Once upon a time there was a knight. The knight never faltered in his duty, no matter what it was. He didn’t even falter when duty demanded he take the life of his lover. His dedication was what he took pride in. But the knight couldn’t do anything but carry out his duty, and even after death, he still seeks a duty to carry out. They say the knight who became a ghost and still haunts this world holds in his hand the bloodstained sword that pierced his lover’s breast.

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Fakir may have the central role in this episode, but all of the characters are rushing headlong into the same conflict: Once they’ve fulfilled their roles, what next?

Mytho: I’m so glad you’ve come back to school Fakir. I’ve been waiting for you. Why did you come back?

Fakir: I’m here to protect Mytho. That’s all.

Mytho: Protect? How? You’re a knight who couldn’t even find the strength to die. What can you do? The Knight’s role in the story was to be torn in two and die, but not only were you saved in that unseemly way, you’ve got the nerve to still be alive. The story no longer has need of you. Now you’ll just fade away and be forgotten. Welcome back, Fakir.

Evil Mytho has a point: Fakir’s idea of “protecting” (swinging his sword around) is totally useless when the battle is being fought inside Mytho’s heart.

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You know how said last time that Rue only saw value in herself as Kraehe?

Duck: But you know, I wonder if there’s anything else I can do for Mytho, or is searching for his heart shards really the only thing that I can do?

Duck’s starting to slip down that slope in regards to Tutu, as well (which clearly encourages Drosselmeyer).  It’s telling that the only time we’ve seen Duck in class this season has been when other characters were dancing; she seems to be spending more and more time thinking and worrying by herself.

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The Raven: You will not be loved by anyone but me and the Prince in the story. Do you understand me, daughter? And there is no way that you would ever be loved so much that someone would forfeit his own life for you. Remember that well. If you stand in the Prince’s way again, you will lose even my love.

Princess Kraehe: I’m sorry! I’ll do things right next time.

Rue’s situation has somehow gotten even worse.

Rue: Princes need strong knights. What if you got the famous ghost knight on your side?

Mytho: Good idea. After all, you haven’t been able to do anything, Kraehe. Don’t get angry. It’s the truth, isn’t it?

After last episode’s failure, they’re just piling on the abuse.  And she has absolutely no one else to turn to – there’s only one time in the entire episode that she even interacts with anybody else, and that’s just showing up to taunt Fakir and then vanishing.

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The tale of the Ghost Knight is not directly based on any real-life story (it’s implied that it was written by somebody in-universe), but the episode does incorporate the Coriolan Overture and the Egmont Overture, both by Beethoven.  I discussed the Coriolan Overture for an earlier episode (it’s heavily associated with Fakir); Egmont is essentially a man who fought and died in vain.

Fakir: He was hailed as the strongest of knights. Enemy nations feared him. The knight believed it was his duty to risk his life to protect his king. He even killed his own lover, who was a spy for an enemy kingdom, without faltering. Eventually the two nations made peace, and the knight was cast into exile and thenceforth knew neither who to protect nor whom to defeat. He died that way, his soul cursed to wander this world.

Parallels between the Ghost Knight and Fakir abound, but the gist of it is that if Fakir continues down the path of the Knight, that’s the kind of future that awaits him.  Even if the Raven was miraculously defeated and Fakir survived, he would be left with nothing in the end – and there’s no end in sight just yet, good or bad.

Fakir: Do you think it’s possible to turn a love that’s been made impure back to normal?

Mr. Cat: You raise a rather thorny issue. What is it that defines an impure love? After all, who can say that Odile’s love is impure?

Odile is the Black Swan from Swan Lake (and the inspiration for Kraehe’s costume)…

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Aside from the thematic parallels, Fakir has a less distinct connection with the Ghost Knight in the form of a vision he receives of himself slaying the ghost.  He thinks that he’s glimpsing the (unwritten) end of the Ghost Knight’s story, but that still leaves a lot of questions, especially since the story doesn’t end like Fakir saw it in his vision – all because of Tutu.

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Princess Tutu: No matter how many times you swing your sword, your heart won’t be satisfied. I think you’ve come to that realization.

Turns out the ghost was carrying the heart shard of Pride.

Princess Tutu: The shards of Mytho’s heart that I give back are making him suffer, but this is the only thing that I can do for him right now.

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Fakir: Why am I so weak? Can my sword not even protect her?

Rue and Duck think themselves ineffectual outside of their roles as Kraehe and Tutu. Fakir begins to realize that even as a knight, he can barely do anything.  The characters are grinding to a halt (or trying to), but the story keeps raging onward, and that’s a recipe for tragedy if ever I saw one.

Until next time…

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