I complained about Kira taking a jump in his moral stance, moving from killing criminals to FBI agents. It’s a weird leap that didn’t get explained in Kira’s narration. L begins to unpack this shift, saying that Kira is now going against anyone who threatens his crusade for a new world. I can buy that motivation, but it feels odd that we’re getting it from L instead of Kira. However, it does demonstrate how similar the two of them are.
And speaking of L, we see him fully for the first time. He’s this slobby, almost primitive looking late teens kid with this weird air of being almost detached from everything around him. He has an odd habit of sitting on his chairs with his feet on the edge of the seat, knees near his chin. The overall sensation is that he’s a scrawny ape. Not what you’d expect from the world’s greatest detective. Given his youth, I wonder how long he’s been famous, but I guess since he’s anonymous and brilliant, he could have been solving crimes in his early teens.
This episode is surprisingly low-key. After a relentless five episodes of elaborate plans, this episode is more about processing the aftermath of events. It’s a change of pace, and one that demonstrates that most of what this show has going for it is how terribly clever it is and nothing clever happens this episode. There is an interesting setup as Light meets Shoko, the fiance of Ray Pembler, who has key information about Kira.
This is a dark show from the onset, but this episode goes down into the abyss. It starts out with Kira straight up writing Shoko’s name in the death note in front of her. He’s got no qualms about killinging her, but the Death Note ends up not working because she uses a false name. Kira then has to spend the rest of the episode trying to get her real name. It’s an interesting episode more about character interactions and quick bluffing than elaborate plans.
Eventually, he gets her name, passing himself off as an agent on L’s secret task force. Her death is beautifully animated. Snow begins to drift in as time slows to a crawl. The already muted visuals become even more desaturated, one agent on the actual team casually walks by in the background, oblivious. She begins walking away, entranced, towards an illusion of a noose. So haunting, so cruel, so cold.
L and the police investigate Ray Pembler’s murder over some ice cream. Once again the show juxtaposes violence and death with childlike behaviors. Ray’s death leads L to investigate the chief’s family since that was one of Ray’s leads. Since the chief is now working with L, there’s an obvious tension, but he agrees even though it invades the privacy of his family.
The invasiveness of the camera is first time the show has ever presented any potentially negative aspects of the established justice system. So far, the show hasn’t painted them as inadequate or immoral, but just as people unable to stem the tide of evil. Here, they use a means that one could argue violates the rights of the people the police are supposed to protect.
Light instantly picks up on the surveillance and ends up getting Ryuk to work with him for once. With the cameras, Ryuk can’t get his apple fix because the cameras will see the floating apples and be tipped off. While it means that Ryuk finally is doing something in the show, it also demonstrates how dull he is as a character and the attempts to use him for a comedic gag falls completely flat.
However, there is a scene, a glorious scene, an amazing scene, the kind of scene that is the stuff of legend. Light must continue using the Death Note and he devises a nefarious plan whereby he hides a miniature camera in a bag of potato chips. This leads to the most dramatic chip-eating scene of all time. Words cannot convey the ridiculous level to which the sequence goes, the epic music with piercing vocals, the rapid edits, the swift movements. It’s Death Note at it’s corniest and it’s something to behold.
L ends up shadowing Kira at the university entrance exam. Both end up making perfect scores and end up delivering a speech together. It’s a great contrast of their characters. L is a slouch, a complete mess on the outside, while Light is professional, clean and controlled, looking perfect on the outside. Both are driven geniuses, but Light seems far more obsessed with control than L.
L ends up telling Light who he is and that he wants Light to be on the case. Light is convinced that L has the upper hand now. The unexpected move forces Light’s hand. He becomes frustrated with the limitations of the Death Note, the limitations of the power he controls. It just isn’t enough for him. He wants to be a god, reinforcing something L says earlier about Kira having a god complex but a childish outlook on life.
It’s a setup for a new game and it will be fascinating to see how this chapter unfolds. The twist is quite clever as it’s not expected that either character will reveal their hand, but L realizes he has a better hand as his real name and identity still remain a mystery even if he reveals he is the legendary L. However, the college setting has me bracing for something that could become rife with cheap cliches of characters, situations and settings that the show has avoided thus far.
The scene opens with the most epic tennis game ever. When it comes to being dramatic, Death Note likes to turn things up to 11. In moments like this, it makes it endearing. But more intriguing is the game within the game. Light contemplates what the tennis game might allow L to infer about him. He figures that throwing the game or winning the game could be interpreted either way as a sign that he’s Kira so he just goes for the win.
It’s crazy how L’s honesty allows him to put Light in a corner. He says he thinks Light could be Kira, but that he thinks its worth the risk to have him on the team. It’s a win win. If Light is Kira he’s near L who would eventually be able to see a slip-up. If Light isn’t Kira, L gets a brilliant member on his team that will bring him closer to finding Kira.
This forces Light to constantly have to hide things, constantly be in control and hold back those bits of information Kira would know that L is trying to force out of him. Light tries to turn the tables on L by asking him to prove his identity as L. It’s great to see these two characters play against each other in close proximity. It’s taking the show to another plane, one that isn’t as much about the killings, but about this game of who knows what and who can use that information to trip up the other person.
Light’s dad ends up having an heart attack. It ends up his father isn’t dead, but I have this nagging feeling Light is behind it because he asked Ryuk about how far in the future the Death Note can kill. If he can control the events leading up to someone’s death he could write a feigned heart attack and then set his Dad’s death into some impossibly long future. That’s my crazy theory.
© 2014 James Blake Ewing