There is a moment early in this episode which speaks best to the spirit and attitude of the show: the scene where Maou and Ashiya have to take the subway to get to the second tower, while Emi just conjured up magic boots and flew over to the first tower. Sadly, it’s one of the few places in the disappointingly-drab season finale which seemed entirely on point.
What makes the episode even more disappointing is that it had some material to work with. The big revelation here is that Emi’s father, Nord Justina, is not only alive but also in Japan. Since the foundation of Emi’s motivation for fighting the Devil King is her father’s death, this is an Earth-shattering blow not just to Emi’s raison d’etre, but also to her attitude towards Maou. How can she justify her actions if she does not have specific reason to hate him anymore? This is a matter with such heavy future consequences that the episode-ending confirmation that Lailah was, indeed, the angel who saved Maou as a child pales in comparison. So does the implication, from various tidbits throughout the episode, that Lailah is being sought partly because she is trying to fix something intrinsically wrong with Enta Isla that was caused by Heaven, and doing so would be detrimental to Heaven. (That Lailah is also being sought because having a child with a human implies that humans and angels are more genetically similar than the angels care to have acknowledged is also an interesting point with possibly greater implications.)
There’s also Chiho finally getting to have her turn at being part of the super-powered action. Granted, everything she’s doing is more or less just channeling for Lailah, and she looks good in the action pose of firing the magical arrows. Sadly, the action is otherwise a letdown. Although this has been a problem all season, the action in this episode feels extra-limp; it has no dynamism, energy, or real sense of battle choreography to it, and the musical score is not helping much. Admittedly, the actual fighting here does not amount to much, and this has never been an action-focused series anyway, but I still expected more than this. That this episode aired on the same day as the action extravaganza that was DanMachi‘s cour-ending episode, and just a day after the equally visually-awesome season closer for Made in Abyss, is an additional bit of unfortunate timing. But hey, at least they kept the detail about how Chiho is so busty that her hospital pajamas are straining a bit to stay buttoned. . .
In all, the episode had enough interesting reveals, plot hooks, and commitment to the series’ sometimes-quirky style of humor that I cannot give the episode too bad a grade. Additionally, an announcement has been made that another season is coming next year, and that it will feature the debut of a new core (and, by extension) new peripheral cast member. While this is not the franchise’s strongest material, enough is still going on here that I would be back even if I had not read far ahead in the novels.