As Ethan continues to suck up energy, the battle rages below with the Darkness energy is beginning to turn the entire sky and sand to black. The people from which the Darkness is being extracted are being transformed into drones mindlessly attacking X-On’s team, and almost all the shots featuring Ethan’s electric darkness are still frames. It’s lazy and upsetting to the point where I can say that even episode 26 of Evangelion did more with its still frames than The Reflection managed. Moving past the lack of actual animation in this animated TV show is tough, but there’s poorer storytelling that unravels slowly through the progression of the episode.
I-Guy runs into our dear friend, Man-Bat, who is somehow rebuilt stronger than before. Though Man-Bat should be easily taken care of, Ian struggles with the soundwaves before the idol girls appear in their PreCure gear to save the day- kind of. Actually, instead of providing the needed back-up in an area where they should theoretically thrive with their elemental powers, the girls falter and get in the way. Ian does seem to get his gumption back after the girls’ initial (failed) attack on Man-Bat which allows him to uni-beam the evil villain back to oblivion.
The girls begin to follow I-Guy around after this point which is really just cute. They don’t know anyone here, and since Ian is the first person to show them kindness, they’ve attached themselves to him like remora providing shiny backup.
Meanwhile, the people affected by the Darkness electricity are being completely drained of life energy and turned into mummies. Not all of Ethan’s lackeys are affected by his powers; however, leaving only a handful of competent soldiers to fight. Steel Ruler is the only person seemingly upset with how Ethan is handling this business, which ends up being relevant later as she turns on him. The betrayal doesn’t turn the tide of the battle in away way, and it’s completely unnecessary for the story.
There’s a bit of an aside with ARS where they warn X-On that the US military is bringing missiles to the party, but just as they arrive, Ethan blocks off the world via a giant pyramid of Darkness energy. Inside the pyramid, he starts a sandstorm that dampens all powers, and all our heroes begin to slowly walk toward him. To say it’s awfully boring to see is an understatement.
X-On is the first Reflected to make it up to Ethan, so he begins to quiz him on the how’s and why’s of the plan- all of which are slow and drawn out. I think there end up being three questions asks in total which are all questions we’ve had answered or inferred before, so it was a terrible waste of time. During this happening, a large dragon (whom we assume to be “Darkness” itself) beings to appear in the hole at the top of the pyramid.
Honestly, a lot of this exchange is Ethan pushing people back with a sandstorm, the people getting their footing back and moving forward, and the process repeats while some attempt at existentialism happens in the background. After all seems lost and Ethan is on the up and up, everyone (except the idols and X-On) begin to talk about how wonderful Eleanor was. They all hear Eleanor’s voice bidding them to move forward and not give up.
X-On is the last person to hear her speak, and she only assures him that he didn’t betray his friends or run away. This would have been a novel thing to do if it had been established in any way that X-On was struggling with this. Until now, it seemed that he was at peace with what happened when he was a kid. Furthermore, Eleanor didn’t say anything kind or outright motivating to X-On, so we have to assume that the words telling him he didn’t betray his friends are enough to keep him moving on. That just seems like something Eleanor would want to hear, not X-On. Regardless, he apologizes to her.
Eleanor then appears as a green ghost to talk to Ethan about how strong everyone is in the immediate vicinity because they were able to overcome their darkness. During this exchange, X-On is able to touch Ethan and gain his powers, and we learn (quite possibly) the coolest thing in the series: X-On isn’t a Reflected.
Now we know why we never saw him through Michael’s eyes, and we know why that lady from ARS didn’t care what X-On was up to. Some people saw him as a Reflected, but a few people knew he wasn’t. X-On was experimented on as a child and given undisclosed superpowers. That’s the winning reveal of the series, my friends. That’s just cool.
After X-On manages the upper hand, Ethan’s powers dwindle and everyone gets their powers back. They begin to advance on Ethan with new vigor as he watches the Darkness dragon leave the top of the pyramid, presumably understanding that Ethan has failed as its emissary.
Ethan is defeated, for now, and all his minions escape just as ARS appears at the scene- this time, without an overload of military-grade weaponry. Now for the fun stuff: Eleanor is alive and hundreds of people died. The only Reflected left alive in the United States are the people who were originally working for Ethan, Eleanor’s group, and the idols. Everyone else is dead. Only 4% of the United States Reflected are still alive, and we breeze past this major detail as if it’s not a big deal…
So, the overall verdict?
The Reflection started out as my hype show for the season, and even with a rough first episode, I help out hope that it would be stellar. It wasn’t, and I’ve been pretty disappointed this past few weeks. There were a few good points, but not enough to outweigh the poor pacing, storytelling, and at the end of the day- animation. There’s a line where stylization becomes laziness, and The Reflection crosses over to lethargy multiple times. With a convoluted plot and sub-par characterization, I wouldn’t suggest watching this show- even as a binge.
However, if you happened to enjoy even part of it, the end of this episode teases a second season with another Reflection phenomena. So, while I will actively tell people to ignore this show, it may get a second season if it was popular in its home country.