Claymore Recap: Teresa has died at Priscilla's hand, and thus ends the flashback arc. We return to Claymore Clare, all grown up and no longer the frightened little girl who traveled with Teresa -- and now completely bent on revenge against Priscilla.
Claymore, Episode 9: Those Who Rend Asunder, Part 1
Episode 9 begins with a final glimpse at our flashback arc before propelling us back into the "present day" where we left Clare and Raki so long ago. Young Clare mournfully carries Teresa's head into the nearby village. The townspeople shy away from her in understandable terror, but Clare is able to accost the Man In Black from the Organization. "Put Teresa's flesh and blood inside me!" she cries, and we understand that Clare is to be inducted into the ranks of Claymore.
Back in the "present day", Clare rashly takes on a group of suspected Voracious Eaters and when she is later chastened for her behavior by her Organization contact, he reveals the truth: Clare has not now and has very before faced a true Voracious Eater. Every yoma she has faced to this point -- including the one in the cathedral -- was simply a normal yoma. True Voracious Eaters -- or "Awakened Beings" as the Organization calls them -- are not yoma at all: they are ex-Claymores who have given in to their yoma power. They are, in essence, the Organization's failures. Though these powerful monsters -- half-human, half-yoma -- are the inadvertent creations of the Organization, no real effort is made in tracking them down. They are treated like any other monster; the Organization only seeks them out if someone pays to place a contract on the creatures.
The Man in Black reveals to Clare that he knows why she is so anxious to face an Awakened Being: she wants to kill Priscilla and avenge Teresa's death. He warns her that she is far too weak too attempt this -- Priscilla is an incredibly strong example of an Awakened Being -- but if she's really so keen to practice, Clare can be assigned to a group tasked to hunt an Awakened Being in the near future. Clare is surprised at the offer, but leaps at the chance -- this could be crucial practice for her planned confrontation with Priscilla.
When Clare arrives in town to present herself to the group, the other three Claymore -- Miria, Deneve, and Helen -- are frustrated at Clare's late arrival. (We recall that Clare travels slowly since Raki cannot match her Claymore endurance.) They take the opportunity to tease Clare, by implying that Raki is her lover, and by explaining to Raki that Clare -- whose rank is revealed to be Number 47 -- is the weakest of all Claymore in the region.
Episode 9 isn't going to go very far until the final reveal, so instead we'll have to focus on this rank of Clare's and what it will mean moving forward. We know that Claymores are ranked according to the Organization by combat prowess, and it seems reasonable to assume that at least some of that ranking would come from observance of their actual job successes, but we also know that a lot -- maybe most -- of the number is based in Claymore duels and deliberate rank striving. If Clare is uninterested in rank striving -- and it would appear she's not -- then it stands to reason that she might be ranked artificially low, simply because she doesn't engage in Claymore duels and rank battles.
Then, too, Clare holds -- as we will see -- a deep-seated mistrust and dislike of the Organization, probably in part because of her history with Teresa. After all, the Organization are the people who tortured Teresa, and then had her hunted down and killed for saving Clare, and then were happy enough to turn around and torture Clare (granted, at her request). And, oh surprise, all Voracious Eaters / Awakened Beings are ex-Claymore that the Organization doesn't feel the need to take care of unless there's a paycheck involved. If Clare is contemplating disobedience against the Organization (like, say, to run off and take out Priscilla against orders), it seems reasonable that Clare would want to stay ranked artificially low, so that whoever they send out to kill her isn't strong enough to complete the job. After all, she's experienced how that can turn out firsthand.
So the question remains: Is Clare really as weak as she purports to be?
Miria, the tactician of the group, doesn't think so. She challenges Clare to a duel, saying that she finds her ranking questionable: she claims that when she first saw Clare, she had the impression that Clare was the most powerful being she'd ever met. In their duel, however, Clare fails to distinguish herself as anything other than dreadful, and Miria turns away in disgust, leaving Clare to lie exhausted in the rain for the rest of the night.
Is Clare deliberately holding back? It's difficult to say. If she is, she's certainly very good at holding her feelings close to the vest -- certainly much better at self-restraint than she was earlier when she drew a sword on her fellow warriors in defense of Raki's honor.
On the other hand, it would be reasonable for Clare to be a weak Claymore -- she's the only Claymore to be created not with the flesh and blood of a yoma, but rather with the flesh and blood of another Claymore. Unlike her fellows, she's not half-human, half-yoma (assuming the Claymore process really results in a half-and-half mixture), but rather three-quarters-human, quarter-yoma. She's an experiment -- and, according to the Organization, a failed one.
A few episodes from here, we'll see another hypothesis regarding Clare's strength: that she's deliberately neglected all other combat techniques in favor of perfecting Teresa's most valuable skill, the ability to sense yoma energy in battle and thereby gain a certain precognition in battle. Since Awakened Beings and Claymores (when they're really trying to fight) use yoma to direct their movements in battle, Clare will be uniquely suited to predict and avoid their movements. The downside to this one-trick pony is that Clare is a pretty poor fighter against anyone who isn't using yoma power at that moment -- such as Miria in their polite sparring match.
This is an aspect of Claymore that I like, even if the anime doesn't focus on it as much as I might hope: Clare is (supposedly) not a God Mode Sue character like Teresa who is just deliberately holding back her essential awesomeness because of the need for intrigue. She's instead a focused character who has settled on a goal (revenge against Priscilla) and honed her body and skills in anticipation of that one goal. Given the choice between being a decent fighter and a really crummy fighter, she's swallowed her pride and gone for the latter because the latter choice allowed her to hone the one trick that will give her an edge against her one intended opponent. It's not a strategy that will bring her fame or recognition, and it's not even a good survival strategy -- it's just a strategy to put the odds on Clare's side in the only battle she cares about winning. Anything after that is moot, because she doesn't really seem to care about life after her revenge.
Is this a healthy way to live life, with this constant tunnel vision towards revenge? No. That's really the point of Raki's travels with Clare -- he is there to get her to realize that there is a worthwhile life available to her, a life that revolves around more than avenging a past she cannot change. But at the same time, I love that Clare as a character does have that tunnel vision -- that her life essentially froze the day Teresa died and everything since then has been a slow build-up to correcting that one day in the only way she knows how. In a way, I think that most Claymores have that tunnel vision of needing to correct and focus on the past, simply because they haven't been given the possibility for a better future.