What’s the show? Steins;Gate 0, Episode 20.
So what’s the episode about? You know, I was pretty content with my viewing experience after this episode ended, thinking—“yeah, lots happened, that was great!” But the more I thought about it the more doubt kept creeping into my mind…
Doubt about what? Whether that episode was completely meaningless.
Okay, you’re going to need to actually tell us what it was about, you know? So Okabe awakens in a hospital-like bed, old, frail and confused. He ventures outside to find the once vibrant and alive Akiba in war-torn ruins—quickly he realises he’s in the future and after being rescued by Suzuha is informed by a more svelte-looking Daru that the year is 2036 and everything is awful.
Well that’s certainly a change in scenery! You’re telling me! I don’t think I was quite prepared emotionally for seeing my favourite place in the world—Akihabara, all destroyed like that. Seeing those familiar sights and landmarks that I hold such fondness for kinda was upsetting, but in a good way, like it made for evocative viewing and ~immediately~ cemented me in Okabe’s mindset.
So it’s a war-torn future, who’s still alive from our main cast? Well Mayuri’s dead because she died in the time machine explosion from the previous episode. Obviously Suzuha is here since she was born in this world, fathered by Daru his running the show in Okabe’s absence. Faris and Ruka are still going strong, fighting the good-fight, Ruka looked amazingly cool in combat fatigues and that long flowing black-hair but well, that’s sadly shortlived…
Oh? Yeah, the show decides that Ruka has to die and in Okabe’s arms no-less, and I guess it was supposed to be a sweet moment but to me it felt intentionally manipulative.
So that’s the first strike you have against the episode. What next? Maho’s still alive too—looking exactly the same much like Faris didn’t look a day older despite it being 25 years later and a literal world war breaking out in the meantime. And that’s another thing that kind of rang hollow about this, Maho and Faris haven’t physically changed at all whereas all the men are wearing the passing of time on their faces. It’s almost like the show was too afraid to make the waifu’s less appealing by giving them age lines or anything to symbolise that life has been hard this past quarter of a decade!
And that’d be the second strike. You mentioned that you had some feeling that this episode was “completely meaningless”, where does that come in? So it comes after talking things through with Maho—in what’s probably the best scene of the episode—she’s seriously such a stable core to this series, but does so very much from the sidelines. Okabe mentions that “Suzuha warned me the future was bad but I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself” or some crap and then says he intends to travel back once more and find ‘Steins Gate’ and fix things. And the more I thought about it the more I wondered, how self-centred do you have to be to not put stock in what Suzuha was saying, like did Okabe just think she was over-exaggerating how bad World War 3 was going to be? Like that really rubbed me the wrong way, that Okabe couldn’t just believe her and he had to see it for himself! I don’t know if that’s a character flaw or the flaw of the writer thinking the viewer wouldn’t take to heart the importance of avoiding World War 3 without having their analogue, in the form of Okabe, experience it first hand.
Okay. So it’s pointless because he’s going to change the bad future? No, it’s pointless because Okabe/the writer thought we needed to see all this and it’s going to all go away. I know that’s ~kinda~ the point of time-travel narratives that things will change and therefore events that have happened won’t happen. But usually there’s something important a character will learn from having experienced a bad ‘timeline’ but he already knew everything that was going to happen from Suzuha! There was nothing new learned from this episode existing, other than Ruka turning into a total badass in the future and even then that’s undercut with a death for the sake of drama.
Right, so not a fan of this episode? Eh, it’s fine—in a binge watch it’ll be less egregious, it’s just having to have waited a week for an episode that doesn’t add anything more to the narrative just felt a bit galling. But it was still entertaining, and sometimes that’s enough, isn’t it?
Previous Steins;Gate 0 Reviews:
Episode 1 Review
Episode 2 Review
Episode 3 Review
Episode 4 Review
Episode 5 Review
Episode 6 Review
Episode 7 Review
Episode 8 Review
Episode 9 Review
Episode 10 Review
Episode 11 Review
Episode 12 Review
Episode 13 Review
Defying the Protagonist – Episode 14 Review
When Daru Met Yuki – Episode 15 Review
Truth Is A Mirror – Episode 16 Review
A Life Sentence – Episode 17 Review
Blowing Up The Gate – Episode 18 Review
The Definition Of Insanity – Episode 19 Review
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