Naturally when Riko and Reg reach a new layer, we have to be reminded that these two kids are constantly avoiding death. Seriously, Riko and Reg almost die like five times in this episode. The whole experience reminded me a lot of Episode 5 which also had the pair going through some physical and psychological torment until they finally reached a safe spot. If Made in Abyss has made one thing crystal clear: it’s that the Abyss is out to kill you.
This time however, it’s Riko looking after an unconscious Reg as opposed to the other way from Episode 5. Unsurprisingly, having your laser cannon, Bionic Commando robot buddy unconscious makes life in the Abyss extremely hard. It also doesn’t help that by pure coincidence, Riko tends to run into monsters almost all the time. In hindsight, Riko should’ve just waited for two hours until Reg wakes up. Looking for food just seems like an extremely reckless decision, especially considering the wildlife that lives in the Abyss.
There is also the fact that Riko is affected the Curse and not Reg. That comes into play when Riko has to carry Reg up a slope to safety and Riko begins hallucinating and vomiting (this time, without sparkles and rainbows). If it was Reg carrying Riko up the slope (since Reg can’t be inflicted by the curse), I imagine the climb would be easier. I suppose for the narrative’s sake, we need to see that Riko depends on Reg as much as Reg depends on Riko. I just can’t help but think that in terms of combat and survival, it’s kind of obvious that Riko seriously needs Reg’s firepower.
As dangerous as the Third Layer is, I can’t deny that the aesthetic of the place is very distinct and memorable. It’s this long and hollow white hole; you can easily descend to the fourth layer but giant monsters fly around and it’s technically safer to take refuge in the holes dug by these little hamsters (despite the hamster’s predators also occupying the same space). That ultimately changes Riko and Reg’s strategy a bit. Normally, the two can just descend off of anything. Here, they have to look for the new a opening in the walls for them to use and even decide whether to descend to another opening or using the tunnels within the walls instead. The place will try to kill you but I really can’t deny that it was a memorable locale (and we’ve already had two very distinct layers already). I hope the Fourth Layer is just as visually creative. It’ll definitely be more dangerous, that I’m sure of.