In this episode, both the spider and the human protagonists reach goals that they have been pursuing for several episodes now. The results are entirely different, and atypically, the spider side is the one which comes up a bit disappointing this time.
That side starts with Kumoko being an object of veneration by those regarding her as the Divine Beast, much to her dismay since it does not fit at all with her loner nature. (Curiously, she is acting here like she can understand them now, though she is seemingly still incapable of communicating with them in a coherent fashion.) But that’s merely the humble prelude to the real action: Kumoko’s ultimate confrontation with the Queen Taratect of the Labyrinth. This promised to be one of the series’ most epic battles to date, even with the Queen reduced to a level where Kumoko could match her, and indeed, it started out quite promising. Kumoko has thrived so far on being able to use traps to her advantage, but this time her mother turns the tables on her, proving that previous indications of the queen having greater intelligence were no fluke.
However, even when Kumoko is once again reduced to just being a severed head (with the digital censoring returning as a running joke), she never quite feels like she is in serious peril. The reversal also comes quick once the Parallel Minds that had been interfering with the queen (and which did not go after Ariel) rejoin to give her a major power-up; in fact, it felt almost too easy. That’s partly because this fight is a truncated version of what the novel describes, but to an extent that’s also understandable. When an even bigger fish (er, spider) is on the hunt in the background, even the Queen Taratect does not seem like a worthy threat anymore. Ariel is on the hunt again and she’s not happy.
The episode’s final scene with the earth dragon is an interesting one, though. It is also a simplified version of what the novel describes, though it gets the point across: that the dragons see the arrival of Kumoko on the scene as the time for a changing of the guard. That explains Araba’s behavior at the end of his earlier battle with Kumoko – the way that he acquiesced his defeat rather than struggle to the bitter end – better. He recognized that anyone capable of beating him was fit to replace him. Clearly Ariel does not agree.
The other detail from the spider side is Sophia’s encounter as a baby with Potimas, who still mistakenly thinks that Kumoko is acting on Ariel’s behalf in protecting Sophia. That meeting is anime-original, though the rest of what gets discussed in that scene is not; it just wasn’t told from Sophia’s perspective in the novel. This framing works better, I think, and having Potimas meet Sophia at this point will justify some things that happen later a bit better.
What’s happening on the human side is, arguably, more interesting. Shun’s crew has finally made it to the elf village, and surprise! Surprise! Potimas is still alive in this timeline. How he survived is a mystery that will probably be revealed within the next couple of episodes, but the more important part of this scenario is Shun’s party meeting the other reincarnations and how they react. Some of it – like everyone being startled by Kanata now being a hot girl – is to be expected, but to say that the other reincarnations are less than grateful towards Ms. Oka would be an understatement. Hard to blame them; as the spider timeline suggested, some of them were kidnapped by the elves and all are effectively being kept prisoner here, and if Sophia’s words are any indication, at least some were taken violently. (This further suggests that Sophia may have first-hand experience with the elves being involved in such an attempt on her.)
Exactly why Potimas is doing this is unclear at this point, though presumably it has something to do with Oka’s warning about not developing too much for skills. Also unclear is the level of Ms. Oka’s complicity in all of this. Undoubtedly, the other reincarnations are here because of her, but how much blame does she deserve for the way in which they were brought here? She has unquestionably been keeping secrets, but her efforts to protect her former students seem sincere, and she was clearly surprised by Potimas’s survival. She also gives the impression of not being in control of this situation and being fully aware that she deserves at least some of the other students’ scorn. Oh, and as a final thought on the other reincarnations for anime-only viewers: don’t worry about keeping track of the bevy of new names thrown at you this episode. Only a couple are consequential, and those should become clear in upcoming episodes.
With this episode, the series mostly completes its coverage of the fourth novel. (One or two minor scenes remain that may still be adapted.) Bits of the story have already been used from the fifth novel, and with next episode, the story should fully push into its adaptation.