86-Eighty Six episode 7 aired on Saturday and started out as a much-needed breather after last week. But the episode gave the fans a breather in a way only 86-Eighty Six knows how – with darkness and PTSD.
The episode starts off light-hearted. Lena goes to buy “special ammunition” for the Spearhead Squadron, which ends up becoming fireworks. There’s even a scene as she’s making her way back home where she trips in the hallway and starts to blush.
That’s about where the light-hearted stuff of the episode ends.
As Lena is in the middle of a town walking back, a camera flash she looks at transitions into a flashback (beautiful transition). It goes back to when Kureno was telling Lena off after a battle. She was talking to Lena about the gruesome reality of the 86 and what they endure all the time and how it’s nothing like the life Lena lives.
The way this scene is shot is almost too perfect. It transitions back to Lena in real-time after she hears a child yell “It hurts! Mommy!”, which is reminiscent of the voices she hears from the dying 86 soldiers.
This entire opening scene spotlights the duality between the 86 and the Republic and the lives they both live. Not only that, but the episode matches up the words from Kureno at the perfect time you see people enjoying the festival. The one below is a perfect example.
Len starts to have a panic attack in the middle of the festival and almost pukes from the thoughts that Kureno once told her.
This is the first time we ever see Lena have a severe case of PTSD.
As Lena finally arrives at her bedroom, she has a talk with Shuga since Shin was asleep. Lena begins to let Shuga know that her top priority now is to give the Spearhead Squadron reinforcements.
The next day, Lena approaches Jerome about needing more reinforcements. He calms her down and lets her know that supplies are currently on their way to the Spearhead Squadron. However, he never promises her anything regarding reinforcements.
Jerome immediately mentions the upcoming Revelation Festival ball, Lena reacts as if she totally forgot about it. While the scene seems little and not that much importance, it does show where the priority lies with Lena.
But it also foretells something sinister…
Lena ends up going to the party with Annette and is already out of place. She shows up in a long, black dress while all the women are in bright colors.
Annette even mentions that she looks like she’s dressed for mourning at a funeral instead of a party. While the situation came across as humorous, it does have a dark undertone because Lena is mourning in some way.
She cares about those in the Spearhead Squadron and it wasn’t too long after Daiya and Rin died.
Shin calls Lena after being worried he didn’t hear from her since she usually calls him around that time of the night. Lena begins to walk outside as Shin begins to thank her for the fireworks.
He talks about how it made him happy that Lena remembered his brother because he couldn’t.
But one part of the conversation that seems to captivate Lena is when Shin lets her know that Anju cried for the first time since Daiya’s death.
As Lena looks upon the fireworks outside the palace, she begins to think to herself and about all those in the Spearhead Squadron.
Shin thanks her, again, since the squadron was able to give everyone who has died a proper gun salute for the very first time since they’ve been together.
Lena already seems to be helping the 86 more than any handler before. So she makes one last promise before the night ends:
“I won’t let you die. I won’t let anyone else die.”
At the time of the party, Anju and Kureno have a heart-to-heart talking in the shower back on base. Kureno points out this is the very first time that Anju has ever showered with anyone else.
During this scene, Anju moves her hair and the audience clearly sees some type of scar on her back. They both begin to mention that Shin has to be the one to tell Lena “the truth” about something.
Lena and the Spearhead Squadron set off on their new mission given to them last episode. They’re immediately hit with large-canon artillery that Lena describes as something they’ve “never seen before.”
It’s worth mentioning that in the last episode, Lena basically calls this a suicide mission unless they have reinforcements.
She calls for everyone to retreat and head back to base.
Going back to the discussion Anju and Kureno have, everyone in the squadron agrees that it’s time to really tell Lena about the 86
Shin begins to tell her that no reinforcements are ever going to come. That the Spearhead Squadron is there as a last ride to certain death. He reveals that the republic uses the Spearhead Squadron as a death sentence.
Lena is told that the new juggernauts they received, along with her fireworks, weren’t for them… but for their replacements when they die.
Shuga takes over the conversation. He finally lets Lena know the true situation between the 86 and the Republic.
“The Republic doesn’t intend to let a single Eighty-Six out of the 86th district,” says Shuga.
The 86 isn’t there to protect the republic. They’re simply there for the Republic to kill off and nothing more.
Lena begins to question then why even fight for the Republic. He explains that while they do, indeed, hate the Alba (aka “white pigs”), they also have ties to good Alba like Lena.
Shuga was raised by an Alba woman until he was 12 in District 9 while Shin was raised by an Alba priest. He explains that the 86 can be horrible people, too.
Kaie, before she died in battle, was a victim of abuse and racism in the 86 just for the color of her skin.
“Just because scum treats you like scum, doiung the same makes you no better,” Shin says.
The scene shows all the faces of those left in the squadron. During this shot, the episode has quick shots of the falling sparks from the fireworks as they fade down to nothing.
The metaphor here is pretty clear.
The episode ends with a giant Legion appearing on a battlefield taking out many of the 86’s juggernauts. While it’s not the Spearhead Squadron’s, it completely wiped out everything in its path.
Is this perhaps what a “Shepherd” looks like that Shin once described to Lena?
All images via Crunchyroll