Review "Ranking of Kings" Ep 5
Reviewing Ranking of Kings each week is proving to be its own unique challenge as I try to temper my constantly heightened post-watch emotions into something coherent. Last week, there was so much going on that I ended up writing close to 1,500 words in an attempt to connect all the narrative tissue and touch on some of the show's more, shall we say, 'batshit' elements. I'm using that word affectionately here, as each episode seems intent on both moving the plot along while also showing some kind of absolutely insane entity to make sure we're on our toes. This week was no exception. In fact, I'd wager it is the most batshit moment yet and it's sandwiched between a nonstop barrage of emotional intensity.
As reader Ruddor correctly surmised in the forums, Kage has not been far from Bojji this whole time. In fact, he's been hiding out in his purse after Bevin specifically gave him the mission to do so after their encounter in the dungeon. I think this lends itself well to the assumption that Bevin isn't dead and his battle with Apis was likely an intentional loss to get out from under Daida. Reunited and having managed to avoid turning into a crispy prince, Kage reveals that there's a king just...hanging out at the bottom of the Gate to Hell and he's going to make Bojji strong. No really, there's just a door down there at the bottom. The king (who is nameless at this point) oversees the Order of the Underworld knights that Domas mentioned in the last episode. Domas told Hokuro and Bojji that there are monsters that come out of the Gate and the knights take care of them, but I'm starting to think it's just a rumor to keep people from taking the stairs down there and seeing what's up.
Anyway, Bojji and Kage's part in the episode is rather minor (aside from being extremely heartwarming) as they are knocked out by cursed gas, picked up by a knight, and taken to the king's throne room. I was pretty amused that the cursed gas didn't kill them because...they're already cursed. No double stat modifiers in this series! I thought Bojji being born under a "cursed star" was mostly just an insensitive phrase for how he was born, but it appears to be much more literal, which also suggests it could be removed. Bojji's parents were both giants, so it may be possible for his physical strength and abilities to be "unlocked" in a sense.
The smol prince and his assassin pal otherwise took a backseat to the very intense emotional showdown between Hokura and Domas. Domas, who is having some deserved internal conflict right now, is revealed to also be a giant idiot. Just the dumbest man. He got his virtues and ego toyed with by a child. Daida, by simply dangling the idea that he would give a huge standing boost to Domas by proving his loyalty, is easily able to convince him to murder Bojji. He hinges it on shame as in, it is shameful that Domas voted against Bojji as king (I mean, true) and aligning with Daida in turn hurts Daida's reputation. The only way to correct this is...murder. The logic is weak but it's enough for honor-bound Domas.
At least on the surface level. Internally, I think Domas knows he's acted disgracefully. It's why he allows Hokuro to cut into the hand he used to throw Bojji into Hell, it's why he only knocks out Hokuro with the blunt side of his blade, and it's why he cuts off his own hand as restitution. I expect Domas' actions to continue to eat away at him. I don't know how he thinks he'll be welcomed back into the kingdom when Queen Hiling finds out. There has to be some kind of reasonable limit to what Daida can actually order people to do, and killing your own brother is something I don't think would get a pass.
Speaking of Daida, holy shit!? This segment has a lot to process. I was expecting Daida to walk into a mausoleum, push open his dad's crypt, and then have that demon come out and make some kind of suspicious deal with him in exchange for power. I did not get that. There is no way I could have envisioned what actually happened in my wildest dreams.
The mausoleum is kind of accurate, but instead it serves as a counterpoint for Bojji. Bojji has descended into a fiery pit of "hell," whereas Daida enters a frozen menagerie. I'd kick myself if I didn't mention that in one very famous account of hell, the deepest layer where Satan resides is encased in ice, not fire, and it's the final resting place for souls who committed treachery. The mirror takes Daida here to perform what I can only describe as an accursed ritual with the aid of two nameless assistants.
I'm going to rip the Band-Aid off here. They puree King Bosse's frozen corpse. They puree King Bosse's frozen corpse and mix it with a potion in order to birth a phoenix. Then they decapitate the phoenix, gather its blood, and incinerate the rest to reveal a resurrection jewel of sorts. Daida is supposed to drink it. He's supposed to drink his resurrected phoenix dad's blood.
I think I yelled "wtf" at my TV at least three times during this sequence. Just absolutely insane. I guess that's where Daida's line is, because he doesn't drink dear old dad's bird blood and kicks the two assistants in the face. The boy king is egotistical enough that he wants to be kingdom's protector, like he saw Bojji in his dream, but he's also bound by a desire to achieve it by his own means. That's the closest thing to an honorable trait that Daida has and it's that belief that upends the Mirror's plans.