Despite how strong the rest of the season has been, this episode was most definitely the weakest episode of the show so far.
Even though we’re finally seeing a little bit of payoff to the politicking and the conflicts between Zorzal and Pina, ending in Zorzal’s favour, the fact that this episode decided to put most of the focus on Itami and his group was disappointing.
Usually an assassination plot can be utterly fascinating within fantasy stories, but throughout this episode – from the moment it started to the moment it ended – it felt like all the characters were hit with a stupid stick.
Ever since they dealt with the fire dragon, Itami’s group has seemed to have gone downhill in the quality of storytelling. It contradicts horribly with the events going on at the Jade Palace and in the capital this episode.
The fact that we were already given enough information to know how the Pied Piper operates makes the events in this episode feel like an insult to the audience’s intelligence. Actually, the entire payoff to this plot was a waste of time and kind of insulting. The fact that they even devoted so much of the episode to this was frustrating.
On the other hand, we finally did get Itami motivated to return to the capital to reunite the cast for the season’s climax. With Pina now Zorzal’s prisoner, having been placed into Tyuule’s former cell under the crown prince’s new laws, things are looking dire for the events going on in the capital.
However this is the only section where the episode truly succeeds. As the battle at the Jade Palace continues to wage on, and the JSDF waits for the order to mobilize that we know is coming after last episode’s conclusion, we are given all the pieces for a brutally intense finale to the season with everyone working towards peace or war.
Thankfully, this does seem to include Itami, as he has been a great lead character over the past 21 episodes and really just needed to get united with the real movers and shakers of the story to get things back on track.
Overall, this episode was bad, just barely being saved by the really strong set up of what’s going on in the capital. However, with everyone converging onto the same point, it looks like the next episode may bring back the quality that had permeated the majority of this series. It also means we may get to see the rest of Itami’s squad again as they’ve been ignored since the start of the hunt for the fire dragon.
Episode 22 Rating: 5/10
GATE streams new episodes Fridays exclusively on Crunchyroll.