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.
I have to be honest—after the thrill ride that was episode one of The Promised Neverland, I’ve slowly become less and less interested in the series as its progressed. I’ve been enjoying it, but not to the level I was at first. Perhaps its unfair to expect that same high for each episode of the show as I experienced during the initial reveal.
But with episode seven, I’m once again totally and fully in.
The cliffhanger last week hung on whether Krone really knew what the kids were planning and whether the kids would team with her. Well, we immediately find out that yes, she perhaps knows more than Mama does about the escape plan. And the kids do ultimately agree to team with her, though Emma does so reticently. It’s an interesting reaction from her; why would the normally compassionate Emma look at Krone with such resentment and mistrust?
Well, it’s because Krone has just revealed a doozie to her and the others. She, and Mama, too, for that matter, were once orphans on a farm as well. Because her score was high enough and through the recommendation of her own Mama, she was kept alive and trained to be a mother. And Emma just can’t take that. The highest betrayal for her is of family, and Krone is not only actively doing such, but does so having once been part of such a group.
But I have to say…I started feeling some sympathy for the sister in the moment. Am I the only one who felt that way? While Emma has integrity that’s of legend, I’m more like Norman or especially like Ray in that I can be persuaded, and especially could have when I was twelve. I don’t blame Krone for taking the deal at that age. At 26, she’s now lived longer knowing the truth than she did not knowing; she’s become part of the machine, and has been driven crazy from it. Emma, perhaps, might have gone down the same route if she hadn’t discovered the truth. And Ray, maybe, would be like Mama, who has now lived almost twice as many years knowing the truth than she did as one of the farmed children. All this is occurring in “Grace Field,” by the way—is that a signal that we should have grace upon the adults?
To be honest, though, I feel less sympathy for Mama than for Sister Krone, if any at all. Some of that has to do with her cold demeanor, but more with my familiarity with her sins. The idea of having “sympathy for the devil” is possibly based on a human perception of that ancient demon reflecting the bad side of us, someone whose deeds are more limited to greed and licentiousness than with death and genocide. It’s easy to see the devil as being not that bad after all. But Isabella—she’s directly culpable in killing children. No matter her background, it’s hard to say, “But I understand” to that.
Meanwhile, the five children, and especially Ray, continue to plan. There’s a great scene in this episode that begins with Ray looking through a screened window. While the entire imagery of the farm is meant to look like it’s part orphanage and part prison, it especially leans toward the latter in these few minutes. The five children are discussing their plans, and it really feels like a prison escape scheme, with the jail-like look, muted colors, and the white uniforms. In fact, I was reminded particularly of The Great Escape—the “good guys” trying to outsmart a vicious enemy.
I’m nor sure if you’ve seen that film, but the camaraderie and feel-good tone accompanied by the famed score goes a different direction once the escape occurs—not everyone makes it out. Not everyone survives. The dread and danger of this farm escape remains just as immense. Though I haven’t jumped during the series since episode two (the cheap thrills are gone, even as the director continues to try to build a horror vibe), the anxiety I feel for the kids grows deeper and deeper. The conversation between Emma, Norman, and Sister Krone exacerbate that feeling, with the latter revealing that beneath her habit of leaping before she looks and the mental illness she exhibits is a surprising intelligence (or maybe it shouldn’t be surprising since we now know she was one of the smartest children in her plant). Besides growing in potential as an enemy and uncomfortable bedfellow, Krone also gives information that’s chilling, most compelling of which is that humans are out there, and some are cooperating with and have equal standing to the oni. Developing a mythology adds to the dread, creating a Lovecraftian feel without needing to show the beasts (which have been revealed too much already, in my opinion).
The episode comes to a close with another cliffhanger, but one that also reminded me that many questions remain in the air, but these in particular based on this episode:
- Is Krone leaving for good or is the “goodbye” from Mama a narrative misdirection?
- What does Ray’s new camera have to do with the tracker-breaking device?
- Does Mama know that Ray is a double-agent?
- What was in the note that Krone found?
This episode felt like a return to form, which makes it all the scarier as we march forward. Six days, perhaps four, remain until the day of escape—and that’s several days too many for an impossible plan to fall apart.
The Promised Neverland can be streamed on Crunchyroll.