Hallo, and welcome to my spoiler-free review of the Promised Neverland Episode 5 301045, in which we get a potent extended scene, little white lies happen, and Emma freaks a bit.
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Following the tense confrontation of the previous episode, Ray asks what’s going on, and Norman explains. He set a trap for three people: Don, Gilda, and Ray. He explains he told Ray that he told Don and Gilda the rope would be under the bed and in the bathroom. He actually told them that it would be in the dining hall and the library.
Ray immediately reveals he is the traitor. He asks Norman when he started suspecting. Norman suspected the moment Krone arrives. Much as he didn’t want to believe it.
He explains Ray’s betrayal would be worst for the kids and best for mom, which is why he immediately suspected. Norman also suspects Ray has been Mom’s subordinate for longer. Ray confirms that he’s been a sheepdog for Isabella for a long while.
Norman gets genuinely mad and asks what else he’s been lying about. Ray refuses to answer if it means getting cut off. Norman decides to use Ray as a double agent because it gives him both leverage over Ray and access to Mom’s information. He gives Ray three conditions, including his continued help.
Ray pushes back: Norman should have just used him. In the spirit of Emma, Norman decides to treat him like family because of his desire to have faith in the children and Ray himself. He also deduces that Ray left the Bunny out so that they would find it and learn the truth.
He also realizes that Ray was planning to escape himself. Ray has been puppeteering the escape from the beginning. Norman asks why. Ray tells him he volunteered himself to Mom for his own escape.
He reasons that the best way to gather information is from the inside. He also knows how Isabella operates: she’s more interested in money than the farm itself. So, he offers to be her sheepdog on the condition that she delays shipment and gets him random junk.
He used the junk to figure out the world outside and what’s going on out there. Everything is out of date. He’s also found the tracking device and knows what it looks like. By his own admission, he’s the trump card in this game.
Ray admits that he engineered the situation to protect Emma and Norman, but no one else. He offers to join their side on one condition: Trick Emma so that only Norman, Ray, Don, and Gilda escape. Only them.
Ray argues that – despite the kid’s progress – they’re still holding everyone back. That is Ray’s only condition. Norman agrees to it, but Ray suspects it’s a lie. Ray leaves with a victorious smile, and Norman, after freaking out, starts thinking of a strategy. Both Ray and he come to a realization that relieves Norman and pisses off Ray.
Reporting to Isabella
Ray goes to visit Isabella and tells her that the situation remains the same with Norman but that Krone is a problem. Ray knows that Krone was there to deter him. Isabella tells him it’s just insurance and gently chastises him for letting Emma and Norman find out the truth.
Ray plays it close: he’s still spying on Krone and reporting her nutty ass behavior. He wants what he’s always wanted: escape.
Norman’s Nightmare & Ray’s Reveal
Norman has a dream in which he escapes the Grace Field House, but all the children are killed as he gets to the exit. He wakes up seeing Emma’s body and Ray on the verge of death. The dream ends as he’s about to be eaten.
Despite his night terror, Norman plays it cool in front of the others.
Later, Emma asks Norman and Ray about the informant. Ray fesses up immediately. Emma panics and has an overload. She’s told the situation, and Ray explains he planned to tell them the night Conny was shipped off, but then they dropped the bunny and decided to escape with everyone.
Ray explains he had to cover for them but offers to help escape with everyone. Emma immediately sees through Ray but decides to hold him to his word. Plus, Ray’s an apex predator and a good source of counterintelligence.
But Emma ain’t happy. She shows compassion for how truly difficult it was for Ray to know where the kids were heading for years. She asks whether Ray did his experiments with the tracking device on the other children. She asks whether he let children be sacrificed. She drops it but not before grabbing his wrist, nearly breaking it, and warning him:
Ray swears not to do it again and says he’ll help everyone.
Don and Gilda watch them discuss alone. Don’s eagerness to help save Conny – bless his heart – but Gilda wonders if it’s not something even worse going on.
Emma tells Ray about Gilda’s plan.
Gilda has pieced together that Mom disappears each night and figures out a secret room near Mom’s bedroom. In the last episode, we saw Emma counting the steps. Emma suspects that the bookshelf is a hidden door.
Ray explains it’s for nightly check-ins with headquarters. Don doesn’t understand, so Ray explains that the headquarters supplies the children to the house.
Don pushes to go there and talk to headquarters and maybe get information on Conny’s whereabouts and information on the outside world.
Bless his heart.
Gilda wonders if they can, and Ray puts the kibosh on the plan immediately. The juice is not worth the squeeze in this case because Mom doesn’t know where Conny was sent. Additionally, the risk of getting caught through their tracking devices makes the risk too great.
Norman also wants to maintain Ray’s relationship with Mom, and Don barging in could ruin that. Ray sends him off, but Don is pissed.
After leaving the meeting, Don takes matters into his own hands, opens the door to Isabella’s room on his own, and enters with Gilda to find out the truth. They find the bookshelf, but it won’t open. Don freaks out, but Gilda notices the shapes and opens the door.
