It feels a little disingenuous to open with George Santayana’s famous quotation about how those who fail to learn their history are doomed to repeat it because, in the world of Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts, there isn’t any comparable history (that we know of) that Set could be repeating. But for our world, there are distinct and chilling parallels between what Set is doing and our own history. Given my heritage, my first thought is to compare Set’s approach to ruling to a certain German political movement in the 1930s, but history offers plenty of others to compare it to. What Set is doing is not just wrong, it’s horrific, and this episode does an exemplary job of showing that. Jormungand being unceremoniously thrown in jail for supporting Leonhart is just an excuse to remove him from power, because as one of Set’s minions says, as a Reptilian, he couldn’t have remained Captain of the Guard under the new order anyway. But the earlier scene of Set’s goons ripping a child from his mother’s arms because he takes after his Reptilian father rather than his Mammalian mother is the flashpoint of the episode. It takes a special kind of pigheaded evil to decree that a child no longer has the right to be with their parent because they don’t look alike.
Because everything is so fraught and emotions are so high, Sariphi’s good deed of stepping in and putting a stop to that little horror show is all but ignored. Set has so thickly sown his seeds of prejudice and anger that the mother’s only reaction is to try to keep her son away from the human, the Other, even though her own child was Otherized mere moments before. Tensions are so high that she can barely understand that the big bad human put a stop to the situation that would have hurt her baby, and we don’t see any of the other adults do anything either. Instead, it’s the little boy himself who tries to thank Sari, because he knows that she saved him. It’s an illustration of the fact that children aren’t born hating, they learn hate from the adults around them.
That’s a thought worth holding on to, given Set’s justification for his usurpation of the crown. Set claims that Leonhart has no royal blood while he is the son of the late king and his concubine, but that he remained unacknowledged by his father because he unusually took after his mother rather than the royal line. If that’s true – and genetics are weird, so it could be – then it still doesn’t explain why Leonhart looks like the royal family. As it’s been explained before, children of the royal bloodline always favor it in appearance, so Leonhart’s beast form would seem to imply that even if he isn’t the late king’s son, he must be related to him at some point down the line. An anomaly like Set claims to be is one thing; spontaneously looking like the line of kings is another entirely because even if he doesn’t have royal blood the mere fact that he looks like the rulers implies that he can rule, at least by the way the system runs. Set, in other words, is treading on thin ice, and it’s only his charisma and willingness to preach a terrible, yet appealing, doctrine that’s keeping him out of trouble.
Does Asya’s family diary hold the answer? Sari’s hoping so, but we can’t be sure. While we wait to find out, let’s just keep remembering what an amazing friend Amit is and how utterly satisfying it was to watch Jormungand punch Anubis in his smug face.
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