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Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing - "Fool's Mate" Recap

“Fool’s Mate” is an appropriate title for this second episode, as it’s hard to imagine how the Turan Kingdom’s retaliation against the Ades Federation’s aggression could have gone awry more quickly or gone more terribly wrong. As the sky pirates
accept their reward for their timely intervention in the pilot Fam and
Giselle are deployed to take Princess Millia to the royal city
of Iglasia, while Princess Princess “Lily” Liliana plots an attack to destroy the Ades
flagship Impetus and bring down Premier Hafez. But the ensuing firefight turns disastrous thanks to Hafez’s minion Lukia, who manages to board the Lasas and kidnap Millia after slaughtering the bridge crew. Meanwhile Millia makes it home to deliver her sister’s
instructions to their bedridden father, who
then hires Fam and Giselle to take her away to a distant villa for
safety. But when word of Liliana capture comes, Millia begs Fam to help
her mount a rescue instead. Fam obliges and flies into thick of combat. Between Giselle’s knowledge and navigation skill and Fam’s piloting they actually manage to fly their small vanship into the interior of the immense Impetus, but Hafez awaits with Liliana as a hostage and bizarre tricks up his sleeve. 

In a different context, an episode like “Fool’s Mate” would easily constitute a so-called “wham episode” with the big and unfortunate events that transpire here. At this early stage though what’s come so far is merely a prologue, a beginning similar to what happens early on in Guin Saga and Vision of Escaflowne. A nefarious invader attacks a kingdom and achieves victory all too easily, leaving it up to a noble few (or a lone hero) to survive and hopefully eventually reclaim and rebuild what was lost. The shortcoming so far is that we’ve had two episodes crammed full of plot, and perhaps too much. There’s brief talk of a “grand race”, the feelings of someone named Farahnaz and “Exiles”, immense vessels that supposedly once took people to the skies and beyond so they could survive a past cataclysm. Hafez appears to know magic or something indistinguishable from it, Liliana apparently has a connection to Exiles somehow, Dio knows an Exile when he sees one and it’s implied that he recognizes Lukia. Last but certainly not least, by the time the episode is done it’s a completely open question what comes next for our heroes and whether Turan can even hope to mount any sort of resistance any longer.

“Fool’s Mate” and the preceding “Open File” are good enough to render this show worth following, but I’m also hoping for much better to come. There’s a lot to address here and the series obviously should do that in time, but what it needs going forward is to settle into a deliberate pace and tell a story. We have this imaginative setting, action in the sky and these momentous events, but very little that helps us get a good handle on who Fam and Giselle and Liliana really are. We can tell what they’re like, of course, but this is not the same. This series is entertaining so far, though it remains to be seen whether this series will make us care as the original Last Exile did and other competently done series do. That’ll be the difference between excellence and being good enough.

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