Welcome back to the show you all hate and will sorely miss when the season is over! ADMIT IT!! YOU ALL LOVE THIS SHOW!! Anyway, we left the last episode on quite the cliffhanger with mere inches separating our heroes from total annihilation. The show has been on quite a roll recently (that or I’ve acclimated to its sub-par standards) and with only two episodes left, I can only hope they pull out all the stops. I mean, we’re STARTING the episode with the possible extinction of all of existence!! I mean, it’s not like the dude’s going to SUCCEED, but it’s going to be interesting to see how they can pull themselves out of this mess! Let’s get started!!
The episode begins with Prince Demande mere moments from destroying the universe by touching the two Legendary Silver Crystals together. Naturally, everyone is freaking the fuck out and hoping they can develop super speed right now so they can stop him!
IF ONLY THEY HAD MORE TIME!! Wait a minute… TIME!! They’ve got a Time Lord on their team, don’t they? It turns out that Sailor Pluto can stop time with her magic stick, and decides to use it to freeze everything… except for Sailor Moon, the Scouts, the King, the cats, Tuxedo Mask, and even Black Lady. So basically she stopped Prince Demande and Wise Man in their tracks. Eh, that works for me. I mean she left two bad guys moving around (the brainwashed Tuxedo Mask and Black Lady), but at least she stopped the end of the universe! But wait!! Are we getting another flash back!?
So in my recap of the previous episode, I guessed that the final taboo that Sailor Pluto could not commit was falling in love. Thankfully the show sidestepped that level of hack writing and instead made stopping time the final taboo. Knock on wood and all that, but I think we may just get through her story without her having to be punished for falling in love with a married man! It’s not like we don’t already have enough uncomfortable stuff going on what with Usagi’s fears of a child stealing her man being vindicated. The reason why stopping time is a taboo seems to be that by doing so; it can utterly destroy Sailor Pluto physically. Sure enough, she collapses. While slowly approaching the sweet embrace of death, she tells Usagi to get those crystals away from Prince Demande so that her death won’t be completely in vain.
So it looks like they’ve been able to prevent the end of the world, at least momentarily. They’ve still got that whole evil planet thing barreling down on them, but now they’ve got two Silver Crystals which should probably give them an advantage once time resumes. Before that though, Sailor Pluto has to give her death monologue where she expresses no regrets for her actions, thanks everyone for their support, and begs Sailor Moon to save Chibi-Usa. It’s a pretty effective moment in the show, but I don’t buy it completely. First of all, it’s very much Tell don’t Show about the damage that happened to Sailor Pluto. I’m willing to go with the idea that stopping time can cause SERIOUS damage (I liken it to Atlas trying to hold up the world) but there’s no IMPACT. There’s no indication she’s hurt until she just falls over and then all she does is cough once (apparently bringing all of existence to a halt can cause dry mouth). I’m not saying there has to be gore or anything like that, but you can’t just say she’s mortally wounded without any external symptoms or noticeable strain in the action she took that’s causing her death! Then again, I get the feeling that maybe we’re not supposed to buy the fact that she’s dead? It’s not like characters HAVEN’T come back from the dead before. The Sailor Scouts sacrificed themselves at the end of the last story arc, and even their not-deaths were portrayed with much more damage than this one. Also, Queen Serenity (the OG one) has a VERY specific line in one of the flashbacks that might indicate this isn’t the end for Pluto.
Maybe they’re setting us up for a revival in the season finale, who knows (except everyone who’s read the manga or seen the original series). Whether or not she really is dead, the effect is very real on those around her. Even Dark Lady who’s only witnessing it from afar gets some serious feels over this and begins to have flashbacks to all their time together. They show us glimpses of their long relationship and how much Sailor Pluto meant to Chibi-Usa who was still struggling to find her place in a world where everything is already perfect and she doesn’t get to grow up. We even get to see her fateful decision to betray that friendship in order to try and fix the apocalyptic future by stealing one of her time travel keys.
Once again, Chibi-Usa is the heart of this entire story arc. I’m having a hard time beliving the other Scouts who’ve only met Pluto once or twice are completely shattered by her death, but the emotional gut punch to Chibi-Usa (along with the conflict she’s feeling about her recent fall from grace) are wonderfully realized here and it gives us the weight that an event like this should have. All these feelings that Black Lady doesn’t seem ready to deal with eventually culminate into a huge breakdown.
