The Promised Neverland 026-028 – Review
The Promised Neverland:
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Emma is an 11-year old girl living at an orphanage along with thirty-seven other children. They spend their days playing in the yard, the nearby forest, and taking test over their headsets in the house’s school room. When they turn twelve the children leave the orphanage, going beyond the gate they’ve been warned to never venture near. However, despite how quaint and comfortable this life has been for Emma and the other children, there’s a much darker truth awaiting them beyond that gate.
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)
While exploring the gate one night, in hopes of delivering a forgotten stuffed toy to a departing friend, Emma and Norman, one of the smartest boys within the Orphanage, discover the horrible truth: The orphans are being raised as mere meat for horrific demonic creatures.
Joining forces with the other top kids, Ray, Gilda and Don they begin to plot an escape. Ray is/was secretly working with Mother and the group decides to use that against her. However Mother calls in additional help, Sister Krone, another caretaker. As the kids work to form a plan of escape before the day they’re scheduled to be shipped out arrives, Mother and Sister begin to close in around them.
Picking up from last time, Norman is going to be shipped out and with Emma’s leg broken, there seems no possible way for their escape to go through. It looks as if Mother has won, although Ray refuses to believe there isn’t a way forward. But as Don and Gilda help to point out, Mother has been playing a long game and all her efforts have begun to close in around them. The reality that Sister is dead hits them too.
As Norman visits with Emma, she’s freaking out, trying to figure out how she can possibly stop Norman from meeting his end. Norman however is going through some pretty similar stuff. From his dialogue it seems Norman always knew this could’ve been a likely outcome, but now that it’s here he can’t help but desperately want to cling to life.
Meanwhile Ray is struggling to figure out how to make everything work. He knows that he can save Norman if Norman were to escape now, before he’s shipped out. Problem is Norman has no intention of doing so. We’re walked through Norman’s line of thinking: If he escapes they’ll just ship Ray or Emma out in his place. He needs to die so they can live.
As he returns with a cup of water for Emma, Norman has resigned himself to his fate. He’ll use what time he has left to undo Mother’s plan and ensure Emma survives. Trouble is once he’s back at the room he’s confronted by both Ray and Emma: they refuse to let him die. This chapter does a pretty good job of laying down the idea that they’re boxed in and there’s only one way forward: Norman needs to die. It’s pretty wordy, even by Neverland’s usual standards, but I think generally manages to keep the inner workings of the character’s minds interesting enough. But at the same time it does feel a little forced, seeing as the chapter ends with a clear signal that Ray and Emma are going to try and talk Norman out of his decision. It’s an obvious outcome no matter what, but I feel like the chapter gives the game up before it needs to.
Norman refuses to escape, but Ray explains they only want him to pretend. he’s to disable his tracking device and hide in the woods until it’s time for everyone to escape together. Norman worries about increased security, but Ray explains there’s only so much the adults can do and they can handle that. Norman keeps trying to poke holes in Ray’s increasingly frantic plan but he and Emma won’t hear it. I love how frantic Ray is here. The manga’s visuals do a wonderful job of selling his crumbling composure.
Norman comes clean and explains it’s not really about the increased security. It’s about making sure neither Emma or Ray is used as his substitute and shipped out in his place.
Ray is starting to break down, his years of planning all for naught as Norman refuses to even try to prevent his own death. Emma finally pipes up and introduces the idea of Ray hurting himself, or catching a cold, anything to prevent either of them from being shipped out as healthy. This point really makes me wonder exactly why the children are needed in a completely healthy condition. It seems oddly specific and potentially comes across as a plot point existing merely to allow Emma nd Ray a way out of getting shipped off. I guess we’ll see whenever the manga gets around to revealing the truth. Norman is against it however, refusing to see either of his friends hurt so badly, but they’re adamant their injuries are nothing compared to seeing him die.
Norman finally caves to Emma’s desires to see everyone survive and agrees to work with them on this new plan. The idea is for him to pretend to escape, hide in the woods and survey things in the mean time. We conclude with Norman asking Ray when he realized the truth about the House, the reality of their situation. Ray reveals he’s known from the very beginning. I found this chapter a little more boring than the last. We know that Emma and Ray won’t let Norman surrender without a fight and we end up getting bogged down in a lot of what about’s and why not’s for various potential plans and methods to combat the situation. In some ways I’m a bit disappointed we’re staving off Norman’s potential demise/sacrifice. But the chapter manages to hook me back in with this tease of how Ray came to realize the truth.
It’s here we learn that Ray is one of those rare people who can remember events he experienced even as an infant. It comes off a little contrived, particularly as in Ray’s case, he remembers from practically inside the womb itself! Barring that slightly exaggerated depiction, We learn that since he was a baby he had suspicions and at six confirmed them with mother. Hence that’s how he formed the deal. During all this we also learn that going through the gates leads to headquarters and by proxy the other four farms, for five in total. That knowledge is interesting to me, even if Ray’s ability to remember seemed a little stretched. I think I’d actually be completely fine with it if we didn’t stretch it all the way back to the womb.
Ray gives Norman the device he’d made over the years that’ll let them disable the tracking device. From there the three agree they won’t let each other die. Later Mother holds dinner for the house and reveals to the children that Norman will be leaving them. As Norman bids goodbye to the others, Emma, back in the hospital room, vows to heal up fast.
Later, sitting in his room alone, Norman discovers, tucked in his drawer, the pen Sister Krone had left behind. The chapter ends with some narration from Emma and Ray assuring her that it’ll go as planned. Norman disappears, although the manga leaves it ambiguous enough as to whether he disappeared as planned, or something worse occurred.
Overall these chapters felt like a lot of back and forth exposition wrap up to the events of chapter 25, meant to deal with all the repercussions and fall out. Norman finding the pen makes me wonder again how that’ll come into play. One scenario I could see is Norman drawing the conclusion that the owner, our mysterious benefactor leaving all the messages in the books, is actually in on everything and it forces Norman to give into their designs. Or perhaps Norman does manage to fake his escape and then uses that time to learn more about the pen’s owner. Basically these chapters didn’t really increase or decrease my interest in the series, but I do feel like the plot slowed to a crawl here as we worked through Mother’s most recent strike back.
Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts on The Promised Neverland 026-028 in the comments section below!