Enter Sister Krone. Dun dun dun.
Problematic representation time. Sigh.
But before that, Hi, hey, hello, welcome to my review of The Promised Neverland Episode 181045. Today, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of The Promised Neverland’s greatest trick, Sister Krone (sigh), and the scariest game of tag, ever.
A lot has changed since I started these reviews – eek – 2 years ago, but there are no spoilers for any content past the current episode. You are safe. Due to Season 2’s release, I figured now was as good a time as any to finish these reviews.
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Without further ado, the episode.
Enter Sister Krone
Isabella shows Krone to her room while Emma, Norman, and Ray watch from a stairwell. They note that she’s been placed dead-center of all the children’s rooms, making it obvious that she will be the security guard, perfectly situated to monitor all of them.
Norman panics as he realizes that he’d neglected the possibility of another person watching their every move. Ray calms him down: it’s a good source of intel on the farm’s activities and connections.
They discuss Carol, the new arrival, and deduce she is Conny’s replacement and that she came from a source – perhaps another farm – that houses one-year-olds to be sent to farms. Oy. They wonder whether there are other farms, whether the adults are in control or not, and how that will change their escape plans, in all cases.
Ray keeps them focused: figure out how to get everyone out and where the tracking devices are. Emma hasn’t been able to figure out where the device is, though. Ray assumes that, given current technology, the devices use radio waves. He also notes that it would require batteries and be small enough to be hidden easily, making it particularly difficult to locate. If demons make it, it would be totally hopeless.
Emma freaks out that they won’t be able to figure it out, but Norman says they have to keep thinking about it, and Ray suggests they have to think like their enemies to figure out where it would go. Norman has a flash of insight: Carol probably has a mark from the device implant.
Krone and Isabella
Krone thanks Isabella for choosing her as her assistant, but Isabella denies anything special about that. Krone lays it on thick by praising Isabella’s work as a Mom and for raising *gulp* the highest number of high-quality goods among all the plants, ever.
Isabella cuts through the bullshit and gets to brass tacks. She wants Krone to memorize the files on all the children this moment. Krone asks why Isabella even called for more help.
Because the children found out the secret and saw their friend delivered.
Krone wants to immediately inform the higher-ups, but Isabella tells her to wait; she knows who the children are. Because they’re almost at the age limit, they don’t have to rush things; they just have to wait before shipment.
She says her children are special, and it’s good for the plant to ship out high-quality goods. Krone asks whether they’re going to report it. No, Krone is to be a guard for the children while Isabella takes care of it. Isabella is:
Isabella asks if Krone understands. Yes Ma’am.
Krone talks to a baby doll about Isabella’s nutty plan not to report to the higher-ups, but she reasons that she’ll have a shot at being a Mom if Isabella owes her. Krone thinks the doll is crying….and starts to comfort it because dolls are definitely like that sometimes.
She talks about her future as a mother and what it means for the doll, how she’ll be busy and have less time for it. Then she has a realization and absolutely flips her shit.
If she figures out who the ring leaders among the children are, she can report them to the authorities, get Isabella fired, and become a mom herself. Thrilled with her realization, she dances and sings at the possibility while tossing the poor doll all over the place.
Threats from All Sides
While doing dishes, Norman and Ray talk about Krone and Isabella’s popularity among the children and how they will be tough opponents, given that popularity. They discuss their escape plans and potential complications when Krone decides to acquaint herself with both of them.
Krone compliments both of them on their high test scores and looks forward to getting to know them better down the line. Ray freaks out, but Norman deduces that she probably didn’t hear them. Norman figures out that she’s probably putting feelers out to determine which of the children found out the secret. Norman points to the obvious culprit and that Isabella is on to them.
Meanwhile, Emma examines Carol while dressing her to see where the tracker device might be on her body. She reminds herself to think like the enemy while Gilda watches her, concerned; she wants to ask about the night Conny left. At that moment, Emma finds a small bump on Carol’s ear, and Emma remembers asking Isabella about it, who told her it was blood drawn to test for diseases.
Emma feels her own ear but can’t find the bump. Gilda points out that they are both 10 and 11, and Emma reasons the device itself must be tiny. Gilda wants to know what’s going on, and Emma tells an obvious lie about it. Emma firms her resolve to save all the children at any cost as she looks at how adorable Carol is. Gilda is mad suspicious.
