This third episode delivers emotion and complex psychology as one game ends and another begins.
This recap of Alice in Borderland season 2, episode 3 contains spoilers.
You’ll recall that in Episode 2 of Alice in Borderland Season 2, Tatta was given the unenviable task of guarding the base during the game of Osmosis. It was while fulfilling that function that Kyuma and his team were able to take the lead by forcing him into an impossible position, and Niragi savagely blamed him for it. A flashback at the start of this third episode helps to contextualize why Tatta feels so uncomfortable in positions he believes himself to be unsuited to — when he was a mechanic in a garage, a mistake resulted in the mutilation of a colleague, and everyone blamed him for it. History seems to be repeating itself.
Alice in Borderland season 2, episode 3 recap
This ties into the outcome of the Osmosis game. Remember, there were only 500 points in it, but the King of Clubs and his team seemed to have every potential outcome covered. After preventing a dying Niragi from raping Usagi, Arisu goes to concede to Kyuma, to shake the hand of the man who showed him who he truly was. Kyuma reminds him that touching will result in a battle, and he’ll win, but it’s Arisu’s final request.
Of course, Arisu has a trick up his sleeve, almost literally, and it’s kind of silly that Kyuma doesn’t see that, but then again it’s a pretty outside-the-box solution. As we cycle back a few minutes in time, we see that Arisu discovered Tatta trying to sever his own hand with a container door in order to remove the bracelet. Since removing the bracelets was never detailed in the rules, he has figured out that taking his bracelet off and putting it in Arisu’s pocket will give him an extra 10,000 points, which combined with his own total will exceed the points any individual on the opposing team has. It means Arisu has to smash Tatta’s hand to pieces, but if he doesn’t, all of them will die.
This is really Alice in Borderland abandoning some logical consistency for a more powerful payoff to Tatta’s character arc, and an interesting philosophical conversation between Arisu and Kyuma once the latter realizes he has been duped. I think it works. After the breathless pace of the first two episodes, resolving the first game in this way is surprisingly earned and satisfying; the King of Clubs blimp exploding in a fireball is just the icing on the cake.
The experience does change the players, though, and it costs Tatta his life (I guess he died from blood loss? It isn’t entirely clear, but it seems likelier that he simply fulfilled his usefulness to the plot.) I imagine some will be unhappy with the resolution to this game, but as mentioned above, I do think it worked pretty well.
The action then moves to Teio Prison, where a note instructs players to put on a collar and report to the central guardroom. We see that Chishiya is among the players, and learn the game is called Solitary Confinement. The objective is to figure out the symbol on the back of the player’s collar without looking yourself. There’s an hour per round, and in the final five minutes, players are to enter their cell and disclose their symbol. The symbol changes each round, and failure means heads being blown off, naturally.
The hook here is that the Jack of Hearts is already among the players, though nobody knows who it is, and the game only ends when the Jack dies, which means everyone is incentivized to lie to the Jack, who could be anyone. Nobody can be trusted to tell the truth. It’s a fascinating, thought-provoking psychological angle for a game, and as before, I won’t go over every detail of it, since that’d ruin the fun.
While the first few rounds of this game are mostly a showcase for Chishiya’s calm and intelligence, there’s a bit of a wildcard thrown in — a girl named Urumi, who is dressed suspiciously like the classic depiction of Alice in Wonderland and pulls the strings of a big-ish group until, predictably, distrust begins to foment among them and they virtually all end up dead. But the underpinnings of this game are, essentially, the nature of people; how nobody can really and truly be trusted, and how everyone will, when pushed, save themselves first and foremost. In an ironic twist, it’s the exact opposite impulse that causes Chishiya’s confidant and ally, Ippei, to abstain from voting and essentially commit suicide, stripping Chishiya of his only means of safely surviving each round. Raising the stakes here, the episode ends without revealing who the Jack of Hearts is.
So, who is the Jack of Hearts? My vote is the submissive woman being controlled by her dominant partner. But we’ll have to wait and see.
You can stream Alice in Borderland season 2, episode 3 exclusively on Netflix.