No question about it, Sebastian was having way, way too much fun in this episode and that can never be a good thing for those unfortunate enough to be around him at the time. Intellectually the idea of having Ciel join Noah’s Ark alongside him when their goal is to search for missing children is perfectly defensible. But it would be easy to assume he did it just for the delights of having an excuse to torture him mercilessly.
There aren’t a lot of series where horror and humor coexist so peacefully as they do with Kuroshitsuji, and we got a lot of the latter this week with a few reminders that the former is lurking at the corners of our vision at all times. Circuses are menacing places under any circumstances and make great settings for atmospheric storytelling as a result, and since that style is the bread and butter of this series it’s a perfect marriage. That something strange is going on here is a given (the fire-eater is playing “Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son” on his harmonica just in cast anyone forgets), but the focus for now is still on establishing the setting and its denizens as indelible parts of the story.
Once Ciel has passed his entrance exam – it’s a given Sebastian will, but Ciel needs a lot of painful help from him to skate by – he’s given the rather ironic stage name of “Smile“. As for Sebby his is as literal as Ciel’s is not – “Black”. Things superficially seem as normal as they get in this sort of life as Joker shows the newbies the lay of the land, but even more than usual with circuses Noah’s Ark is riddles with mysteries. Snake is obviously a big one – Joker tells Sebastian and Ciel that most of the “first-stringers” are childhood friends, but Snake came along later. And it’s his nest of vipers that acts as the barricade preventing access to the off-limit tents where the stars hang out.
There’s a major surprise awaiting Smile and Black once they make their way under the big-top where all of the second-string wannabes are desperately honing their skills – William T. Spears, the imperious Shinigami working under the name “Suit”. He’s making no effort to hide his true nature and reacts quite openly when he sees Sebastian, but the others at the circus all take him for a joker and eccentric. His presence is yet another clue that something is going down at Noah’s Ark, but not even Sebastian has any idea what that is. He has no sense of any of the missing children, but of course Ciel can’t give up when he’s on Victoria’s secret orders. The idea of peeling back the layers of a circus to reveal the mysteries hiding beneath is unsettling in any circumstance, but in this mythology the possibilities positively boggle the mind.