In most class-based RPGs (whether tabletop or VG), the process of choosing a class is not organic. In the early days, which stats one got the best die rolls in determined class; in more recent years, party needs (if the character is developed as part of a party) and character concepts have tended to be the dominant drivers. Exactly how a character ends up with the class he or she has is rarely detailed and often irrelevant. Because of my long experience with this, I found this episode to be an especially refreshing view. This will now be my go-to example on how a person truly becomes an RPG-styled paladin.
While Gus, Blood, and Mary gently pushed Will in this direction all throughout his youth and training, Will certainly earned the right to represent the Goddess Gracefeel on his own merits in the end. Gracefeel (which, for the record, is an awesome name choice for a deity) is the goddess of flame and eternal flux, the one seemingly responsible for leading the migration of souls between worlds. Since William is one of those souls, bears the Stigma of holy flames, and is very much in a state of flux as he seeks to reform himself from his previous life, that makes Gracefeel both the ideal and logical choice for his patron. Everything about the sentiment Will expresses in asking to represent her feels genuine as well, as both the earlier parts of the episode and what he has experienced in the previous three episodes – as well as what Blood, Mary, and Gus have explained about their own stories – have led him to understand the importance of living a life. How ironic it is that he had to learn lessons about living from a bunch of undead!
But that is, of course, what the story was aiming for all along in its attempt to redeem a former hikkikimori. Will defining existing as an undead as just returning to what he was as a hikkikimori is an interesting but effective choice, but what else would a god named Stagnate pursue? Stagnate basically regards entropy as the ultimate peace and seeks worthy heroes to be his chief minions in pursuing it, hence the reason he is so firmly set on claiming both Will and his guardians, but he has the misfortune to be the antithesis of Will’s existence. He seems to realize that, hence his move to go after the other three instead of trying to defeat Will directly at the end.
Of course, this isn’t all about Will. Gus gets to show off his might in the beginning, and Blood and Mary, after their initial struggle to resist Stagnate early on, are back to assure Will that being unable to stand up to Stagnate initially isn’t Will’s failing; it’s something that they believe Will should never have to confront to begin with. But they, too, with their unchanging natures, represent what Will cannot let himself be. They are his family, but also who he must rise above to make his own way in the world. With this episode, Will finally seems firmly on the path to doing so.
While this episode was not quite on the level of 86’s masterpiece for the weekend, it was nonetheless a strong and impactful entry. I look forward to seeing what this series can continue to do.