Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: Take Care
April 12, 2024 1:01 AM - Season 1, Episode 17 - Subscribe

With the knowledge of his friend traveling to Tur, Sein now has a decision to make - though the weather gives him a chance to further reflect - and to bond with his comrades. And then when Fern falls ill, a journey to find medicinal ingredients gives Frieren and Stark a chance to bond...

So, we have the last "standalone" episode in the season, as from episode 18 on we will be in the series' first major story arc - the First Class Mage Examination. And with that, we have a new OP - "Haru" ("Sunny") by Yorushika, as well as new animation for the ED, this version now centering around Frieren and Fern's bond. The OP has a bunch of new characters...whom I will go over next episode, as for right now, we have our hands full with a major decision for our heroes.

The episode starts off with a recap of the end of the previous one - Sein returning to the party with the information about Gorilla heading to Tur - which means that he has to choose between sticking with Team Frieren, or heading off on his own to find his friend. You'd think that this would be easy for him - after all, his friend is the reason he's traveling - but Sein has become close to the rest of Team Frieren (remember, he's been traveling with them for around 4-6 months, so this isn't surprising.) But with the sun setting, Frieren notes that what would benefit them all would be a good night's rest - and the village has lent them a cabin, so they all decide to table the discussion for the time being.

Settling into their abode for the evening, Fern and Sein come bearing food and firewood - though the former is shivering from the cold - a fact that she's happy to share with Stark via her chilled hands on his cheeks, garnering a knowing comment from Sein. With snow falling, Fern and Frieren look out, and consider if the weather will be an impediment, to which Frieren notes that since they're not in the mountains, as long as, say, there isn't a blizzard, they should be okay.

In the business, we call this "giving fate the middle finger."

Needless to say, our next scene is of Team Frieren out in said blizzard, contemplating their next move (as travel is out of the question.) The village is happy to let them continue to use the cabin, and all things considered, there are worse places to be caught out - as Frieren notes, there's bars and shops (and a magic shop in particular), so the stay isn't going to be too unpleasant - and winter in the Northern Realms is not to be trifled with. Oddly enough, Sein seems...not too upset, as he notes this means that they have some more time together. And with that, we get another montage of their domesticity in the village, with Fern and Stark training, Frieren investigating the magic shop (and getting covered in books), and Sein bonding with the locals at the village pub. Sein notes that they all spent the time in the village separate, a small shock as Frieren comes in, asking if he could mediate between their younger counterparts, as it seems there's a bit of a tiff with Fern in full pout, Stark behind her.

Dragging the young warrior into the back room, he asks for the details - it seems that Stark tried to give Fern a taste of her own medicine by putting his cold hands on her cheek and shoulder, but the move caused Fern to react angrily. Sein points out to him that he really shouldn't have put his hands on her like that without permission, and he should apologize to Fern for doing so. However, when he gets to talking with Fern, she notes that having time to calm down, she sees that her reaction was in the wrong - she even notes that she wasn't upset about him touching her, but that when she felt his strength in his touch, it startled and frightened her (and given it frightened Eisen, that's not surprising.) Sein asks the young mage if she doesn't like Stark, which causes her to respond rather pointedly by asking why he would ask that, her reaction making it quite clear that her feelings are...the exact opposite. With that, we get a rather sweet reconciliation, as Fern asks Stark to be gentler, something he agrees to in a soft apology to her.

And with that, Sein goes to the bar - and channels the voice of the fandom with a straightforward outburst - "Those two should just date already! (We hear and feel you, Sein. Boy do we ever.) At least he does get praise from Frieren for his peacemaking, which he notes isn't that bad, even if it makes him feel like a kid. He notes that he doesn't understand why Frieren brought him along, to which she notes her "aversion to her own kind" - that she saw herself in him staying in his home village, and that just as Himmel gave her the push to move forward, she could see he needed the same and so she gave him that push, because "it's what Himmel the Hero would have done." And besides, they note the journey has been fun, and with that Sein thinks back to all he had experienced with the rest of the party - and with that, he's made up his mind.

With the weather finally cleared, Sein tells them his choice - he's not going to live with regrets, and that means he's going to Tur. They wish each other well, as Sein leaves for the east with a "See you later" from Frieren. As Sein travels off alone, thinking back on the past few months, he notes that it becomes quiet fast when being on your own.

Continuing on to Äußerst, Stark finds Frieren (not odd) and Fern (very odd) asleep at camp, and starts making breakfast. When Fern doesn't respond to his call for breakfast, the warrior wakes Frieren with chilly hands - and the elf notes that Fern has fallen ill. Sadly, this would have been Sein's department, but he did leave them notes, and Frieren does have a scripture on hand...which she's using as a potholder. With holy book in hand, she diagnoses Fern as having a cold - nothing serious, but something that will require them to find ingredients for medicine - and the elf knows just where to get them. Continuing down the trail, they find a homestead, whose owner lets them place the ill mage in bed to keep her warm. As Fern rests, Frieren holds her hand gently, looking over her adoptive daughter with maternal worry. Stark notes this, and Frieren notes that Fern seems to be hurting - and ever since she was little, the elf would comfort her this way. However, with this recounted, Fern pulls her hand free, and turns away, a pout on her face as she's upset about being treated as a child.