They try to go down, but the door is locked. As they stand there, the door opens.
That Opening Scene tho
The opening sequence – which was a bitch and a half to recap – clocks it at just under 10 minutes. It’s just two people talking and angling and engineering ways to outsmart the other.
And goddamn if it isn’t some of the most riveting shit I’ve seen in the show yet.
There is something to be said about the animator’s interpretations of Posuka Demizu’s art. Ray’s sinister look when he finally reveals that he’s the traitor is just the right mix of cracked and evil to make you unsure whose side he’s really on.
But it’s even better in context. Just as Krone herself told Emma during their game of tag: Ray will quickly give up when he realizes his chances of victory are nil. The fact that the moment Norman corners him, he sells himself out – same with Emma later on – is perfectly in line with that assessment. What’s even better is that that same lack of fighting spirit – that lack of determination – is also what motivates Ray to become a spy is absolutely wonderful as both a way to move the story forward and as a breakdown of his character.
This is how you do narrative economy right.
But that’s only the tip of the surface here. Now that we have more of the truth on Ray’s actual allegiances, we get some excellent visual context for him in the opening of the series. His role as “Sheepdog” has actually been forecasted openly throughout the series to date.
He’s always sitting against the tree, hidden in shadow, so the values on his clothes are slightly grey, watching the children, but never engaging with them all wearing white like literal sheep in the sun. Unexpected, but inevitable.
And this also makes the prospect of escape infinitely more complicated for Emma and Norman. Even though Norman is really kind of ridiculously OP at this point – which we’ll talk about in a second – Ray’s willingness to give up the moment he senses that he *might* lose is going to really complicate the whole escape.
If, during the escape, they try and there’s a hint of failure, what does Ray attempt? He’s the long slow, methodical type, so he’s not just going to try harder. He’s directly in opposition to Emma’s can-do attitude, and everything he does is a simple, rational calculation.
That actually makes him the greatest liability for the group.
Well, maybe not.
At this point, Norman’s strength is overpowering. He is the middle ground between Emma and Ray and the opening sequence is all the proof one needs to see that he’s at the top of the pyramid. The way he outclassed Ray is twofold: he not only misled him, but he created several backups just in case to make sure that even if he sniffed out the traitor, he’d still have the items he needed.
He’s a major threat. And one that I imagine Isabella is preparing for, somehow.
His only true weakness is Emma. He is sure as shit with Ray on only the three of them escaping. It’s the obvious, rational choice to make when most of the other 37 kids make all of them likelier to be demon food. But he wants to protect that smile hard, so he still lobbies for Emma’s idealism throughout that opening sequence. At all points, though, he establishes his total control over the situations.
Were it not for his indulging Emma; the situation is likely to go smoothly. It’s a nice, believable flaw, although, given just how skilled he is at Keikaku, it does diminish the tension somewhat, knowing he’s likely to own each situation completely.
I wonder how it will play out with Ray, given that silent sequence where they both think about gaining leverage over rescuing the children. He’s figured something out, but there are cracks and fissures in his planning, and some of his indulgences are creating unnecessary liabilities.
The little white lie
Already, Don and Gilda are fucking things up. It’s not their fault either, even though it is profoundly annoying. Don’s earnestness again is his best and worst trait, and here it’s on full display. The lie they told has now actively endangered the operation because Don is willful and a good shonen boy who loves his family.
That’s what also makes Ray great as a foil. He’s not actually wrong in these situations. He told them to tell the truth because of something like Don’s foray into Isabella’s room and his risk assessment. Rescuing 37 children into a world of demons is likely going to be impossible.
So when shit starts hitting the fan so abruptly and so aggressively, it highlights the moral gray of all the characters. In this case, aside from the literal demons and Isabella, the moral questions for the kids are all equally valid and complicated, and the right answer is elusive.
Which makes Don and Gilda annoying and stupid but comprehensible. I even feel kind of bad for Don, thinking that Conny is out there somewhere getting tortured and genuinely just wanting to save her. He also wants to prove himself to the big three because he seems to know his place in the pecking order.
But that’s only assuming he survives the next episode, which is currently not looking amazing.
I just wanted to double down on my assessment of Emma’s best and worst trait is her idealism. She’s kind of cracked based on that scene with Ray. That she would almost break his wrist because he lied to her is….fucking metal. But also, it’s in service of her insane desire to save everybody, which could come off as a savior complex, but here, it just comes off as a genuine love for her family.
Other than that, seeing Ray actually report to Isabella was weird. It’s so comparatively relaxed and straightforward compared to all the sabotage and doublespeak and counterintelligence operations going on among fucking 12-year-olds. That their relationship is so transactional is, well, weird, but also refreshingly straightforward.
That said, I don’t buy that Isabella’s motivations are purely material. She has other things she wishes to accomplish, and the “act” of her being a mother is very close to not being an act.
In any event, another stunning episode, and I look forward to the next one.
.923 out .10