The Faraway Paladin Episode 5

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

All things must come to an end, and in many senses that’s what episode 5 is all about. It marks the end of the series’ first story arc (and, I presume, its adaptation of the first novel?) and thus the end of its establishment stage. The longer main story will now start from here, with the title for episode 6 suggesting that one of the other characters shown prominently in the opener will be introduced. As much as the greater story is something to look forward to, that continuation will come with a certain amount of wistfulness for what has been built here.

The episode opens with the final stand against Stagnate, who has decided that Will is too much trouble and thus is going directly after Mary and Blood. While this is in some senses the standard scenario of a hero coming to the rescue at the last moment, the final confrontation raises its game by acknowledging that Will’s ability to strike down Stagnate was only made possible by the actions of others setting up that possibility. The series also continues to do a remarkable job in the way it handles its deities, with the brief appearance by the gentle Mater both staying Stagnate’s hand at a critical moment and providing proof that Mary had never been abandoned by her goddess.

The final disposition of the trio of undead which follows is just as important to the greater story as the defeat of Stagnate is. Mary and Blood both know that, now that they are no longer beholden to Stagnate, their time has come. To ask for more time now would only establish an addictive cycle, and that they will not have. Their departure is touching, but the more emotional element for me is what Gus did afterword: insist that Will take the combination of their names – Maryblood – as his surname. I cannot think of a finer way to honor the memory of two who were like parents to him.

That also makes the lengthy epilogue, which features Mary and Blood back during their adventuring days, all the more special. We finally get to see what they looked like in life, and more importantly, we find out that they were closer than they had ever let on. Being the parents of a boy with the carefully-chosen name William was their plan before they went on their final mission; it just took them 200 years to finally realize it, even down to where they would live. It is a fitting wrap to the first arc.

With 86 and Mushoku Tensei also knocking out stellar episodes this week, and Irina the Vampire Cosmonaut also delivering quality work, this once again makes for a strong weekend of anime.

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