Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: Necessary Killing
April 18, 2024 2:32 AM - Season 1, Episode 20 - Subscribe

The tension pops off as teams begin to clash - Wirbel and Party VIII challenging Fern's Party IV, while Party XIII led by Denken makes their move against Frieren and Party II. And with the stakes of the test - and of the prize that Serie holds for those who succeed - it might just be worth killing for...

Finally, the fights that have been teased for the last couple of episodes come due, as we get a number of clashes that get to showcase what these mages are capable of.

We start off with one of the biggest clashes - Wirbel/Ubel, as the latter uses her Reelseiden to press Wirbel back, trees falling as the slashes glance off his shields. But no shield is perfect, and Ubel manages a glancing blow, slashing his face shallowly. With that, Wirbel tries to bait Ubel, noting the limits of the spell as she stands before her - but at the same time Ubel is not stupid, knowing the skilled battler has something up his sleeve. With that, we now flip to Fern/Ehre, and we get to see the former execute an attack affectionately dubbed the "Zoltraak-47" by fans - a barrage of the blasts, unceasing and overwhelming. Needless to say, Ehre soon learns a valuable lesson in the saying "quantity has a quality all its own" as Fern's onslaught overwhelms the honor student's defenses, laying her low.

(There's a reason I called Zoltraak Fern's beatstick, and this scene demonstrates it.)

Back to Wirbel/Ubel, we now see what the skilled battlemage was planning as he casts his own specialty - Sorganeil, a spell that binds the target and contains their mana, locking her down - though this does have Ubel wondering why he didn't just ensnare a stille, unless they hadn't found one of the birds yet. Wirbel slowly stalks down the young mage, noting that as long as he can see her, he can bind her fast. And witht hat, he notes she's on her knees, and thus in the proper position to be executed - but Ubel notes that he had opportunities to kill her that he never used - and then he dispels the binding, telling her to surrender the stille. This seems to disappoint Ubel, thinking she had found a fight to the death here, but she slowly unfastens the cage - then realizes that with the order, Sorganeil has a critical weakness - Wirbel has to keep her in sight totally for the spell to work. Tossing the cage, Ubel distracts the battlemage and uses the bladed tip of her cane to slash at his eyes - but the skilled mage, a veteran of many battles, dodges, only taking a slice across his nose. Re-establishing the binding, Ubel notes the flaw, to which Wirbel noted she aimed for his eyes, pointing out that if he was in her place, he would have gone for the kill and his neck. As he talks to her, it's clear that Wirbel finds the young bloodthirsty mage a threat - not just here, but in the future - and he's slowly working up the will to engage in what he considers "necessary killing". As he prepares to strike her down, the two talk, with her noting what sort of bloodshed the man had seen as a combatant in the Northern Lands - to which he points out that the mercenary group he works in might be built to fight demons, but the need for coin means that they get drawn into human struggles as well - and with that having to fight even child soldiers. And yet...Wirbel continues to pause, leading Ubel to note that someone who would wield something like Sorganeil is someone who actually despises the act of killing, and looks to put it off - pointing out that even with all the blood on his hands, Wirbel still seeks to retain his humanity, a comment that elicits a smile from the battlemage, but he points out that while he might hesitate, he does find the will to kille when necessary. But as he's about to deliver the coup de grace, Wirbel finds himself on the business end of Fern's staff, leading to a standoff.

With things at a stalemate, Wirbel scoffs that Fern expects him to think she defeated Ehre, while noting he never sensed Fern's mana, realizing how little a signature the mage has - noting that she's the reason they caught the stille. Asking what Fern did to Ehre, the young mage responds coldly that she killed her, showing that Fern also has a poker face a gambler would die for. And with that, Wirbel retreats - if Ehre is dead, there's no point in continuing, as his party has failed the exam. Ubel takes up her staff, but Wirbel points out that attacking him would only mean he would feel justified in taking her life then. With Wirbel out of earshot, Ubel notes that Fern is quite the liar with her statement earlier, to which Fern notes they should go to aid Land - to which Ubel notes that he's an even better liar with a sly smile on her face.

Moving to the Land/Scharf fight, it seems that LAnd is in a bad position, as they are fighting in a field of flowers - the perfect terrain for Scharf, whose magic allows him to manipulate flower petals, turning them into steel shards he can direct as a weapon. With that, he strikes Land, causing the mage to stagger, and so Scharf declares victory - to which Land points out he was analyzing his attack, and now knows what his weakness is, as the real Land walks out and places his hand on Scharf's neck. As the clone fades away, Land tases Scharf, leaving the mage unconscious in the flowers, noting that he's not foolish enough to trust anyone, the look in his eyes noting that there's a lot of pain in that statement.

Meanwhile, Wirbel finds Ehre's unconcious form, noting with a bit of anger and disgust how easily Fern lied to him. Rousing her, Wirbel notes she's completely out of mana, to which Ehre tells him how Fern just completely overwhelmed her. She says he doesn't believe her, but he notes that he he sees the devastation Fern managed to leave in her wake, realizing how powerful she truly is. With that, Wirbel motions for Ehre to follow, but being out of mana, she's in no condition to move - resulting in the battlemage giving her a piggyback ride as they look for the last member of their party. Of course, he's in no shape to walk, and thus Wirbel is forced to magically haul his ass around as well, leading him to have a demeanor as gloomy as the rainy skies. Ehre notes that Wirbel is a kind man, and that's why he fights demons - and we get a flashback where Wirbel stopped a demon before a younger Ehre - to which he notes his motive was to win back his childhood sweetheart, as she had fled his hometown due to the demon attacks.

