Frieren: Beyond Journey's End: Perfect Replicas
May 4, 2024 1:31 AM - Season 1, Episode 24 - Subscribe

With the spiegel - a monster capable of creating clones of those within the Ruins of the King's Tomb - now acting to deal with the mages invading the dungeon, the candidates in the Second Test now face the most dangerous of opponents - themselves...

With it clear that this raid's boss isn't going to be a pushover, the various candidates are also dealing with the other clones and the threats they pose.

We start off with a discussion of the actual threat of the dungeon: the spiegel - "mirror", fittingly - a monster that is capable of generating duplicates of the people threatening it to protect itself, as the monster has no defenses of its own. Genau points out that there are other monsters that have the similar strategies (like the one Frieren and Fern faced back in Episode 5), but the spiegel's clones are much more dangerous - they're not illusion, but physical, and possess mana and the ability of the targets themselves - and given that it just got a collection of some of the most powerful mages in existence, Genau points out, there's a reason this particular dungeon hasn't been conquered. But Genau points out that the fact that the clones are their original's equal is likely the reason that Sense chose the site - because the answer to fighting your equal let someone who better matches up to it fight instead.

Returning to Team Denken, the old mage sees Raid Boss Frieren begin charging up an attack - and suddenly realizes that discretion is the better part of valor as the clone shows off her interpretation of the Zoltraak-47, calling for the party to retreat. Thankfully, the clone seems content to remain in the antechamber, but it's clear that trying to take on a remorseless copy of one of the most powerful mages to exist is not going to be a task taken lightly, or without planning. We then hop over to Ubel and Land, who have managed to run into the clone of the former, and who now has Land's golem with the blond haired mage having taken a Reelseiden to the chest, sitting propped up against the wall. Given Land's expertise with clones, Ubel asks how accurate her doppelganger is, to which he notes she's not nearly as chatty as Ubel - but as he notes, the clone was more interested in his escape golem, a tactic that Ubel notes is right up her alley. Though the clone isn't pursuing them - something that Land notes might mean she's worried about Sorganeil, to which Ubel notes that she could just be toying with her prey - a comment that gets a laugh out of Land. Noting how severe the injury is, Ubel asks if she's talking to the real Land or the clone (a question with an...interesting answer, as we'll see in a few episodes), and offers him her bottle as she prepares to go deal with herself.

With that, it's Ubel on Ubel action, as she moves in quickly to prevent the use of Sorganeil, the two striking with both Reelseiden as well as their bladed staves in a violent clash. As they fight, we hear Ubel's inner monologue, the mage noting that with them equally matched, it comes down to luck and who makes the first mistake - the sort of fight she avoids, as she has never been the lucky sort. Knocking the clone back, Ubel moves to land the blow - but the knockback was that mistake as it allowed the clone to see her fully - and being Ubel's match, she immediately captures the mage in Sorganeil. With the tables turned, Ubel seems at the mercy of her clone - but with Land making his actual presence known, this forces the clone to turn her back on Ubel - a fatal mistake as the mage strikes her down. As it's clear that the wounded Land is the clone, the real one asks why she would fight herself, to which she pointed out that she trusted he would save her - the fact that he didn't take her bottle told her all they needed to know, as he doesn't want to be the reason anyone dies (and if you've been reading the manga, you'll know there's some very dark history there.)

Back to Team Frieren, the pair (and their accompaniment) continue their exploration, with Frieren noting they're nearing the bottom of the dungeon. While Fern notes there are stairs, Frieren is more interested in a certain wall, as her intuition notes that it's concealing a secret passage - and the elf's "honed" nose for treasure has her hungry to find the way in. Finding a switch in the carving on the wall after searching the wall, she's proven right as the wall slowly unfolds, revealing a staircase leading to a true discovery - a preserved mural of the Unified Dynasty. And with that, Team Frieren meets Team Denken at the door to the antechamber - a situation that leaves the elf confused as to why they're not moving forward. Of course, upon seeing that's got them stymied, Frieren's response is a happy smile, as she finds the challenge of dealing with herself to be an interesting one.

Noting the clone is her equal, Denken asks Frieren if she has any advice on how to deal with herself - after all, now that they have a reference elf to work with, they can try to figure out a solution to this particular problem, and as Frieren states, she's not perfect - and thus neither is the clone. Richter notes that restraint or hypnosis magic would be the best option - but as Methode soon finds out with experimenting on the original (a process that leaves Fern green eyed), Frieren's resistances to both make it so that is a non-viable option. Though, Methode notes that her defenses, while well constructed, are antiquated - and a specialist in such magics might be able to exploit that.

