The Neubauten Sisters Vs. The Lady-Knight // Listeners Episode 2 & 3 Review
Episode 2 & 3: Half-man & You Made Me Realise
Something is awry in Listeners episode 2 that is never really fixed come episode 3. After a pretty decent pilot episode setting up a fun rock world, Listeners just decides to get weird with it. Its up to episode 3 to reel back in the madness, and actually give a bit more exposition to the world.
Episode 2 starts off clear enough. Echo and Mu are now off on an adventure to see the world, and to find out Mu’s origin. Starting back off on the train, the world is now Mu’s oyster. She has nowhere to go and all but no one she is beholden too. No one except for her rather timid engineer Echo. In spite of a lot of the otherwise weird and unexplained parts of episode 2, its Echo that really stands out as a bright spot. Episode 2 really shows off just how much of a lovable goofy dork this character is supposed to be.
After another seemingly targeted run-in with some earless, Mu and Echo find themselves stranded in a ravine next to a river in the middle of roughly nowhere. All there is to be found here is some classic goofy shenanigans with the hapless and clueless Echo upsetting the rather irritated Mu. A little more time here in this scene could have really added to these two characters. This is the time to take a break from the action. These two have known each other for less than 48 hours, so now is the time to let them connect further beyond their fateful meeting.
The Neubauten Sisters
Unfortunately episode 2 is the introduction of the Neubauten sisters. I don’t really know what the deal is with these three even after watching episode 3. The three sisters are briefly introduced at the very end of the first episode. Not much happens there at the end until a proper introduction with Echo here. Where Echo ends up next is a real mystery.
At some point Echo finds himself wandering into the bathroom of an abandoned amusement park. Or at least we the viewer are supposed to believe that the two vagabonds who fells of the train earlier failed to notice the giant rusted Ferris wheel nearby. With the giant blocks of apartment buildings in this playground, it almost looks like a level from Call of Duty. Even at the end of the episode is still isn’t quite clear what is real and what is an illusion done by the Neubauten sisters.
Once they finally peel back the curtain and reveal themselves, Echo’s fanboyism reveals itself. This kid lives and breathes the book of players he keeps to himself and it really shows here. When it catches the sisters off guard that they are luring a fan of theirs into a trap is sends the three into quite the tizzy. This is where it becomes really confusing. What is their real plan?
Where Do the Earless Come From?
When Mu finally comes to she realizes that Echo has very much abandoned her in the middle of the woods with no one around for miles. By this point Echo has both gotten the sisters signatures and now is knocked out on the ground in his signed blanket. Apparently at this point the sisters begin to control earless, and start fighting Mu. None of this makes sense.
At no point is it clear why another trio of players want to fight another player unprovoked. How they control the earless, and if they are controlling the earless are two other questions that are completely sidestepped this episode. We see later in episode three that at some point Mu is in fact fighting earless, so those aren’t a figment of her imagination. Players, whose purpose is to fight the earless, are controlling and using earless to fight other players. It just feels like a dumb and confusing mess.
The Lady-Knight, Bilin Valentine
Episode 3 of Listeners brings some normalcy back to the series after such a bizarre episode 2. Following the end battle between the Neubauten sisters and the not yet introduced Lady-Knight Bilin Valentine, Mu and Echo find themselves on a bad-ass floating fortress. There is always something cool about airships and this one is no exception. A tour of the ship would have been cool, but the episode does feature some really great shots during the concluding battle.
Here we finally get a little more exposition and clarification on the events of the world so far. As both Mu and Echo wake up to find themselves on a giant airship its up to the mysterious player from the end of episode 2 to explain it all.
Even after all of the exposition throughout the third episode, I still don’t know why Echo or Mu are not questioning Bilin on why anybody is fighting anybody. The sparring match between Mu and Bilin is setup well enough. Its not a duel to the death, its a test of character with a moment to establish some new features of their equipment. It would be nice if instead of just talking about the events of 10 years prior we actually figure out what is going on the day before.
In this world the earless have been a problem for a while, but the extent of the issue is unclear. Liverchester in the flashbacks seemed like a really nice place until it became a pile of junk. Even in the current place in the timeline it doesn’t seem 100% doom and gloom. There is a functioning railway, and the denizens seem surprised when earless show up for the first time in a while.
The threat of the earless feels very abstract through the first three episodes. Earless are both a danger to the world and yet a mere nuisance to some. It doesn’t quite seem right that there are some that seem to be able to control them when they should be out there fighting them. I want to see some exposition on the earless because all that is given so far is a rather silly campfire story from a couple of old men.
Listeners episode 2 really feels like it strays off the path that episode 1 sets out. With the rather confusing story, it wanders between comedy and something else. Finally in episode 3 we get a better look at the characters and world.