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.
The Promised Neverland can be streamed on Crunchyroll. Can’t wait until 2020 for more episodes? Try reading the manga.
4 thoughts on “The Promised Neverland for Newbies, Episode 12 (Finale)”
I gotta say, it felt like whiplash when I first saw you think that Norman was Isabella’s kid.
LOL they have the same faaaaaaace!
Thank you for this recommendation: I´ve never liked an anime series as much as this. And it has so many parallels with the faith I don´t even know where to begin with.
For once, the Edenic place where sons and daughters live and grow as siblings, keeping the books, symbols and pieces of the past world, but usurped by monsters who have become its masters and want to devour the children it´s very much like us in the present world with its “prince”. Monsters who devour children are the primal symbol of evil in children tales, and one cannot but feel a primal fear seeing them. A thrilling plan of salvation in the everyday world, born from a love strong and pure enough not to exclude anyone, humble, down-to-Earth, clever, difficult and wise, motivated by the “I don´t want anybody else of my precious family to die!” strongly resonated with me. It´s kind of an echo both of the “so that you may live” of the Deuteronomy, and the “I have come that they may have life” of Our Lord. He really wants us to live, to escape eternal death, be with Him, bring us to a better house. The “follow me, and I´ll show you something cool” also felt hopeful, and very similar to the “come and you will see” of the Gospel: reject the story of revenge and death you have thought for yourself, become a sibling for a lot of brothers and sisters, help and be helped in the way to the Promised Land. And that post-death Norman (whatever it may happen in the future) who walked for a moment at the side of Ray and Emma, made they feel his presence, remembered they of his words and disappeared again behaved very much like Christ does now.
The fact that some people we love are revealed to be servants of the enemy, yet they are included in the plan, and how both Mama and Sister are saved, was easily what made the show jump from really good to great, as the throughout defeat of the utilitarian logic by a logic which doesn´t lose any of its cleverness or its strenght, but gives them its true meaning instead: Ray and Norman were similar, but Norman was converted to love by Emma. The way this loving, hard hope are gradually given to everyone as a call to serve the team, come to be part of the plan and give the best of your peculiar abilities was very like the Church. The Christlike sacrifice of Norman for the sake of Ray and the rest, to bring him out of the pit of darkness he got himself into, and the Shawsank Redemption way it is presented -darkness, violence, everything feels lost, then we discover it was all part of the plan- makes it even more compelling. The loving yet decisive goodbye of Emma to the House and to Mama was also memorable and unique: she truly has rejected hate. And the last scene, “this is our first day”, with the sun coming up in a world without our old certainties, dangerous but hopeful, was very like experimenting the fruits of Resurrection.
A child is a great symbol of how we are to be before God, and these children were as innocent as dove and as shrewd as serpents perhaps unlike any other. Trumping the logic of the world of adults, demons, utilitarism and Ray, and freeing the villains from it, was a great thing to see. How they become a sign for each other, loving everyone, yet being humble about what they can do (Emma´s decision towards the smoller ones) made me want to be stronger, wiser and more loving myself, which I think it´s the very purpose of epic stories. I liked the characters a lot, every one of them. And the colours, the music, the horror, the pace, everything was great. It was so pefect that I don´t know if a second season can better it.
Well, not perfect, now that I think about it. The infant amnesia thing didn´t make sense and was unnecesary: Ray could have just said he had deduced what was happening and I would have bought it. Giving a report on what he saw and felt with a few days old it´s too much for me. Also, the introduction of the books and the Promised Neverland were sort of clumsy for such a smart show: if the last book is from 2015, and the state of human technology suggests that this is the future and by then things were normal, there´s no reason to trust the misterious message anymore, while just a word in geometric Morse is unlike to be of much help for the children: you can do much more with a book with hundreds of pages. But these are small things: the Promised Neverland was just great.
Golly, next time, would you just send me a guest post with your thoughts? All these awesome parallels you’re discussing here are wasted on a comment board! 😛