Now here’s where things get a bit… uncomfortable. Clearly the emotion Chibi-Usa is feeling most prominently right now is guilt; Guilt for being in any way responsible for the death of Sailor Pluto, her only friend. Other than that though, she doesn’t seem to have learned anything about WHY her actions up until now were not right. And yet, this moment is the impetus for the Silver Crystal (or Neo-Queen Serenity or whatever the hell it is) to not only break the spell placed on Chibi-Usa but to turn her into a scout herself.
Of course this also means that she has to be a little girl again. Ugh… Okay, first of all it wasn’t her decision to turn back into her younger self, robbing her of agency in what she wants to be. The universe just decided that now she’s going to be the good guy again. Being a good guy of course means forever being infantilized, but whatever. It’s not like we can have a good guy who doesn’t embody tired notions about purity and it being innately tied into someone’s self-worth. Sure enough, she’s happy now that she’s back to being a child for all eternity and can finally be useful to others now that she has these new powers. The triumph however is bittersweet considering what it took to get here. She’s wanted so long to be someone important and to be needed by others, but there’s no way she can help her best friend. Needless to say, Sailor Moon is PISSED!!!
Usagi transforms into her badass alter ego and starts firing heart beams or whatever at planet Wise Man to destroy him once and for all. Not only that, but Mamoru has broken out of his spell and is providing his strength to the attack. And look! The other Scouts finally figured out how to stand up and are shooting their own beams at the giant floating rock!
While this is happening, Chibi-Usa is looking on with awe at the power of friendship on display here and seems to understand what they are fighting for. I think THIS might have been a better point to have her turn into a Sailor Scout because it shows some introspection and understanding instead of just forcing the new mantle on her when she felt terrible about herself. Anyways, the group’s attack seems to have succeeded and the Wise Man planet has disappeared. EXCEPT NOT REALLY!! Out of nowhere it reappears (where the hell did it go for ten seconds?) and shoots a super beam right at their faces. CAN NOTHING STOP THEM FROM BEING OBLITERATED!?
That’s right! Prince Demande with his eye power thing brings up a barrier at the last second and faces Wise Man himself. Now he’s CLEARLY at a disadvantage, so maybe the other Scouts could assist him. Nope!! Just let the fucker fry! Really!?
As far as a Guardian of Justice in a Sailor Suit, she’s only been able to nail the latter. SO MANY PEOPLE are left to die in her wake without a trial or whatever, and it usually feels like a decision made out of convenience rather than an aspect of her character or the world they inhabit. With him gone, there’s nothing left of the Black Moon Clan, so I guess any dissent against the monarchy is forever crushed!! LONG LIVE NEO QUEEN SERENITY!! Look, the dude was a genocidal douche bag and it’s not like the world isn’t better off without his sorry ass, but it bothers me that the Scouts just stood there and watched. They had every opportunity to save him, or at least try to, and just let him die a painful death. Now with the little prince out of the way, Wise Man decides NOT to crash into the Earth and instead puts them in the shadow realm or whatever. That or they’re inside a heavy metal album cover. And so the episode ends with the Scouts about to kick some major skull ass to save the universe!!
Despite its flaws, I really do like this show and this was another solid episode with plenty of great moments peppered throughout to give it the kind of weight it needs for an episode this close to the finale. There were moments that fell flat like the death of Prince Demande, and the ending where we’re thrown once again into some unidentifiable void. Still, the death of Pluto (while I’m still not buying it) did its job quite well and Chibi-Usa still continues to shine as the best thing in the series. It makes me worried for season 2 (whenever the hell that’s supposed to come out) where I figure the focus won’t be on her anymore. Of course there are at least three more Scouts that I’m aware of so hopefully they’ll be just as well written as Chibi-Usa. Unfortunately, this episode did have that one REALLY bad sticking point with Chibi-Usa’s turn back to the good side. I’ll buy that she goes back to the good side and that it necessitates her giving up what she always wanted (to be powerful and an adult) but it doesn’t play out in a way that shows positive growth for the character. She didn’t choose to switch sides, and they play off her Black Lady form as someone else controlling her. I don’t doubt that Wise Man had some level of manipulation, but it feels a bit disingenuous to play this off like they rescued a princess rather than someone getting past their own selfish desires. The next episode is the season finale and will conclude the Black Moon Saga story arc. I’m confident that they will be able to give us a conclusion that is more than satisfying considering how well the show has been going lately with only the occasional stumbling block. With Chibi-Usa now a Sailor Scout (and we’re past her awkward transition into one) she’ll finally have a chance to show everyone what she can do, and I can’t wait to see it!
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Sailor Moon “Crystal” Set 1 Standard (BD/DVD combo pack) [Blu-ray]