Welcome all, to another week of Black Lagoon! We’re almost done with the first season, only two episodes left. That means shit’s starting to go down, and I am here for all of it. So without further ado, lets dive into the episodes and my new wife favorite maid, Roberta.
Starting off, one big surprise was that I found myself gravitating back towards the English dub this week. If you remember, last week I said it was good but that I preferred the JP dub + English subs. And I thought that was the case when I started this pair of episodes! But about halfway through episode 9 I switched to English “Just to check” and never switched back. Something about Black Lagoon’s English dub keeps pulling me towards it, makes me want to watch the show that way. Maybe it’s because it’s good enough that I can focus on the action, rather than reading subtitles, without feeling like I’m losing out. Or the crews VA work and chemistry is just so good I can’t help it. Who knows, I’ll figure it out as I go. Whatever the case, I think I’m going to watch with the English dub moving forward.
Getting into the episodes themselves, first up is episode 9, “Maid to Kill”. Ignoring the excellent pun that is the title, this was a rather action heavy episode. Both of this weeks episodes are in fact, though that isn’t a bad thing. We got to watch Roberta be a badass for 20 minutes, taking out Cubans, holding onto the hood of moving cars, surviving crashes, and even knocking out Revy. It was great! I especially liked her arsenal, from the shotgun umbrella to the machine gun hidden in an armor plated luggage bag. Seeing how prepared she came, along with the Terminator jokes from Dutch and Benny, really drove home how terrifyingly strong she is. And while I never feared for our leads lives, meta knowledge about there being a 2nd season ruined that, I was engaged and interested in how they were going to get out of this
This is where Balalaika comes in, gearing up with her little army to come save the day. This was unexpected! I thought for sure Rock would broker a deal with Roberta or something. Convince Garcia to talk with her and let them go, appeal to her humanity as the kid doesn’t want to see her kill anyone. And while that sort of happens in episode 10 to an extent, the real threat is Balalaika, who I will talk about more in episode 10. For now though, know that I like how Black Lagoon is using her here. Not only does it keep her involved with the main cast in situations that otherwise have nothing to do with her, it also reinforces just how much of a threat she is in this community, and might one day be towards our cast.
Getting back to Roberta and Garcia, Black Lagoon spent a lot of time hamming up just how dangerous she is. Cuban revolutionary, 400,000 bounty, Interpol coming after her, etc etc. The big thing for me though was Garcia, and his reaction to her. The clear look in his eyes that he didn’t recognize her as she is now, that the “revolutionary” Rosarita is not the same person as Roberta the “Maid”. It really felt like he was her humanity, the one spark of joy in her life, her reason for living. What’s cool about that is that this is what I expect Rock to become for Revy. He’s going to be what pulls her back anytime she goes crazy, who makes her hold onto life in hopeless situations, who gives her that feeling of normalcy she never had growing up. Seeing the seeds for that get sown here? It’s cool.
Sadly not everything can be perfect. My only real issue with the episode is that some of the car chase was… Not great? Don’t get me wrong, most of the actual action was fine to good. The explosion effects, Roberta’s movements, that’s all solid. It’s really only the CGI cars, seeing two of them on screen or one of them driving along the rooftops, that fell short for me. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s fine. They are very small scenes in an otherwise solid chase, and Roberta’s intimidation goes a long way towards covering for the scenes shortcomings. I just hope Black Lagoon keeps the CGI to a minimum moving forward, because clearly their 3D pipeline was not up to snuff in… checks notes 2006. Yeah, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Moving on we come to episode 10, “The Unstoppable Chambermaid”. As you’d expect, this was more action, with the highlight of the episode being Revy vs Roberta. For the most part, this is cool! It’s a shame the fight is mostly closeups and still frames, no wide action shots or cool gun-fu. But Black Lagoon still frames it well enough, and the narrative surrounding it makes it work. Really feels like Revy is facing herself in a lot of ways, like they are birds of a feather. Only where Revy is still a lost hound without much keeping her going, Roberta has found something more to live for and protect, and that’s why she comes out on top, though only barely. It’s nice, and like I said, I think Black Lagoon is setting up Rock to be for Revy what Garcia is for Roberta.
Speaking of Roberta, we got a bit more backstory for her this episode. We saw how she started as a member of the revolutionaries, fighting and killing for a cause, eventually becoming disillusioned when she saw that those she was fighting for were no better than those she was killing, having turned her into basically a dog of the mafia. It makes sense why she would leave that behind, as well as how she got hired as a maid and eventually latched onto Garcia like she did. I wish we had gotten a bit more about her time in the revolution, but that’s more because I enjoyed it rather than because the rest of the episode was bad or anything. It’s like picking between two great flavors of ice cream, both make me happy, but one is my favorite.
Outside that, this episode also has the most Balalaika screen time so far, with her arriving and breaking up the fight. Gotta say, this was pretty cool. Hearing about her time in Afghanistan, her work as a Special Forces commander, the implication that she was abandoned by their country after fighting a war, how all of her soldiers followed her eventually forming the mafia she has now. It’s nothing concrete, mostly laying the groundwork for things to come, but what we got was good. The more we get of Balalaika the more I like her. It also helps that Benny has the right of it, between her, Revy and Roberta, we have three of the most terrifyingly hot women all in one place. Good shit!
The only “issue” with the episode, if it could be called that since it’s really nothing at all, would be how the episode ends. The way Black Lagoon let both walk away alive and in good shape felt… a tad ham-fisted? To be clear, I’m not complaining. I love Roberta, and if she’s alive that means she might return again later, that’s great. It just felt like an unrealistic outcome to everything that had happened. In what world does Revy, a hardened kill, and Roberta, a revolutionary assassin, both survive after all of that? Not many I imagine. So yeah, while I love her, Black Lagoon and Roberta are suffering from just how straight they try to play the story. Only a small bit, but it was there.
Anyways, all in all this was another good week. Feels like Black Lagoon is hitting its stride now. Rock and Revy are workin it every episode, Balalaika is taking over, and the status quo is starting to get shaken up. I’ll admit I still don’t know where it’s going, what Black Lagoon’s endgame is. Outside of the Rock/Revy relationship it hasn’t set much up there. So long as it can keep delivering on the character bits though, I don’t mind that much. For now at least. My hope is that Season 2 is where we will start to get a larger story. Until then though? I’m gonna have some fun.
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