And then it just ended half way through on a cliff hanger. [Expletive Deleted].
The card for this episode is ambition and/or the Knight of Beasts. This is equivalent to the Knight of Coins/Pentacles in other decks. It is a card aligned with youth, with having to make a decision.
Meet Prince Chid, the blond haired, blue-eyed heir to the Duchy of Freid.
However the episode really starts with Millerna successfully completing her surgery on Allen but then collapsing in exhaustion.
A voiceover from Gaddes mentions how convenient it is to have Prince Chid's Aunt Millerna along when it comes to entering Freid easily. It turns out that the late and eldest Aston princess Marlene was Chid's mother.
The formal audience welcoming them is conducted by Chid, who is a young boy of perhaps 10 with a serious case of hero worship for Allen and confuses Van for Allen.
Chid and the others visit Allen in his sickroom just as he wakes up to warn Chid of the impending invasion. Chid is developing into something of a cynic now that Allen's wound has penetrated the fairy tale of the invincible knight. However Van's words restore faith in Allen.
Freid prepares to interrogate the Zaibach prisoner using Plaktu who can use hypnotic suggestion to extract information. Folken however has anticipated this and summons a doppelganger Zongi to substitute for Plaktu.
Millerna attempts to make peace with Hitomi by returning her bag. It's not clear yet if Hitomi accepts this, but points to Millerna for trying.
Dilandau, in another minor example of fantastic racism, delivers Zongi to Plaktu's ship under protest.
Millerna displays some more political awareness in a conversation with Allen: she is quite aware that Zaibach is all to likely to attack Asturia at some point.
As dawn comes Allen seeks Hitomi's help and training in dowsing for invisible enemies as Zongi does Plaktu in.
The initial training doesn't go well for Van, although it does give Hitomi a chance to snark at Merle's expense. Prince Chid witnesses this and requests a reading from Hitomi (you can tell he's too young to know better).
The false Plaktu arrives and promptly proceeds to misdirect the Duchy of Freid by implicating Allen as a rebel against the Asturian throne. He also interrogates Miguel to find out about Hitomi.
Meanwhile Hitomi does a disturbing reading about the prisoner...and gets the blank card that she always removes from the deck.
Chid has Allen and Hitomi arrested, as the prisoner escapes and reactivates his guymelef. Van intercepts with Escaflowne and tries to dowse for his location as he disappears behind the stealth cloak.
To paraphrase Dr Johnson, in this situation Van's attention is admirably concentrated and he succeeds in trashing the guymelef.
However the arrest of Allen results in Van being restrained as Miguel escapes. Sort of. Zongi however cleans up loose ends.
Chid is bitterly disappointed as Allen offers a test of faith to him. It is at this point Hitomi detects an odd bond between Allen and Chid.
Just as the key decision is offered to the youth (see above for the Knight of Beasts), the end credits roll.
My memories had clearly conflated The Blue-Eyed Prince and Prophecy of Death into a single episode, which probably means that this is the first time I haven't watched them back to back.
The art of the cliff hanger is alive and well in anime, a more recent example being The Twelve Kingdoms (hint: buy this one only a box set. Trust me on this). Together with the previous episode this marks the point where the pacing of Escaflowne shifts to two settings: obscenely fast, and unbelievably fast. Strap in, it's a bumpy ride from here.
However it is one thing to set up a cliff hanger for the next plot line, quite another to simply cut the current one in half. Although I like the The Blue-Eyed Prince overall, this episode is an annoying example of the latter.
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
Day 13 - The Secret Door
Day 14 - Red Destiny
Day 15 - ???
Day 16 - Dangerous Wounds
Day 17 - Lost Paradise
Day 18 - The Guided Ones
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