into this dark place and she was responsible for terrible things. I don’t blame Okarin for punching her to get the phone away from her, or even for the emotional pummeling he gave her (which was far worse). I just think the whole thing was ugly and terrible and seemed to last forever, and if it was a necessary evil it’s not something Okarin should look back on as his finest hour. There was a glint of pleasure in his eyes at returning some of the pain to Moeka that she’d caused to him Kudos to Goto Saori for the amazing work she did in that scene.

Then there’s the matter of what it says about Moeka’s neighborhood that she screamed and screamed and no one came to help for 10-15 minutes, and when the Obaa-san finally did, all she could say was “Couples these days?” A man is on top of a struggling woman, a table has been tossed out the door, and screams have been heard – and that’s what you come up with? That was a display as shameful and ugly as what was happening in Moeka’s depressing apartment.

None of that overshadows the importance of events in this episode as regards to central plot. Okarin – finally displaying some of the scientific detachment that’s so far eluded him for the most part – allows Mayuri to die so that he can precisely determine what his deadline is. As myself and many others suspected, Moeka lied about her D-mail – the real one was a message with the whereabouts of the IBN 5100 Problem is, even knowing that and having brutally ripped Moeka’s phone from her shining fingers, he can’t undo it – because she’ll only believe a contrary message from FB. We don’t know – even Moeka doesn’t – what or who FB is, except that they apparently recruited Moeka at her lowest ebb, on the verge of suicide. She’ll do anything for FB, even kill – and she’s about to be asked to do so, apparently. Yet she still betrays FB in the end, by apparently telling Okain where she’s hidden the IBN – which would, in theory, cancel out the need for him to find FB in order to send Moeka a message not to go to the Shrine to steal it.

The only real redemptive moment was Makise telling Okarin that no matter what, he’d never be alone – a lifeline to a drowning man as well as a confession – but in these circumstances I see even that as foreshadowing dark things. It’s really striking how sad all these stories are – losing parents, losing your identity, dying in cold blood, abandonment and suicide. I see a growing message here that time manipulation is fool’s gold, a rigged game that promises happiness but delivers misery. Okarin is trying to put the genie back in the bottle, but I don’t think it can be done without a severe price. Moeka’s fate is on Okarin’s shoulders now, too – she’s a tragic, unstable and lonely person who rejected the only thing he could really offer her – friendship. I suspect her story was supposed to make us feel bereft and miserable and hopeless, and it certainly did that for me I think it sets the tone for a dark and disturbing final arc of this excellent series.

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  1. w

    I remember thinking at the beginning of the episode that it looked like Moeka lived a in a lower class/more crime-ridden neighborhood for some reason, the kind you don't want to live in, and then the response from her neighbor, yeeesh.
    I think that Okarin is going to try and cancel out the original D-mail anyway to see if there's any way to have Moeka live a happier life. In most of the timelines we've seen she's been the one directing the group that kills Mayushii (and saying "for FB, for FB") so I really wonder why she was abandoned in this time line (and just who FB is, I can't imagine we won't find out).
    And, one thing people haven't been talking about as much, but it was really sad to see just how broken Okarin has become at the beginning of the episode, wondering just how many times now he's had to explain the situation to Krisu. She did remind him that she's his ally in every world line (well, maybe not that first one where they didn't know each other) but it's little moments like that which make me wonder if this anime is actually going to have a happy ending after all.

  2. I'm a little scared of you, knowing now that you've been spoiled! 😉

    I felt like Okarin was showing signs of "broken" for the last few eps, and everything that happened this week… It soiled all parties involved.

  3. w

    I assume you mean my comment on twitter, I was so annoyed about finding out that little detail although honestly I had already suspected that to be the case (trying to be as vague as possible, really glad I've resisted the urge so far to look up spoilers for the rest of the series).
    And yes, Okarin has definitely been broken ever since the halfway point of this series but there was just something about his little line that hit me this time about just how awful all of this has been for him. That and I wonder if he now knows exactly what to say to Kurisu each time to make her believe him, he's probably had too much practice (or he might just say she wants a "my spoon" each time XD).

  4. Yup, it was that twitter post I refer to. Bad thing for me is I have to basically moderate the comments at RC – and those are a spoiler minefield (despite spoiler tags being available.

    As fr Okarin, I stand by what I said after 16 – "That’s the sort of thing that could eventually drive a good man mad – not many could cope with that kind of loneliness."

  5. l

    @above comment

    The only true happy ending I could think of will be 1% world where everyone is happy without the time machine.Moeka is happy, Ferris dad alive, Ruka a girl. Of course, if that happen where do Suzuha stand? I mean she is daughter of Daru, if everything perfect. Then she won't be around to fight Sern.

    My conclusion there will not be a perfect ending. Maybe just Mayuri route ending.

    P.S. Somehow Moeka looking at her bruised arm before betraying FB tell me she is M through and through.

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