There’s no effing way that was 22 minutes.
Every so often a series comes along that has that effect of speeding up time. You know the feeling – the screen fades out and you expect the eyecatch to pop up, but the credits start rolling. Pacing certainly has a lot to do with it – shows that have no wasted narrative real estate always seem to fly by. But the most important quality, I think, is to completely absorb you in what’s happening on the screen, so thoroughly that you don’t really sense the passage of time at all. And that’s a quality that 91 Days has in spades.
This show is in that sweet spot right now where it has both plot and character working to great effect, which is a place few anime ever get to. I think it’s communicating the shifting sands nature of organized crime life to great effect – this is a world where “family” means something entirely different than it does for normal folks, and alliances are almost always a matter of expediency. Angelo certainly isn’t the only one playing both sides against the middle here, but he’s the one dancing closest to the edge in doing so. He’s playing the game very much like a man who feels he has nothing much to lose – which is probably exactly how he feels.
The contrast between Angelo and Nero is a rather interesting one. Nero comes off as (pardon the pun) a pretty straight shooter. He has some cleverness – building The Lodge was a clever (if risky) gambit – but he doesn’t seem to be a politician or a schemer. He’s managed to alienate all three of the main families and been outmanouverd by his wet behind the ears little brother for the succession of his own family, and that seems to be because he’s not great at seeing several steps ahead. He’s a good talker, seemingly a pretty loyal guy – but those are not the qualities one needs to ascend to the top in organized crime.
Nero also has no illusions about his own talents, seems to me, because he has no problem deferring to Angelo when it comes to drafting plans. That includes the plan to take out Orco, which is the price Fango exacts for giving Nero and his party cover and given Tigre the treatment he needs to save his life. And of course Angelo, being everything Nero isn’t, has a plan. And it’s a classic Avilo plan – nauseatingly risky but very clever. It involves he and Nero walking right into Orco’s lap, taking them to The Lodge, and selling an elaborate song-and-dance that sings and dances unerringly close to the truth.
A lot happens in those few moments after Nero’s man pops out of the barrel and starts firing his Tommy gun. Did I think for a moment that Angelo could have actually turned on Nero and killed him? Yes, I did – I was 50-50 on it for a minute there, because 91 Days has proved itself the sort of show that wouldn’t shy away from a twist like that. He hadn’t of course – but unless my read of the situation is wrong, Nero now knows “Avilo’s” backstory, because he was lying only a few feet away playing dead. Surely that has to change things between – even if Nero didn’t hear Angelo use his true name, he seems like a smart enough guy to be able to put the pieces together. That’s not acknowledged in the remainder of the episode, though – so exactly where things now stand between Nero and Angelo is still a mystery.
Also a mystery is the identity of the “fourth man” and whoever wrote that letter to Angelo – who may or may not be the same person (he’s come to believe they are). Might it be Colteo? Might it be Frate, seeing it as an insurance policy in case his own plans to take down Nero failed? I haven’t completely given up the notion that it could be Nero himself, feeling guilty over his role in what happened. Whatever the truth it was apparently not Don Orco, whose puzzlement when Angelo asked him about the letter seemed genuine.
What’s no mystery is the fate of Don Orco, who turns out to be a man of good taste. I never had a doubt what that freakshow Fango was serving up to Orco’s men, though it was a deliciously uncomfortable thing watching it play out (but were Nero and Angelo and their guys eating that same lasagna??). The thing is, I’m not sure Angelo has the luxury of turning on Nero for the moment – as he says, all of Fango’s enemies (read: everyone) are now their enemies too, and you know that Fango’s “loyalty” is as thin as the skin on a custard. Nero and Angelo are all the other has for the moment, more or less – but even if that weren’t the case, would Angelo have the stomach to finish the job he’s set out to do? I suspect right now the answer would still be yes, but I’m not convinced the answer will be the same when the full drama of 91 Days has played out.