Princess Principal sure takes its sweet time giving us a Dorothy-centric episode. I suppose Episode 4 kind of fit the bill but that was a broader episode that touched up on the whole cast. Here, there’s no denying this is all about Dorothy. And yes, if I went by the broadcast order, this would be the sixth episode as opposed to the seventh though that’s admittedly not that much earlier so my point more or less still stands.
For this episode, Dorothy is assigned by 7 (Miyuki Sawashiro) to work at a morgue and recover a cipher hidden within the body of a dead Kingdom agent. 7 also informs Dorothy that the Duke of Normandy has already assigned someone to search for the body. That man is Danny McBean (Kousei Hirota), Dorothy’s own father whom she ran away from his poor temper, drinking problems, and the physical abuse he inflicted on her. Dorothy, along with Beatrice, signs up for work at the morgue, all while reluctantly reuniting with her father.
Team White Pigeon sure has a lot of daddy issues. In fact, Dorothy is the third girl with a terrible dad after Beatrice and Chise. The only two who break this recurrence is Ange and Princess and trust me, it’d be weird if the show somehow fitted that into their backstory. I’ll admit, it does border on repetitive, especially when you consider the size of the principal cast (no pun intended). At least each of the girl’s daddy issues play out differently from each other. Dorothy doesn’t go about trying to kill her father. Plus, it at least gives the characters some common ground, something which is demonstrated when Dorothy shares her past with Beatrice.
I really like Dorothy and Beatrice’s chemistry with one another. It’s a sort of “opposites attract” dynamic since Dorothy is assertive and outgoing while Beatrice is timid and soft-spoken. Dorothy also acts as Beatrice’s upperclassman in the field of espionage, teaching the newbie spy how to perform certain tasks such as lockpicking and showing a lot of consideration and patience in the process. Simply put, they make a very charming pair. That Dorothy confides in Beatrice her past and her abusive father is a big deal. Everyone in Princess Principal has something to hide and when a truth does come out, it’s usually incidental. For Dorothy to be so transparent and willingly at that is unprecedented. By that same token, Beatrice is touched that Dorothy feels comfortable to tell her, even pointing out that such honesty is a sign that they’re real friends. Dorothy does play it off but you know that deep down, the feeling is mutual.
Since Danny is working for the Kingdom, Dorothy is effectively forced to cooperate him and see if he might know something about the mission that she doesn’t. And sure enough, this pays off as Danny, unaware that his daughter is a spy, blurts out a crucial clue regarding the dead agent’s identity. Danny also talks about starting life anew once he gets paid for his mission and upon hearing that, Dorothy starts opening up to him again. I’m not at all surprised that Dorothy considers giving him a second chance. Dorothy is someone who wants to see the good in people, even if it’s her terrible father.
But do I think he deserves that second chance? It’s a tall order to ask when the character in question is someone with an abusive history. I can’t blame anyone if they disagree with the notion. The writing certainly try its darnedest in convincing me that he does however. You can’t help but pity the man in wallowing over something he brought upon himself and how desperate he is to turn it all around. At the same time, he seems to truly regret the way he treated Dorothy in the past and doesn’t want to miss his chance with finally reconcile with her. Danny especially comes across as redeemable when he refuses to hand Dorothy over to some loan sharks (yes, the same ones from last episode) despite being promised his debt would be cleared if he did. That alone speaks to how adamant Danny is to make things right. However you might feel about Danny’s character, there is something inherently sad that the man doesn’t even get that second shot at life he was hoping for. At the end of the episode, Danny tries to bargain for an increased reward and in retaliation, the Duke of Normandy’s subordinate Gazelle (Yuuko Iida) gives him the axe (literally).
The ending of the episode is one of my favorite scenes in Princess Principal. Dorothy and Beatrice visit a bar Danny promises to meet them at, waiting patiently for his arrival. Beatrice sings a lullaby Dorothy’s parents used to sing to her and the men at the pub cheers and joins her. Neither of our two main characters are aware that Danny’s body is heading to the morgue. It’s a really poignant scene. The best part about it is that the show never brings up Danny ever again. You don’t know if Dorothy ever finds out about her father’s death, let alone how she feels about it. It’s entirely possible that she never bothers looking into it and just assumes his father was just off getting drunk somewhere, breaking his promise to her like he has in the past. At the end of the day, Dorothy’s reaction doesn’t matter. As much as she’d like reconnect with her father, she’s moved on from her past once before and if need be, she’ll do it again.