With that, Frieren and Stark head out to get the medicinal ingredients, and they talk, Frieren noting that she forgets that Fern is an adult now as it wasn't too long ago she was a child shorter than the elf - and in her heart, Fern is still that little girl - still her little girl. With that we have a montage of them gathering herbs as the come to the icicle cherry blossom tree that has the last ingredient. As they look, Stark notes that Frieren doesn't usually baby Fern, to which she notes that was never her intent - she just saw Fern in pain, and being her adoptive mother, she wanted to comfort her - holding her hand being the only way she knew to relieve her pain. Asking Stark what she should do, he notes that she should trust her gut, pointing out that everyone needs emotional support - and with that we get a flashback, of a sick little elf being comforted by Himmel, his hands holding hers gently, wanting to comfort her as his mother comforted him. Stark notes that he was the cause of Fern's embarassment, and reassures Frieren. Frieren says that she'll hold his hand the next time he gets sick, to which Stark asks "please don't" (and don't worry, Stark - the next time you need your hand held, the person you actually want to do it is going to be the one holding it.)

With ingredients in hand, Frieren gets all witchy as she brews up medicine before medicating Fern while Stark helps with the chores as payment for the help with everything from the homesteader. Frieren then holds her hand to comfort Fern, to which she states she's not a child - and Frieren, not letting go, notes that she knows she isn't - getting a happy smile out of her daughter as Fern keeps her hand in Frieren's soft grasp. With Fern happy and hale, the party prepares to head on to Äußerst, Fern noting that between Frieren and Stark, Sein's notes, and the help of the homesteader, she was in the best of hands.
posted by NoxAeternum (9 comments total)
So yeah - Sein voices what we're all thinking (and he's right, though for the time being Fern's got more important things to worry about with the exam coming up.) We actually get a bit more about how the relationship between the two is, and there's a bit of playfulness between them - again, Fern didn't mind Stark touching her - it's just that he does forget his own strength. And from their interactions, we can tell they do care about each other deeply - but that also doesn't define them as people - as it should be.

The other big thing in this episode is the bit about handholding - and let me point this out, because it's actually a major symbol throughout the series - when you see characters holding hands, it's a symbol of them having a bond, a rather significant one. And while Frieren/Himmel, Frieren/Fern, and Fern/Stark are the big examples, we see it all over - for example, when Graf Granat came to his son's body in Episode 11, he touches...his son's mailed hand. Seriously, it's part of the language of the series, and it's very useful in noting connections.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:11 AM on April 12

This raspy German reviewer has a very long video going over all of the meanings and associations of the character and place names up to the end of this first cour, for anyone wanting some extreme dissection.

He points out that with Himmel meaning sky or heaven, there are tons of shots either framed with the sky dominating or with Frieren looking up at the sky when she's thinking about him, and there's probably the most explicit one here at 10:30 with the matched fade between her looking at Himmel in flashback and gazing up at the sky. Heiter gets a similar treatment with being bright or sunny.

I also like his theory (maybe spoilery? just in case) about the names being so straightforward:
That they're fairy tale style archetypal feature names like "Red Riding Hood" because the story is being told by Frieren long into the future, when she's forgotten the real names of people and places, and just remembers how she thinks of them.

posted by lucidium at 8:57 AM on April 12

That's...overthinking things, to be honest - the reality is that blatantly meaningful names in foreign languages is a staple in media (famous example: Darth Vader is Dutch for "Dark Father", which...yup.) In fact, this particular sort (meaningful German name in anime) isn't even unique to Frieren - G Gundam had the Neo-German pilot Schwartz Bruder, which if you've seen the show is basically "we're just going to spoil a major plot point from the get go."
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:41 AM on April 12

Probably, but to be fair not without some textual precedent - there's the whole thing with Gorilla Warrior.
posted by lucidium at 10:49 AM on April 12

Perhaps, but the thing there is that we know how wrong that particular appellation is - as we saw (and will see in the next episode), that title is far from the sort of person Kraft actually is.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:12 AM on April 12

Oh, I just mean the general talk in the second half of the previous episode about memorable nicknames and Sein not remembering his friend's actual name, I didn't remember anyone calling Kraft that.
posted by lucidium at 11:49 AM on April 12

The statue that Sein's friend got the "Gorilla Warrior" moniker from is of Kraft, which the rest of the party notes.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:45 PM on April 12

Actually I could kinda see that tying in to the themes about memories of people drifting from the actual person and becoming more about the stories the present day people want to tell. But this is overthinking and overthunk thing.
posted by lucidium at 2:04 PM on April 12

Sein experiences, in fine, what Frieren deals with all the time: becoming attached to passing acquaintances. Take Sein's momentary reflection on traveling alone, then stretch it over one thousand years. It's hardly surprising that Frieren has trouble relating to people, when people bloom and fade like flowers in her perception of time. Frieren is always saying goodbye. (Heck, Frieren doesn't even bother keeping her mage certification current, since the certifying organizations last for such a short time.)
posted by SPrintF at 8:34 AM on April 13

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