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In which the stakes are revealed, and Van‘s blood pact with the Escaflowne actually has some use.

The card for The Gravity of Destiny is The World. In the context of this episode it is about synthesis, about working together to accomplish something, and it’s one of the more obvious ones to interpret.

Van, Hitomi, and Escaflowne come on down!

The Gravity of Destiny opens with a repeat of Varie’s final warning from The Edge of the World that his will determines the future of the world.

Just as Van is wondering what to do with the green energist, Escaflowne’s energist starts glowing along with the green one, and Hitomi’s pendant.

Cue the pillars of light around Hitomi and Escaflowne. In a scene reminiscent of Amano’s actions in Fateful Confession, Allen runs into the pillar surrounding Hitomi. Unlike that scene, Allen gets spirited away with Hitomi as the rest of the group are left behind asking “What just happened?”

This is where the card is revealed as we cut to Zaibach and the enormous machine constructed by Dornkirk and his equally enormous life support chair. The machine is now being fed from the Atlantean power spot in Freid as Dornkirk orders the machine into action with the command to “Alter Fate”.

The channels for the power run throughout the capital city and there’s a nice pan out to show what I think may be an alchemical design laid out across the city.

[Aside: It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this was a hat tip to the Silent Mobius films (1991/1992) which as I recall laid out a summoning/binding circle across Tokyo (a Star of David IIRC)]

Just as Dornkirk is anticipating being shown his ideal future the machine goes dark and Hitomi, Allen, Van, and Escaflowne arrive.

Escaflowne’s energist is pulsing green so I assume that the green one was absorbed into it during the trip. It also objects to Van touching it as the group begins to take stock of where they are. Which turns out to be an elevator that lifts them up to where Dornkirk can talk to them.

I think that Dornkirk is lying through his teeth when he claims to have brought them here. In my opinion this is Varie’s doing to make sure that Van knows the stakes.

Male posturing and pontificating ensues, along with some of Isaac/Dornkirk’s personal history, the rise of Zaibach, and his research of Atlantis leading to the construction of the fate alteration engine.

It does in passing provide independent confirmation that Gaea was created by Atlanteans.

Mixed in there is a bit of philosophical debate between Hitomi and Dornkirk about free will versus controlling fate in order to end war and grant happiness to all.

In essence this is the classic debate between free will and destiny.

Hitomi, obviously, is championing free will and is not accepting that the end justifies the means. Dornkirk is more than willing to break a few eggs.

You know I’d forgotten this bit when I selected her as my favourite animé heroine but it only reinforces my choice.

During this infodump sequence Hitomi has a vision of a barren world exploding and being completely destroyed.

Meanwhile the Crusade is flying back to Asturia. Millerna is not impressed but Dryden does know what he’s doing. He intends to fight Zaibach using his resources as a merchant, and is confident that Allen et al will turn up. He is right that there would be little point searching where they were when they could have, and did go anywhere.

Back in Zaibach the sorcerers, who are more than a little jealous of Folken, are attempting to dismantle Escaflowne to learn its secrets. At the same time Allen, Van, and Hitomi are suspended in bird cages high above the ground in the Zaibach palace.

Did I mention that the sorcerers were starting by trying to remove Escaflowne’s energist housing?

You know, the one that looked like a beating heart whilst Van is suffering any damage taken to Escaflowne as a wound? And for the record, coughing up blood in excruciating pain is never a good sign.

Allen works out what’s happening almost immediately and Hitomi reaches for him. Hitomi realises that the link runs both ways, that Van can control Escaflowne remotely. Hitomi takes his hand and half the pain into herself to give Van enough release to fully focus on moving Escaflowne.

As Hitomi takes Van’s hand, Dornkirks vision of them is blocked out.

Van succeeds and summons Escaflowne up to the cages in the dragon form. For me this is clearly the moment represented by Il Monde, and yes it does mean that Van’s link to Escaflowne can be useful sometimes.

Anyway, back to the escape! Intercepted by guymelefs on the way out, Van sends Allen and Hitomi ahead on foot whilst he fights off the guymelefs. As they separate, Dornkirks vision is restored.

It is worth noting that Van is not killing anyone in this fight – he is clearly aiming for the energists to disable without killing. Also worth noting as Allen fights his way to the roof (with Hitomi’s guidance) is Hitomi’s absolute faith in Van’s ability to succeed.

There is no anxiety leading to bad results here, although Allen does seem to be a little jealous when Van shows up with the dragon just in time.

Escaflowne flies away as Zaibach guymelefs fly in pursuit. As noted previously the Zaibach guymelefs are faster, at least they are until Van’s demands for more speed manages to unlock the jet engine that Escaflowne apparently had hidden away somewhere.

Zoom.

Meanwhile Dornkirk has worked out that he has to separate Hitomi from Van. Van flies past Folken’s fortress before Escaflowne returns to its more normal dragon form as the end credits roll.

Although not explicitly stated it is clear that Dornkirk is Sir Isaac Newton.

Now I grant you that Newton had his nuttier moments with the occult, and that he was often a nasty little bastard when people crossed him, but having Newton be Dornkirk really shouldn’t work.

The fact that it does work without utterly shattering the suspension of disbelief is really cool.

Dornkirk’s monologuing in the first half of the episode does fall a little flat in places. That many of Dornkirk’s flashbacks are accompanied by still images doesn’t help either: having an episode rival Record of Lodoss War for cheating on the animation budget is not a good sign.

Having said that, Hitomi’s solid faith in Van is clearly a step in the right direction. Allen’s incipient jealousy in a couple of places is not such a good sign, and something that Dornkirk will seek to exploit.

Stay tuned.

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 / The Empress
Day 20 – The Gravity of Destiny / The World
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