This season, Beneath the Tangles will be offering dual posts each week for The Promised Neverland, one for viewers who are new to the series and one for those who have read the manga. This post is for beginners and will only include spoilers up to the episode being discussed. We ask that you avoid any spoilers from the manga if you comment below. If you would like to discuss spoilers and other content from the manga, please read thathilomgirl’s posts for the series.
Lie as if you believe the lie—that’s how you sell it. I know this from experience, having spent too many years stringing together fabrications that I told friends, family, and acquaintances so that I could get ahead and put myself at an advantage. Ray knows this strategy, too—there’s no hesitancy at all when he lies to Gilda, Don, and Emma, and there’s none when he meets with Mama. That’s part of what makes him so convincing.
The problem is, the more complex the fibs—and in this case, there are at least four versions of life that he lives (one in front of Mama, one in front of Norman, one in front of the other three, and one in front of the rest of the children)—the more likely you are to let something slip, like Ray did in a most quizzical manner with Norman’s trap. He’s very smart, but what he isn’t, despite all the lies, is conniving—that term rather describes Norman. Ray is planning a double (triple? quadruple?) cross, but there’s heart to it. There’s something deeper there—he really does care, as Norman concludes upon finding some items stowed away. Norman, on the other hand, thinks like a predator or murderer, but chooses to do good, which is why he’s a step ahead of everyone. It’s why he and Mama are probably the most alike of any two characters introduced so far.
The web of secrets, spying, and planning continues in episode six of The Promised Neverland. After Don and Gilda go into Mama’s secret room (Phil by the way was the one who opened the door—huzzah to those who guessed correctly in the poll on my last post) and find Little Bunny stored away, they deduce that Conny and the others who have been sent away are dead, and the whole truth is revealed, but not after Don punches Ray and Norman in frustration and expresses his deep sadness in a couple of touching scenes. Gilda and Don are now both fully in—the group of five all have the same information now (are far as Emma, Gilda, and Don know, at least—Ray’s secret remains between Norman and himself).
But Sister Krone has also discovered that the five are in the know, and as the episode ends, she offers them the opportunity to work together. Another scary wrinkle is added to the tale. Even more so now, it behooves the group to get off of the farm as soon as possible, in that one-week time frame they’re planning. The threat of Krone had been forgotten until the last couple of minutes in this episode, when she crazily comes back onto the scene, the wildcard in this whole escape scenario. I wonder how the group will deal with her—it appears that she’s still bluffing a bit, not yet sure what the five know for certain. She’ll try to use them, but Norman, I imagine, will try to do the same with her.
Norman is also using Ray to feed back information to Mama, specifically it seems about him trying to poison her. I love the conversation that Ray has with Mama because it manipulates us as watchers. We’re apt to be led a certain way in thinking by how a director or writers frames a scene. Here, we accept that Ray is telling Mama the lies that Norman has asked, and are left to wonder if Ray will destroy everything for his own preservation, being informed that his ship date (freedom date?) is only a month or two away. But there are things going on in the conversation that we’re not yet privy to, plans that Ray has and plans of Mama’s, both. It’ll be fascinating once they are revealed.
The last puzzle piece presented in this episode is that of William Minerva, the owner of books donated to the farm. He has stamped the book with a design incorporating Morse Code for the words, run, truth, doubt, danger, harvest, monster, and farm; two additional ones stand out—one giving just a solid line instead of dots and dashes, and one whose word is promise. What is the promise? Is it to help? Or is it some bigger idea yet to be revealed? How does William Minerva know about the farm, and if he does, why doesn’t he help? Does that say more about him (or the organization he is with) or about the larger world beyond these walls?
I don’t think we’re finding out this season. Halfway through the episodes, we’re rapidly approaching the day of impending escape. But there’s too much unknown and too much possibility that things will go wrong, and I think they will—the question is how and by who’s plan?
The Promised Neverland can be streamed on Crunchyroll.