Even if you’ve enjoyed Steins Gate 0 so far, there’s no denying that Okabe has been a little… spineless. This all changed in episode 20, however, as he made a stunning transformation back into the character we all come to adore in season one.
Okabe’s Biggest Challenge Yet
We’ve already seen the impact that frequent time leaping has on a person; it’s what turned Okabe into the terrified wreck he was in this season’s first half. That said, he’s capable of pulling out all the stops when it counts, as shown in this week’s episode when he leaps 3000 times, all the way back to 2011.
Even more surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to have been affected in any way. Sure, he acts a little crazy when he arrives back at the lab, but that’s just Hououin Kyouma’s personality. It’s interesting to see how quickly the team rally around him when he shows a little dramatic flair.
This is likely less about Kyouma’s plans, and more about the feelings of nostalgia that the other lab members have. After all, they were just a group of friends hanging out and experimenting before, and the resurgence of the mad professor likely took them back to a more positive time, at least briefly.
The Will of Steins Gate
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. While at first, it seems like the gang have thoroughly foiled Leskinen’s plans, Scooby Doo-style, there’s still an issue: convergence. Despite his best efforts, Okabe is unable to prevent the time machine being destroyed.
Can this be prevented without significant upgrades to the time machine? Maybe, but not cheaply. If the time machine really is the target, Mayuri and Suzuha can be saved. If, on the other hand, Mayuri is the target… well… we’ve already seen how that turns out. Really, the only thing that can help is if Okabe somehow stumbles onto a world line wherein everyone lives. The problem with this is that it seems a little convenient now, with just a few episodes left in the season.
A Third Season?
While we haven’t heard anything about season three just yet, it certainly seems likely. There just isn’t enough time to resolve all the dangling plot threads in a satisfying and meaningful way. At this point, the most probable ending is one wherein the time machine is destroyed, or never existed in the first place. This prevents World War 3, but Kurisu still dies unless Okabe steps in somehow to stop it.
At this point, there’s no use speculating: we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. There’s been a massive acceleration in terms of pacing towards the end of Steins Gate 0, and that’s almost reward enough for sticking with it so long. Here’s hoping the ending is as exceptional as the first season.