Those are the words Subaru says to Beatrice as he holds out his hand to her in the midst of a mansion in flames.
Before anything can even be said about the story, that moment is a fantastic set piece on its own. The mansion has been the site of many of Subaru’s battles, but it’s also the source of his fondest memories. For Beatrice, it’s a prison she locked herself into, following her last promise to Echidna. It’s a location filled with tension and conflicting emotions, of heartfelt bonds but also agonizing loneliness, and at last it has all come to an irreversible head. Every last door in the mansion burns down, forcing Beatrice to at last make a choice for herself.
The flames at the mansion are contrasted with the cold snow at the Sanctuary, where it turns out that Roswaal managed to cast his spell by preparing it even before his battle with Ram and Puck. This side of the episode wasn’t quite as visually striking, partly because the Great Rabbit has to be portrayed with CG animation, but the two opposing sides of the coin make for a memorable setting for the climax of a story. Both physically and metaphorically, the two scenes could not be more apart. Only at the very end do the two sides cross over, when Beatrice teleports herself and Subaru to the now freed Sanctuary. It’s such a cool way of using the setting to tell a story; I can’t deny that it put a grin on my face.
But let’s backtrack a little to the moment when Subaru says, “Choose me.” Throughout this season, he and Beatrice have been talking past each other. They clearly care about each other, but Beatrice is too hesitant to come out of her shell. From her perspective, it makes sense: She has lived a long time, and in her tragic friendship with Ryuzu she has seen how fleeting the bonds between mortals can be. The only thing she can do is cling to is her promise to Echidna, even if she knows deep down that there is no person who will come for her at the end. Subaru firmly rejects that he is “that person,” because that’s his way of saying that he’s doing all of this for Beatrice entirely out of his own will. He’s not here to fulfill a prophecy – he just wants to be Beatrice’s friend.
Even without a single Return By Death in this episode, the consistent theme of this series of repeating one’s failures over and over again to accomplish a seemingly futile goal asserts itself. Again and again, Subaru is rebuffed, but he doesn’t give up, even when everything burns down around him, signaling a point of no return. Honestly, by this point he should have been suffocated by the smoke, but let’s forget about reality and enjoy the vibe of the scene. The moment when he reaches out his burnt hand to Beatrice is symbolic of how, even after a searing rejection, he’ll continue to let himself be vulnerable.
Looking back, it’s interesting that this was the moment that this arc was culminating to. In the end, it’s a story about smashing down the barriers people put up in their hearts. Between Emilia regaining her lost memories, Puck renouncing his contract with Emilia, Garfiel reconciling with Frederica, and Ram burning Roswaal’s Tome of Wisdom, the characters in this climax have all firmly rejected the barriers preventing true communication. In the wake of their changed world and relationships, what is going to happen to them next? I’m looking forward to seeing what the new Emilia Camp looks like after the dust has settled.