What’s the show? Steins;Gate 0, Episode 16.
Another week, another episode of Steins;Gate 0, how is this one? In a couple of words: very shouty. Which I won’t go as far as say that’s a change of pace for this show but it certainly felt a lot ‘angrier’ and ‘confrontational’ than what’s come before.
Is that a good thing? Well it certainly helps convey a measure of urgency and importance to what’s being said—but you know what, even with all the high drama that came from Okabe discovering Daru and Maho’s plans to rebuild the time-leap machine and Okabe appropriately losing his shit about it and the usually level-headed Daru clocking Okabe and everything with Maho and Okabe on the roof—that still wasn’t the most dramatic and impactful stuff in the episode.
Oh, and what’s that? At the end of the episode Okabe finds Mayuri sitting in a park they used to visit a lot when they were younger—and she basically tells him that she can’t deal with seeing him looking so broken up all the time over having lost Kurisu. It’s honestly the most heart-breaking and powerful scene perhaps the entire series—but it works so well not just because of how natural and understated the performances are but because it’s in stark contrast to the almost ‘soap-opera’ style outbursts that came earlier in the episode. It’s impossible not to feel utterly devastated for Mayuri who—despite loving Okabe—knows that not only is he in love with someone else, but her existence is the reason he’ll never be truly happy.
Ouch. That’s gotta be a bitter pill to swallow? Indeed, and even if Okabe would never say that, never admit that and never want that—even if he’d made a measure of peace with having chosen Mayuri to live over Kurisu, it’s something he’ll never be able to erase from his face.
But what about Maho and Daru, can’t they fix this, isn’t that the point of them trying to build a new ‘time leap machine’? This is Steins;Gate 0 Okabe—not original series Okabe, he’s been through too much and is too broken and burnt to even imagine a better future. And ~maybe~ there’s a way of fixing things, maybe all the answers are just within reach but he can’t see that right now, he can’t even entertain the idea because of how hard he had to fight just to get himself into this state of comfortably numb.
So it’s a jam-packed episode full of high emotion? I wouldn’t say jam-packed, it never felt like they were trying to fit too much into a single episode but rather that they were trying to get the narrative to a point that facilitated whatever will constitute the final arc of this series—and we’re getting damn close now!
Anything else to add? While it could be argued that Okabe is being difficult to the point of simply elongating the narrative I think it’s important to ascertain his state of mind at all times, something that can be difficult to the outsider and something I think the final scene of this episode did a ways to explaining. Yes it was still very much a scene about Mayuri’s feelings, but sometimes it isn’t until someone else tells you how far you’ve fallen, how dark you’ve grown and how much you’ve changed can you really admit to the problems in yourself. Hopefully having his oldest and closest friend be so honest with him will allow him to put aside his trepidations and emotional baggage and either get some real closure or get some work done into fixing this world of his—if that is indeed even possible.
Previous Steins;Gate 0 Reviews:
Episode 1 Review
Episode 2 Review
Episode 3 Review
Episode 4 Review
Episode 5 Review
Episode 6 Review
Episode 7 Review
Episode 8 Review
Episode 9 Review
Episode 10 Review
Episode 11 Review
Episode 12 Review
Episode 13 Review
Defying the Protagonist – Episode 14 Review
When Daru Met Yuki – Episode 15 Review
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