Episode 10: Babylon Revisited | バビロンに帰る
“A wounded tiger is the most dangerous beast of all,” remarks Yut-Lung. Presumably that’s proverb for “Man, those dudes are fucked.” Ash Lynx has got bullets to pop and bodies to drop, and boy ain’t taking prisoners.
We open in the grisly aftermath of Episode 9’s horror show. The infected corpse of Shorter Wong (RIP) is dragged away for medical experiments. Eiji (not a corpse but not bloody great, either) is locked in a bedroom upstairs under the threat of sexual slavery. A devastated Ash is reduced to pleading Arthur to just kill him and get it over with.
Arthur revels in Ash’s abject misery, but wraps it up for the night, because Dino Golzine’s got a very important appointment with some dastardly Republican senators who want to use the Banana Fish drug to assassinate political rivals. After confirming the drug works as planned just a few hours ago, they go ahead and immediately off the presidential opposition. Dino’s assembling himself a network of veritable puppets amidst the mayhem of the American political scene.
Yut-Lung, who has not been taking his role of being a hostage very seriously, decides he needs more screen time and breaks into the murder dungeon for some serious mafia trolling. He slides a key into the pants of a still-chained-up Ash, who looks him square in the eye and tells him he is going to fuck his shit up. (Ash sort of blames him for the whole Shorter thing). Yut-Lung peaces out and makes some distance between himself and the weapon of mass destruction he’s just casually detonated.
Ash saves Shunichi and Max and promptly kicks them out of the arena so he can unleash fire and brimstone upon the premises without distractions. Those mafia extras never even stood a chance as Ash, armed with explosions and justice, straight up murders his way to Eiji. Eiji hears gunfire and shouts of “YOU BASTARD” from behind the door and correctly identifies the source as Ash. Ash locates him, tells him to stand back, and blasts the door down like the goddamn American hero he is.
Not a whole lot of time for a bittersweet reunion, as Dino’s informed that his wayward ward is destroying everything and everyone, and so is sending backup. But Ash’s backup gets there first: his own street gang, plus Shorter’s Chinese gang, now led by some kid named Sing Soo-Ling. Both gangs have gone rogue from their respective syndicates and break into the mansion to save their bosses from Dino’s claws. That goes better for one gang than the other, for obvious reasons. Sing is a plucky fourteen-year-old who has already racked up quite the kill count, and is pissed to learn that Shorter is dead – and allegedly at the hands of his best friend Ash. (Man, mafia gossip travels fast.) Sing doesn’t quite believe it, but if it’s true, he vows to kill Ash himself. Because Ash definitely needs more enemies.
Ash sends Eiji to safety in the care of his gang and breaks into the mansion one more time to liberate Shorter’s corpse. He blasts his way into the evil laboratory, where lo and behold, Abraham Dawson is cowering on the floor. Another little present from the currently chaotic-neutral Yut-Lung, who paralyzed him for Ash to find and stole a suitcase full of Banana Fish (score one, Chinese mafia). Unable to move, Abraham begs for mercy, but when Ash catches the gruesome sight of Shorter’s body on a medical table, skull cut open so that his brain could be dissected, he machine guns him down.
Unable to take him home but still needing to give his buddy his final rites, Ash burns Shorter’s body, and it’s during this makeshift funeral that Sing finds him. Sing attacks Ash, and a very pissed off Ash hands his ass back to him before letting him scamper off. Sing, convinced Ash was the killer after all, escapes the mansion only to run into Yut-Lung. In a major power play, Yut-Lung recruits Sing under the threat of execution and the promise for a shot at revenge, and a Fami-Lee helicopter swoops down to take them away. From high above, Yut-Lung watches Ash escape the mansion in a red sports car, and congratulates him on making it back into the game.
EPISODE 10 BATTLE ROYALE: MVP AWARDS
Ash, you beautiful devil. I don’t care for even a second that you are massively overpowered, and that you are a computer hacker and wine sommelier and martial terror but still somehow just a teenager. This episode lacked for nothing except your roundhouse kicks. After a few episodes of getting shat on, Ash really needed a win, and it was a delight to see him deliver.
Yut-Lung Lee still hasn’t really done anything quite as nefarious as I expected him to. But I’ve gotten used to his quiet prowling and have to admit, his shikata nai sass is really growing on me. Like Ash, Yut-Lung has endured a lot at the hands of those more powerful than he is, and like Ash, Yut-Lung has learned not only how to survive, but how to use anything in his arsenal as a tool to achieve his ends. He’s also got some semblance of empathy, showing some shock at the events in the murder-dungeon and offering his condolences to Ash, which makes him more nuanced than the other villains. Yut-Lung has established a few things: he’s clever, he’s not afraid of waiting, and he’s out for bloody vengeance.
AND FINALLY: ASH AND EIJI
After such a traumatic separation, Ash and Eiji’s relationship skyrockets to verbal intimacy. They approach one another with matured sentiment: Ash, who had previously tried to train Eiji how to use a gun, rejects his request to have one for defense and declares that only one of them needs to be a murderer. Eiji, who is shy and fumbles during violent conflict, stays at Ash’s side without flinching and then allows Ash to return into the chaos to retrieve Shorter’s body without insisting that he follow. But neither is for lack of interest: as Ash proclaims that he will protect Eiji no matter what, Eiji says he will go crazy if anything happens to Ash, and he’ll wait as long as it takes for him to return.
Romantic? Possibly. At very least, there is an urgent sense of devotion to the dialogue. The artistic direction concurs, taking precious seconds from an already jam-packed episode for Ash and Eiji to share a look.
Eiji might be criticized for being shoved into a damsel role, unable to save himself. If it’s true, it’s no fault of Eiji. We can’t all be all-powerful grenade-wielding demon-spawn. Eiji’s innocence, his most contentious but defining character trait, is now being safeguarded by Ash himself.
Episode 10 was a 10/10. After the grim horror of Episode 9, seeing Ash liberate himself on both a literal and emotional level was pure catharsis. The duel threats of Dino’s retaliation plus the messy Lee family syndicate are left looming in the smoke and debris, but for now, let’s count a win a win.
WHERE TO WATCH IT (LEGALLY): Amazon Prime