The episode picks up where the previous left off, with Nunally actually looking upon her brother's face for the first time in 8 years. "That's the face of a murderer, isn't it? Though I probably have the same face." She refuses to turn the key of Damocles over, even if Lelouch uses Geass on her. Lelouch reflects silently on what he wanted when he began to walk his path - that Nunally would at least be able to see again. But her blindness gave him the comfort that he would never be able to use the power of the king, the geass commanding absolute authority on her. Even now, taking away Nunally's will is the last thing he wants to do.
Meanwhile, Karen tells Suzaku that she has misunderstood him. Whilst his methods were different, she had always been convinced that Suzaku was thinking only of the future of Japan. Suzaku simply reiterates that he and Lelouch have something that they must do, without saying what it is, leaving Karen no choice but to stop their quest for "power".
Cut to Milly and Rival, whose conversation contains but one important point: that both would have been happy if they could have just continued enjoying everyday together with everyone in Ashford Gakuen (though I'm assuming that Nunally still isn't in their memories...).
Anya and Jeremiah continue their fight, whilst Toudou tries to return to battle, even with his wounds. Nunally states that she will not turn the world over to the hands of one who (stepped on people's hearts) to get where he was. Lelouch asks if the life they'd had, continuously hiding and fearful of assassination, was better, indicating that he'd been acting for her happiness. Nunally maintains that she never asked for that future, that living with her brother for the rest of their lives would have been enough. However, as many people were aiming to control the world, Lelouch feels that taking it is necessary. (Karen and Suzaku also talk about the situation as they continue their fight, with the main point being somewhat lost on me - they were discussing something about people belonging and not being able to belong to an organisation.) Meanwhile, Chiba refuses to let Toudou fight, despite his conviction that he cannot allow Lelouch and Suzaku to continue with their methods. And I give up...loads of other characters have comments on the last two years that I won't understand until tomorrow.
Back in the sky, Nunally claims that Damocles will become the symbol of hatred, that the hatred would be gathered on her so that the world can continue towards tomorrow. Realizing that Nunally's aim is the same (as whose is not said, but you'd understand once you watch the rest of it), Lelouch orders her to give him the key, which she is ultimately unable to resist.
Back on the outside, Jeremiah defeats Anya and restores her memories, whilst both the Lancelot and Guren are running lower on energy. The fight finally ends in Karen's favour as she falls off Damocles and is caught by Gino whilst the Albion blows up. Kaguya makes to have C.C. arrested(?) when the sky around Damocles explodes. Lelouch announces that the world is now his.
Cut to two months later in Japan. The execution of the last criminals who opposed Lelouch is about to take place. The announcer comments on the war that ended two months earlier with the destruction of the imperial city of Pendragron and the deaths of many people, including the Knight of Zero, Kururugi Suzaku (Arthur is sitting at his headstone). At the familiar call of "All hail Britania, all hail Lelouch!", onlookers murmur to themselves about the evil that Lelouch represents, whilst reporters at Milly's TV station lament that they can only report the current atrocity as an act of justice. Nina, Sayoko, Laksharta and Lloyd discuss it in prison (Cecille is there too) - interestingly, Nina says that "it was for tomorrow", with Sayoko continuing that they will press forward no matter what successes and failures are repeated. Laksharta comments on it being just like science in that respect, before the conversation turns to the history between the two senior scientists.
Back at the parade, Cornelia and co cannot move because that would be what Lelouch wants (i.e. for his remaining detractors to come out). Just then, there is a gasp from the crowd. Zero appears on the road of the procession, to the shock of all present, including the Emperor. (C.C. is praying in a church - maybe the one where she first received her code? But wouldn't that be in Europe somewhere?) And Karen seemingly realises what Lelouch et al planned. Zero moves towards the Emperor's float, dodging all attacks (is it obvious yet who this is? Only two characters in the series are capable of this), with Jeremiah urging him on silently after easily being sidestepped. As Zero draws his sword and disarms the Emperor, Lelouch smiles.
Flashback to a conversation between Lelouch and Suzaku (which took place after Suzaku's supposed death, btw), with the revelation that their promise was that Suzaku would kill Lelouch. As planned, all the hatred in the world is now aimed at Lelouch. All that's left is for Lelouch to disappear, taking all that hatred with him. With the Black Knights and the legend of Zero still remaining (and something about Schneizel being blocked(?) by Zero), the world will be able to move towards tomorrow by talking to each other, instead of using armies to wrest control of the world. That is the Zero Requiem. (Nunally stares in shock as Zero prepares to stab the Emperor; Karen calls out in horror.) Suzaku reflects that it was in the world of C where they realised that the people desired tomorrow, leading Lelouch to comment that desires are similar to Geass. (Rival shouts out; in the TV station, Milly turns towards the screen, wide-eyed.) What you can't achieve with your own power, you ask from someone else - those are hopes. Lelouch is betting the future of the world on the Geass known as human desire. (Kaguya looks up in shock; Cornelia turns and leads the remaining resistance from the room; C.C. comments on what Lelouch is doing, as a tear runs down her cheek.) "Only those who are prepared to be kill should be allowed to kill". Back to present - Tianxi turns away, whilst Ougi and Tamaki (yes, he's still alive) shout out - "Suzaku, you will become a hero, the saviour who freed the people from the enemy of the world, the Emperor Lelouch vi Britannia, (the hero known as) Zero". And yes, Suzaku does indeed run him through.
