The bleakness that has drawn so many to Berserk over the years has been centered on the depressing hero’s journey of Guts himself, eternally the typical orphan searching for any semblance of family to cling to and consistently coming up short. Griffith’s betrayal spelled the doom of Guts’ latest attempt at surrogate companionship, but here non Manga readers learn that Guts was not the only one to survive the eclipse, with Casca and Rickert seeking relative solace at the cabin of Guts’ reluctant blacksmith Goto.
Count Lansdown defeated, Guts is plagued by visions of Casca burned at the stake, and upon returning to Goto’s to question her safety, finds her missing, and Goto on his death bed. Goto chides Guts for allowing his grief and loss to get the better of him, abandoning Rickert and Casca in his pursuit of the God Hand and Griffith. Rickert has processed the Hawks’ deaths in a different fashion though, using Goto’s equipment to create replicas of their weapons, planting them on a nearby hill as monument.
Sleepless, Guts relives the path that brought him here (including a brief but excellent hand animated sequence depicting he and Casca’s monstrous post-eclipse arrival at Goto’s), Griffith and the Hawks’ massacre still very much at the center of his torment. “It’s a war I chose to take on myself” Rickert tells Guts of witch hunts in the area, which could target the missing Casca, given his premonitions and her current catatonic state. Equipment repaired (Goto insisted he do it himself, despite his condition) Guts leaves Rickert yet again and Goto for the last time in pursuit of his one last link to humanity.
Said witch hunts are being carried out by Mozgus, a grand inquisitor vying for authority in the power vacuum created by the death of the King, whose escorts are none other than the Knights of the Holy Iron Chain. When their caravan is ambushed by a group of insurgents Farnese is clearly impressed by the short, bloody work Mozgus and his henchmen (some of my very favorite character designs from the source material, here realized flawlessly) make of their quarry as she continues to grapple with her own faith and duty after her experiences in the last episode (yes, the horse, which we see again here because, reasons). Nearly swept up in the ensuing violence due to her unconventional demeanor and appearance is, you guessed it, Casca.
After the 3rd episode’s slight hiccups the 2016 Berserk bounces back with what is, though dialogue and plot heavy, it’s best episode yet, and is right on track to offer up a brutal slab of action horror every bit as captivating as the source material.