Little as I like Bridget, I admit that she seems to have come by her issues honestly. That’s a consistent strength of original light novel author Miri Mikawa‘s works; both Sugar Apple Fairy Tale and Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower (both of which are available in English) take the time to show us that people become who they are based on what they go through. In Bridget’s case, her father basically set her up to fail: he steadfastly refused to listen to her wishes to the point where she felt that her only option was to buy love – and then he took that away from her, too.
Not that Bridget should have been allowed to keep treating Challe Fenn Challe the way she was. At the end of the previous season, we saw that she had no qualms about forcing a physical relationship with him (“just” kissing, but a violation is a violation). In episode fourteen, he remarks that she’s been isolating him in her room, forbidding him to leave or see anyone else. Obviously, Challe stops obeying that order the minute Anne shows up. If he’d been following it in the first place, which I doubt, that’s more the way you’d treat a factory-farmed chicken than a pet. Mr. Paige was correct to stop her from doing it, but his decree also drives home to her how little her wants and happiness matter to him.
It’s an ugly situation, and while Sugar Apple Fairy Tale has never shied away from such things, it hasn’t always handled them as well as it could. Its attempts to dig into the slavery issue are back in these two episodes, and the handling is still pretty clumsy. At least two fairies are house slaves for the Paige family, and while they rebuff Anne’s attempts at equality, what’s more interesting is that they refer to themselves as lesser beings. Challe and Mithril Lid Pod – and even Cathy – have never seen themselves as less than humans, but Daana and Hal do. The twins’ words take Anne aback, and these episodes leave it at that, but there’s potential for it to become a later plot point. After all, it looks like Challe took matters into his own hands with his wing, taking it from Bridget’s hiding place and leaving it on her father’s pillow. Why he would do that if it were, in fact, him and not Elliot is an interesting question, but my best guess is that he wanted to make sure that no one could cast doubt on his returning to Anne’s side.
Anne, meanwhile, has her work cut out for her. She was not expecting to be named Head of Artisans for the Paige Workshop, and fortunately for her, only one of her new underlings has any issue with women, and that seems to be a fear response. (The scars on King’s head and arms may prove significant, especially given his memory loss.) But the workshop is also plainly dysfunctional; you don’t have to have seen or read Arte to know that a collaboration-free workshop isn’t working in top form. Yes, Keith’s defection to the Radcliffe Workshop probably hurt them, but one man’s change in employer shouldn’t have been enough to drag it down to the point where it’s only got one Silver Sugar Master. Again, the blame may be laid squarely at Mr. Paige’s feet – Bridget doesn’t seem to be the only stupidly stubborn member of that family, and she had to learn it somewhere.
Happily, things are moving forward, even if the background art appears to have regressed. Anne’s found a way to get the workshop’s debts paid, though she’ll have to either work around its head or convince him to enter a competition he’s weirdly against to make it happen, and Challe’s at least partially free from Bridget. I find it hard to be worried about Jonas’ missing person status, but he’s in the opening theme, so he’ll probably turn up, possibly to redeem himself at the Paige Workshop. But for now, we can revel in his absence and all be grateful that, at long last, the subtitles are no longer spelling Keith’s name “Kieth.”
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