Isabella makes a report to “Grandma” who asks whether the three exceptional children can be shipped out at any time. The farms have been bearing poor fruit this harvest, and the demons want some high-quality kid brains. Isabella says that the children are ready for shipment whenever they wish.
Meanwhile, a bunch of Demons discusses the children for a special demon who requires only the best food and an event known as “The Tifari.” They raise a toast to the coming harvest and the special, unspecified “Him.”
Tracking Devices & The Kids Abilities
Emma, Norman, and Ray secretly go off to discuss the tracking device more. They figure it’s likely in their ear but can’t figure out how to remove it without raising suspicion. Ray says the individual tracking devices don’t matter so much, given that they don’t say who the child specifically is that’s being tracked.
They discuss how much Mom actually knows about their whereabouts and figure she likely doesn’t know when any of them go out of bounds because she has to use the tracking device specifically to find them. Without knowing how much Mom knows, they’ll have to wait until they escape to destroy the devices. Ray asks to take care of the tracking devices himself.
They then discuss a greater problem: the remaining 37 kids. They all trust Mom implicitly, and they’re also weaker – some being literal children – and not as smart as Emma, Norman, and Ray. Emma proposes a simple solution: Tag.
What they’re up against.
Emma explains that they can use Tag to train all the kids to utilize their minds and bodies in ways that’ll be effective for escape. While they play Tag, most of the children are easily dispatched, but Ray, Emma, and Norman coach them on improving their skills. While the kids show immediate improvement, they’re still outmatched by the three geniuses.
Krone comes up and asks to join their game of Tag. She sets the time limit at 20 minutes and offers to be it. It’ll be a great way to “get to know everybody”.
Cool. Cool cool.
Krone counts to ten and immediately demonstrates immense physical strength and stamina. Norman and Ray strategize while observing the kids using tactics well above their mental-paygrade: fake tracks and silence. She decides to get serious as she tries to find the kingpins.
Using lures, tricks, and pure stamina, she manages to take out most of the children quickly and effectively, which does not go unnoticed by Ray and Norman. Emma intervenes at one point to protect two of the children.
Krone corners Emma and the two children and taunts them. While Emma hides, she lists off all their disadvantages. She also tells Emma that if she saw the Harvest, then they’re allies. Things get distinctly ring wraith’s search for the ring of power when Krone finds Emma and the two children.
She then goes after Norman and Ray but fails to catch either before the time limit. For a moment, the hunter becomes the hunted. After the game ends, Krone sees Gilda and smiles maniacally.
After the game of Tag, nothing happens for a long while. The three are suspicious of the lack of activity and wonder why the game seems to have stopped. Without security devices or anything else watching them, the silence is unsettling. Emma realizes the implication.
A traitor is feeding information on their activities to Mom and Krone. Emma watches the children as they come to dinner, horrified at the prospect of a traitor watching their every move.
Subtext at its Finest
At this stage in the game, The Promised Neverland excels at narrative economy and polysemous storytelling. This was on full display in the first two episodes, but here it’s even more pronounced as we get more information on just how dire the situation at Grace Field House is.
Most screenwriters struggle with the concept of subtext in writing. It’s a somewhat amorphous concept that everyone knows, but only when they see it in action.
The Promised Neverland has baller ass subtext. To use proper screenwriting nomenclature.
The series so far has really leaned into the horrific dichotomy of Emma, Norman, and Ray’s situation as a family and as farm animals. On the one hand, the authors have emphasized to an absurd degree the nature of the family dynamic and how the conflicts that take place operate along those vectors. Kids throwing fits and rebelling against authority figures. Playing tag like children. It’s all contrapposto to the horrific underpinnings of being demon chow.
With that in mind, Isabella’s antagonistic role can be read as not just a farmer for brain-hungry demonic hegemony. She’s also acting as a regular parental authority figure. It’s the fact that she is referred to as “Mom” so regularly which tips us off to this double edge conflict. That’s part of the reason her machinations are so compelling.
