The atmosphere of this episode.
We’re well and truly into the late stages of Shin Sekai Yori, and that means that all the chickens are coming home to roost. The idea that a human using PK is what destroyed the Giant Hornet army is verified in the worst way when Saki and Satoru, having joined up with another group that lost a couple members, are sent to check the hospital to see if it’s ok. Getting past the bakenezumi ambush (with good sensing by Saki that it’s too quiet), and the other bakenezumi ambush that killed one of their group members, they find the last humans alive in the hospital tied up and scared out of their minds, urging them to flee because “he” will be back. But he’s already back. And one by one, the other members are killed by someone with a dark aura and no care for human life, a prototypical fiend. As the other women left decide to hole up in the ruined hospital, Saki and Satoru head back to the village to warn everyone of the fiend.
Ambushed through carelessness
This was the most tense episode from start to finish that we’ve had. The braggadocio of the other men with Saki and Satoru seemed like nothing more than death flags raised for those members of the group, and they were duly disposed of by either the bakenezumi or the fiend. The atmosphere, with the wrecked hospital and the dark skies and fields around it, contributed to the tension throughout the episode that was higher than even the fighting with the Ground Spiders. The progressive deaths of members just added to that, and this was perhaps the first time we’ve seen any humans truly scared, especially adults. They’ve always been the masters of their domain, and now having a force that they just cannot comprehend or defend against has robbed them completely of that security, and they don’t know how to react.
Of course I was wrong about there not being a fiend. And probably about it not being Maria and Mamoru’s child. After all the foreshadowing and talking about fiends they did, it was really unlikely that they wouldn’t have a fiend, although (defending myself) a lot of my argument was that Maria wouldn’t become a fiend, which seems to have been true. But in defense against a fiend, how much can the village do?
I think that ultimately it’s going to come down to Saki and Satoru having the only chance to dispose of the fiend, possibly / probably due to their lack of overwhelming conditioning. I really hope that Satoru survives, but it’s possible that he’s not going to make it, maybe even die defeating the fiend.
Satoru gives Yakomaru a lot of credit: Why would he start a fight that he can’t win? So Satoru figures that Yakomaru has some ace up his sleeve (which it turns out he does), that first convinced the Spider Wasp colony to desert the Giant Hornets, and then allowed Yakomaru to concoct this grand plan. I do wonder why he would first set the fiend way outside of town at the hospital, tho. How many people did they think would be coming out there? And why have such a large force there? It’s possible that the bakenezumi have enough forces that they can basically be everywhere compared to the humans, and the humans would definitely lose a war of attrition, even at a 10-1 loss advantage.