Barbie is looking for someone to pin the blame on for last week’s phantom incident. As she grills each doll cleaning group, three dolls in particular earn her ire – Emilico, Shaun and Rum. Barbie orders them to take over the night’s watch, and ultimately find out the truth of why the phantom appeared. The trio of dolls explore the various rooms, and slowly grow closer. But as they wander Shadow Mansion’s dark halls, they may uncover more secrets than they bargained for.
In this week’s episode we’re finally introduced to the rest of the main cast of Shadows House (at least based on the opening and ending credits). As we meet these characters, what’s struck me most is not so much their own personalities but how different each doll’s relationship with their Shadow is. Rum’s Shadow Mistress appears to ignore her completely, making Emilico’s relationship with Kate feel particularly special. Whereas Ricky gets along very well with his Shadow Master, the two of them scheming together as Ricky does whatever it takes to appear as his Master’s best ‘face’. Even Shaun, who appears to be quite a reserved character, says that he only takes orders from his Master seriously not really caring about any others (especially Barbie’s). It’s intriguing to see how the various Shadow’s treat and interact with the ‘doll’ which is meant to represent them.
In previous episodes (besides Barbie) we haven’t really seen any of the dolls be particularly antagonistic. Our only instance was when Mia was imitating Sarah’s disdain. But this week we not only saw Barbie be really quite awful, but the other dolls were almost as bad. Ricky punches Shaun when he knocks into Barbie and talks back, and the other dolls look down on Rum and don’t even care if she gets in trouble as long as it’s not them.
There’s a simmering discontent amongst the dolls, probably built up by the pressure of the ‘debut’ and the status of your own Shadow. Barbie is a Star Bearer, and I believe I also saw a male doll with the same star bow standing next to her. I wonder if the ‘Star Bearer’ is essentially the male and female doll with the most influential Shadow. And as such I can also imagine there’s some discontent amongst the dolls with that, as the ‘head’ doll is really not the head from their own abilities but rather their master’s influence. Of course, I haven’t read the manga and these are just my own musings- I could be completely wrong!
Of all the characters introduced in this week’s episode, Rum was definitely the most interesting. To be honest, I was a little unsure of her at first. Lou already has the position of the silent, mysterious girl and I tend to shy away from characters who continually apologise and cry. But Rum is slowly growing on me. While Emilico was certainly hurt when the other Shadow (Sarah) called her a failure she also has the support of Kate, and her own positivity to overcome the incident. But Rum doesn’t seem to have any support from her Shadow and seems to be disdained by the other dolls. She doesn’t have the support network that Emilico has, so when someone tells her that she’s a failure, and that doll which are failures are discard – it’s a very scary reality for her. Finally, I really loved The Shining reference of Rum talking to her finger like Danny.
One of the most shocking aspects of this week’s episode came towards the episode’s end. Shaun and Emilico walk towards the Mansion’s entrance, looking for Rum, and almost get skewed by an arrow trap from their trouble. Rosemary tells Emilico that the dolls are forbidden from going to the entrance, and it’s clear that they really don’t want anyone getting out. However, what I found interesting, is what I’ve talked about in previous review – the dolls’ indoctrination. When confronted with the scary reality, Shaun immediately tells himself “don’t worry about trivial things”, almost like a mantra. You’ll notice that after the hallway, Emilico is missing her ribbon. I’m guessing she left it in the hallway when Shaun saved her. I’m nervous about what kind of trouble this will get her into in the future!
To be honest, compared to last week’s episode, I did find this episode to be quite slow and hard to get into. But even so it’s exciting to see the world of Shadows House expand with so many interesting characters. And just like last week’s episode, I certainly had a lot to muse on. Next week’s episode is called ‘Debut’ and I expect we’ll finally learn more about that mysterious event. I’m definitely looking forward to it!
Episode 5 review over here