I was sort of lying when I said that the introductions were over last episode. This episode immediately introduces another character, so to an extent, I said something false. That being the case, while Athena is introduced this episode, the focus is entirely on fleshing out and developing Alice as a character, primarily using ideas that come from her debut episode. Athena is a fully realized character, and one with a good amount of personality, some of which is introduced here, but her primary role in this episode is to serve as a tool in Alice’s development, and I think she does a very good job at that.
As we saw in her first episode, Alice is not the best in social situations. She often has a hard time talking to people, and understanding how others are thinking can be hard for her. It’s also important to remember that she’s incredibly young. Alice is only a 14 year old, and because of that she’s not as used to the world and others as the rest of the undines are.
We see this pretty obviously in her weird ideas surrounding her left hand. She sees it as useless since she’s right-handed, and “punishes” it accordingly. Little things like this add to the themes, but they also add to her character. They make her deadpan silliness more funny, and they feel like something a younger person could conceivably do.
As we go on, we learn that Alice sees Athena in a similar light to her left hand. Athena is incredibly clumsy, and because of how Alice works she sees that clumsiness as a representation of Athena’s totality. Basically, she fails to see the many mature, stable ways in which Athena acts, entirely because she’s absent-minded. Failing to understand and communicate with others is Alice’s biggest flaw, and it shows up quite obviously here. Just as she was unable to believe that Akari’s smile was genuine until it was proven, Alice has a hard time believing Athena is competent at anything when she fails all the time.
Of course, as we see, Athena very much is competent, and she cares a lot about Alice. While Alice is looking down on things that aren’t immediately useful to her, Athena is backing her up when necessary, protecting her cat, and singing her to sleep. Akari quickly realizes this, because she has no trouble understanding others, especially not when it comes to kindness or love.
Eventually, after Akari hints that Athena may be more intentional in her actions than she believes, Alice examines the her position on her left hand. In comparing Athena to her left hand, she realizes that if she can prove that her left hand is useful, Athena must be as well. She tries to act as if she doesn’t need it, carrying on with a childish stubbornness, but ultimately it’s clear that she does, and at this point she realizes that Athena was supporting her from the very start.
As her cat goes missing, Alice runs off to search for it. She briefly doubts Athena, as her newfound faith in her hasn’t yet solidified, but as she quickly finds out, Athena is there to help as well. She sings in order to lure the cat(Maa-kun), into the open. It’s here that Alice comes to terms with the idea that she’s relied on Athena the whole time. In yet another emotional moment — as far as I remember, the end of literally every episode is emotional — Alice finally thanks Athena for what she’s done.
If I were to boil this episode’s theme down to one word, it would be reliance. This is an episode about the numerous people who support you even if you don’t think about it. It’s an episode which is there primarily to encourage respecting and thanking those who help you. For Alice this a major episode, as she becomes slightly more socially open alongside becoming closer with Athena and moving a step forward towards valuing everything like Akari. Valuing that which supports you is only a first step, but it’s a step worth taking.