Episode 18 of Steins Gate 0 was a mixed bag. On one hand, it resolved a number of dangling plot threads, but it did so in a way that asked viewers to suspend their disbelief a little too much.
As expected, Kagari was the black-clad fighter from the previous episode. Steins Gate 0 clearly really wants the audience to care about her, but simply, she’s has too little impact on the plot, and is just too annoying. She clings to her infantile mannerisms and way of speaking until the very end, which seriously undermines any emotional impact the scene was supposed to have. If the writers were aiming for a Gasai Yuno type character, they messed up: Kagari has far more in common with Jar Jar Binks.
One more thing: viewers can only tolerate so much. Time travel? Sure. Shadowy government organizations? No problem. However, this episode marked the fifth time a main character was shot. Understandably, this is played off as a huge dramatic moment. The problem is that in each of these five occasions, it’s revealed that the bullet only grazed them. Putting aside the fact that this gets more boring every time it happens, their opponents are supposed to be elite soldiers, and this quite simply doesn’t fly.
A Sudden Betrayal
For the first time in a while, Okabe has had to get his hands dirty. After Mayuri disappears, he goes straight to the Phone Wave in order to chase after her. This is an interesting moment: it shows that although he pledged never to interfere with time again, there are some things that would push him to do so. In fact, it appears as though the team will present a more or less united front in operations from this point on.
Leskinen’s betrayal finally justifies some of the time wasted in the series’ first half. Take Judy Reyes, for example: she was introduced, then seen maybe two more times. A throwaway line of dialogue in episode 18 reveals that she was the assassin from Steins Gate 0’s mid-point. It’s not much, but it does tie up that loose end nicely. Unfortunately, there are more important plot points that are seemingly forgotten: remember Ruka’s struggle to help out? Remember Daru and Yuki?
A New Direction
No one can say that they don’t like this new Mayuri. She’s taking control of her own destiny at long last. In fact, this is arguably the first truly independent, meaningful act she’s taken part in since even the original series.
Her actions send a powerful message to Okabe: I am not a bystander. From now on, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep the group together, no matter the cost. And, of course, if she ends up romantically linked to Okabe, so much the better.