Rei asks the real questions.
Confronting Rin went over far better than I expected, even considering the yelling and collar grabbing. I guess it took a complete stranger telling Rin that the chip on his shoulder was obvious to get him to knock it off. Also great about that conversation was how Rei vocalized what fans have been pointing out and what I touched on last week: he's working hard to catch up to the rest of the team, yet all they talk about is Rin. Thankfully, that particular thread was resolved right after the confrontation scene, where the team finally convinces Rei that they care about him too. I also appreciated that Rei pointed out Rin's selfishness by forcing his way into the relay. He already got what he wanted; he's free of his past. Or is he?
It's interesting that Rin's moment of realization came when Rei unknowingly echoed the words from his past right back at him. What happened to the kid who wanted to try his best with his friends while reaching for his dreams? We finally get the missing Australia link in this episode, and it turns out that Rin wasn't exactly hot stuff when he arrived at his overseas swimming school. He ends up blaming the relay and his old friends for his failure, which struck me as weird logic at first but made more sense the more I thought about it.
I think that Rin was a big fish in a small pond, so when he didn't get the results he wanted he couldn't imagine that it was just a lack of experience or talent. He blamed what he'd done differently: the relay. Of course, that's silly. Referring back to Episode 7 with Rin's qualifying race against Haru, despite that these two were hyped up as the best swimmers, Rin only made the last qualifying spot and it was close. There is ample evidence in the show that in terms of the wider swimming world these two are actually just a bit above average at best. That's a non-issue for Haru, since he places his friends and success as a team far higher than the results on the scoreboard, but with Rin and his Olympic aspirations, it was probably much easier for him to blame someone else than except that his dream wouldn't be handed to him on a silver platter.
So once again, while I understand where Rin is coming from, I don't think that excuses his actions. For that reason, I'm happy that the show is finally giving him some consequences for only caring about himself. I was disappointed when at first it looked like Rin had gotten onto his school's relay team with little friction (wouldn't the person he would be replacing have something to say about that?), but Captain shut down that idea pretty fast. And he was right. We have no idea who Samezuka's relay members are, which means that Rin has been ignoring them in favor of nursing his angst. Rin also made a big deal before about wanting to focus on the 100m freestyle, so in a way, Captain is respecting his wishes. Of course, the drama is in the timing, since Rin is finally starting to backpedal on his statement to Haru. Be careful what you wish for, Rin.
The rest of the episode was fun club antics and shipping fodder, so I don't have a lot to say about that other than LOOK, HARU IS EMOTING. HE'S SMILING. AND LAUGHING. I mean, the serious side is still there (that's just his personality), but I'm happy to see that he's more comfortable around the group than before thanks to all the stuff they've been through. And I might've been mistaken, but was that a heavily implied confession scene between Haru and Makoto? It's hard to hear sometimes over the nightly rave on the Rei/Nagisa ship.
|These two will be the death of me|
P.S.: Since I just got an e-mail about the special episodes... There's only one out (subtitled) that I've seen. It's available on various anime aggregator streaming websites that I won't link to here since they're technically illegal. But yes, fansubs exist, and Google is your friend!
Images from Crunchyroll.com.