The majority of this week’s episode is a flashback. While we’ve already seen how Rit and Red met (and why she fell in love with him), this time we see their final adventure together. Of course, most of this journey turns out to be a leisurely stroll through the world’s most deadly woods, which gives Rit the chance to come to terms with her feelings—mainly through the inclusion of the high elf Yarandrala.
While we haven’t really met Yarandrala before, her presence has certainly been felt. A few episodes back, we learned that she quit the heroes’ party immediately after Red’s disappearance—certain that Ares killed him and was attempting to cover it up. Here we see why her reaction was so volatile. While she is all over Red in the flashback, her love for him isn’t one of romance but rather one of deep friendship. Of all the humans in the world, he is the one she trusts the most.
Moreover, we learn that she refuses to consider Red as a romantic possibility for one simple reason: he’s human and she’s an elf. While we’re not given specifics, it’s clear her life span is much longer than a human’s—that she’s had a human lover in the past and is not keen to repeat the pain of losing another to the ravages of time. This does a lot to humanize her as a character—despite the fantastical nature of her emotional trauma. She loves Red as much as she can as a friend but cannot—will not—allow it to go further. Thus, what she wants most is for red to be happy—which brings us back to Rit.
Rit finds herself jealous of Yarandrala until she learns the details of Yarandrala’s relationship with Red. This in turn forces Rit to confront her tsundere nature upfront and gives her the impetus to change. This neatly bridges the Rit we have seen in flashbacks to the Rit we see in the present. She has taken Yarandrala’s advice to heart and now, instead of becoming defensive when embarrassed by matters of the heart, she doubles down on making what she feels absolutely clear.
However, despite fleshing out Yarandrala as a character and showing Rit’s emotional growth, that’s not really what the episode is about. Rather, this episode is about Ruti and the war raging inside of her.
Up until now, Ruti has been shown to be nearly emotionless. She is stoically focused on her mission and is completely matter-of-fact whenever she bothers to speak at all. Yet, after Yarandrala and Red return from their desperate holding action, it is Ruti, not Rit, who runs into his arms. Moreover, she apologizes again and again for sending him off to do something so dangerous promising to never do it again.
Then, at the end of the episode, we get a second flashback—one to the moment where Ares lies to Ruti about why her brother has left the party (in a clear attempt to make her emotionally reliant on him). What’s interesting is that she not only realizes that Ares is responsible for the whole situation but reacts violently as well—mortally wounding Ares and leaving him as a bloody pile on her wall. Yet, as soon as the rage comes, it dissipates and she heals the broken sage as if nothing had ever happened.
The subtext of these scenes tells us what’s truly going on with Ruti: her blessing overrides what she truly wants—and has been doing so for years. Ruti is a slave trapped in her own body, forced to act like the stereotypical hero of legend. Everything she does puts aside her own feelings for the sake of saving the world. Does she want to send her brother out as bait? No, but it is for the greater good and a hero believes in her companions. Does she want to let her brother leave the party? No, but a hero lets her companions choose their own fates and must never deviate from her own mission to save the world. Does she want to leave Ares dead on the floor for separating her from her brother? Yes, but Ares’ power is needed to defeat the Demon King—not to mention that a hero doesn’t kill her companions.
While Red is discovering the wondrous joy to be found in an everyday existence, Ruti has lost the one thing that made her extraordinary life bearable. She’s surrounded by a group of people who either fear her or seek to use her for their own ends. She has never been more alone. The story of Red’s revitalization is Ruti’s tragedy—and he doesn’t even realize it.
•The fact that Ruti no longer sleeps is just an extra twist of the knife. She spends eight hours a night sitting alone in her tent—with nothing but memories to keep her company.
•Honestly, at this point I question how much Ruti needs her party members. Not only did she one-shot the sage but she also doesn’t tire nor does she need sleep. She’s basically a terminator at this point.
•Not gonna lie though, it was super cathartic to see Ares in a puddle of his own blood.
•Again we see that many of the problems our heroes faced were due to Ares’ arrogance and attempts to show himself to be better than Red. What’s worse is that he never seemed to notice that Red covered for him whenever things turned to crap.
•Ah yes, bathing: the one time female characters can have a heart-to-heart. After all, we all know that clothes get in the way of emotions. (At least there wasn’t some cliché B-plot about Red and Ares trying to peak on the naked girls.)