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.
When a season ends and we know the story isn’t over (and in this case that a season two is on the way), the finale can feel cumbersome, anticlimactic, disingenuous. But not here, not with episode 12 of The Promised Neverland. Nope, what we have here is an episode for the ages.
Before we dig in though, a thank you to The Varangian for filling in last week and making us all wish that he had done this column all along. Who knows, maybe we can convince him to take over these articles when 2020 comes around!
And speaking of next season, I can’t wait for it to get here. So many questions remain unanswered (includes a few more developed over the course of this episode, of course), the biggest of which are these: is Norman alive and what will the series turn into now? I’ve already spoken a bit about how I believe Norman lives—if he’s smart enough to hatch this plan, he must know something more that we don’t. As for where this series goes, I’m not sure, and I don’t think I like either of the two main alternatives. The show could become a survival show, at least for the next cour (and almost certainly for a number of episodes), or we could be unwrapping the “bigger scenario,” a structure that mangaka feel they have to employ (see Attack on Titan or Claymore), though in this case we’ve known from the beginning that the outside world would play a major role in the series.
What I find most interesting, though, is the idea that the series will revisit Grace Field. For one, we know that Emma will come back for the younger kids (and the other farms, creating the ultimate scenario that—and this is really the only happy ending type situation possible—the entire world structure is brought down, Hunger Games for anime fans). Phil remains to train them and plan until Emma returns (we all knew he knew, right?), perhaps with a new ally on his side…
And that’s another question—what will Isabella do? When she stands on the wall at the end of the episode, after the kids have run away, we as watchers wonder, “Will she jump?” I’m so glad she didn’t. My heart was beating considerably fast at that point because I didn’t want to series to kill off its most interesting character. But they got us going a bit, especially since we get a ton of her backstory here. And oh boy, where to begin!
- Isabella has her own Norman (or actually Norman / Ray) and his name was Leslie
- Leslie goes off to die and it seems that she and Isabella also knew the secret of this world
- Leslie may be the brains here—could he be the person sending covert messages through the books?
- Isabella was very much like Emma, and really does seem to have cared about the children in her own, warped way
- And biggest of all—RAY IS ISABELLA’S BIOLOGICAL CHILD!
I thought the show would hide that point until next season since we got a long glance at a heavily pregnant Isabella, but no furthering of that scene. And then what a wonderful connection when she hears Ray humming Leslie’s song, and we know before he says it that she birthed him. The hints had always been there, particularly since she had singled him out from early on, but I got snookered—I thought Norman was the one (but the kid is not her son).
Man, and with that revelation, my compassion for Ray grows even more. It was fun seeing this first half of this episode through his eyes, as he discovers how they’re escaping. I love that Ray’s plan was to burn himself alive and Norman’s was to save everyone (at least Ray admits that he lost this one)—he’s smart, but not a genius. And as this smart, troubled, complex kid realizes what has been happening, he must have felt like I did but a hundred times more—I was on air as the episode showed the training in preparation to cross the cliff, and I felt almost like crying when Don practiced to take the important role of the initial thrower. Norman’s plan before he “died” put everything right into place.
And now, we wait. My heart will certainly grow fonder as we do, because The Promised Neverland ended this season on a string of strong episodes culminating in the best of its entire run. It’s leaving us on a bit of a cliffhanger, but even better, with the promise of more awesomeness to come, both in mystery and emotion. I can hardly wait.