It did take me a while to realize that it wasn’t just Phil who stayed behind and that is kind of on me. In my defense, there’s so many of these kids and there was never really a roll call performed at any point so it’s easy to lose track of how many need to escape. No matter; the real takeaway to be made here is that Emma ultimately did choose to leave some of her family behind, specifically the kids aged 4 and under. Surprising but pragmatic. As much as Emma wants to save everyone, there is no realistic solution to be found. And once Don and Gilda started to agree with Ray and even brought up the other plantations, Emma definitely had to accept that there’ll have to be another time and place to truly save everyone.
Thank God then that we have the one, the only Phil.
If you thought it was unrealistic how three preteens could plot and lead a prison break then you’ll have a field day with Phil’s insane intellect. Four years old and he managed to piece together that something’s off about his home all by himself. Is this kid Neveland‘s equivalent of Cell Saga Gohan? Imagine how smart he’ll be by the time he’s Emma and Ray’s age.
But in true Promised Neverland fashion, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the story’s sake. If Emma can’t take everyone with her then passing the torch down to someone she can trust really is her second best option. In that sense, Phil really is best suited for the job. Furthermore, leaving some characters behind creates an emotional stake in the plot. You can simply have Emma begin a rebellion but it’s a lot more personal with the open ended goal of coming back to rescue the rest of her friends. And sure, we barely know any of those toddlers but again, this is where Phil comes in. The show wants you to like Phil and if you do, then the fact that he’s staying and assuming the role of leader for Emma will matter a great deal.
Oddly enough, the escape itself is the least surprising part of the finale. The kids zip-lining across the cliff does make for a thrill but that the escapees escape at all is to be expected at this point. Something that I found rather odd was that the guards Isabella calls are only armed with spears. I know this is a world overrun by otherworldly creatures but you’re telling me the demons don’t use firearms? I suppose this is simply a matter of getting written into a corner. As blunt as this sounds, the escapees barely have anything to defend themselves with someone fired at them.
The final confrontation between Isabella and Emma is brief but significant. You’d think Isabella would use force again but her and Emma simply stare at each other before the latter zips across and cuts the line. That Isabella accepts defeat at all is perhaps the one time she truly come across as her children’s mother. It’s very akin to how a parent sees that their child doesn’t accept the path they gave them and learns to support the path they do end up taking. I’m not saying this has necessarily redeemed Isabella but this scene does epitomize how at the end of the day, Isabella simply wanted what she felt was best for her children.
On the subject of Isabella’s motherhood: OH MY GOD, RAY IS ISABELLA’S SON. WHAT THE HELL!?
That kind of connection does really shed light on a number of things. For one, no wonder Ray is so damn smart. Apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Second, while Isabella clearly saw tactical worth with having a Ray as a spy, it’s safe to assume she was more open to the idea because he is her son. It would even help justify the fact that she relied on and rewarded Ray for six years. And finally, I imagine Ray is why Isabella is the way she is now. Her own son is at her own plant and she knows one day, he’ll be shipped out, processed, and eaten. The only way to cope with that is to feign happiness and control a status quo on everyone’s lives.
I really enjoyed the build up to the revelation too. It didn’t even occur to me that the humming Isabella does in Episode 1 and Ray does in Episode 10 were similar but fortunately, this episode makes that more apparent. The flashback begins with Isabella enjoying a song her friend wrote, then cutting to her humming it for her unborn baby. As you soon as you hear Ray hum the song, you realize the twist. The look of shock and horror on Isabella’s face as she realizes with you is so convincing too; it’s a rare scene where this character seems vulnerable.
And so concludes The Promised Neverland…the first season that is.
Yes, this show has indeed been renewed for another season coming out in 2020. I can’t say I’m surprised as a show this popular and well-received seemed ripe for a continuation. What does leave me stumped is where exactly the story will go from here. Sure, Emma and company escapes and will need to return to rescue everyone else but the sky’s the limit with how Point A will reach Point B. I imagine we’ll get to see the outside world but what that setting entails is beyond me unless I read the manga. It’s exciting but it’s also a little foreboding. The whole “a bunch of children needing to escape a human farm” plot was Neverland‘s big draw and now that hook has run its course with this finale. We’ll obviously still follow these characters but it’s safe to assume that things will be very different in Season 2.
I’ll leave off this series of posts with this: I ended up really, really enjoying The Promised Neverland‘s first outing. I did at one point call this series overhyped but now that I’ve made this far, I totally see why it caught on in the first place. This arc does better out in its middle section but it also began on an eye opening note before ending with significant and satisfying payoffs. There is definitely a lot of disbelief to suspend with how smart the characters are but with how compelling they still prove to be, that’s hardly a detriment. All in all, this show is a really well crafted psychological thriller anime. Whatever Season 2 has in store, I am interested to see it.
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