At this point in the show, I think we’ve all guessed the basics of Charlotte and Ange’s backstory, but it’s nice to be presented with the entire picture so we can fully understand each girl’s raison d’etre that I’ve been wildly guessing this entire time. Not only does Princess Principal offer some insight into our main players, but we are also given a very real look into the poor’s life and conditions within the Kingdom which helps us discern why the uprising happened in the first place. It’s a very learning heavy episode, but it doesn’t feel weighted, slow, or cumbersome because the information download is spread out through the entire 20 minutes.
Like most Princess Principal episodes, this one is told with a ton of jumping around. This is done to keep us in the loop with the girls we aren’t focusing on this episode, and to help us understand the true length of the stakeout Team White Dove is involved in. Its days that these girls are tailing their target, days.
The conduit for Ange and Charlotte’s backstories is a little girl Ange sees while watching a building where their individual (a man named O’Reilly) is supposed to meet some mystery woman. The girl is attempting to steal bags or pickpocket, but she is so bad at it she ends up getting beat by the men she is targeting. Ange takes pity on the girl and teaches her about pickpocketing so she can survive.
When this is later relayed to Charlotte, she understands completely giving further evidence to her own low-income history. After this somber moment, both girls briefly talk about their past lives where they switched clothes to trick people and played games and piano together. I’m not usually into the rose-colored glasses of youth idea- but this really got me because these girls have obviously been through quite a bit.
When the young girl returns to Ange’s spot on the hill, Ange begins to tell the little girl the story of The Princess and the Pickpocket which I will sum up below. For everyone’s sake, I’m again going to refer to the girls as we know them instead of their real names as I did when we first learned the girls had switched places as children.
Ange (the Princess) hated her life in the castle and ran away to one end of a courtyard one day. It’s there that she saw someone (the Pickpocket) who looked just like her from beyond the wall. Ange invited this girl into the castle and ended up playing with her every day. Charlotte (as we come to know her) also enjoyed her time in the castle as both girls traded knowledge, clothes, and time together. Eventually, Ange grew terribly curious and asked to trade places with Charlotte one day so she could experience the outside world. Charlotte reluctantly agreed, and Ange learned the reality of what was outside the castle walls and how terribly Charlotte’s life actually was.
However, as luck would have it, the same day the girls switched places ended up being the same day as the revolution. Commoners attacked the castle with military weapons, fire, and mob tools in an effort to bring down the tyranny of the Kingdom. Ange saw the castle light up and hurried back to save Charlotte, but just as the girls met up and Ange proclaimed her vision as future Queen (a mantle Charlotte later hopes to take) a cannonball crashed through the courtyard and knocks Ange below ground. Charlotte is taken away, confused as the Princess, and from here the girls are unable to switch places again.
The little girl Ange is relaying this story to feels bad for Princess who is stuck outside the wall, and envious of the Pickpocket who has become Princess. However, Ange suggests the opposite. The Princess will indeed have a tough life and adjustment to her new station, but the Pickpocket has to fight for her place. You see, the palace became filled with bloodthirsty adults looking for anyone to skewer, and if the Princess was the mask of perfection she would likely be killed for any number of reasons. The Pickpocket had to learn languages where she didn’t know how to write before, music where she couldn’t read a note, and so forth. It’s “agonizing effort.”
During the entire episode we see Charlotte working on some documents while she is watching the stakeout building through a telescope. Later, after Ange performs quite the badass stunt, she gives these documents to the kids she frees from a terrible “master.” As it turns out, Charlotte was creating Letters of Introduction for the kids into a very nice orphanage. These letters were payment for the little girl to run into the woman O’Reilly was meeting with, which allowed the girls to gain the upper hand on O’Reilly’s deal with Gazelle (the Duke’s very attractive spy).
The ending comprises of the Ange and Charlotte’s joint apology to each other, but with a stronger focus on Ange’s conscious. Charlotte is struggling in her role, and Ange does what she can to give her the encouragement she needs to carry on. It’s very heartwarming.
I feel it’s imperative to say that Princess Principal knows how to tell and reveal a good story. Though I’ve been pining for more direction, that’s really only because I want more to write about here. I love slow-life stories, and PP is honestly a slow life story (at least at the moment) about spies; it’s a great break from the perceived monotony in the genre. My heart will always be with this show, and I’m actually dreading the end of the season because I don’t want to see it go.