I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but as much as I love Maomao, Rishe is giving her a real run for her money where competent heroines are concerned. Not only did she know that Elsie and Kamil were about to turn against her at Theodore’s behest, she also expertly broke out of captivity, took down a slew of guards, and then casually waltzed up to her captor and gave him a lecture on proper kidnapping techniques. If that’s not true badass behavior, I don’t know what is.
It also solidifies Theodore as a baby badass wannabe rather than the real thing, which raises the larger question of why he must pretend to be cruel. The answer is heavily intertwined with Arnold’s mysteries, and we get even further confirmation of whatever’s going on in the royal family. Although the princes don’t appear to have been pitted against each other, they don’t have a good relationship, and that looks like something that happened because they simply don’t know how. From what we’ve seen of their interactions with Rishe, neither of them is particularly good at expressing their true feelings. Arnold’s growing attraction and attachment to Rishe is something he’s struggling to show her, as their kiss last week illustrated – he couldn’t say the words he was feeling, so he attempted to act them out instead. Theodore, meanwhile, kidnaps Rishe because it’s the only way he can think of to get Arnold’s attention; he doesn’t want to hurt either of them. Even sadder, his suicide attempt at the end of the episode shows that he’s reached the point where he believes the best way he can support his brother is to simply no longer exist. He’s less emotionally constipated (which is where I’d place Arnold) and more burnt out. He’s tried doing good, but it hasn’t (in his mind) worked, and so he’s decided that being done is the best option left to him.
The truth of the matter is that both brothers do love each other. Theodore is more able to express that, which, given Arnold’s scar and his future regicide, leads me to believe that Theodore has had less interaction with their father. Arnold seems to have been trying to protect his little brother as best he can, and the fact that he hid his gruesome scar from him seems to be part of that; if Theodore doesn’t know about it, he can’t worry about it or be afraid that it will happen to him, too. But Arnold also seems to think that avoiding his brother is the best way to keep him safe, which may be behind his stricture to Rishe about not interacting with Theodore. He may not even have been aware that his avoidance of his little brother was negatively affecting him.
Rishe is powerful in more than just her ability to break out of captivity in an impressively animated fight sequence. She’s got the life experience of someone much older than her, and she knows how to use that – sometimes as a weapon, sometimes as gentle guidance, and sometimes as whatever is needed in a given situation. A piece of Arnold recognized that from the start, although whether that’s because he also remembers past loops is still an open question. With Rishe there to support him, Arnold is beginning to realize that he can be more than he was before. She gives him the space to think and the courage to act in ways he might not have considered. If she can do that for Theodore, Elsie, and Kamil, too, she just may be one of the most powerful heroines of the season.
7th Time Loop: The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Life is currently streaming on