“In which our hero becomes the villain.”
The vast majority of this episode is spent showing our heroes slaughtering the Falmuth and Holy Church soldiers who were directly involved in the attack on Tempest. Benimaru burns them with black flame, the ninjas kill them with razor wire, and the dragon newt squad brings death from above—and that's the tame stuff. Hakurou's incredibly graphic, time-dilated beheading of Kyouya is the stuff nightmares are made of (even if the bloody stump is always hidden from view thanks to creative camera work).
Of course, the brutality on display has a purpose: it gives the whole episode a feeling of revenge fantasy catharsis. The actions of these men directly led to the deaths of Shion, Gobzo, and all the rest of the innocents killed in the Tempest raid. Our heroes getting revenge on them feels like karmic justice.
In fact, only one person survives the attack, Shogo—i.e., the person who we want to see dead the most. Even when Razen later betrays him, killing his soul and stealing his body, it doesn't seem like enough of a punishment for the one who threaten to rape our female heroes and strangled his own longtime friend just to steal some of her power.
And then we get the final few minutes of the episode where Rimuru starts his extermination of the Falmuth army. As we've dived more than a bit into the highly questionable morality of what he is doing in past reviews, this time I'm going to sidestep the issue and focus more on Rimuru's motivations.
Why is he killing these 20,000 people? Is it to protect his people? No. Is it because he wants to send a message to the other human countries that he and his are not to be messed with? No. Is it because Falmuth has violated his country's borders and thus he is forced to respond militarily? No.
Rimuru has only two reasons for what he is doing. The first, the one he told his companions about, is to bring back those who have died. But as he begins his killing, it's obvious that this is little more than a convenient excuse. After all, it only has a 3% chance of working.
Rimuru's real reason for the death he is bringing upon the Falmuth army is simple: he wants revenge. Falmuth hurt him in a way he hadn't experienced in this fantasy world where everything always seemed to work out for him. They killed his loved ones. Now he will kill them right back.
It doesn't matter that, unlike the soldiers maintaining the barrier, the ones he is killing had no involvement with the Tempest raid or the deaths of any of Rimuru's people (barring Falmuth's upper leadership, of course). It's far easier for him to hold Falmuth as a whole responsible—to drown his grief and guilt in bloody revenge (and the foolish hope of bringing back the dead)—than it is to hunt down and punish those actually responsible.
I mean, just look at the way he kills them! He could easily wipe out the army with a giant magical blast. It'd be over before any of them knew what had happened. Instead, he chooses to murder them individually in a way that gives them time to feel confusion and fear as they watch their friends drop around them—moments before they, themselves, die.
And perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that Rimuru knows what he is doing is wrong. That is why he is wearing his cracked replica of Shizu's mask as he begins the slaughter—to hide from the accusing dead stares that populate the graveyard he is creating.
• The episode may break out the triumphant music as the soldiers drop one-by-one but make no mistake: with over 4000 deaths already under his belt as the credits roll, Rimuru has crossed the moral event horizon. There's no way to come back from this.
• I'm enjoying Rimuru's fall from grace. While appalling, his actions are both in character and understandable. I look forward to seeing how what he has done affects him in the long run.
• I wonder how this dark turn will affect the story going forward. Is this the new normal or is it somehow going to go back to being the happy-go-lucky show it was before? And if the latter, how on earth could such a tonal shift be made believable?
• Shogo mentions the “Voice of the World?” Does that mean he had a Great Sage as well?
• Nice job Hakurou, now the whole world knows Rimuru's still alive. Any other valuable secrets you want to divulge to a man who can teleport?