After a string of disappointing episodes, the Promised Neverland Season 2 actually comes up with something decent this time. When I say “decent”, I’m being very generous here since it is still filled with so many pacing issues and rushed execution. It basically combines three major story events; the captivity of Norman in the laboratory, the search for Sonju and Mujika by the kids, and the attack on the demon town into one. Although there are some good points here and there, these are not enough to save this season from the disappointment it has been so far. This review contains spoilers so be warned.
A Disappointing Backstory
The first part of this episode concerns Norman’s captivity and experimentation in the demon laboratory. Now, in my opinion, this scene was a complete disappointment. First, it was so incredibly quick. I was initially expecting that this episode would focus exclusively on his time at the facility but instead, it only lasted for like 6 or 7 minutes. There wasn’t any time to build a sense of atmosphere or explain what’s going on. For example, how did Norman get the bomb to blow up the facility? Maybe I’m stupid but it was never explained how he did it. Was it in the rubrics cube or chess piece he was using? Instead of showing us what happened they just exposition dump an important piece of the story. I honestly could not think of a lazier way of writing.
Another point is that I still remain unconvinced that his treatment in this facility could turn him into a genocidal maniac. His conditions in this place are certainly far from perfect but I don’t see how these could turn him into a madman. It’s most likely because of how fast this scene was that it’s hard to get a full sense of the horror of this place. Also, it is never explained how Norman got sick? Was it because of the drugs or the food he ate? Maybe, but it is never explained to us how this happened. The episode should have at least hinted at us what experiments were going on with Norman that made him into the madman he is now.
We also get to meet the new bad guy, James Ratri. Based on his initial introduction, I’m not impressed. I’m sure they’ll flesh out in future episodes but he appears now as some evil guy doing evil things because he’s evil. Again, this scene didn’t have enough time to fully introduce him to the audience and I was left having a very low opinion of him.
It wasn’t all bad. I did like the visuals of the facility, especially of the demon and human experimentation. This season has just overall lacked the horror and thriller elements that were present in the first season and at least we get a taste of it here. Although, there was not enough time to actually set up the dark atmosphere it was going for. Overall, I think it would have been far better if this scene was made into a whole episode to properly flesh out all the elements it was going for.
The next major event is the search of Sonju and Mujika by the kids as Norman prepares his attack. I’m starting to sound like a broken record but this episode, just like the whole season, has such horribly rushed pacing. In the part where Norman has the biological weapons he’ll use against the demons, it was never explained where he got them in the first place. Although there was a neat scene where Norman said he’d either be a God or Devil to save his friends, Norman’s characterization has not been sufficient enough in this season to make me buy into him turning into the dark side.
There was also this action sequence where the kids were being chased by this demon monster before being saved by Mujika and Sonju. For the people who think that AOT season 4 has bad animations, seeing this might change their minds. The monster that was chasing them looked freaking terrible. I was honestly surprised something this ugly was able to get approved by the studio since this season has generally had very good visuals and animations. What makes this sequence even worse is that it was set in the dark, probably to hide the terrible animations, which made it even more difficult to follow.
The Potential This Show Had
Easily the best part of the episode was Norman’s attack on the demon town. For one, the visuals look fantastic. They easily convey the terror and horror of what’s going on. The second is the voice acting from the demons as they’re being attacked. Most importantly, there were some genuinely heart-touching moments that were well executed.
For example, the one where the demon grandpa is looking for his grandchild, coincidentally named Emma. I was genuinely touched by this scene, probably by the terrific voice acting of both the demons and Norman. You can really get the sense of fear in the voices of the demons and guilt in Norman’s. We also find out in this scene that the grandpa demon has this magic blood to stop demons from turning into monsters just like Sonju and Mujika. Another fantastic moment was when Emma stops Norman’s attack, she sees him as a confused and scared child. This was another really touching moment that was very well executed thanks again to the terrific visuals and voice acting.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that this scene was absolutely fantastic. It gave us a glimpse of the potential that this show could have been if it was executed properly. It showcased all the strengths that this show has to deliver a truly excellent emotional moment. If only more of the season was like this then we would have a far better show instead of the current disappointment we have now.
Overall, this is probably the “best” episode of this season which is not saying much since all the others have been very disappointing. What they probably should have done was make all three of the main story events into their own episodes to fully develop the concepts they were going for. What makes me sad is this is probably the best episode we are going to get since it showed no signs of addressing the major issues that have plagued this season since the beginning such as the rushed execution and lack of characterization. It seems that this season will continue to go into terminal decline.