Gosick Episode 19 – Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future
One narrative challenge that Gosick has continually faced is the problem of the set-up episode. For most multi-episode arcs, the first episode is always about laying out the scene of the crime (often the crime doesn’t even happen until the second episode) and providing a greater context for how what is about to occur fits into the wider world of the show.
This time, only the scarcest amount of attention is paid to the set-up for the crime next episode (which will revolve around a play about Coco Rose, a former queen of Saubure who fell from grace after she proved barren), and the gap is filled by filling in the gaps Victorique’s (and Cordelia’s) back story. Far more than it looks forward to next episode, this week’s offering looks back to how it all began, and to the tragic ending that eventually awaits our heroes.
Cordelia’s life, in short: After getting kicked out of the village of the Gray Wolves, she starts work as a dancer only to be “claimed” by Albert de Blois, raped, and then treated as a breeding sow. Once her child is born they are separated and Cordelia gets locked in a mental hospital, only to be rescued by Brian Roscoe.
This episode does a fine job of applying some order to the various flashbacks we’ve had so far—and finally explains why Roscoe has been such an ambivalent figure. For him, Victorique is a living representation of de Blois’s crimes against Cordelia as much as she is de Blois’s current tool in a war Roscoe wants him to lose. She’s also a reminder of the youthful Roscoe’s own failure to protect Cordelia from her fate.
Regardless, Roscoe and Cordelia are united in opposing de Blois, and Roscoe is increasingly tolerant of Cordelia’s reliance on her daughter in pursuit of that goal. This time, Cordelia sends a message that drives her daughter into the city, hinting that her time with Kujou may soon be coming to a close.
Of course, Japan won’t start really gearing up for what became the World War II for another decade or so, so the actual separation shouldn’t be for a while. But the point is made: Kujou is what motivated Victorique, and vice versa. Kujou himself, looking for a birthday/Christmas present for Victorique (born December 25th), decides on a pendant just like the one Cordelia gave her years ago. This one, however, will signify Kujou’s pledge, and not her mother’s, to protect her.
It’s a noble, if ultimately futile, pledge on his part; within minutes of buying it he nearly loses it, and we know that fate will drive them apart. But the time they still have together, both intend to value and preserve for as long as they can.
There are other signals that lingering plot threads are beginning to be woven together. Grevil comes with instructions from his father to bring Victorique to the city, putting his interests and Roscoe’s in temporary alignment. Jupiter Roget of the Science Ministry is also on the scene, potentially putting all three factions in the same place for the first time in decades. Everything seems to revolve around the play, and some crime that is about to take place at the performance.
Yet the episode, for the first time in a long while, manages to link this story to previous mysteries I would think would have been forgotten. Coco Rose was also a devotee of the alchemist Leviathan; Cordelia went to the same mental hospital as the woman who later set up Queen Berry massacre; the elderly women who killed Simon Hunt are still following de Blois around. None of these links seem to have any deep plot significance, but it is nice to see prior story elements acknowledged.
The real strength of this episode, however, is to pull together the Cordelia’s tragic past and Victorique’s tragic future to build up the intensity of the present conflict. What Victorique and Kujou will have to face in the next few episodes is still a complete mystery, and it’s possible that whatever is introduced won’t live up to the expectations this episode has generated for it. If that’s the case, I’ll complain about it then. Right now, this episode presents a great example of how to make a flashback heavy offering work.
You can watch the episode here.