Even though I knew it was coming, that was still a hard blow.
Seric Abis had more death flags than the Zombie United Nations, so his demise in this episode was certainly no surprise – nor will Fram’s, when it inevitably arrives. But it sucks, because characters whose heads are nowhere in the vicinity of up their own fundament are a rare commodity in this series, and Seric was probably my favorite character in any of the four arcs. He certainly got more out of his screen time than anybody. At least he got a good, solid GAR death – trapped inside the enemy vessel with the photo blaster about to be fired. The downside was that we had to see Captain Einus further humiliated by breaking down in tears on her own bridge, though at least she was spared the indignity of someone else giving the order to fire.
The other emotional climax of the episode came as the inevitable clash between Kio and Deen arrived, and ended in somewhat shocking fashion. Kio managed to keep to his pledge and disable DEEN, and they had their nice little heart-to-heart, and it almost looked for a moment as if this one subplot might be resolved happily. But Zanald stepped in and killed Deen for story purposes, and that was what finally broke Kio. He used FX-BURST mode, sliced and diced Zanald with ease, and… spared him. What? Yes, it looked as if Kio was finally broken, but even if berserker mode, he still has a no-kill policy.
I don’t quite know how I feel about this, to be honest. If anyone in this series was a prime candidate for Kio’s first post-rebirth kill, it would’ve been Zanald – he’d just killed Deen for no reason whatsoever and he’s been a consistent asshat for his entire time in the cast. On the other hand, while Kio’s vow obviously has practical holes you drive a La Gramis through, it’s sort of impressive that even when he lost himself to rage, he still had enough strength of will to avoid killing – even Zanald. Kio’s path might be completely illogical and have no visible means to succeed, but I don’t think anyone can doubt the strength of his resolve after what happened with Zanald.
That’s the hole the series seems to be in – Kio now seems committed to his path under any circumstances, and there’s no scenario we’ve been presented with where that path could win the day. So how does the series end in a way that’s both remotely plausible and thematically consistent? By the looks of the preview Zaeheart is going to go all-in on Ezelcant’s plan, including wiping out Zanald’s army (after Zanald openly declared mutiny, it’s not that shocking). If we’re to go by past experience as a guide Zaeheart will find a way to lose the battle as he always does, but then what’s to stop Flit from seeing his dream of Vagan genocide come to fruition? If I had to guess I’d say the Federation will win this battle and castrate the Vagan militarily, but somehow Kio will stop Flit from wiping out the civilian population. Whether the series can pull that off in a believable and credible way is very much an open question.