Molt – Week of The Lustrous Episodes 8-9

Two episodes as promised! We’re starting off with Episode 8 first. I’ll try to breeze through them, which isn’t indicative of how I felt about the episodes, just touching on the most important parts. They were both great FYI.

The way the gold takes to her body is far different than anything else we’ve seen and manages to surprise even Ant.

So Phos is down two arms, which leads to some hasty improvisation on Kongo’s part. The Chord Shore, as it’s called, is where all the gems were born; a massive rock fault that upends crystalized organisms from the ocean. On a rare occasion, the richest minerals can be shaped into the handful of Lustrous that now exist. Currently, only soft and malleable minerals like gold and platinum exist. While they may be shiny a cool looking, they’re heavy and not so great for combat. Nonetheless, they try affixing the stuff to Phos’s inclusions, who now looks like a straight-up Frankenstein’s Monster. I really dig this look. Not sure how long the gooey arms are going to be a staple, but she’s shaping up to be some sort of unpredictable military experiment.

Then let’s talk about Antarcticite’s death. AKA how to do a death much better than Amethyst. Granted, this one is an actual “death”. In so far as permanent death goes, the sense of loss from seeing a friend being shattered (having her free will and consciousness temporarily destroyed) and being taken away beyond a point that the other characters can follow her. Antarcticite, while not as important or fleshed out as the others, has been an enjoyable travel buddy. She meant far more to Phos as a mentor or “senpai” character than anyone else so far.

  The fact that Ant only exists during Winter means that her loss will fester with Phos the most. The other characters who may have never known her won’t feel that loss and consequently makes the empty void created for Phos feel that much more lonely. Her removal from the story is pretty safe considering after Winter she would no longer be a part of the story. It’s a closed loop. It makes narrative sense. Land of the Lustrous is good at these sorrowful silent moments. Even as Ant breaks apart, she keeps her broken finger to her own lips hoping to keep Phos safe so she can take care of Kongo first and foremost. Selfless to the end.

However, it’s still really frustrating. Just when I felt like Phos is getting a new power-up and I saw the clouds part, the void open, I was convinced it was her Phos’s time to finally shine. Instead, her power develops a bit of sentience seeming to protect Phos from the Lunarians, holding her back. Phos is pretty helpless as her new arms take control. The death happens after the supposed victory making it come out of nowhere. Until Phos hulks out and will her new power to help her. Here we get to see a bit of catharsis with Phos mowing down a few Lunarians until it’s too little too late. Not even Kongo can arrive in time to save Ant.

This is one of several candidates for my new desktop background.

Moving on to Episode 9, Phos has been reborn so to speak. She grew up a bit too fast. A chunk of the goofy fun-loving Phos seems to have broken off or is maybe due to her gold inserts. I always wanted Phos to be a bit more self-serious, badass, and competent but at the cost of her innocence it seems like a case of “careful what you wish for”. There has been a bit of a time skip. Phos now has Ant’s sheath (the sword still lost from the last episode) and has gained a new level of competency in her abilities. She’s finally gotten what she’s wanted but isn’t happy. This is a great juxtaposition for Phos’s character: what was once the path to her redemption has now become perhaps a huge regret.

Her posture, voice acting, facial appearance has taken on a much more Antarcticite-like feel. Her hair is also kempt and matted down. Aside from making her look more refined, it has the practical purpose of filling in for missing pieces elsewhere on her body. Great detail! She has hardened her heart so that if she ever meets Ant again she will feel proud that she did everything she can. She’s still beating herself up over her loss of course. When she starts crying tears of gold, but Kongo merely says that is a defect of ancient organisms. Sad, but in a way, Kongo is protecting Phos of her feelings.

Spring comes and the gems wake up after 3 months. The rest are shocked to hear of Ant’s capture but even more to see how much Phos has changed (both physically and emotionally). I find it hilarious how simultaneously weirded out by and interested they are in her goopy stretchy arms. She may have even forgotten Cinnabar. This makes sense considering much of Phos’s resolve lied in helping Cinnabar so seeing it gone so easily and hear she’s forgotten about her is, perhaps, not so surprising.

Phos is now the center of attention

It isn’t too long before the other gems’ boundless energy influences Phos’s mood. However, still being a bit sheepish, Phos shriks them off. It’s nice to feel that Phos has the respect and the piqued interest of her peers. Though before that I hope Phos gives them a “where was that attitude before I got turned into a freak” speech. I enjoy how the episode ends with Phos protecting Amethyst. It’s retribution for her helplessness last time showing the new dynamic between Phos and her supposed seniors. But Bort doesn’t quite like the way Phos is. Perhaps she can sense, this might not be Phos we’re dealing with.

This gets into a common ethics issue in sci-fi series called trans-humanism, brought about by the process of body augmentation to replace missing or broken parts of the body. If you’re constantly replacing your own body parts are you less and less yourself.

What is “You”? Is “You” your brain or your entire body? Where do you hold your identity, your sense of self? Can removing parts of your body change your psyche or your personality? What if it’s a part of someone else’s body? Is Phos still Phosphophyllite or something else now? Something more?

Stray Thoughts:

  • The meaning of the Lunarian’s specific attraction to and weird behavior around Kongo is notable and I want answers, dammit!
  • This show makes it impossible to choose only the best visual moments of the show. So much emotional or badass imagery. Oh, she transforms some golden high heels now!
  • I’m surprised that gems have never been in a scenario where they’d be required to replace limbs up until this point.
  • The absence of the Ventricosus is starting to feel like that arc came a bit too early. It’s as if there wasn’t a better way to tie off how episode 5 ended. And now their involvement in the story feels a bit glossed over.

Thanks for reading this week’s review of Land of the Lustrous. Who knows where these new questions will take us so be sure to check in next week for more!

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