If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Darwin’s Game doesn’t appear to be getting any worse, though it also isn’t appreciably improving. Episode 4 spends the entire duration inside the hotel, largely following the confrontation between Kaname, the Analyst and the Florist. As a positive, as the Analyst and Kaname work to pull off a plan with an 80% chance of death attached to it (after factoring in multiple stages of the plan and each component’s odds of success) the episode builds some genuine tension even if the outcome does seem pretty clear cut.
I think what makes this episode work is that there’s no attempt to throw new gimmicks at the audience. Using the established situation with the established Sigils, these three characters go through the cat and mouse process before we get a final confrontation that feels fairly meaningful. While it doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding why this game exists at all, for once it didn’t feel like things were just being made up or added as needed but rather that we were consolidating known information and seeing how the characters could use these things in action.
There is a moment toward the end of the fight where we seem to be inside Kaname’s head and there’s some interesting implications from that sequence. Previously, another blogger speculated that the entire thing was actually a virtual world (which would make a lot of things make more sense), but the characters aren’t aware of it. Honestly, that sequence this episode certainly lends weight to the idea of a virtual reality or alternate dimension theory.
Also what helps sell episode 4 is the Analyst. She’s actually a much more reasonable character than Shuka and Kaname and the Analyst working together actually kind of grounds the story. Kaname is the every-man character and having someone reasonable by his side to converse with and plan with actually helped to ground the whole death match into a more real feeling atmosphere rather than feeling like a teenage fan-fiction.
It will be interesting to see what happens next now that the immediate crisis is solved but the event is still ongoing and there are some very strong players outside of the hotel. I’m also wondering if Shuka’s going to appear in the next episode because she didn’t get any screen time this week.
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Darwin’s Game is making all the wrong moves, but if you want the episode reviews here they are.
Images from: Darwin’s Game. Dir. Yoshinobu Tokumoto. Nexus. 2020.