The good news - there's such a specialist in the candidate group - the second class mage Edel. The bad news - she's just run into one of the other major threats among the clones - the clone of Sense. And as she and her compatriots hide from said clone, they note that it's a major threat, especially if it's just as capable as the original. It also doesn't help that the terrain is ill suited for them as well, as her companions use specialties that aren't condusive to dungeoneering. It also doesn't help that Sense's particular strength is quite powerful - her hair is infused with layers of mana, making it both shield and sword...or perhaps scythe is a better term. With that, her companions ask if her hypnosis magic would work, to which she points out she'd need eye contact to even use the most basic of commands - and as Methode noted before, the clone would need to have a mind. With that, Dunste - "vapors" - asks how much time she would need, to which Edel points out 15 seconds - because that's all they're going to get, as the Sense clone has their scent - and slices the pillar they're hiding behind apart.

It's now a fight between Team Edel and the Sense clone - and it's clear that this it not a fair matchup as Sense's hair is a weapon combining flexibility and power, quickly overwhelming their defenses. But with that comes an opportunity as Edel manages to make eye contact, ordering the clone to kneel...and gets perforated for her trouble, confirming the worst case scenario - the clones don't have actual minds, meaning that hypnosis magic is useless. Too severely wounded to continue on, she orders the two to escape and let the others know about this, as she breaks her bottle and is evacuated.

And with that, we see the various groups work their way to the bottom, where the others are working out the strategy to take down Raid Boss Frieren. The original notes that there is a strong likelihood that her clone doesn't have a mind, and thus beating her with brute force may be the only option. We flip back to Team Wirbel and their faceoff with their duplicates, and we see the one advantage that having the ability to think gives the originals - that they can work around the clones, taking advantage of the environment and weak points in ways the clones aren't capable of. And in the council at the bottom of the dungeon, Fern speaks up, as she has a point - she may have to be the one to do the deed, as she has the ability to kill her master's clone - a statement that nets her a proud smile from the woman who has trained her so diligently these years. And with that, a smiling Frieren states simply "let the strategizing begin."
posted by NoxAeternum (9 comments total)
Sadly, if you're following the manga, it's been reported that the series will go on indefinate hiatus after the publication of Chapter 130 on Tuesday. That said, there may be a silver lining with that - the series took a hiatus to work on the anime, so this may be a sign that Season 2 is in the works.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:35 AM on May 4

There's an emphasis on philosophy of the mind here -- magic requires imagination, yet their magical opponent has no mind? Seems like a contradiction worth exploring, but sadly isn't.
posted by pwnguin at 5:44 PM on May 4

It's more that they're capable of reacting like the original (so they can use the original's powers), but they have no cognition - hence why Wirbel is able to fight Ehre's clone by attacking her surroundings, something the clone is incapable of grasping.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:39 PM on May 4

Perhaps the writers were influenced by Peter Watts' novel, Blindsight, which posits aliens that possess intelligence but not consciousness. They can react, but they are only following a sophisticated set of rules. The replicas as magical AI, if you will.
posted by SPrintF at 7:26 AM on May 5

These theories are all well and good, but contradicted by the idea established in this episode, that visualization and imagination are keys to magic -- you cannot magic what you cannot visualize. If this is universal, the clones shouldn't be able to use magic at all, or they should have a mind. Edel even emphasizes this, pointing out that imbuing every thread of hair with magic is an incredible feat of visualization, and yet, is unable to mind control the clone.

As best I can tell, the "mindless" angle is an end run around the dilemma of whether it's ethical to kill a clone of yourself. If clone Frieren had a mind, it would be hard to distinguish between killing it and killing her. But it doesn't, so our murderhobos proceed with their quest. And that's really what disappoints me thus far in the series -- shades of "because he's immune to fire" logic.
posted by pwnguin at 9:44 PM on May 5

If Speigel can imagine a clone with Frieren's power set that's enough. The Frieren clone doesn't need its own imagination.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:44 AM on May 6

If Speigel can imagine a clone with Frieren's power set that's enough.

Hmm. Here's a strange intersection between Frieren and the "Shapeshifter" episode of Delicious in Dungeon. The shapeshifters tap into people's memories in order to fashion duplicates. But the duplicates are imperfect because people's memories aren't entirely accurate. (Ie, one of the Senshi doppelgangers is detected because the illusion is missing the characteristic dent in "Senshi's" helmet.)

So! Perhaps the "perfect replicas" of Der Speigel are limited by the thing's imagination, or even by the imaginations of those who have seen Frieren in action.

(To be honest, I was expecting Fern to defeat "faux Frieren" using a giant Mimic. But maybe that would have been too funny.)
posted by SPrintF at 9:12 AM on May 6

(To be honest, I was expecting Fern to defeat "faux Frieren" using a giant Mimic. But maybe that would have been too funny.)

I know!! I guess it would be pretty dangerous for Frieren if everyone knew they could just defeat her like that. Mimic-making would be taught everywhere!
posted by trig at 9:03 AM on May 22

> To be honest, I was expecting Fern to defeat "faux Frieren" using a giant Mimic.

So I wasn't the only one who was hoping they'd deal with "faux Frieren" with a Mimic!
posted by needled at 6:54 AM on May 25

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