Also, it’s unclear what angle she’s playing with Krone. That she knows who saw Conny get harvested means she has that knowledge that most parents have, but pretend they don’t protect their kid’s ego: It’s Emma, Norman, and Ray. Yet her actions here don’t suggest straightforward antagonism. Your parents definitely knew most of the shit you were up to as a kid, but you were a dumb kid, so you didn’t realize it. Probably thought you were sneaky too.
Sorry to burst your bubble.
Isabella’s behavior – outside of being horrifying – also suggest a protective parent. It suggests a Mother who is dealing with particularly precocious children, whom she wants to deal with on her own terms for their sake, while also being coded as that of a farmer for human brains.
That, my friends is subtext done right. Where the line between the literal and the metaphorical blur, and say something honest about both, and deepen each other at the same time.
The layers are myriad. And now, in Episode 3, we’re getting a better – but not full – picture of the larger world. This episode was extremely economical in establishing the connection and internal dynamics of the antagonists. I liked the small sequence where we see the demons speak of the Tifari. It’s unclear what that is – probably a celebration or the harvest – but the more info we get on it gives more contours to the demons.
The subtext was at its best, however, at the end of the episode.
Tag and Tag
If you want to understand how to write subtext and tension, look no further than that climactic Tag battle/training arc. It’s the same dynamic as Isabella. There’s something inherently innocent about Emma using Tag as a means to train the kids to be smarter in anticipation of escape. It feels great to see the kids are actually pretty heckin smart and learning quickly.
But then, we see what they’re up against, and we can immediately see the power dynamic. It is dire, my dudes.
The sound effects of Krone, from her overdone cheeriness to the particularly loud foley of her running through the forest and LITERALLY BLOWING UP A TREEK TRUNK WITH HER FIST establish the threat she poses, and by extension, the Mother/Sister/Grandmother power structure of the farms.
There’s a genuine sense of underlying terror as we watch her easily trick the kids and dispatch them one by one. Even though the music is playful and vibrant. The colors are vivid. Everything evokes the childishness and fun of Tag.
And the hint that Krone is playing both Isabella and the Children with her reveal that she might be on the children’s side is incredibly enticing, too. The world grows ever more complex, in increasingly subtle and economical ways.
Who is the Traitor? & Keikaku
That also applies to the children; Norman, Ray, and Gilda in particular. While Gilda is being set up as the traitor with basically *gestures at everything Gilda does* I don’t think she’s the traitor. Mostly because it’s way too obvious. It must be a red herring in this case.
But what’s especially notable is just how OP Norman and Ray are. It’s more obvious when they beat Krone at tag and Krone’s face is of genuine horror. But it’s also in the way they figure out about the tracking device, and monitor their speech but still maneuver around their limitations.
Their deductive abilities fit with their being the top of the group. And while Emma is not nearly at their level – she’s too earnest – she’s still no slouch herself. There’s also the fact that the baby Carol looks so similar to Emma that the metaphorical connection is basically text. But it’s good to have one of the protagonists develop over time.
It’s unnerving, though, how they are talking out in the open. That sequence where they discuss the tracking devices limitations, shot so it looks like they’re being watched from the bushes, is particularly effective.
I’m sure we’ll find out soon, who the traitor is.
A Note on Krone
Ok. This is the part I didn’t want to talk about, but I have to talk about.
Krone is a problem.
Normally, I don’t really care about the representation of BIPOC in Anime cause it’s not universally awful and racist – except for fucking Killer Bee in Naruto, that shit was maddening – but Krone’s design is a problem. That and the way she carries herself as the dutiful house servant that looks like Aunt Jemima particularly obvious. Her subservient role to Isabella. The face, the lips. It’s all…not great.
And given that Japan has some *cough* problems with Racism, it’s especially frustrating to see a design that’s so specifically evocative of the segregated south, or like it came right out of To Kill a Mockingbird.
That said, I do like Krone’s character. That she’s more than a little nutty – a baby doll, anyone? – is compelling and subtly indicates that the power structures are fucked up at a minimum. That she is ambitious and wants to take over Isabella’s role is a great motivation. That she competently plays the game in the orphanage to her advantage by ingratiating herself with the children, while presenting a physically menacing presence for the protagonist is inspired.
And her design is still racist. And I’d feel like an asshole if I didn’t mention it.
But, as with the previous episodes, this series has been pitch perfect and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where it goes next.
Until next time,
8.8 out of 10 Leaves with Markings.