A Bitter Farewell / Prison Games
Episode 3 of Alice in Borderland Season 2 starts with a flashback showing Tatta in his previous job as a mechanic. A horrible accident involving a jack falling sees his colleague, Kato, forced to quit and unable to stick around any longer. Tatta is forced out as a result, helpless in the face of adversity.
Of course, this is something that echoes what’s going on in the present, as with only 9 minutes left of the game, Tatta decides to take a gamble. At the same time, Arisu saves Usagi from Niragi before he abuses her. While Usagi is saved and brought back to their base, Arisu remembers Kyuma’s word about letting his teammates come back to him. As a result, he chooses to head out to the shore, where Kyuma, the King of Clubs, is alone.
Arisu thanks Kyuma for helping him understand the true nature of leadership and decides they should shake hands one more time. When they do, the scores are updated. Arisu gains 500 points! But how? Well, it turns out Tatta came up with a big plan just prior to all of this.
Given he has 10,100 points on his bracelet, he convinces Arisu to break his wrist to force the bracelet off, stuffing it in his pocket and outsmarting Kyuma. Ironically, this harks back to Tatta’s past, where Kato lost his hand. This time though, Tatta has his wrist broken and is bleeding… but it also allows them to win the game – if they can hold on.
The thing is, Kyuma’s team aren’t outright bad guys, which makes this game – and the result – all the tougher to swallow. His teammates don’t bemoan Kyuma for losing or letting his guard down, pointing out they’d never have got this far without him. However, the King of Clubs himself cryptically refuses to answer Arisu’s questions about the purpose of this world and the games. “You’re the master of your own fate” He says, and with that, he walks away to accept his fate.
Arisu is wracked with guilt and even more so when Kyuma points out that they’ve been friends all this time. “Don’t follow someone else’s path,” He says, thanking Arisu and eventually throwing his arms out, allowing himself to be killed. As Kyuma and his teammates pass away, the blimp explodes and drops into the sea. Unfortunately, Tatta also passes away due to losing too much blood.
The group refuse to let Tatta’s death be in vain, while Niragu is also conflicted over still being alive, although he walks away from the rest of the group. Probably for the best to be honest!
Over at Teio Prison, another game starts up with Chishiya part of the ascendancy. There are numerous men and women collected in the middle of a cell, with the Jack of Hearts playing a round called “Solitary Confinement”. Each contestant is fitted with a collar around their neck, and they’re forced to work out the symbol before the time-limit runs out, at which time they’re back in their own cell to input their answers. A correct answer allows them to continue on. An incorrect answer? Well, they’ll end up getting their head blown off.
This back and forth continues through the rounds with no time limit. There’s also enough food for all of them to survive, so it really is like solitary confinement. The only solution is for them to lie to the Jack of Hearts, who happens to be among them hiding in plain sight.
It’s a fascinating game of trust and psychology. A big group is formed, led by someone who looks remarkably like Alice in Wonderland (whom we later learn is called Urumi) while everyone survives the first round. The second though immediately takes things to the extreme, as an angry man abuses a poor kid… who’s convinced to lie.
As a result, Urumi convinces her big group to lie to this poor kid given he himself did the same thing. This sets the scene for what’s to follow, with the larger groups working to pick apart the characters one by one, all led by Urumi who gleefully pulls the strings as puppet master. Distrust breeds through them all, but unfortunately one of the women in Urumi’s group gets a second opinion… and she’s lied to.
That big group eventually whittles down to four, with Urumi taken out and the dynamic destroyed. Chishiya tries to convince the man he’s been with all this time (Ippei) to keep the faith and keep going. Unfortunately, Ippei decides not to give an answer in his cell and accepts his fate, welcoming death. Chishiya is on his own now, with only 5 people remaining.
The Episode Review
What’s particularly great about Alice in Borderland – especially this episode – is how there’s no easy path or clear sign of who’s good and bad. Everyone is playing this game and if Kyuma is anything to go by, these are decent men and women thrown into this. Watching Kyuma’s team lose was actually tougher than it otherwise would have been in a more simplistic black and white series.
The second half is equally as fascinating and it’s a game that feels very similar to a 2015 movie called Circle, where players are forced to vote one person out every round. This whole idea of psychologically testing one’s trust and limits is something that Alice in Borderland does exceptionally well and this episode exemplifies that.
I genuinely thought Urumi was going to be the Jack of Hearts but it seems it’s much deeper than that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out that the real Jack of Hearts is that woman being controlled by the dominant Japanese man. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Alice in Borderland has been as good – if not better – than the first season and the ending leaves everything wide open for what’s to follow.