Shadows House Season 2 Episode 10 Review
Lewis Carroll’s Alice duology and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Shadow may be the primary literary influences visible in Shadows House, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more. This week gives us a taste of Hansel and Gretel as Kate and John flee from Maryrose and Rosemary, with stark imagery of them running through a shadowy forest and of course, the breadcrumb that Kate leaves behind for Emilico to find. But more than that, the escape relies on the same basic trickery that we see throughout the tale type (ATU327) – in the best-known variant of the tale type, Gretel repeatedly fools the witch, eventually tricking her into her own oven, and then has to ensure that a relieved and slightly less aware Hansel doesn’t jeopardize their escape on the back of a white duck. (He wants them to both ride it across the river together; Gretel says that won’t work.) Kate is therefore the Gretel of the situation, tempering John’s ideas and making it possible for them to escape Maryrose’s clutches…and like in many modern retellings of the story, making us wonder if maybe there wasn’t a different way where the witch didn’t have to die.
Not that Maryrose’s fate is sealed quite yet, although it certainly doesn’t look good for her. Even she believes that she and Rosemary are finished, and now she’s even been deprived of the chance to go out on her own terms. But even though she’s done terrible things, it’s hard to think that she actually deserves to be disposed of, because at the end of the day, she was fighting for her right to exist as her own person, and Rosemary’s to do the same. The system in Shadows House is undeniably corrupt and vicious, built on a belief that holds the superiority of one being above all others. While we could say that the Shadows are actually holding humans higher – because that’s what they more or less want to be, in the end – they’re going about it in a way that implies that they believe that Shadows are smarter, and therefore the ones who deserve the better bodies. It’s unpleasant however you look at it, and Maryrose’s heart was in the right place when she decided to fight (in a rather literal sense) The Man.
Interestingly, the way that Kate, Emilico, John, and Shaun choose to fight back against her shows the viability of her basic premise: that Shadows and humans can coexist without undergoing the metamorphosis ceremony. If they were fused, the younger pairs couldn’t have pulled off what they did, because it relied on the strengths of both Shadows and humans separately, and they could succeed because of their differences. Having Emilico and Shaun disguise themselves as Kate and John so that John could attack from behind couldn’t have happened any other way, and it also shows a level of partnership that even Maryrose and Rosemary haven’t figured out. Yes, there’s still an air of master/servant in the way that the living dolls talk about their Shadows, but they’ve also achieved an equality that no one else has, and that’s likely to be their trump card when it comes to freeing everyone from Lord Grandfather’s machinations.
There’s also a beautiful symbolism in seeing the soot wash away to reveal Emilico and Shaun in their Shadows’ clothes. It’s indicative of them being freed, the brainwashing and oppressive policies of Lord Grandfather being washed away by their own teamwork and cleverness. It’s Hansel and Gretel coming out of the woods safe and sound, and hopefully it truly is the foreshadowing it looks like – just like Rosemary’s name is likely to be. As you may recall, “rosemary” as an herb symbolizes remembrance, and even if she and Maryrose are disposed of, memories of them could live on, exhorting in Ophelia’s voice for us to remember what they tried to do, even if ultimately they faltered.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Shadows House Season 2 Episode 10 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.