Shadows House ‒ Episode 5

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To make one's debut has a long social history, although we most often tend to think of it in terms of an introduction to adult society, no doubt thanks to Georgette Heyer and generations of other historical romance authors. In Shadows House, the debut does seem to have this connotation – it's clearly the first time most of the young Shadows have met anyone besides their designated living doll – but what it means beyond that is not yet clear. Since we've seen Sarah and Mia walking about out of doors, it's fairly safe to assume that once a successful debut has been made, the Shadow and their “face” will be allowed to interact with the wider world, albeit possibly just that world that exists within Shadows House. But in order to do that, this first step must be negotiated, and so far, that's not looking like it's going very well – for anyone.

We've been aware of the various relationships between Shadows and living dolls via their names for a while now – those who give their dolls their own unique names (Mia, Emilico, Rum), those who simply shorten their own names (Lou, Ricky), and those who take a middle ground, giving another language's variant of their own name to their “face,” such as John and Shaun, which is the Irish equivalent of the name. (Other Gaelic versions are Eoin and Ian, just as a point of interest.) Now seeing them all interact with one another, there's a definite link between how they chose to name their dolls and how each duo functions. Ricky and Lou both have the most symbiotic, and therefore desirable by the Shadows' standards, relationships. While neither is quite as polished as Mia and Sarah, they still do a remarkable job of erasing their own personalities for their masters. John and Shaun aren't as good at it, but they're walking a line between respecting each other – as we see when John offers to wear false glasses so Shaun can wear his real ones – and doing what they're supposed to. But Mia is the exception that proves the rule when it comes to naming schemes, because Emilico and Rum are objectively the worst at fulfilling their roles, with Rum too shy to properly observe Shirley (plus that whole friend-who-lives-in-her-finger thing) and Emilico far too much her own person.

Kate and Emilico really are the most mismatched of the Shadows attempting to debut. Even though they, like the other pairs, are intended to have matching hair and body types, their personalities come through in their body language to make them look very different. Emilico's inner sunshine contrasts markedly with Kate's cloudier personality, making them very much the sunlight and shadow that they physically appear to be. It certainly isn't impressing Edward, the “special” doll in charge of the debut, and once again it may indicate a problem with how Emilico was processed, brainwashed, or built – she completely lacks the self-effacing personality of a Lou or the ego of a Ricky, and she actually seems better suited to be the emotional John's face…or she would, if such a thing were possible. (Which brings up a whole other interesting gender identity angle that I'd be surprised if the show got into. To fanfiction!) That Kate may be harboring some inner whimsey that she's too anxious to express seems possible, given that she just made up a name out of whole cloth for Emilico. If the girls are going to survive, she'll probably have to learn how to express it.

Doing that sooner rather than later may be important, because there's something decidedly sinister about the way that Edward has just led all of the young Shadows out into what looks suspiciously like a hedge maze while leaving all of the living dolls behind. A game of hide-and-seek appears likely to commence next week, one in which the dolls will have to rely upon their knowledge of their Shadows' personalities and reactions to find them.

Or maybe, in the case of Kate and Emilico, upon Kate's secret gift for soot manipulation, which may be the thing that ends up being their salvation in the long run.


Shadows House is currently streaming on Funimation.

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