Last episode ended with Kumoko going on the mental offensive against her mother. This episode is nearly all about how her mother responds, and she certainly isn’t taking the threat that Kumoko poses lightly. In fact, not only is she multiple times more powerful than Araba, but she’s also at least as smart and definitely more cunning. The Queen Taratect is not at the top of the food chain for nothing, and that means even worse trouble for Kumoko than she imagined.
Basically, it also means that the serious threats to Kumoko’s continued existence (much less well-being) remain for now. Even with mother weakened by Kumoko’s soul-based attacks, Kumoko cannot handle her in a straight-up fight, and mother is sharp enough to have prepared an ambush by her top underlings for where Kumoko escapes to. She even pulls out what would seem to be her ace in the hole: the devastating, multi-armed puppet spider. This forces Kumoko to use all of her own best tricks and push herself to the limit again on survival, but that is also what keeps these action sequences operating at a high fun level. Even with as frighteningly powerful as she has gotten by human terms, she can still be convincingly threatened, and the series is better for it.
As neat as it is to see the Queen Taratect finally in action, the real treat of the episode is the introduction of the puppet spider. I have been critical of the 3DCG design on some of the monsters to this point, but the puppet spider makes up for some of the more questionable previous efforts. Clearly special effort was put into both designing the puppet and figuring out how to depict its movements, as that critter is a menace. Even when it is in the side of the shot, using its multiple swords to deflect all the Black Bullet shots aimed at it, its movements impress, and the way it poses and manipulates its threads shows special care. If all of the critters had this fine an effort, this series would be one of the year’s visual treats. Another interesting visual comes in one scene where Kumoko has the arch-taratects on one side and the puppet spider on the other. As she turns her head to look from one direction to the other, one of the foes is reflected in one of her eyes. (This scene happens at the 13:03 mark.)
Beyond that two-stage fight scene, the only other content is a short scene at the end showing Shun and crew making plans to head for the elf village, while Lestor(?) returns to try to fight off Hugo. The one catch? It’s on a different continent, and the only feasible way to get there is to go through the Great Elroe Labyrinth, which apparently goes underneath the sea in between. Why they cannot cross the boat is not explained here; if it is not brought up next episode, I will explain then for anime-only readers, as the reason is given in the third novel. Given the time differential, that shouldn’t set Shun and party on a collision course for meeting Kumoko, but novel readers can probably see why that scene was put in the same episode as the spider-side scenes in this one. There is a connection between the two that will be apparent later.
Adaptation-wise, the human side is still in the midst of the third novel, while the spider side is a few chapters into the fourth novel. The pacing of the adaptation seems to be slowing.