Despite some interesting partial revelations The Guided Ones is a surprisingly weak episode largely sustained by the momentum from Lost Paradise.
The card for The Guided Ones is the Wheel Of Fortune. It is a card of destiny, of being at a turning point with a vision.
In a series highly dependent on Hitomi’s visions that isn’t an ominous selection at all. Honest.
The episode starts with an unknown figure free climbing a cliff. This man is older than the main characters. As he reaches the top a beam of light deposits a young lady in a yukata with a whirligig.
After the card is revealed, Naria and Eriya report to Folken aboard the fortress. Their adoration of Folken is slightly disturbing.
Then in a slight continuity glitch we wind back to an overlap with Lost Paradise with Dryden explaining that he’s translated the journal of Allen’s father and why they’re headed to the Mystic Valley.
Dryden sends his ship back and transfers to the Crusade.
At this point Dryden essentially taunts Allen into coming along by mentioning the way Allen’s father abandoned Allen and the rest of the family to search for the Mystic Valley, home of the Draconians. The latter being pretty much why Van wants to go.
Dryden then starts reading from the diary to the group, and the passages do not cast Allen’s father in a good light.
In a fairly smooth transition the reading shifts to a flashback of an airship over the ocean in great difficulty (as Mike Oldfield would put it :)). As the crew tries to turn back Allen’s father (an older version of the man in the opening scene) pulls a knife on the captain. The ship crashes and we see Allen’s father cast adrift for some time.
And he’s clearly looking for the girl he met in the first scene.
Allen does not consider this to be a good reason to abandon a wife and family. Dryden taunts Allen some more but does make the point that Allen’s father is more interesting than Meiden (who only counts money and never went adventuring).
Back on earth Amano and Yukari are visiting Hitomi’s mother hoping for news. There is none, but Hitomi’s mother is strangely calm and unworried about her.
The Crusade flies on as attempts to repair Scherazade are made.
Back to the story and Allen’s father meets an old man named Isaac.
Hitomi’s mother tells Amano and Yukari a story of her mother, Hitomi’s grandmother, being swept away in a beam of light to a strange land whilst on her way back home from a summer festival.
Isaac is apparently also from the mystic moon and seeking the secrets of the mystic moon.
On opening a photo album both Amano and Yukari mistake Hitomi’s grandmother for Hitomi…and this confirms the identity of the girl in the first scene.
At this point Hitomi is swept into a vision and sees the first meeting herself, guesses the identity of Allen’s father but doesn’t realise her grandmother’s identity until the end of the vision.
Back in Zaibach the sorcerers are taking custody of Dilandau. The sorcerers discuss failed fate alteration experiments as a hysterical Dilandau is strapped to a table. Nutty as Dilandau is, I do feel sorry for him here: he was clearly made and the callousness with which his makers sedate him for the sole purpose of keeping him quiet until they can perform another fate alteration is chilling.
By the way it is quite clear that Isaac is Dornkirk as he warns Folken that the heroes are heading to the Mystic Valley.
Back to the story and Isaac disappears in the fog.
Allen is finding the story, particularly his father’s obsession with the girl, impossible to listen to and Dryden wins no favours by needling him some more.
Allen flees the room, Hitomi follows and tries to open the door to a possible forgiveness on Allen’s part.
Van heads off to take a look as the Crusade flies into rough air. Cue teen romantic trope as the shaking of the Crusade throws Hitomi into Allen’s arms just as Van walks by. Blushing ensues.
As the Crusade exits into clear air over a snowy, but empty, valley they sight Folken’s fortress. Naria and Eriya are despatched to retrieve Van.
A flashback of Hitomi’s grandmother giving Hitomi her pendant inspires Hitomi to pray for the Mystic valley to be removed.
Or is it a message sent through time?
For different reasons Van, Dryden, and Allen all hope for the same thing as Naria and Eriya descend.
The energist flares and a gate much like the one the Ispano came through opens. The opening of the gate throws Naria and Eriya off to one side.
This is the first time I’ve noticed how weak this episode is compared to what has gone before. I suspect that on previous outings momentum from Lost Paradise has carried me through without noticing the flaws.
It is nice that some of the foreshadowing from Hitomi’s interrupted reading in Seal of the Brothers is resolved, and it does justify why Allen cut the reading short. The introduction of Hitomi’s grandmother is also kind of cool for implying some sort of Narnian time between Gaea and Earth (because, trust me, the timelines don’t match up otherwise).
But for all that it’s necessary, this episode is essentially an infodump on a scale that competes with David Weber at his best (or worst).
The relentless cuts between multiple plot threads makes the episode feel disjointed, and even the sudden opening of the gate at the end doesn’t really save it.
I’m not even sure who or what the card refers to. It may refer to Allen being on a turning point for how he thinks of his father, or it may be the entry to the Mystic Valley.
A strangely disappointing episode all told.
Day 1 – Fateful Confession / The Tower
Day 2 – The Girl From the Mystic Moon / Ace of Serpents
Day 3 – The Gallant Swordsman / Death
Day 4 – The Diabolical Adonis / The Hanged Man
Day 5 – The Seal of the Brothers / Judgement
Day 6 – Capitol of Intrigue / Justice
Day 7 – Unexpected Partings / The Chariot
Day 8 – Sub vs Dub
Day 9 – The Day the Angel Flew / Temperance
Day 10 – Memories of a Feather / Ace of Birds
Day 11 – The Blue-Eyed Prince / Knight of Beasts
Day 12 – Prophecy of Death / The Devil
Day 13 – The Secret Door / High Priestess
Day 14 – Red Destiny / The Emperor
Day 15 – The Gender of Escaflowne
Day 16 – Dangerous Wounds / The Magician
Day 17 – Lost Paradise / The Star
Day 18 – The Guided Ones / Wheel of Fortune
Day 19 – The Edge of the World
Day 20 – The Gravity of Destiny
Day 21 – Operation Golden Rule of Love
Day 22 – False Vows
Day 23 – Reaction of Fortune
Day 24 – ???
Day 25 – The Black Winged Angel
Day 26 – Storm Premonition
Day 27 – Fateful Decision
Day 28 – Zone of Absolute Fortune
Day 29 – Eternal Love
Day 30 – Looking Back at The Vision of Escaflowne