As far as case numbers go, chronologically, this is the farthest forward we’ve gone yet, at Case 22. It definitely was intentional to save this one for almost next to last as episode ten is the tipping point to what will most likely be an freaking epic conclusion to the series. However, before I jump the gun to some real big shit (like the biggest of cliffhangers yet for this show) we’ve got an episode with a possible double agent, plenty of intrigue, and a character from both Ange and Dorothy’s past.
Time to send in the RSVPs ‘cause it’s gosh dang class reunion.
This episode was very interesting as the focus was on a character we had never seen before (and sadly won’t see again). Taking a bit of a step away from the incredibly mind-blowing and well-written character dives of the past two episodes, we only get a bit more backstory on Ange and Dorothy while giving a ton of screen to their old classmate. Prefect, a nickname given to her and a constant mental image for me of her shooing Harry Potter and crew back to bed at Hogwarts, is another spy for their agency who seems to be working solo. The gang initially works with her to get some information from a target. However, this wraps up quickly and then the real mission begins: A test of Prefect’s loyalties.
The change up here was interesting, as I couldn’t remember an episode previously that had a similar set up. What initially starts as your standard mission completes itself not even halfway through the episode. We’re left with the rest of the time used to delve into backstory for two of our main characters as well as strike up some massive empathy for a supporting character. This leads us to one of the more dramatic and touching ends to a mission, one that really hit me hard due to how well this story was weaved together, as well as how hard that sound design and acting sell the entire final scene, ending with a top-down shot that purposefully hangs there to drive in the shock of the whole thing. Masterfully done but so, so sad.
Prefect’s story works so well because we get so much time to feel for her in her predicament, especially once we start to learn how much she feels for her follow spies and how torn she must be over it all. To make matters worse, she struggles with all of this while dealing with such a messed up personal issue.
The show never states what substance Prefect is taking but they don’t need to when we have faces like that. It’s clear with how far she’s fallen and how desperate she’s become that one can assume her supplyer is also who she’s defected to. As a means of control, drugs are unfortunately one of the most effective ways. It seems Prefect is nearing a tipping point if she’s going through withdrawal so quickly and just as usual, the show wonderfully implies all of this without saying a single thing.
And on top it all, with how much we learn she’s looked up to and wanted so badly to be like Dorothy, I can’t imagine the feeling of betrayal that’s eaten her up inside. To feel like there’s no out except to end it all is horrifying and I felt so badly for this character. All of the culminates and left me feeling such a loss for a character we had never seen before this episode. Another clear bit of evidence at the writing and direction Princess Principal has used expertly to have such a hold over me.
However, even after such a tragic end to the mission, we barely get a breath in-between before…
Shit. Goes. Down.
That may be one of my favorite phrases on these episodic posts but get the spoiler hats ready because this time, I really mean it. L, one of the leaders of the spies who always seemed to be the man in charge, has been replaced by someone calling themselves the General. First order of business? The cancellation of Project: Changeling…
And the assassination of Princess.
I had guessed at this way back on episode four but my track record for correct guesses for a show can be counted on a single hand so the jaw still lightly hit the floor. I can assume that Ange will not follow orders, and Beatrice is too loyal to her friend, but Dorothy and Chise may not have the same loyalty when it’s at such a disconnect to their hard-coded devotion to country. Dorothy is clearly torn between her friends and role as a spy for the Commonwealth and Chise has to follow the rules of her country, who currently are supporting the Commonwealth as well. They may side with Princess and their friends, usually, but when shit hits the fan like this, these relationships will most definitely be strained for the whole group in these last two episodes. A cliffhanger, along with this team of creators behind the wheel, means a crazier ride than Beatrice’s driving.I am so pumped. Princess Principal has been nothing but a master class in episodic character-driven shows. I have no doubts at all that the ending to this series will be fantastic. I’m just both terrified and psyched about what that ending will entail.