The following contains spoilers for Episode 10 of DanMachi IV, "Juggernaut (Destroyer)" now streaming on HIDIVE.
There were so many ways for DanMachi IV to be predictable and after all, the show literally has been foreshadowing the future for the last four episodes thanks to a character whose whole shtick is precognition. And even with that, episode 10 has put forth a series of unfortunate events so surprising that the path forward is nigh indecipherable.
Last week, Bell finally got some answers from a very angry Ryu about her involvement in the murders and determined the true culprit behind them, Jura. And as if the scheming rat wasn't crafty enough, he and his associates created a series of explosions so violent that it summoned a monster unlike anything seen before.
Part of DanMachi's appeal is how despite looking somewhat generic and formulaic from the outside, it has some true heart to its storytelling and manages to keep the threat alive. Bell might be arguably overpowered but given how often new threats arise - of varying kinds - there's always some kind of hurdle for him to overcome.
I criticized the first arc of this season for seeming to sideline Bell, although that was in service of elevating the supporting cast, who have been phenomenal. This arc has allowed Bell to take the spotlight again, but the introduction of this new monster, the Juggernaut, is perhaps the most terrifying and effective antagonist yet, and it's only been one episode.
Part of this magic is in the violence. Fans who had read the manga warned that this season would be dark, but most had to have assumed that the darkness was already normalized. The Moss Huge's victims were discovered limbless and Ryu's torture methods alone were vicious, yet it paled to the violence from this week's episode.
It's such a jump that it almost felt like the story changed genres. It's the kind of juxtaposition other shows would employ in their premieres to hype up a grim fantasy, but DanMachi has used it to turn the tables on a world the audience already understands well. And the way this revelation hits Bell is especially shocking.
A Great Disaster... Arrives?
To see Bell fall in some way is nothing new, but never has he been dealt a blow quite like in his first encounter with the Juggernaut. It is such a certain defeat that the answer to "how will Bell recover" will be a huge factor in how well this arc succeeds narratively. But it's certain to be emotional regardless.
But what does this shocking ending mean for the disaster that Cassandra saw? There is a moment when the party prepares to venture down to aid Bell and the other adventurers before Cassandra stops them. It's the moment she confesses that she envisioned something terrible happening. However, the way she talks about it implies that her attempts to change the future worked.
Perhaps they did, meaning that she saved some people, but merely changed who would perish as a result of an inevitable calamity. There's always the chance that the vision will still come true, as many of the images in those nightmares haven't been witnessed. There haven't been any of the crystals and Ryu's significance in the premonition feels like there's more to it.
If there was anything missing from this episode, it was a bigger moment for Cassandra. Given everything she saw and how tormented her visions have made her, she deserved a moment to truly vent and tell the party what is at stake. There's probably nothing to be done to avoid the future, but it would be nice for someone to acknowledge that Cassandra was right. Also, she just really deserves a hug.
On a positive note, this episode did a great job at expanding on the lore of the dungeon. It's always been intriguing how it appears to be alive, reacting to the actions of the adventurers traveling within it. It's the canonical reason why creatures respawn similar to that of a video game, but the Juggernaut expands on the notion of the dungeon's sentience in a very compelling way.
The idea that the Juggernaut is a defense mechanism against damage to the dungeon that it itself is not prepared for makes for a great explanation for such a supremely powerful monster. Jura has activated a safety protocol meant to restore balance by eradicating what it perceives as a threat to the stability of the dungeon.
There is only one more episode before fans will have to wait for the second cour, coming in 2023, but where the next episode will leave viewers is anyone's guess. It's almost become a joke how wrong predictions have been, and it's DanMachi's greatest success this season: never quite revealing where it's headed next.