- The second episode of "The Witch and the Beast" introduces its second witch in as many episodes, but welcomes a darker undertone and eerie vibe.
- Titled "The Witch's Pastime: Opening Act", the story introduces the audience to a second mage, who is responsible for the investigation of the most-recent serial killings in the city.
- A lack of action results in heavier dialogue, explaining the dynamic between Ashaf and Guideau, and a deal they have made with each other in order to achieve separate goals.
The following contains spoilers for The Witch and the Beast, Episode 2 – "The Witch's Pastime: Opening Act", streaming on Crunchyroll.
The penultimate episode of The Witch and The Beast delivers a completely different experience, as it strives to add more context to many areas left out in the first episode. Ashaf and Guideau are once again on the hunt for a witch, but they spend a significant portion of the episode going butting heads over the job Guideau has taken on as part of The Order of Magical Resonance. One of the biggest pain points of the debut episode of The Witch and The Beast was a severe lack of backstories, which took a backseat to a more action-driven introduction. In The Witch's Pastime: Opening Act, that narrative is flipped, and the audience is given a slow-burn setting for the next episode.
That isn't to say that there was absolutely no action to be seen in Episode 2, as it features Ashaf taking down a magical beast using his mage abilities, and the horrifying acts of the new witch. Taking a more horror-like take, this episode delivers in many ways, leaving for a satisfying ending and a reason to tune in next week.
Ashaf and Guideau's Hostile Relationship
In the first episode, the audience learns of Guideau's curse and what her true form is. The coffin, carried by Ashaf, contains the physical embodiment of Guideau, who is locked away in a young woman's body. During the few conversations depicted in Episode 2, it's made clear that Guideau has no interest in The Order of Magical Resonance, and that her allegiance to the society is strictly for selfish purposes.
A deal was made between Guideau and The Order of Magical Resonance, where The Order gives Guideau special access to its quests involving witches. This is an important quality for Guideau, who is in search of the witch that cursed her, and gives her the ability to face them head on. Unfortunately, the deal requires her to also take part in missions that don't involve witches, something she is not overly fond of. Her short-tempered attitude shows up during sequences involving Ashaf, where the two argue about the deal made.
Ashaf lets Guideau know that she cannot continue to slack off during these missions, as he was alone to take down a magical beast – something he is capable of, but demands compliance from his vindictive partner. The conflict between Ashaf and Guideau grows towards the first half of the episode, as Guideau continues to show resistance to The Order, arguing against the deal made and showing an unwillingness to comply unless a witch is involved. This is only fueled even further when Ashaf tricks Guideau to go to a mission under the guise that there will be a witch, only for the mission to involve an elderly woman and a sealed box.
This moment is the straw that breaks the camel's back, as Guideau swears to Ashaf that she will not tolerate any more trickery. Though Ashaf exclaims that this is a learning experience, Guideau swears that the moment her curse is reversed, she'll kill Ashaf. Unfazed by the threat, Ashaf welcomes this challenge, almost with a childish glee.
Witch's Reveal is Horrendous and Threatening
Unlike the first witch in The Witch and The Beast, this one lurks in the shadows and is almost unseen by the public until it's too late. She has a sinister vibe right from the start, sneaking up on young women and covering their mouths with her hand, before causing their heads to explode from the inside. The content is extremely graphic, as blood can be seen pouring out of their eyes, combined with excellent sound mixing that provides a realistic burst of guts and blood.
Her goal appears to be the accumulation of sacrifices, which is previously discussed in the opening monologue of the episode, discussing forbidden books and how they require the user to submit a number of sacrifices. It appears this witch has gotten her hands on one of them, as she continues her assault on the citizens of the city, leaving some of them hanged upside down by their feet. Her sentiment of "it's still not enough" gives off the vibe that she will stop at nothing to achieve her ultimate goal.
While the audience never sees her full form or learns more about her, besides her thirst for more casualties, the episode's title suggests that this is part one of a two-part series, which means she'll be featured more in the next episode. With Guideau and Ashaf receiving a black letter, a color reserved for witch missions, they are hot on her trails as they embark in the city, searching for her whereabouts. Fortunately, it appears they'll have some backup.
A Second Mage's Arrival Changes Everything
Following the latest events of the city's witch, the audience is introduced to Miss Haines, the town's only mage and last pillar of defense against forms of magic. She appears to be cold and reserved, but her backstory is one of pain and suffering. Losing people close to her; Shulk and Loran, Miss Haines is on a mission to track down the witch responsible and bring them to justice. She works closely with the police force, but the peculiar thing is that the town appears to rely solely on local officials and Miss Haines, disregarding any outside assistance. That is, until Guideau and Ashaf show up to the scene.
Though the three begin their opening conversation with reluctance, including Miss Haines' setting up a mage attack behind her back before Ashaf calls her out on it, they meet on common ground when discussing their intentions of going after the witch. Guideau's selfish reasons and a cry for revenge resonates with Miss Haines, who tricks the duo during a conversation where a domain is set around them that could help Miss Haines read through any lie.
After showing her hand, Miss Haines agrees to work with Guideau and Ashaf, feeling a sense of familiarity with Guideau's thirst to bring down the witch that cursed her. For Miss Haines, it isn't so much about a curse to her, but rather the lives taken away by the witch she is in pursuit of. Miss Haines lets Guideau and Ashaf know that they are to meet at 9AM the following day, where they will begin their investigation. In closing, the witch claims another life, leaving a headless, bloody body positioned against a wall, with her arms mangled and body distorted. The unsettling ending paints a grim picture for the next episode, which is appropriately titled, The Witch's Pastime: Final Act.