In which, to borrow a phrase from The Right Stuff, Hitomi screws the pooch.
The card for this episode is The Moon.
The Moon is about bewilderment, fear, and imagination. It is about losing your way amidst illusions and shadows.
False Vows opens where Operation Golden Rule of Love left off: Hitomi in Allen’s arms facing a now shocked Van.
Van turns and leaves in silence as uncertainty begins to fall over Hitomi. There is a slight change to Hitomi’s character design in this scene which heightens the effect and makes her look quite vulnerable as she calls out to Van.
Merle tries to comfort Van but to little effect. Allen walks Hitomi back to her rooms.
In Zaibach, Folken’s fortress is having refit work done as Naria and Eriya spar inside. This is an eerie scene in some ways as the lighting changes to reflect the on again / off again effects of the welding going on outside.
Eriya nearly wins and then brags about being Folken’s partner in the previous episode but it rapidly turns to ashes in her mouth as she admits that there was kindness but no love from Folken.
Naria can still dream, and in that sense may be the luckier of the two despite losing the coin toss last time. Hwever for all their exuberance most of the time there is a gathering sense of tragedy about the Fortune Twins.
The sisters reassure themselves that they are happy as we see the fantastic racism flashback of their childhood in more detail. Naria, a shackle on her leg, shielding Eriya as an angry mob drive them off a cliff to their doom.
Except Folken flies down and rescues them as the fall. Even when they bite him on the ground he is gentle offering them new names and new luck.
As the flashback ends and the only regret (that they’ll admit to…) for the sisters the lack of sufficient luck to beat the dragon, Folken arrives to offer them more.
Millerna is trying to select the jewellery that will match her wedding dress when she discovers the mole man trying to sneak away with it. Once again the mole man is used for some oblique advice referring to only one treasure out of many that suits Millerna, and wondering where her glow has gone.
Naria and Eriya are receiving a complete transfusion of Fortune Blood: blood that will concentrate their luck. I do wonder if this is a shout out to Teela Brown (Ringworld etc) without waiting 5 generations to get there.
The final setup for the wedding is underway as Hitomi remains confused. Millerna finally tracks Hitomi down and more or less bullies her into doing a reading. Hitomi is aware of the risks, and even mentions them, but Millerna doesn’t take no for an answer, and promises to accept the outcome no matter what it is.
The staging of the reading is very nicely done – it looks like Millerna is behind Hitomi until the panning reveals a mirror effect. Initially it’s easy to miss this as the dialogue about the cards themselves is not promising. One of which is The Moon which Hitomi privately realises is referring to Millerna’s uncertainty.
Hitomi tones down and shades the bad news and is edging towards outright lies when The Lovers is revealed in her hand but not yet on the table.
The rest of the deck spills from her hand, Hitomi sees a flash of an adulterous affair between Millerna and Allen and then The Tower as a further indication of disaster.
At this point Hitomi sees The Emperor face up on the ground, and for the entirely selfish reason of keeping Allen available, uses her will to replace The Tower with the card of good fortune.
Unfortunately, right now, good fortune means Naria and Eriya and it turns out to be an addition rather than a replacement.
The wedding commences with the usual pageantry as Hitomi anxiously holds on to The Emperor card. Van and Escaflowne are out of town, still in hiding apparently.
It turns out that the refit to Folken’s fortress is a cloaking device as Naria and Eriya are sent out to capture
Hitomi. As Escaflowne comes alive Hitomi sees The Tower again and a vision of disaster should Dryden and Millerna kiss. Hitomi attempts to intervene, as a beam from Escaflowne reveals the fortress.
Hitomi trips, Millerna and Dryden kiss, and Folken’s fortress creates an artifical eclipse. Naria and Eriya attack, as Dryden carries Millerna to safety.
This is where we see the Fortune Twins luck: ballista strings break, buildings collapse (injuring Dryden), Allen cannot get into Schezerade, any attempt to attack them fails. It even affects Escaflowne – Van’s attempt to attack fails as Escaflowne deactivates and plummets from the air.
Folken announces that they are the Intensified Luck Soldiers and demands that Hitomi be handed over.
Dryden tells her to ignore them but this is where Hitomi takes responsibility for her mistakes. She tells Millerna the truth about the reading and the results.
And then Hitomi heads out into the open to face the Fortune Twins as the credits roll.
It is perhaps a touch harsh to solely blame Hitomi for the disasters of this episode, but nevertheless her attempt to change destiny here was for the wrong reason, and with anxiety in her heart.
Given what Varie told her in The Edge of the World, Hitomi should have known this. As such she does bear some responsibility and, to her credit, recognises this almost immediately once the hammer falls.
Throughout this episode the confusion and bewilderment besetting Hitomi is The Moon all over, the appearance of the card in the reading for Millerna is largely a red herring.
Ultimately it is why Hitomi makes such a fundamental error, and her willingness to face up to it is a hopeful sign that she is overcoming the card and finding her path again.
A powerful episode with a nasty conclusion to come.
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 / The Fool
Day 22 – False Vows / The Moon
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