As they walk, Wirbel laments needing to travel by sea, as he gets seasick - to which Ehre offers to introduce her to her grandfather (which would allow them to travel by land, given who he is.) But then Ehre is distracted, as she notices in the little stille, happily chirping. Needless to say, with Sorganeil claiming their prize is simple - and with their party alive (if battered), Party VIII has now met the conditions to pass the First Test - to which Wirbel has but to laugh, over all the effort they put into the fighting.

Returning to Frieren and her team, the trio has been confronted by Laufen, staring her down as the three have their staves at the ready. And suddenly Laufen seems to disappear, with Party II's stille - though the elf notes that she knows exactly what spell she's using. Flipping to Genau, overseeing the First Test from his campsite, he's joined by the proctor of the Second Test, Sense - "scythe", both for her winnowing of candidates as well as her magical specialty - who notes that Genau's test has managed to rack up several deaths. to which he points out that if they died, they weren't fit to be first class mages. Sense points out that using the stille as the targets wasn't exactly nice of him, either, given their lack of a mana signature. Noting that three hours are left, Genau states that things will intensify, as Denken and Richter confront Frieren - to which Genau expects that the sly old mage will be one of the survivors. Noting his age and power, Sense wonders if he's seeking "the privilege" - a reward of passing the examination, as we head back to the confrontation.

Frieren notes that Laufen used Jilder - a folk spell used by tribes in the southern lands, which allows the user to move at high speed. Though with her getting the stille, Frieren wonders why the two are confronting them, to which Denken points out that Frieren could easily track her...which is why the two need to occupy the trio. Denken also notes that he knows exactly who she is - given his age, how could he not be aware of the the legendary mage who slew the Demon King? Kanne asks if Frieren is famous, to which Lawine points out that's an understatement. Frieren is surprised, as she expected something more underhanded, to which Richter states that's his job - while Denken keeps her occupied, he'll kill one of her party members - something that Lawine takes rather personally. With that settled, Richter prepares to use his magic, while Richter warns him not to kill - something that Richter is surprised by, but Denken states that it's not worth spilling blood over. Of course, Richter disagrees with this, noting that the reward for becoming a first class mage is prized - "the privilege", in which the mage can ask for any one spell that Serie knows, and given that Serie is basically a walking grimoire, that is a very precious prize indeed. Needless to say, nether Frieren (who has actually rejected said privilege in the past) nor Denken really care about it - for both, the joy of magic is in its pursuit.

Richter prepares his earth magic, but Denken warns him to not harm the girls, but only to knock them out as he keeps Frieren occupied. With that, Richter splits the group up by causing a mesa to arise, as Denken and Frieren prepare to fight...
posted by NoxAeternum (5 comments total)
I'm now forced to speculate that the entire point of this "test" is to have the mages off one another, in order to keep the number of dangerous mages in the northern lands to a minimum.
posted by SPrintF at 8:21 AM on April 18

I'm now forced to speculate that the entire point of this "test"

If I had to guess, Serie is very, very bored of life. He's never shown leaving his library. Given that he(?) trained Flamme in magic, it seems he is older than Freiren, and is seemingly much further along her "collect all the magic" quest. One possible throughline is that human ingenuity is now his chosen entertainment. Earlier in the season we learned that humanity has advanced their understanding of magic much faster than demons. 80 years ago one demon learned a kill spell, and since then humanity has learned it, perfected it, and invented a new spell to defend against it. Humanity learned to fly, learned to apply combat magic to leverage the elements around them. Soon they may be inventing entirely new spells Serie doesn't yet know, and perhaps this is his ultimate goal: novelty.
posted by pwnguin at 11:47 AM on April 25

Serie seems coded very much as not male, in terms of in-world conventions and anime conventions in general...

Flamme said that Serie can't imagine living in a peaceful world.

The thing that kept distracting me was why Frieren's two teammates were even in the exam in the first place, other than as a plot device. I kept waiting for some reason (other than "they're idiots") that these two entered a potentially lethal exam for a legendarily ultra-elite level with their really limited range of skills.
posted by trig at 12:21 AM on May 22

The thing that kept distracting me was why Frieren's two teammates were even in the exam in the first place, other than as a plot device. I kept waiting for some reason (other than "they're idiots") that these two entered a potentially lethal exam for a legendarily ultra-elite level with their really limited range of skills.

One, they're not that limited (remember, they're the same rank as Fern is,) it's that they drew the short straw and wound up in a test setup that was inherently biased against them. Which is why when that changes in an episode, we get to see why Richter fears them.

Two, there's the privilege, but (at least for Lawine) there's also familial expectation as well, given her siblings.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:15 AM on May 22

Eh, they're still only capable of doing only a pretty narrow range of magic, as far as I can tell (I watched the rest). One does water, and only water that's immediately on hand, one does ice, neither seems to be at a particularly high level with either of those. If they could manipulate water in people's bodies like they threatened, or draw it out of the air or plants, that would be a different thing, but they can't. Lawine seems (?) to be able to generate ice anywhere, but apparently the other one whose name I keep forgetting can't even turn that into water? (It also seems bizarre they don't carry any water around at all, or have sneaky ways of using small quantities if they do.)

Fern only did that level exam because of convenient scheduling.

I was wondering about the family dynamics too, but given the way everyone apparently babies her, you'd think they'd only let her apply for a famously lethal exam once she was much better prepared.
posted by trig at 8:59 AM on May 22

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