It's hard to believe that we're 1/3 done with the series already, and creeping up on the halfway point. One of the benefits I've been able to enjoy tackling the series this way is that I've been able to keep track of what most of the characters are doing and how they're all related. Despite the fact that watch and review anime on a frequent basis, I'm not a detail-oriented viewer and often miss some of the more subtle secondary plot lines. This discussion has really helped me in that regard.
Just as a note, next Sunday will feature an open discussion rather than a summary and discussion about new episodes. I'll be busy all weekend at a convention and most likely won't get home until the late afternoon on Sunday. Since we'll be very close to half-way finished with the series, it'll be an opportunity for everyone to post some general thoughts and make some predictions about the rest of the series.
Act 9: I Dreamed a Dark Dream
Madame Danglars collapses before receiving the "prize" for reaching the innermost room of the Count's mansion. Her condition is blamed on an anemic episode, but a cloud of suspicion begins to hang over the dinner party and Villefort confronts the Count about his knowledge of what occurred in the home in the past. Franz secretly witnesses the Count collapse and begins to worry more for Albert's safety. Valentine and Maximilien make amends and Albert is happy to see their friendship blossoming, though he soon collapses from illness. The Count suspects poison rather than natural causes, and cautions Albert that someone may be attempting to poison a member of the Villefort family. Albert, Franz and Maximilien rush to the Villefort home, only to discover that Valentine has already become a victim of poisoning.
Act 10: The Letter From Edmond
While Maximilien makes plans to remove Valentine from her (literally) toxic family situation, Danglars, Villefort, and Morcerf all receive invitations to a funeral, sent by a certain Edmond Dantes. When they arrive at the church listed in the invitation, they meet an acquaintance from long ago who also knows of the dark deeds that haunt the pasts of these now-powerful men. When they open the coffin that rests on the altar, they find Villefort's private detective, murdered. Maximilien, Franz and Raoul sneak Valentine out of her family's home, but not before encountering Valentine's grandfather, who helps them to discover the culprit behind her poisoning. They soon realize that they've been cornered, and Villefort appears poised to make good on any threats he's made towards Maximilien.
Discussion: So how many of you were briefly worried about the funeral taking place at the beginning of episode ten?
I thought that this week's episodes offered an interesting contrast in they way that they handled the presentation of the story. Episode nine seemed more concerned with delving into the philosophical underpinnings of the different character relationships, while episode ten was more straightforward in its presentation of the various important plot points. There's been quite a bit of beating-around-the-bush regarding Franz and his relationship with Albert. Franz's conversation with Maximilien revealed, in sort of a sideways manner, Franz's views on unrequited love. The conversation shows a softer side of the character, who often comes across as cynical and distant when relating to others. As a result, his advice to Maximilien about showing his love in other ways when marriage isn't an option seems to come from a place of personal knowledge. I don't think it takes a leap of mental fortitude to see where this is leading.
I spent a number of months watching the American soap opera "All My Children" several years ago. It was a complete accident on my part; my boyfriend (now husband) had spent a week at home and managed to catch enough episodes that the attractive women and off-the-wall storylines got him hooked, and I was next. After disengaging from it, finally, after months of suffering through the trials and tribulations of the large cast of characters, I came to the realization that what made watching the show so addictive was the fact that the characters would reach a brief state of happiness before being tossed right back into another dramatic situation. Watching them claw their way back to stability and getting a rush from seeing their story resolve became very compelling for a long time. While this series doesn't reach that level of outright emotional manipulation by any means, it does share some commonality; when someone is happy, they don't stand to stay happy for very long.
Unfortunately, in this case, that means that Valentine's and Maximilien's reconciliation is merely the precursor to her sudden (though not unexpected) incapacitation. I'm sort of curious, because I picked up on something this time around that I believe I missed the first time I watched the series. There are a couple of scenes that almost lead me to believe that the Count feels some form of remorse for helping to facilitate Valentine's poisoning. It's just a couple of facial expressions and his general attitude when interacting with Heloise Villefort, but in my mind he seems conflicted in some way. Of course, if we're to interpret things a certain way, he may literally be of two minds about the things he's doing... I mean, just ask Franz about what he saw while sneaking around in the hallway.
So about that "prize box" the Count offers to Madame Danglars and Prosecutor Villefort. We're given a bit of a glimpse as to its origins at the end of episode nine. Any speculation as to what is actually inside it? Both participants in the affair appear to know what the box represents, but we're yet to get a peek inside.
Andrea Cavalcanti mentions to Albert (threateningly, I might add) that he's the only person with the ability to comprehend the Count's true feelings. With what little information we have about both characters thus far, what are your thoughts on how this may turn out to be the truth?
Keep these points in mind while watching the episodes, and be sure to come back next week with some opinions, speculations and other thoughts about the series so far. I'm interested to hear what people think.