Sheesh… this episode was beyond UNSETTLING. The ending to the previous episode was already really creepy but this episode overtook it in a heartbeat. Even at the start of the episode, something felt off. When Mob asked about why both Misato and Kurata didn’t show up to their meeting times, both were wrapped up with something related to the Psycho Helmet religion. Just the way both were talking, you could tell this wasn’t normal for them. Especially when Kurata goes on to want to change their club to be a branch of the Psycho Helmet Religion. While she can be a bit wishy washy when it comes to her club’s activities, it is a bit abrupt for her to want to change it so drastically. Same could be said about Misato as well with how quickly she gave up on Mob after the fake Mob pronounced himself as the founder. Both of those two are passionate and adamant in what they believe in. So it is a bit strange for how quickly they changed their tune.
Things start to feel weirder with the increased boom in popularity the Psycho Helmet Religion got shortly after the “founder” revealed himself. It was already a pretty popular religion, but it was starting to spread EVERYWHERE in the city. When Teru was given cookies made from the “Divine Tree,” I immediately got worried. And lo and behold with just one bite, he got brainwashed and thus I proceeded to scream: TERU NOOOOOOO!!! And Berry actually pointed out that the Fake Mob actually appeared behind Teru in that shot right after he took a bite of the cookie and was digging in his fridge. It was too dark for me to see at first, but upon realizing he was there… THAT IS BEYOND TERRIFYING. I was so relieved that he quickly caught onto the brainwashing and immediately made himself throw it up. It was so eerie how quick the change in thoughts was. While Teru gets beaten up a lot, he is still a reliable source of both power and intelligence and he quickly makes his way to the Divine Tree to destroy it.
But of course that would be way too easy and is confronted by the Fake Mob, who I still can’t look at without grimacing. While he was able to break the brainwashing the first time, I started freaking out again when he seemingly fell under it again. THANKFULLY, Teru was able break out of it again quickly. Already, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions with me screaming NO when Teru gets brainwashed and then switching to cheering when he breaks free and gets a hit in against the Fake Mob. But man, I always gotta respect Teru whenever he keeps reiterating that people alone aren’t the stars in this world. He really took what Mob taught him to heart in the first season.
And to no one’s surprise, it really is Dimple causing causing all of this. YOU CAN’T FOOL ME, I KNOW YOUR VOICE. Not to mention the brainwashing was just like what happened with his initial cult. However this is 2000% more creepy since the brainwashing happens much more subtly and is passed along a lot more naturally. Which is frightening. And while Dimple is pulling the same stunt he did in season one, it’s honestly really sad. Especially with how over the course of the second season, he’s come to care so much for Mob that he risked his life several times to help him. He was honestly MVP in the last season so it’s hard to see him turn his back on Mob so to speak and go back to how he was as an evil spirit lusting for power to become a god. Was all that character development for nothing???
Because of this hostile takeover, the roots have been spreading through out the city and just as I suspected, they were sucking the nutrients out of all the other plants in the area. If this keeps up, the city is going to be in a lot of trouble since the roots are worming their way into buildings and roads, cracking them in the process. I honestly didn’t expect to see Minegishi again but it’s good to see that he’s taken to working an honest job despite how difficult he finds it. I actually kind of forgot about him for a bit oops. Though thinking about it, this situation does definitely suit his help considering his ability to control plants. I honestly really appreciate that at least some of the other espers are noticing things that are amiss. Unfortunately, when he attempted to force the root to stop spreading, looks like a bit of Dimple’s energy leaked through and sapped his strength or immobilized him. Hopefully he’ll come back into play later, but for the moment he seems to be effectively incapacitated.
Because of the growing damage the city is sustaining from all the roots, Reigen and Mob end up deciding they have to destroy the cause of the problem. With the super craze of the “Divine Tree,” the immediate thought was that I’m worried. They’re going to be making A LOT of enemies by doing this and I can only imagine what they would do to stop them because of the brainwashing. And that’s where things start to get EXTREMELY unsettling. Mob senses that a lot of people are looking at them and when Reigen brushes it off as him still being on his high horse I was already getting REALLY anxious. Everywhere, people seem to be spreading food and beverages with parts of the Divine Tree in them to literally everyone. So many people are already under the influence and it just feels so unsettling with how this episode portrays it.
When Ritsu ate the candy I was screaming: NOOOOOOO!!! And it’s so, SO creepy how discreet the shift in mindset was. It almost felt natural and when he brings them into a room full of other followers, I just started feeling super creeped out. They’re like a hive mind and the way they talk doesn’t feel natural. And what nailed the coffin for me was the random elderly man telling them that resistance is futile. No matter where they go, if there is a “follower,” they’re going to be tracked down. And just as Mob said, they were being watched. UGH. It’s so creepy! I have this huge fear of people watching/following me while I’m out and about, so seeing all of this happen in this episode made my skin crawl.
But one of the biggest questions I have was how and when Reigen got put under brainwashing. He seemed normal up until a shot showing him in the dark while Mob was still standing in the light. And then the next shot that followed showed a bunch of crows, which is a sign of a bad omen. I started feeling really suspicious up until he said maybe they shouldn’t destroy the tree where I was like: Yup, you are brainwashed. It so weird. How did he get brainwashed??? He didn’t ingest any of the Divine Tree. So I’m wondering if Dimple had brainwashed him personally like he did with Teru earlier. And while he did it when he was close to Teru, due to his influx of power, I wouldn’t doubt that he’d have a bit more range.
I’m glad that Mob was able to catch onto the brainwashing and was actually thinking for himself instead of just listening blindly to Reigen. If this were season 1 Mob, he’d mostly go along with what Reigen said. But because of that, he’s going to have to deal with this situation on his own. It honestly felt really sad to have all these people watching and cheering for Mob. Being popular is what he started out wanting in the first season and this just feels like a twisted version of that. This is exactly what he wanted, but not like this. Dimple seems to be trying to give Mob what he wants to try and sway him to his side since in the previous episode he tried to convince him to rule together over the Psycho Helmet Religion. I have no idea how the next episode is going to go down, but I am excited for it. Stuff is gonna go DOWN.
This was episode was so creepy and I hated it, but in a good way. The composition, the use of shadows, the music, everything was well done in portraying such an unsettling atmosphere. BONES really went all out to make me feel uncomfortable and that something was amiss and they certainly succeeded. Everything felt so subtle and natural, making it all the more terrifying to witness unlike with what happened in the cult episode of season 1. There it felt like they were showboating the change in mindset from the brainwashing, but here, it happened so subtly that you wouldn’t catch it if you weren’t paying attention to what the character was saying. I also noticed that the art and animation was a little different from the previous seasons. The movement almost felt uncanny as if it were rotoscoped at times with all the extra movements the characters did. Like there was more polish than usual and I feel like it emphasized the creepiness of this episode. And just as I had predicted, Mob is going this alone without Serizawa to back him up. Our safety net is gone and it’s up to our boy to handle the situation on his own. Hopefully Teru is still in his right mind when he goes in so he could be a bit of emotional support. This episode was fantastically done and I can’t wait to see how this arc continues to go.