After its first stumble (though most seemed to disagree with me) in quite some time last week, Argevollen is very solidly back on-track with this episode. We’re back in the full-on Greek tragedy mode, with hubris and greed driving the story and characters towards what seems certain to be an ending full of sacrifice (self and otherwise) and pain. When this series bears down on the gritty ugliness of war and the foolishness of those that foment it, there are few that bring a comparable sense of realism to bear.
I was somewhat startled to see that there seems to be a contingent among Argevollen viewers rooting for Cayenne in the wake of this episode. Seriously? This seems so utterly wrong to me on so many levels that it’s hard to even comprehend it. You can start with the fact that one of the clear messages of this series is that there really are no good guys among the most powerful on either side, but even disregarding that it seems unarguable to me that Cayenne is a vain, sadistic sociopath and megalomaniac with no real regard for anything but his own enrichment and glorification. I briefly wondered last week if the story was trying to offer his character a redemption route but if anything, what we saw in this ep utterly closed the door on that. Obviously some don’t see it that way.
Make no mistake, the old men about to surrender to Ingelmia are no one to be admired. The war is in the state it’s in for Arandas because of their incompetence, and their chosen path to sue for peace from an extremely weak strategic position would be sure to leave Arandas a drastically reduced country. But what Cayenne is doing isn’t heroic – he’s splitting his nation down the middle so he can continue a war from which he’s personally profiting, and throwing away yet more lives in the name of honoring those he’s already thrown away. There aren’t any good options left for Arandas thanks to Cayenne and the corrupt old men, but this path certainly is one of the worst imaginable.
That leads to the very interesting question of just what Samonji is doing on Cayenne’s side now. There’s some hinting that he and Izumi could be plotting something together, but I don’t think so. Neither, however, do I think he’s doing this for remotely ideological reasons. This is Samonji’s way of trying to spare Tokimune (though he’s actually still piloting the Argevollen) and the Eighth from throwing their lives away. I think Samonji felt as if he were backed into a corner (by Cayenne, mainly) and is doing this because he’s trying to be the sacrificial lamb – for Tokimune, for his unit, and for as much of the Arandas army as possible. Maybe in some twisted way he thinks he’s doing it to honor Reika’s memory. But it sure as salt isn’t out of loyalty to Cayenne or his twisted ambition.
Meanwhile we’re staring into the maw of a coup on both sides of the war. Holmes and Lontar appear to be getting ready to make their move – whatever that is (though I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that Lontar could be angling to expose Holmes as a traitor by luring him into action). Because of a “traitor” on the Arandas side – “a group that doesn’t appreciate the Perphevollens” – they know the rough details of what they’re facing, and that Samonji is the man in charge of the unmanned units. Who is this informer – could it be the one of three old men themselves? Or, more interestingly, perhaps it’s Samonji himself – most likely via Quasimodo, who’s been conspicuously absent of late – pulling a last double-cross against Cayenne, even at the cost of sacrificing himself (which he seems determined to do) in the process.