As Suzaku sheds tears for his friend, Lelouch comments that this is Suzaku's punishment. "As the ally of justice, you will continue wearing the mask, no longer able to live as Kururugi Suzaku. You will also sacrifice the your happiness - lit. the happiness of ordinary people - for the world." "That Geass, I have definitely received." Suzaku withdraws the sword, leaving Lelouch to fall and slide down towards Nunally, who gasps upon seeing the slight smile still visible on his face. Picking up his hand, she realises what he has actually done (don't ask me how, this ability of hers was never ever explained). Whispering that he is destroying the world and thus creating a new one, Lelouch closes his eyes.
Cornelia takes charge of the chaos, and Jeremiah orders the troops back. Karen acknowledges Zero once again, cutting off Toudou (who also seems to have realised that the current Zero is actually Suzaku). Nunally complains that what he has done is unfair (to her), as he was the only person (thing) that was needed for her own happiness. As chants of "Zero" crescendo around her, Nunally begins to scream for her brother.
In a room where the memories of happy times in the past decorate the wall (there seems to be a photo from Anya's collection?), Karen leaves her hair in it's unruly manner as she prepares for school (is it the Guren's key that she places around her neck?). Grabbing her breakfast and bidding farewell to her mother, she reflects that the world has become a happier place since that time. As she continues, we see Milly reporting, Nunally - supported by Zero - coming to meet Ougi, with Scheizel and Xingke's knightmare also present. A heavily pregnant Viletta and other BK members are watching this from a tv in a bar (Tamaki is the bartender). Villetta and Ougi have indeed gotten married - the other couples seem to be Toudou/Chiba, Gino/Karen, Guilford/Cornelia - and I have no idea if there's anything between Lloyd and the two ladies he's next to. Hm...Xingke does not appear to be in that photo, although Tianxi is. Anya and Jeremiah are working as fruit pickers. Karen finishes with "...although many problems still remain. But even then..." In space, Damocles is burnt up by the sun. Finally, we cut to a lone, horse-drawn carriage in a rural village somewhere. There is a lone driver, whose face we do not see. On the haystack, C.C. is back in clothes that appear to be from Europe, lying on Cheese-kun with a suitcase beside her. "The power of the King that is known as Geass will make a person lonely. Perhaps (I) was just a little bit wrong?"; she flicks her eyes backwards slightly, "Right, Lelouch?", and we cut to a paper crane.
Hm...after two years, I'm actually quite satisfied with this ending. The way Turn 24 ended could have left us with either a dud of an ending (like Macross Frontier seems to have (>_>)) or something that might be able to put to rest the claims of "trainwreck". In my opinion, it was the latter.
As expected, Zero Requiem involved Lelouch becoming a tyrant, and then disappearing so that people would begin anew knowing what could happen if they try to run the world through conquest, and I was quite impressed by the way it was staged. Confronting his sister was indeed the hardest test for Lelouch, but luckily for him, their conversation led him to realise that they were aiming for the same outcome, and Lelouch chose to shoulder the burden, keeping up his act of being a tyrant ruler to the last minute.
When Taniguchi indicated that CG has a happy ending, I was really worried about how sappy it might be. Thankfully, that is far from the case. As Karen said, there are still problems, but the important thing is that everyone is now far more willing to talk to each other. The ending has also been left open enough for everyone to make their own interpretations of what will happen to the characters next...well, except for Xingke maybe - I'm not really sure what'll become of him and Tianxi, but most of them are happy.I would like to comment on just four.
Nunally seems to be a major leader in the new world (I won't say "of Britiannia, because that might not exist anymore, although Japan certainly does), and she seems to have Zero by her side always (
As indicated by the preview, Suzaku has indeed ceased to exist in the eyes of the world. As Lelouch intoned, his punishment (presumably for killing his father. as well as the many other lives on his hands) is that he will forever have to wear the mask and carry the burden of ensuring that the world retains this costly peace as much as possible. However, I'm sure that the people he is closest to know who he is, and I doubt they will allow him to be completely alone.
C.C. is happy...and I believe that is because she is not alone. Her comment that she was wrong about Geass making a person lonely suggests that she isn't, and I sincerely doubt that the driver could be anyone other than Lelouch if that were the case. Although unconfirmed, she probably gave her code to Lelouch. The examples that we have of the code passing on previously indicate that simply passing it on results in the immediate death of the one who relinquished it, but I don't think this was ever officially established to be the case. Additionally, if C.C. had only been talking to Lelouch in her imagination, she probably wouldn't have flicked her eyes backwards, towards the front of the cart. Of course, she could have been flicking them to the paper crane, with it representing Lelouch,
And if Lelouch is indeed alive, he should now be immortal, which is part of his punishment. He can only watch upon his (other) loved ones from afar, and they will not ever know that he is still in the world. I assume that C.C. will eventually pass on, now that she is mortal again, and he will be forced to endure the loneliness of existing. Of course, this is all my speculation based on what I understood from the episode. I'm sure others will have their own opinions.
If I have one major complaint about this episode, it's that the dialogue did seem a bit excessive at times (and I personally didn't need Tamaki's annoying presence anymore - they could have let him RIP and I'd have been completely happy), but that's more because I had to try and check up about 15 words, 3 of which had several possible kanji and thus meanings (-_-*). Good listening practice though.
Oh, I just remembered another...we still don't know C.C.'s real name!
Nevertheless, as far as single episodes go, this one gets at least a 9/10 from me.
final edit: 2008-09-30
I'll write a review on the whole series sometime during the next week hopefully, once I've seen the sub.