The end of the beginning.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Dahlia Hawthrone is on the defensive, as Diego Armando and Mia have caught on to her charade. Through examination of the evidence and catching her in a lie, they’re able to pin reveal Dahlia for who she really is, the Dahlia Hawthorne who was supposedly killed in the incident five years ago.
Terry, however, isn’t prepared to let Mia and Diego pursue Dahlia as the true killer, and so he goes on the stand to explain things. He explains that the kidnapping performed by him five years ago was a fake. It was actually a scheme Dahlia, him and Valerie brewed up to get a priceless gem from Dahlia’s family. But, at the last minute, Valerie betrayed them, and Dahlia jumped into the river. Then, in court, Valerie pinned the whole thing on Terry and blamed him for the murder. Through this, Terry professes his innocence in the murder, and supports Mia’s claim that Dahlia Hawthorne stands before them now.
Edgeworth isn’t about to let this happen, though, and objects to insist that Terry is the perpetrator. However, Mia is able to continue pushing her narrative that Dahlia is the true kingpin, manipulating Terry and her sister to suit her own ends. Dahlia then proceeds to speak in her defense, portraying Terry as a dangerous convict. She admits to disguising her identity, but persists in her innocence. Mia doesn’t have any evidence to present, and her line of questioning stops.
Diego uplifts Mia with some sage advice, telling her not to give up because the trial isn’t over yet. Even without evidence she can persist. This she does, as she pushes Terry to reveal new testimony about who met at the bridge two days ago. Terry is torn, not wanting to believe that Dahlia betrayed him, but he goes on the stand anyway. Just then, Terry asks for something to drink, and Diego gives him a cup of coffee. Terry explains his testimony about meeting Valerie on the bridge after going there to find a special memento from Dahlia that was important to him. His testimony is almost able to free him, but then the unthinkable happens. Terry begins coughing up blood and dies on the stand, having ingested poison in that cup of coffee he had earlier. A poison given to him by Dahlia Hawthorne in his locket.
This marks the end of the penultimate trial of the “Trials and Tribulations” saga of season 3 of Ace Attorney. As far as finishes go, this one isn’t too bad compared to the rest of the series, as it hits all the major notes necessary to tell the story. It’s not exceptional in that sense, either, since the episode doesn’t go to any real lengths to tell the story in a new and intriguing way. It’s bare-bones, but it doesn’t suffer from the same pacing issues that the rest of the show has had up to this point. This is essential, because this episode has one of the most dramatic parts of the series and to flub that would be a huge black spot on the show.
The main trouble that this episode has, despite its success, is the delivery of the plot and vital information relating to the case. Because of the nature of anime, the way they discover the truth of the case is just through an information dump of explanation by Terry and Mia. There are other, more exciting ways of delivering that information beyond just dialogue, even if in the game it was just done through text. Sometimes it feels like Ace Attorney doesn’t even know it’s an anime, because it frames everything as if you’re just watching the games play out in real time.
The voice acting is nothing special here, and that’s a real bummer for such an emotionally evocative scene like this. Terry Fawles, specifically, is such a tragic and forlorn character, that getting someone who could capture that inner conflict and sadness at the moment of his suicide could have really added so much to the episode. Dahlia, too, though fairly menacing, doesn’t have a particularly memorable voice; she just sounds somewhat generic. And, once again, the acting for Diego/Godot, (No spoilers here, the two are obviously the same person) leaves much to be desired.
It’s business as usual this week on Ace Attorney, with the exception that the episode actually takes its time to flesh out what’s going on instead of rushing through it. That being said, if it meant a better finish, this case could have definitely had another episode thrown into the mix so that we could continue the slow burn of tension and emotion that made this case memorable in the games. But hey, they gotta end the season sooner or later, so there isn’t much incentive for the studio to keep this season going longer than necessary.