Content Note: Sadism, Violence, Torture, Dismemberment
Claymore Recap: Clare has fled from the sadistic Ophelia and has split with Raki, but Ophelia is hot on her trail.
Claymore, Episode 13: The Endless Gravestones, Part 2
If Ophelia is to be believed, her motivation isn't terribly different from Clare's and Priscilla's motivations: she says she can't rest until every last awakened being is destroyed. This doesn't, of course, explain why she tries so hard to urge her fellow Claymore into awakening. She did so when Miria was facing a difficult emotional moment, and she tried very hard to force Clare into awakening only a single episode ago. The writing seems to be suggesting that Ophelia receives an emotional and/or sexual thrill when she destroys awakened beings, but there's still quite a few ways to interpret her character as to why that is.
One of the things that fascinates me about Claymore (obviously, since I keep banging on about it) is that the in-world explanation for these warriors is to take the most traumatized children they can find, completely warp their biology, keep them in a training camp where they are rigorously abused as part of their combat training, prevent them from making friendships because of the rank striving and black-card job duties, and then sit back without any indication of how this could possibly go wrong. And yet we see plays on this trope all the time in SciFi / Fantasy settings with protagonists turning out beautifully.
So here we have Ophelia, victim of all this systematic abuse, now turned abuser. Why does she want to hunt awakened beings to the point that she's driven to encourage her own comrades to turn? Is it just that the more targets she has available to vanquish, the more opportunities she has to feel powerful? Is there something deeper there, in that for every Claymore who turns, she can feel more secure in her own strength of will since she doesn't turn? Is she so haunted by her own hypocrisy -- she protects humans as part of her job but murders them because of her blood-lust -- that she wants to see hypocrisy (in the form of awakening) in her comrades in order to assuage her guilt? I really can't say, but she's a fascinating combination of victim and victimizer.
Ophelia tracks Clare to a cliff, where Clare is able to barely hold her own with her yoma sensing skills. Unfortunately, even though Clare can sense the path of Ophelia's attack, she can't block it because of Ophelia's superior speed and technique. Clare charges Ophelia, but she loses her arm in the charge and is flung over the cliff. There's a moment where we really think Clare might have a chance at escape, but there Ophelia is again.
And now it's time for Claymore world-building! Among the Claymore, there are attackers and defenders. Attackers are good at inflicting wounds, but are less skilled at weathering wounds. Defenders lack offensive punch, but in addition to being able to take a lot of damage they can also sometimes grow back lost limbs. Lesson over!
Except, interestingly, it's not over. This little detail -- which very probably had to be hastily worked in after Deneve demonstrated Super Limb Regrowth powers a couple of episodes ago -- is tied back into that childhood trauma that every Claymore has experienced. The ones who are motivated by revenge or who deal with their trauma by fighting and conquering their opponents are the ones who become attackers. The ones who are motivated by their own survival or who want most to protect others are defenders.
What's fascinating here is that these are two equally valid approaches. It's not "attackers = bad, defenders = good" or something similarly black and white. It's not even really a revenge/survival question, because both approaches are ultimately about survival. The attackers try to survive by cutting down everything that poses a threat; the defenders try to survive by wearing down everything that poses a threat. The only real difference in this case is how the individual internalized their trauma.
Back to the episode, Ophelia destroys Clare's arm, rendering Clare permanently disabled. This is the pinnacle of hopelessness in the Ophelia arc: no matter what else happens here, Clare will never get her arm back. She's intensely wounded and seriously hurting, but still she stays in her fighting stance and refuses to give up. Ophelia wonders aloud, why is Clare trying to stay alive?
It's a worthwhile question. Clare has been fighting her whole life to stay alive. She's been through years and years of torture, first at the hands of her yoma abuser, then at the hands of Teresa, then in the moment when Priscilla killed Teresa, and then for years during her training as a Claymore. She's endured all this in some ways against Teresa's wishes, for Teresa wanted her to live a human life and Clare choose to live the life of a Claymore. Why is Clare fighting so hard? Is this her way of being close to Teresa, by walking her path and literally carrying her blood? Is this her way of avenging Teresa and herself, by being driven to destroy Priscilla? Or has her fighting spirit transitioned to a desire to keep her friends, the Partially Awakened and Raki, alive? I'm not sure that Clare even knows herself.
Back to the episode, a mysterious shrouded figure approaches and interrupts the fight. She claims that she was drawn by a familiar presence, but before she can explain, Ophelia attacks her for the interruption. The woman responds with disgust, saying, "Looks like things are different now. Claymores will turn their swords on anyone." She handily defeats Ophelia, pointing out that, "...numbers and symbols don't matter up here, I'm afraid." Clare wakes up bandaged and in her care. It turns out the mysterious figure is Ilena, the Claymore from Clare's past who led the hunt on Teresa.
Ilena left the Organization after her fight with Teresa and Priscilla. She moved to the mountains and lived in hiding, suppressing her yoma aura to the point where she is undetectable by the other Claymore. What's interesting to me is why Ilena left when she did. She's still one of the strongest Claymore currently in existence, even with the loss of her arm. We're not clear on the Organization's approach to failure, but Ilena's mission did succeed in the sense that Teresa was killed, even if it did have the downside of causing Priscilla's awakening. Still, given how often Claymore seem to awaken around here, I kind of think Ilena could have regrouped back at the Organization without fear of punishment or retribution.
She seems to have left for a more complex reason, one rooted in guilt and shame. I wonder if she feels guilty for the responsibility she bears in Teresa's death. It's possible that she feels guilty for her role in Priscilla's awakening. And it even seems like she feels a pang of guilt for the nameless little girl who was traumatized by Teresa's death and Priscilla's menacing: Clare. Lacking any real recourse within the Organization for repentance and atonement, Ilena seems to have left the Organization in a search of a life of contemplation. Her escape is probably the only way a Claymore can leave, outside of dying in battle or awakening.
Clare isn't the only one who has been traumatized by Priscilla, though. Back where we left Ophelia, the wounded Claymore is coming to grips with her pain, fear, and anger at having been so handily defeated. The memories of her childhood trauma -- the death of her brother -- haunt her, and it's revealed that her brother was killed by a one-horned yoma: Priscilla. Ophelia releases a burst of yoma power...
...and then we hear the same languid voice that we heard after Priscilla's awakening.