Episode 17 of 86-Eighty Six aired on Saturday giving fans yet another bone-chilling experience. To some, the very beginning and end of the episode were the highlights. But this episode primarily focuses on Shin and his mental state. And during this episode, Shin teaches us the valuable lesson that even the strongest can break under the substantial pressure of trauma.
Up until this point, he’s basically the “mightiest warrior” of the series. He’s an intelligent military strategist that lives and breathes combat. Someone with the ability to maneuver his juggernaut in ways nobody else can. In episode 16, Shin even gives a “follow me if you want to live” kind of battle cry to the squadron.
He is their backbone. If he falls, they all fall. And he understands this reality. Not only the squadron but everyone else does as well. Lena knew this and the Federacy now knows it. Shin’s strength is what keeps the rest of the current squadron from facing imminent death. But with all those who have fallen next to him, he finally begins to question his own will. And this was extremely noticeable in episode 17. Even Theo notices that Shin hasn’t been sleeping as much as he usually would.
“I’m left behind… always.” – Shin, episode 17.
A lot of the Spearhead Squadron, now the Nordlicht Squadron, has their own horrible trauma. This is talked about in many episodes up until this point. But it’s obvious, even among them, that the trauma Shin carries is something they couldn’t. They’ve admitted this before–the ability to hear the Legion’s voices is a curse, not an ability. From putting fellow squadron members to rest all the way to his previous “mission” involving his brother, Shin’s trauma is finally starting to fall on him hard.
In episode 16, he truly snapped for the first time. Frederica crying for Shin to stop his reckless battlefield behavior really gave a sense of how tragic his current downfall is to watch. That eery smile we first saw in the first cour has turned into one of lifelessness and dread rather than adrenaline and fulfillment. Almost as if he’s finally slipping into insanity. The one person the squadron turns towards when they need a leader–their “strength”. It also doesn’t help when Federacy soldiers and other commanders want to see him and the rest of the 86 crumble. Exactly like the Republic, the Federacy is now sending the Nordlicht Squadron to their deaths but with their own twisted reason behind it.
On The Brink
Throughout episode 17, Shin is constantly reminded that there are those in the Federacy that either fear him, pity him, or don’t want him around anymore. It’s a constant, 24/7 rotation between the three for him and the rest of the 86. One of these moments is obvious when we find out the letter he read in episode 16 is from none other than Nina Rantz—Eugene’s sister. Before heading off into battle, the letter read: “You killed my brother. Give him back!” This time around, he received an envelope with the same exact sticker seal from before.
The catch is that Marcel, a fellow soldier of the Federacy who loathes Shin, is the one delivering the letters. Marcel has told Shin how he feels to his face, but now he’s carrying out any means necessary to get rid of Shin.
“It’s easier to blame it on someone else.” – Marcel, episode 17.
What was really interesting about this moment in episode 17, though, is that when he hears Lena’s voice, he actually tosses the letter aside before opening it and even smiles in a genuine way. We don’t see the smile, but it’s implied by his facial reaction. Almost as if Lena is the one person that can still keep him sane. Those words “I won’t forget” leave a lasting impression on him. It was a nice touch having a light shine through the clouds right before hearing Lena’s voice. Then it cuts to fireworks falling to the ground, reminiscing of the time they talked via Para-Raid while watching the fireworks together.
It’s also worth mentioning now that Lena has become a sensitive topic for Shin. When talking about the Republic, it’s become obvious Shin becomes rattled. Or whenever he thinks of Lena it brings him peace of mind. With Lena in a dire situation in the Republic on top of everything else, we may have yet to see Shin at his worst. However, him hearing Lena’s voice is a little reassuring and seems to have given him some last bit of hope that he won’t be left behind.
The past two episodes have shown that Shin is just as scared as everyone else is at this point. The calm, cool, and collected Shin we’ve known from the first cour is starting to break. He’s human just like everyone else in the series. He’s showing everyone that even the strongest of humans can break from the heavy pressure of trauma. Whether Lena is the one that can keep him together or not is the question we’ll have an answer for down the road.
Episode 17 of 86-Eighty Six was the fallout of the action-packed episode from the previous week. Unfortunately, 86 fans will have to wait a little longer for episode 18. It was announced via the series’ official website that episode 18 will be pushed back a week due to production issues.
Instead of November 13, the new episode will air on November 20 on Crunchyroll.
So what are your thoughts on episode 17 of 86-Eighty Six? Let me know in the comments!
Source: Official Website