What They Say:
011145, 021145, 031145
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After so many weeks of scheming and secrets, everyone is starting to lay their cards on the table. From Krone’s (obviously duplicitous) offer of an alliance to Isabella revealing her true self, we finally get to see who was really ahead the whole time: Isabella. Not only did she know about everyone’s plans, she had accounted for them and figured out a perfect way to eliminate Krone and stop the kids from escaping without causing any trouble with her superiors. But before she reveals her hand, it’s Krone’s turn to take the spotlight.
Her offer for an alliance with the kids is a pretty transparent ploy and one they see through quickly. The fact that even Emma, who’s previously been the most naïve of the children, saw through the deception is a testament to how much these kids have had to grow up since they learned about the demons. They all continue to demonstrate this as they accept Krone’s alliance as a way to get information out of her, unsatisfying as it ends up being. As it turns out, Krone is nearly as ignorant of the world as they are, although her backstory is quite interesting. The way she started out as a potential victim just like the kids before moving on to become the victimizer could be a statement about the cycle of abuse, and how abusers were often abused themselves. Indeed, Krone is just as trapped as the children since she has a device implanted in her that will kill her if she tries to escape. It hardly excuses her participation in a system of raising children only to kill them, but it does cast her in a more nuanced light.
Unfortunately, it’s not long before Isabella disposes of her by having Krone fed to one of the very demons she served. Like before, we’re never given a clear full-body shot of the demon, only individual parts framed in tight, narrow shots, which only enhances how unnatural it feels. Krone’s dying thoughts, rather than cursing Isabella for her treachery, are instead directed at the kids, telling them to escape and destroy the messed up world they’re all stuck in. Even after everything she’s done, Krone is still as much a product of the demons’ system as anything else. In some ways, she’s just trying to survive in the world she was born into. This, combined with the black-and-white flashbacks to her own childhood, give her death a poetic, almost mournful air, even though she’s still a villain of sorts.
Although Krone’s gone, Isabella is still there and seems to be an even bigger threat than ever. As she finally confronts the kids while they’re trying to scout the wall, she finally drops the mask she’s been wearing. The truth is, Isabella’s kindness wasn’t all an act. She genuinely believes she’s “helping” the children by giving them a happy life and a painless death, which is far more terrifying than Krone’s manic raving. Isabella is twisted enough that it seems like she could justify anything to herself as being a “kindness,” even breaking Emma’s leg to delay the escape. With what we know about Krone’s backstory, it may very well be that Isabella had the same experience and this is how she justifies her actions. Either way, she’s an obstacle the children will have to beat in order to escape.
A common thread throughout these events is how quiet they are. Scenes like Emma and Norman talking to Krone or Isabella finally confronting the kids don’t have any background noise or music, just the dialogue. Silence like this is an excellent tool to build suspense, and Promised Neverland uses it perfectly here. It feels like something is building and building behind the scenes until it suddenly bursts in moments like Isabella breaking Emma’s leg (which is accompanied by a visceral crunch). Only then does the soundtrack return. No music is needed to tell us how tense things are when the material itself is so taut.
Though the material is just as heavy as ever, the kids’ bond as family continues to keep it from feeling too oppressive. From Norman’s willingness to let Isabella ship him out so she doesn’t ship the others instead to Ray’s instant willingness to break his own leg to stop them and leave Norman open to escape, the kids’ conversation in the infirmary is a heartwarming relief from all of Isabella’s deceptions and cruelty. Even Norman finally lets himself break down and cry at Emma’s loyalty. However, even all their preparations and determination to escape together can’t help the kids in the face of their latest obstacle: a cliff right on the other side of the wall. With that route out cut off and Norman about to be shipped out, they’ll have to think of something fast if they’re going to escape together.
These three episodes feature all of what Promised Neverland does best: tense plotting, surprising reveals, and all around fascinating character work. Even Krone, who started off as a borderline caricature, feels like a fully fleshed out character before her untimely demise. With so many new obstacles in their way and only three episodes left, the kids are going to have to do something big, and soon if they want to get out together.