Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: Aversion To One's Own Kind
April 4, 2024 2:19 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

A chance meeting with a priest in the woods leads Frieren to learn more about the man - and to convince him to join her party to fulfill a childhood dream...and find a childhood friend...

And with this episode, we meet the newest member of Team Frieren in the priest Sein - "to be", which is fitting once we get into this episode. Which starts off with Frieren having a discussion with the erstwhile priest about his past and his regret about not going adventuring with his friend - a discussion that becomes pointed when it's revealed that Sein is currently sinking in quicksand, and is pleading with the most socially dense substance known to man to pull him out. After some banter (and Fern's arrival) we have the trio accompany Sein home to his village, but decline his offer to stay. However, they wind up not having a choice when Stark gets bit by a venomous snake, forcing a trip back to the village for healing, which Sein provides as payment of the debt he owed the party. With Sein taking his leave after, they talk to the village's chief priest (and Sein's older brother), who recognizes Frieren easily as both he and Sein grew up under the auspices of her compatriot and friend Heiter, and as such heard many stories about the elven mage. In their discussion, the priest notes that Sein always had dreams of being an adventurer, but has seeming let them wither for a reason he hasn't shared to anyone - and that he believes that Frieren might just be the person to get him to move forward.

After a discussion with her young charges, Fern and Stark are in agreement - Sein would make a valuable addition to the party, but Frieren is reluctant, citing an "aversion to my own kind" - likely referring to how she can see herself in Sein's reluctance to leave the village. Stark decides to go convince Sein on his own, but when he finds the priest gambling with the village mayor while drinking and smoking, he notes that the assessment of "corrupt" might not go far enough, but is willing to join the game to convince Sein to join up. A decision that he comes to regret, as Fern and Frieren rush out to find one Stark, shivering in the cold as he's been reduced to his boxers...alongside Sein, who is in a similar predicament. (Apparently, the village chief is a notoriously vicious gambler.) As Fern retrieves the lost garments, Frieren points out Sein's desire to become an adventurer, but the corrupt priest notes that "it's too late" for him - something that Frieren doesn't buy, given her own reasons for making the journey she's on now. We also get a flashback giving us more insight into her "aversion to one's own kind" comment earlier, with how Himmel convinced her to join up on the adventure to slay the Demon King. Which leads her to tell him that she's decided to get him to join up - whether he likes it or not.

Back in the inn, the three discuss Sein again, with Frieren commenting about Sein's drinking as a sign of his corruption, and a reminder from Fern that she is Heiter's adopted daughter with a comment about alcohol being the best medicine. Frieren notes that her pursuit of Sein for the party comes from wanting to give him the same push that she herself go from Himmel. And so we get a montage of Sein helping out with the harvest festival prep while Team Frieren...basically stalks him, while thinking back to his childhood friend who left to become an adventurer. Meanwhile, looking for an in with Sein, the trio confers with his older brother, who notes that in addition to the vices mentioned earlier, he does have a thing for "older women" - and, well, there are few older than Frieren. So, she makes an attempt at seduction using a blown kiss - which winds up being "not very effective" on the corrupt priest, but shocking Fern and Stark with its potency (as well as us getting a flashback where it completely knocked Himmel for a loop.)

This finally brings things to a head when Sein points out his reasoning - his friend said he'd be back in three years, but it's been ten since he set out, and Sein is convinced he's dead - to which Frieren points out that he doesn't know that - and if he doesn't leave, he won't ever know. Which gets to the real reason - when he was younger, he heard his older brother turn down a posting to the holy capital in order to not take Sein's home from him - and that left him feeling that he couldn't leave for his brother's sake. This results in his brother slapping Sein across the face, telling him that his decisions were wholly his, and he never regretted his choices - and that Sein needs to make choices that he won't regret. With that, Sein returns to the party - and after noting he made peace with his brother, Sein tells her that he's made the decision - he'll become an adventurer to find his friend, and as such, he'll travel with them for the time being. And so, one corrupt priest stronger, Team Frieren sets out on the journey again.
posted by NoxAeternum (2 comments total)
So, a prior comment about elven gremlin energy had me thinking about one of the major challenges of the series - how do you write a character like Frieren? Because she winds up being a massive challenge to write, because she needs to be powerful to be credible as "the mage who slew the Demon King", but she can't be an "I WIN" button every time either, as that gets boring very fast. To the credit of the writer, they get this, and are very careful in what they throw at our elf protagonist. To wit:

* They throw Frieren-class threats at her, but sparingly. I can think of only two (perhaps three) cases in the series where she's forced to deal with a genuine threat (and we'll be seeing one of those at the end of the season), but the writer knows that her power level is such that having her face such threats routinely would violate the audience's suspension of disbelief.

* On a similar note, they do on occasion let her have the "I WIN" button - we saw this with Aura, where everyone knows that the demon is fucked the moment she dances with a pale elf in the moonlight - and we're just waiting to see how brutal karma's punishment is going to be. Again, not something that they do all the time, but when it's thematically appropriate - they let the elf drop the hammer.

* For the most part, where the tension comes from is Frieren dealing with outside context problems, which for our autistic-coded elf winds up often being "human interaction". Which is why the series soon gives her other characters to bounce off, because a lot of the best episodes come from her dealing with those relationships, because it's very clear she deeply cares about her companions, even if she struggles to show it at times.

* In addition, there's the fact that she's so vitally human. She's not some legendary figure (even if people may see her as such) - she's a person with quirks like not being a morning elf at all, being prone to pout, and having an appetite that would put a teen boy to shame, among other character traits. And with the focus on her being a quirky little elf, it makes it when she gets to business all the more impressive.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:40 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]

The opening is so funny, with Fern completely ignoring Sein's predicament too. I liked the little fishing metaphor callback to episode 2 at the end.
posted by lucidium at 6:15 AM on April 6

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