This week’s episode was very much a continuation of last week’s episode, in terms of themes. You can read some thematic discussion I did on last week’s episode here. But if we boil it all down, it’s all about trust.
Ever since the first episode, I pointed out how part of what stopped Satoru from being able to grow up, to advance with his life, was the wound opened in him when his friend Jun was found guilty for the series of murders, but it’s not the murders themselves, or even how the adults tried to wrap up the children under the cover of childhood and ignorance that kept him so imprisoned, but that authority figures would not believe him, both the institution as symbolized by the police, and the personal hurt, where his own mother did not believe him.
The case of Airi’s parents breaking up over stolen chocolate was a tad ridiculous, there’s no real doubt about it, but what it was all about was how lonely and betrayed her father felt when his own wife wouldn’t believe him. The stakes might have been tiny, but the pain over someone not believing you is real. And so he ran away, or was driven out, by his friends, and by his family, because if they don’t trust you, are they really your friends, are they really your family?
So here we are with Airi, who’s totally in love with Satoru, because even though she’s angry over people not trusting others, or betraying their trust (and this is what she punched the manager over), she’ll accept Satoru not giving her his full trust. This is what everything in this episode revolves around, how Satoru’s mother’s old co-worker trusts in him, not rationally, because “She wouldn’t have raised a killer for a son” is but a rationalization, how Airi’s mother would believe her daughter’s judgment, believe it enough to go against doctors’ orders and the police’s express demands. This is about paying for one’s past mistakes, the journalists who didn’t believe Satoru as well. This is about paying for past mistrust with trust, against all evidence, at this point.
And then we get to how the episode ended, where the Manager is proven right. Where the other thematic thread of the last two episodes, a common refrain in time-travel stories, rears its ugly head. What is Satoru trying to do? He’s trying to fix things. He’s trying to make Airi feel better. He doesn’t think himself to be a hero, but is trying to imitate one. And then he delivers to Airi the worst twist of all, “I’m glad I trusted in you,” which just smacks in her face again that it’s this trust that led to him being in chains now. His forgiveness doesn’t make her feel relieved, but it’s damning her even more in her own eyes.
Satoru has good intentions. He means to leave things better behind him than they were before, but instead he ends up making it worse and worse, such as with the kids whose joy he tried to increase, only for their airplane to end upwashed away in the stream. And here is the question of where to go next. The episode repeated again the cruel irony where he’s told to let bygones be bygones, except for him they can still be changed, but if each time he changes it it gets worse, isn’t it better to fix things by taking responsibility for all the extra hurt he’s caused, in his case if not in the original past, but by trying to fix it and now getting Airi involved, and who knows who else? Because he can make amends, by taking the blame for his mother’s murder.
But Airi has given him the counter-point, to keep trying, and that until it’s done, no one knows how it’d turn out, so why not keep trying? This is the trust he was really talking about, because he said that whether through capture or revival, this might be the last time he talks to Airi, because she renewed his determination, no matter how much worse things would get, he’ll keep trying to fix it all. And this is the gambit of the time-traveler, not just his own suffering, but actually making it worse each time he leaps – so he has more incentive to keep leaping, to fix it all, as the situation keeps getting worse, but also an incentive to stop leaping before it gets even worse, and especially so long he can take all the blame himself.
And then, they ended the episode, right when it was clear there’d be a leap, and it still hurt and made me want the next episode right now. A leap, before he could go and see clearly who the killer is. A leap, and another opportunity for him to try and fix things, or give up. Will he be worthy of Airi’s trust? Will he try to make a lie of his own past words, and be a hero? We’ll find out, and damn the patience they ask of me, to see whether Satoru ends up a god of death, or an angel of mercy.