I’m not sure whether to praise or berate Fam for this episode, “Backward Pawn”, since it is exactly what I wanted for so long, and yet works out very well exactly where it is. It’s almost like the show anticipated my anxiety over the past several episodes and used it against me to bring in this soothing balm of a flashback that showed exactly what was lost and where we are hoping to go once again.
For the first time, we get face time with little Princess Sara’s predecessor, the great Augusta Farahnaz. Until now, we’ve only seen pictures of her and heard of her magnanimity. We see her alive and very much worthy of her title as a great ruler; it’s no wonder that she is as revered as she is. Thanks to her, a peace treaty between once-opposing nations was successfully pushed through. The returning, Exile inhabitants could then look forward to a promising new future. Comparing Farahnaz’s ideals of peace to the present ideals as put forward by the new Ades Federation, it’s hard not to keenly feel the loss of what could have been.
Setting her in with the last held Grand Race is also a great decision since I now better understand why Fam, Gisey, and Millia pin such hopes to some day holding the race once again. The two seem like they come hand in hand. I also love seeing all our main characters much younger and more innocent–and I’m not just talking about the kids. Luscinia (“Lukia”), Alauda, and Vasant all make their appearances. Although they are predictably as pure as they are young, it’s still a necessary move for the viewers to see just how much they have or have not changed into who they are in the present. Lukia and Alauda are bodyguards to the Empress, and we see the love and respect they hold for her. They are almost unrecognizable in the kindness they exhibit for her and for the young princesses of Turan. While their devotion to the Empress and her dream for unification may have warped with her death, Vasant’s seems to only have strengthened. Her loyalty to the crown is unwavering, but I can see it being only a matter of time before she rebels against the Ades Federation’s distorted notions of peace.
One of my favorite aspects about this episode is getting to see the little kids interact with one another. You can easily pick up the convictions of a nation and its people by watching and listening to its children, which you can see in the scene where the sky pirate kids argue about vanships with two AF children. While the sky pirates look to the future and aren’t afraid to experiment with their vanships, the AF clings to the old, heavy model, the Shaharzes. The same can be seen with the scuffle between the two AF young men and a very much younger Vasant. Their deeply inlaid hatred for her country of origin, Keios, still stands strong despite the annexation having occurred many years before.
My own, personal beliefs about independence strangely don’t feel threatened, despite the implications of the annexation of Keios and Farahnaz’ peace treaty. The number one reason for my acceptance of it is voiced perfectly by Vasant, when she praises Farahnaz for fighting not with the physical, but with her words alone. Despite the great changes that have taken place and must continue to happen for the peace treaty to be successful, she is trying to bring together a utopia of sorts, where people of all different races and principles can live side by side. It’s no surprise that her dream was not to be, since there always seems to be a person or group who just has to find faults in the most admirable of goals. And while I can certainly understand the reason for the hatred for the AF, I find it sad that their response to her non-physical struggle is violence.
All in all, I found this episode very well done. It also closes with a reminder of the mess we had left in episode 10, with the ambush on the Silvius and Fam, Gisey, and Millia’s escape into Glacies. Although they are unrestrained and it appears as if they have been rescued, I’m still anxious to see just what will be done with them.