Alice in Borderland ups the ante significantly with a majorly unexpected last-minute development.
This recap of Alice in Borderland season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Well, blimey. I wasn’t quite expecting this.
Before it reaches its game-changing climax, Alice in Borderland episode 3 opens with the gang back together, pondering “the beach” as their next, most promising lead. But they can’t follow up on it just yet since Chota and Shibuki’s visas are about to expire, so they need to win a game. Arisu, meanwhile, is still struggling with the guilt of the tagger’s death, which he believes was entirely his fault.
Here, we begin to see stress causing some friction within the group. When Karube takes a slight detour to pick up an engagement ring from his former place of work, Chota snaps at him because he and Shibuki are running out of time. It’s only fitting, then, that the next game is designated a seven of hearts, and is designed to test their relationship.
This game, which takes place at the botanical gardens, is much crueler than the ones we’ve seen thus far as it seems it’s only possible for one person to win it. As part of the rules, everyone has to wear a pair of goggles. One person is designated a wolf and the other three are sheep. A lamb found by a wolf becomes the next wolf, and so on and so forth, passing the role of the wolf back and forth. Whoever’s the wolf at the end wins, and all the lambs’ collars explode.
A wolf “catches” a lamb by making eye contact with it, so the idea is to become the wolf and then run away and hide. Chota becomes the first wolf automatically, but Shibuki quickly steals the position from him and legs it. Karube gives chase and they fight, while Arisu implores them to help him outsmart the game rather than just give in to it.
But I’m not sure there is a way to outsmart it in any case, let alone when the players are gradually turning against each other. This is pretty expected for Shibuki, but less so for Karube, who begins to tear into Arisu verbally. Arisu is still mightily struggling with his guilt over the death of the tagger, and naturally many other anxieties and insecurities come to the fore as well, not to mention the seemingly inevitable prospect of losing his friends in this game. We’re treated to some flashbacks of Arisu’s home life with his father and his brother Hajime, and also to a bit more of the central trio’s friendship, which this game is obviously designed to test. And boy, does it test it.
With time running out, Arisu offers to drop out, since his friends are all that matter to him. He’s the wolf, but when he runs out into the open, he can’t find anyone. Nobody responds to him on the radio and we see Chota drag Shibuki, his hand over her mouth, into the foliage. They’re all hiding from him, sacrificing themselves for him. I was convinced that there was going to be some last-minute way out of this. But no. The timer ticks down to zero, and the collars explode, Karube’s right in front of Arisu. Alice in Borderland just killed off three of its four main characters in just the third episode.
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