The view from 5930 miles away:
“The three of you are going to throw Mikuru into the lake.”
This is the episode we have been building up to right from the beginning of the series. Haruhi’s behaviour towards Mikuru simply had to be addressed eventually, to avoid this becoming a morally bankrupt series, and Kyon had to be the one to challenge her. Who else was going to do it, after all? Mikuru is terrified of her, Nagato is an observer, and Koizumi is an appeaser.
We get a false start early in the episode, with Kyon almost confronting Haruhi about her plan to throw Mikuru in the lake, but Koizumi calms him down with a hand on the shoulder. Then Haruhi comes up with a plan to get Tsuruya to spike Mikuru’s drink, to make her compliant for a scene where Koizumi will kiss her.
Before we get to the confrontation, it’s worth recognising a couple of thing here. Firstly, I’ve been tough on Koizumi throughout this series of articles, and with good reason I think. He’s an absolute snake here to go along with this and be a party to something akin to sexual assault. Secondly, Tsuruya is proving to be a fascinating character. She is supposed to be Mikuru’s best friend, and yet she goes along with Haruhi’s plan, spikes Mikuru’s drink and then has a look of absolute fascination on her face while their plan plays out. What’s behind that hyper laughter of hers?
“What sorts of evil things do I have to do to live in a place like this?”
What indeed. While this plays out the music becomes really threatening, signposting that this is the moment that we have been waiting for, and it’s dangerous. Haruhi is perfectly capable of responding by destroying the world, after all. But Kyon has no choice but to step up. Haruhi is treating Mikuru as her “toy”, and admits to that. The gentle tapping on the head with her megaphone is just the final straw that tips Kyon over the edge. It’s debatable to what extent Koizumi stops Kyon from an act of physical violence against Haruhi or Kyon stops himself – a combination of the two, I would say. But the threat of it is enough to bring Haruhi close to tears.
And then the world doesn’t end.
I have been flagging up the many details that lead me to the following conclusion over the last few weeks, so I think it is a logical one and all the evidence points in this direction. What Koizumi has failed to grasp with all his appeasement and warnings of the end of the world is that Haruhi wanted and needed Kyon to step up and be a man. She is clearly in love with Kyon, and an appeaser is not generally going to be considered suitable husband material in Japanese society. That’s why Koizumi never has a chance with Haruhi. He’s little better than a servant, or a pet.
But Kyon makes two mistakes. Firstly, he has allowed things to escalate rather than tackling Haruhi at a much earlier point. Instead of being firm with her and not allowing her to mistreat others, he let it slide for so long that he burst into a rage. That’s not what Haruhi’s looking for, and that’s why she spirals into depression. She needs what anybody needs from their partner: praise when they do things well, and an honest opinion when the moral barometer is out of whack. After weeks of misunderstanding Haruhi, Koizumi finally gets it:
“Miss Suzumiya always thought that, no matter what happened, you’d be there, right by her side, even though you’d sometimes complain. You alone would forgive her.”
Remember how lonely a figure Haruhi presented right back at the beginning of the series. She needs Kyon. And finally, he gets it too, when he realises that Taniguchi’s criticisms mirror his own, and how horrible it sounds.
“Who cares if it’s stupid. At least she’s trying to make something.”
At last! You see, instead of praising Haruhi for what she does right, for her energy and ambition, and calling her out on moments where she treats people unkindly, he has constantly complained about every little detail of her plans, let the things that needed to be complained about slide (mainly due to the influence of appeaser Koizumi), and ogle Mikuru. He has been almost as culpable as Haruhi in what has happened.
When he goes to make up with Haruhi she is in the process of tying her hair up into a ponytail, remembering how Kyon loves that look, and drops her hair as he walks in. It’s a little bit heart-breaking, and it’s hard to stay angry at Haruhi for long. In the end, she’s a teenage girl who has made a silly mistake, aided and abetted by an appeasing worm, somebody who just stands by and watches, and whatever the hell Tsuruya is.
“We’re gonna finish this movie and it’s gonna be awesome.”
…and as Haruhi makes the cherry blossom fall in the middle of summer, and asks for a talking cat, which we must surely have little doubt she will find, we are reminded of how awesome Haruhi is as well, and how awesome this whole series is. A masterpiece of subtle and coherent storytelling has brought us to this point. That’s why I love Haruhi. RP
The view from 6,868 miles away:
Oh for the love of Haruhi! What’s she getting up to now? Spiking her friends drink to make her more accepting of a love scene? Throwing her in the tainted water to make her look more fragile, delicate?? Like Kyon, I have to ask myself “Am I being tested here or something?” I get it, Haruhi wants to get her way, but after last week’s head busting comment, this is a bridge too far. I am grateful to Kyon for being willing to intercede on Miss Asahina’s behalf when Itsuki was about to kiss her. Sure, his motivation was jealousy, but I am glad that it was shown. Since we’re dealing with teenage kids who don’t have a strong conviction between right and wrong, I am glad someone stood up for Miss Asahina during that scene. Surely there’s a reason for all of this! Sigh…
I am also glad Kyon was willing to fight Haruhi, though I am glad it never came to blows even if only because Itsuki stops him. Had it come to blows, I would have sided with Haruhi, so by stopping him swinging, Itsuki allowed me to continue to see Kyon as the “good guy”. But it gets better. After they have their falling out from this scene, Haruhi goes into a slump and other classmates rip into Haruhi, to Kyon’s agitation. Ok, for one, this shows how immature she is that she goes into a slump, but it also gives Kyon a chance to make amends. It could be argued that this was done out of self-preservation knowing that Haruhi might accidentally destroy the world, but I’m willing to concede that anyone who extends an olive branch during a conflict automatically gets extra points. And considering he stood up to other classmates for her, I think it was genuine regardless of the potential for planetary destruction. Whatever the reason, Kyon does extend the olive branch and gets a double win for the episode.
At first glance, it appears that Haruhi takes this reconciliation as proof that she’s great and becomes, to my mind, insufferable. Here, Kyon gets a third victory in my eyes because he doesn’t give up but accepts her for who she is. This might be a bigger reveal than I realized. Meanwhile, Yuki continues her alien streak but even though her abilities are on display for all to see, no one seems to notice. In one case early on, she breaks through a fence and the onlookers believe it was because the fence was old. Brilliant! Kyon gets another outstanding line when entering Tsuruya’s house: “what sort of evil things do I have to do to live in a place like this?” He also attributes his fight with Haruhi to “calcium deficiency”!
But one thing hit me with this episode. When Haruhi gets her second wind after Kyon apologizes, I realized something that had escaped me previously. Mere episodes ago, I speculated that Haruhi had a crush on Kyon but if she did, why would she want Miss Asahina to burn him? And the answer came to me just as Haruhi was about to change her hair when Kyon walked into the room. Watson no more! I have become Holmes! She wants Asahina to hurt him so Kyon identifies her as a threat or at least loses feelings for her. Haruhi started wearing her hair a specific way when she found out Kyon liked it. When Kyon started to exhibit feelings for Miss Asahina, Haruhi started beating on him. She felt cheated, heartbroken. My god, I’ve been in the middle of a love triangle and failed to observe it at all. How embarrassing. And when Kyon apologizes, her feelings are healed and she’s feeling like she’s on top of the world again! This revelation made me realize that all the things she’s done to Miss Asahina might have been to devalue her to Kyon. Elementary, my dear reader!
Well, it’s a provisional theory anyway. I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong in episode 5…