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Black Lagoon – 23/24 [Snow White’s Payback/The Gunslingers] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome all, to the grand finale of Black Lagoon! While there is an OVA after this, I’ll be watching/writing about that separately on my own time if it warrants it. That means this is our last week for this season of Throwback Thursday. And you know what that means! At the bottom of this post you’ll find a poll for our next show. Go vote in it and pick what we watch together next! And if a show you like isn’t there, make sure to suggest it. Now, onto the episodes!

First up is the penultimate episode, “Snow White’s Payback”. I would say the main thrust of this episode was “escalation”. Balalaika escalated by killing as many Wasamine as she can, bombing buildings and shooting up offices in broad daylight. Yukio escalated by diving further into the criminal underworld, robbing a bank dressed up as a Russian to put the police on their scent. Even Rock, in some misplaced sense of justice, escalated by finally “committing” and putting himself on the line. He does it in the stupidest manner I can think of, directly insulting/asking Balalaika to spare Yukio and the rest of the Wasamine without any good reason for her to do so, but he still did. Sadly however, this scene is where the first issues with the finale start to come in.

The whole scene with Balalaika and Rock in the garage felt… Odd? I understand Balalaika’s end, she’s being questioned and lectured by her damn translator. Much like Revy was in the submarine back in episode 5, she’s annoyed with Rock’s hypocritical bullshit. He’s ranting about “Justice” while asking her to butcher dozens, if not hundreds, of more people. All to save a single little girl he doesn’t want to see shot. Is what he’s asking for really any better? Prolonging this war, killing even more people, causing even more chaos? All because he can’t accept a girl he just met dying? Balalaika is right when she calls his justice rotten, he isn’t asking for justice at all. Surprisingly enough, that even seems to disappoint her a little. Like she thought better of him, either that he was above effectively placing a hit on someone or he was smarter about it.

Anyways, that’s all solid. What confused/missed for me was Rocks response to her accusations however. When Balalaika demanded to know why he asked at all, his response was that it was his “hobby”, like war was for her. What does that mean? Is it how he copes with all of this? Is negotiation and meddling just what he’s comfortable in so that’s how he approached it? Was he just making a joke to show that he’s committed to this life now and isn’t that afraid of death? That’s finally living with one foot in the grave like the rest of them? I really don’t know, it all feels so awkward, like Black Lagoon should have built up to this confrontation a bit more. Revy’s end was great too by the way, loved that she likes Rock enough now to stand up to Balalaika for him.

Speaking of Revy, I really liked her and Rocks final scene. As far as goodbyes to and old civilian life go, this was a good one. I love the juxtaposition of the last time they were here, where Revy laughed, smiled and played with toy guns. Where she, for but a moment, got to experience that simple life she always wanted. But this time? She brings harsh reality, via a real gun, crashing into this idyllic little neighborhood. She shatters the silence, the dream of normalcy, with a hail of bullets. The same way Revy did when she and Rock first met. A beautiful sendoff as Rock finally walks headfirst into the darkness, leaving the twilight he had so long stood in behind. If only Black Lagoon had more time to really revel in that moment. Alas, we only have one episode left.

That brings me to episode 24, the grand finale, “The Gunslingers”. And it was… Alright? The final fight between Genji and Revy was pretty cool, definitely the highlight of the episode. Both got to show off, Genji cut some bullets while Revy got some good hits in. I liked that it was Yukio and Rocks conversation on the sideline that actually decided the fight as well. Rocks comment that Yukio should have convinced Genji to give up the sword, rather than diving into the underworld after him, being what made Genji flinch at the end was great. This momentary vision of a life they could have had together, one Rock just finished throwing away at the park the other day, and how Genji dragged her into all of this proving the difference in the fight. It was solid.

For the suicide with Yukio, this was good too. I admit, I kind of wish Rock had been responsible for her death instead. I think him having to shoot her, bloodying his hands for the first time, would have been a beautiful bit of symbolism to cap off the series. Maybe Yukio picks up Genji’s sword and goes to finish Revy off while she’s injured, forcing Rock to take her out, or he does it as a mercy killing after Balalaika shows up, I don’t know. However it would have worked, I think Rock dirtying his hands would have completed his transition into the “night” properly. It would have tarnished him in an irreversibly sad way as he lost that innocence that Revy seems to like in him so much. Still, what we got wasn’t bad, and he did watch her die so I got some of what I wanted.

Speaking of Balalaika, I once again found her and Rocks scene a tad odd. I understand what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. She heard Rocks new request, understood that he knew precisely what he was asking for this time with no airs of “justice” or hypocrisy, and either knew she couldn’t turn things around or decided to “reward” him with his original request from the other night. Of course she knew Yukio had already disbanded the Wasamine clan, so maybe this was her shoving the deaths he had asked for in his face, I’m not sure. She did hand him the very gun she used to kill the Kosa after all, a clear message saying the blood is on his hands. Whatever was meant by it, I love Balalaika, and while odd this scene worked far better. Also, Rock’s fingerprints on the gun permanently lock him out of a civilian life now.

All in all I think this was a… satisfactory ending. Rock committed himself to Roanapur, everything in Japan got wrapped up rather well, there’s no real loose threads or anything so we aren’t stuck on a cliffhanger, that’s all solid. It definitely feels more like we just finished the prologue, that there’s far more to the story, which is a shame. But it found a good stopping point. Sadly however, the ending was definitely the weakest part of the arc for me. The start was more interesting, the middle episodes far more emotional, while this one really only had the action and Balalaika going for it. That isn’t terrible, Balalaika is amazing. But definitely didn’t make me fall in love with the series. All in all, decent enough ride I feel.

And with that, we come to the end of the season. Thanks for reading! Final review should go up in a week or two, where I will also announce the winner and our next show. Stick around and I’ll see you then!

Next Throwback Thursday Show? (Choose All You Want)

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