As Road holds the exorcists at candlepoint, (even after a couple of episodes, that’s still a really weird phrase to type) Lavi continues his own battle inside his own head. Considering the others are at a standstill, it makes sense to cut to it and we had only gotten glimpses of the dreamworld before, so this gives us a more focused look at it.
Like before, Lavi is still contending with a horde of zombies that resemble his exorcist allies. It’s a daunting task, but Lavi is doing a good job of holding his own all things considered. He makes a point not to listen to their taunts and even closes his eyes so that he can just focus on the fact that they are illusions. Considering “close your eyes and charge into the horde with a dagger” is probably one of the worst zombie plans one could come up with, Lavi actually does fairly well.
Over the course of the fight, the episode cuts back to scenes from Lavi’s past. It seems odd as we’re already in a dream, but the episode is actually rather brilliant in that it establishes that the flashbacks are another way to psychologically break Lavi. Not only does the viewer get the character development that comes from said flashbacks, but it is perfectly justified in story and actually adds to the present day conflict!
The flashbacks also (finally) reconcile Lavi’s status as exorcist with the supposedly impartial role of bookman that has been brought up on several occasions before. It seems that Lavi wasn’t supposed to get too chummy with his fellow exorcists, but ended up forming genuine bonds that go against the rules of being a bookman. It is this conflicting dichotomy that results in Lavi’s apparent downfall.
Now, you might expect “Nightmare on Elm Street” rules to apply; that since Lavi died in the dream world, that he dies in the real one. That’s not exactly what happens, however. Road clarifies saying that his mind died, leaving him without an essence or katra. This works in the Noah’s favor as she is all too happy to take control of the empty vessel and use it to attack Allen.
This was actually a really good fight. The fact that Allen should be much more powerful is undercut by the fact that he doesn’t want to hurt his friend. Meanwhile, said friend has become a cold, ruthless, and unattached fighter who doesn’t hold back. Not only is Allen’s life on the line, but Road demands that he fight Lavi to the death, lest she harm Lenalee, who is still trapped.
We know that Road is sadistic, but this was probably one of her more monstrous moments. You can feel the hate in her voice as she is determined to punish them for Tyki’s death. Even though they’ve already suffered a pretty good deal, she is intent on making sure that it doesn’t stop.
It isn’t for lack of trying on Allen’s part. He tries using his exorcism sword, tries using fond memories to get Lavi back, and even tries attacking Road directly. The Noah actually commends him for the effort on the last one, but all of Allen’s attempts prove futile.
If the episode has one weak spot, it’s that the turnaround is a bit abrupt. The moment when Lavi reveals that he’s been faking it was nice and triumphant, but it was a bit last minute. It would have been interesting to see “Bookman” Lavi in action a bit longer, but that could have just ended up being unnecessary padding.
This is probably the strongest episode that the show’s had in a while. It was character driven while also providing some solid action along the way. The status quo is also changed as Road appears to have been defeated. Whether Lavi is back or not remains to be seen. In an effective, but understated cliffhanger, dream Lavi fades away to nothing. What this means can only be left to the imagination at this point, but it doesn’t look good for the bookman/exorcist.