Posted by Lenlo on 21 September 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

This week Steins;Gate 0, once again, brutally reminded me of the potential it started with ~5 months ago and subsequently wasted. We have lab-member shenanigans, emotional heart-to-hearts and overdramatic time travel sequences. Let’s dive in!

So in general, Steins;Gate 0 worked this episode. It really did. The emotions were on point and there was a good balance of tone throughout the episode. The lab scenes, the jokes, the voices, the planning, all rang true to the original. There was heart in these scenes that up until now has been lacking. Most likely because, finally, Okabe has a set goal to work towards. Up until now Okabe has most just… existed in Steins;Gate 0. Drifting from plot point to plot point, with relevant things only really happening when interacting with Amadeus. With a set goal and his Kyouma personality back, the series finally feels like it’s going somewhere. Problem is, this is just to late in the series. We have one episode left to resolve everything, yet sat through multiple episodes of meandering nothing. It is, as I said, a waste of potential.

As I said though, this episode was a good one, and not because of Steins;Gate 0. This episode, in my opinion, excelled because of our experience with the original Steins;Gate. We have been waiting 22 episodes for the return of Kyouma, because we missed that side of Okabe’s character. It paid off because we loved that aspect of him, not because Steins;Gate 0 built up to it well. Sure there were moments of brilliance, flashes in the pan, but it lacked the consistency of the original. Take the Amadeus conversations for instance. They were the best part of this episode, of the whole show, because of what the relationship means. But Amadeus was sidelined in this second half, and the only reason I ended up caring for her is because of who she was a stand-in for. The potential was there, but we got shown so little.

Amadeus and Okabe weren’t the only good parts of this week though. The tone and pacing was good, taking the episode nice and slow to really explore these relationships. Take the lab scene for example. It was good fun, while getting all the characters on the same page and pushing the plot forward. The gags were clever, with multiple layers. Take the joke with Okabe picking up Maho. We had Daru getting his pervert on. Okabe picking her up and then commenting “Go ahead, draw” in his exaggerated monotone Kyouma voice. Bookended by a distorted speech, like his cheek was swelling from the slap. There were layers to the joke here, and it all took maybe 10 seconds total. It wasn’t shock humor or pervert humor or anything like that. It was an in character height joke, and I giggled. Sue me.

The only part where this humor, this tone, failed was in the timing. Not the episode timing, in the context of the episode it worked great. It failed in the timing of the series. This is the pen-ultimate episode. Steins;Gate 0 is supposed to be a serious, interesting drama. This should be where all the plot threads are coming together, where all of the build up is prepping to get paid off. These kinds of jokes work, there was effort put into it. But I feel like its something we should have seen weeks ago. Back before the stakes started to get “end of the worldy”. When Okabe’s biggest problem was Mayurii realizing he was depressed. That’s when this kind of well crafted comedy should have been used. Not when your ending an episode with the “death” of a major character.

Speaking of the episode ending, while melodramatic in places, I think it worked. And I think it worked for one simple reason. Amadeus is a Steins;Gate 0 unique character and as such has no guarantees of survival. The problem with the deaths for Ruka or Suzuha or Mayurii is that, because of the original, we know they come out OK. We know they survive, and so there is no real threat to them. But for characters like Amadeus, Maho, Reyes and Kagari? There is no such guarantee. These characters can be killed/harmed or effected in ways no one else on the cast can be. She also shares the character space with the beloved Makise Kurisu, so it’s sort of twisting a knife in the wound. It’s such a similar self-sacrifice as the original that, for me, it just sort of… connected.

So, everything about this episode out of the way, I now need to mention the elephant that worries me in the room. This was episode 22 of 23. We have one episode left to wrap everything up. And I just don’t see how Steins;Gate 0 is going to do that. Not satisfactorily at least. I have no idea where it can or will go. And that worries me. How is it going to close everything out in 22 minutes next week? Personally, I suspect it will be disappointing. I suspect that these last few episodes, this last hurrah which is better than everything leading up to it, will all be for naught and that Steins;Gate 0 will do what it does best. Let me down. One last time.

What did you think about this week though? Are you confident the finale will work out? If so, let me know below, and we will find out next week, together. See you then!

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