Originally published on The Fandom Post
What They Say:
“A Handful of Hope”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode 8 picks up right where episode 7 left off, with the members of Foresight being forced to fight Ainz. They initially try to negotiate/bluff their way out of it, but are ultimately forced to fight anyway. As expected, they’re no match for Ainz, even when he isn’t using magic, and the others stay behind to try and allow Arche to escape. She’s initially successful, but is quickly caught and killed by Shalltear while Ainz incapacitates her comrades and sends them off to be killed and experimented on (not necessarily in that order). He then sends Aura and Mare with a message for the emperor, threatening to destroy the country if nobody apologizes for the invasion of Nazarick.
I don’t think Overlord has ever had an episode with such a massive discrepancy between its high points and low points. On the positive side, the battle between Ainz and Foresight is one of Overlord’s better fights once it really starts up. By framing it from Foresight’s perspective instead of Ainz’s, the fight is actually able to have some tension in spite of the result being a given at this point. The fight itself has a solid back and forth as Ainz casually deflects all of their attacks before he gets serious, but the real meat is the growing dread as the Workers gradually realize just how outclassed they are. Like the previous episode, this one has more of a horror vibe than Overlord’s usual action-oriented battles. The peak comes when Ainz takes off the ring he uses to hide his power and Arche completely loses control from her fear of his power. All in all, this is one of Overlord’s more unique and memorable encounters, even if it doesn’t quite reach the level of the show’s best. Ainz’s threat against the Empire also has some interesting ramifications for the next arc. It’s obviously part of Demiurge’s plan, but exactly what purpose it serves are still a mystery.
Unfortunately, the episode’s strengths are balanced out when the anime indulges in one of my least favorite storytelling tropes: introducing characters who are only developed so they can die and make the audience sad. This is exactly what happens with Foresight after Ainz defeats all of them, and it’s incredibly frustrating. None of them were particularly deep characters yet, but they had a strong dynamic and distinct enough personalities that they warranted more than being killed off randomly. Their only role in the story as a whole was to enter Nazarick and be killed as part of Ainz’s plan, making all the setup they’ve gotten over the past two weeks utterly pointless. It’d be one thing if they went through arcs of their own or had some tangible impact on the story, but that doesn’t happen here. The fact that their dialogue earlier in the episode is peppered with “this is my last job before I retire to the countryside” lines only makes it worse with how unsubtle it is about where the story’s going. Cutting to Arche’s sisters eagerly waiting for her to come back afterwards has the same effect, coming off as baldly manipulative rather than emotionally charged. Writing characters like this is essentially trying to build a building by putting down a foundation and dropping a roof on it: both parts are necessary, but you’re missing the part that actually matters.
I wouldn’t mind this so much if Overlord had treated Foresight like the other Workers who were killed last week. If a character’s role is as a disposable pawn, don’t waste time developing them beforehand. If a character’s role is to have an arc of their own or impact the story, don’t kill them off before they’ve actually done anything. I know I’ve been harping on about this a lot, but this type of writing is a very basic mistake, and Overlord normally has a strong enough grasp of the basics not to pull this sort of thing.
This is a difficult episode to grade properly. On one hand, the fight against Ainz indulged in plenty of Overlord’s trademark showboating and even a little horror. On the other hand, the way the story handled Foresight was wasteful and manipulative in a very annoying way. The bulk of the episode is pretty good, but the conclusion weighs it down a lot. Hopefully, Overlord will recover next week.