So let’s start with everyone’s favorite thing, terminology! You might notice I’m calling this season 2 of 86. Originally, it was the second cour, but somewhere along the way, it was switched to a new season. That’s what I refer to it as, and that’s what it will stay. We’re talking about the same thing either way.
We’re going to be doing weekly episode reviews of 86 this time around. Every week one day after the episode airs, a review will go up. Hopefully. You might notice this week’s is not at all the day after, but it will be fixed. I didn’t actually know when this aired. I won’t forget now, though.
Rather than give you a run-through of the plot up to this point, I just recommend you watch the first season. I reviewed it here. It’s really good. Go watch it. If you have watched it, cool. If not, you’ll probably still get something out of this. At least that’s the goal. If you don’t know the plot, go read the first few lines of the review, and that should bring you mostly up to speed.
These are broken into two parts, as always. The first is where I type what’s going on as I watch it. It’s the closest you can get to a watch-a-long through text. If I say something dumb or forget a character’s name, that stays. And in the later half, I discuss the episode while sounding less like an idiot. Ok, let’s get started. I’m just looking forward to this, really.
So, a lot of information is dropped on us here. Firstly there’s been some passage of time. If I had a better memory, I could tell you how much, but I know it could only be a few months at most. Lena has changed a lot, as you might expect. I mean, look at her in the 11 episodes of season 1. A lot happens.
The most notable change is something I knew from promotional artwork, which is that she now dyed a streak of her hair red. As for why that is, we don’t know yet, but perhaps it has something to do with Lena becoming handler of a new squadron now that Shin and the gang are “gone.” I will say that given all we know about Alba and how proud of a people they are, that streak of red looks badass as hell and is basically a middle finger to her own race. Kinda cool, man. I love visual changes in character.
She’s also grown a lot more, including growing a pair. She does not take crap from anyone. She’s the best handler the Republic has as far as Legion kills are concerned, and despite being demoted for pulling strings to help the 86, she can basically get away with anything as the Republic needs her. She also has a new nickname of Bloody Queen/Bloodstained Queen. She’s just really cool now.
Her new team seems to like her, as far as a handler is concerned. Cyclops, who I’m presuming is the leader since she’s the one who chats with Lena the most, says she’s always serious but thinks that will help them live longer. So, it’s pretty clear that Lena has cut her emotions off in some way for the sake of her team’s survival. If last season, she was a childish girl with a wish, this season, she’s a woman that will achieve it.
Well, it turns out that Shin and the gang didn’t actually die last season. Surprise! Promotional material makes it hard to believe that. They were all captured by the Legion and woke up in the Giad Federacy. Someplace that a man called Ernst Zimmerman is the leader of. Or at least important in some way.
This place was made after the Kingdom of Giadian was defeated. You know, the place with the war spider bots. Yeah, we kind of suspected they died out, but this is proof. And now our friends are indebted to this supposedly nice guy. Especially after he’s like, “yo, you want to be citizens of the Federacy?” Obviously, that seems like too good of a deal, but he’s doing it because a humanity that doesn’t help people like them would be better off dead. I mean, I do wholeheartedly agree, but that’s a bad guy thing to say normally.
All of the military want Shin and everyone on their side. I mean, of course, they do. They’re probably better trained than anyone, but Ernst refuses to let them become operators. All they know is war, and he won’t let them return to that. So he becomes their legal guardian, and they all live in this nice house together with some young annoying girl that’s Ernst adopted daughter. They’re one big happy family.
That’s basically the end, but one bomb is dropped. Ernst decided to hand Shin something found with him when the Federacy rescued them. An object with “Rei” carved into it. Shin is noticeably surprised, and things leave off there. I wonder what that could mean? I have ideas, but we’ll see.
I was honestly scared to write this. This is still only my third series I’ve done an episode review for. I’m still very new to this, and I have to learn all over again how to write these since it’s for a different series now. Throw that in with the fact that 86 also has a fairly complex plot, and I was a little intimidated. However, things are going fine. I think I’m channeling my inner Sonny Boy experience, and I can now make sense of anything easily.
That said, this wasn’t a confusing episode or anything. Really, this was a bit of a new start and a pretty fitting continuation from the last episode. I understand why it was originally the second cour. It does feel like a season 2, but it also feels like just another episode. I see the confusion there.
This was a pretty good episode, though. I have to say that. 86 is back, and I’m happy about it. One thing I was curious about was whether we would continue with the whole split episode thing with half being focused on Shin and half Lena. So far, yes. That’s exactly what this episode did. But I’m curious if we’ll do the same thing with Lena’s new squadron. We only know one of them. Maybe we won’t get attached to them at all. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I loved this reset we’ve had. There were so many parallels to the beginning of the actual series. Lena walking through the Republic, the drunk guys making fun of her. It was just like the first episode, but with slight differences. Like Lena having a black uniform for being demoted, her badass hair, her generally badassness. Same situation, different, more determined Lena.
I could honestly talk endlessly about how much I love this new her and everything she stands for. It’s insane that something as simple as a single streak in her hair can mean so much. It’s the same with Shin really. He doesn’t walk around with his scarf anymore, showing that he’s officially accepted his past in some way. Shin and Lena both have visual changes showing their resolve to remember the past and move forward. It’s poetic.
The opening, I’m guessing, that plays at the end basically spoils that Shin and the gang will work for the Federacy’s military at some point. I’m curious what that will lead to, but what’s happening now is more interesting. They only know how to fight, so it’s fitting, if not predictable, that we have this arc of them living the good life.
They’ve been rejected by their home for so long, and now they have this place that isn’t only understanding, they welcome them with open arms. It’s a complete shift from what they’re used to, and this is something that happens in real life as well, so it makes sense for them to go through it.
I don’t imagine this peace will last very long, 86 isn’t know for being happy, after all, but we can enjoy it while we can. I’m not 100% sure where the story will go from here. Up to this point, we’ve been focused pretty solely on the 86 and their struggles. Now, the world has opened up a lot. The Republic isn’t the only nation anymore, and the 86 we know are no longer enslaved.
The only way I can see the plot going is the eventual emancipation of all 86. And, of course, Shin and Lena finally meeting. I want that. I just hope that the series can maintain the same quality with this new direction. Sometimes, the first arc is the best, and you fail to ever see, let alone reach that peak again. I’m looking at you, Promised Neverland. You broke your promise. I just hope 86 doesn’t make me want to 86 myself. That was a good one, shut up!
Anyway, that was more than I expected, but this was also the first episode. I try to keep these around 1000 words, but things happen. Stay tuned and all that jazz if you want to go on this journey with me.
Thank you very much for reading
What did you think of the return?