Ami: "…weelllllll… hardly ever!"What, never?
I notice that it's been fairly consistent what gets her righteous dander up: kids getting hurt, and close friends getting fucked with. Let us hope that if she ever has kids herself, no one dares touch them, because she'd call up a tsunami…
I was watching carefully, and I don't think so. Though the show cheated openly at one point: after issuing her icy challenge, Berthier put extra pieces on the board—pawns, for some weird reason—to put Ami at additional disadvantage. (She checkmates anyway, because of the Power of Love.) I cut it, first because I didn't want to screw up the "actual chess game" device, and second because I didn't think Berthier should be cheating that openly. She wants to best Ami, not simply beat her.So did they actually play real chess, or just in your recap? If the former, that's impressive.
This was a good Ami episode, it was also a good Berthier episode. Brings a lot of the family dynamic into focus.
It seems to me that Petz and Calaveras are the older by a few years over Berthier, and Koan's definitely the baby of the family. So Berthier, who was youngest and then a middle child, dresses slutty and bullies in imitation of the older sisters. Koan reacts to that by dressing even more outlandishly, but primly—full coverage, high-collar—and notice how she wears heels, pinstripes, and a big hairdo, all to look taller? But I suspect that if any outsider bothered Koan, Berthier would kick their ass, and then hassle Koan about it for ages. (No one bullies my baby sister but me!)
So Berthier's unsettled by Koan's leaving, partly because now Berthier's bottom of the heap again, and partly because if Koan can be happy outside of the family, then maybe Berthier… but you can't really leave the family, can you? That's when she runs into Ami… and I think there's something in Ami that reminds Berthier of herself. "I hate goody-two-shoes like you!" And that's besides both having water powers. (I'm not kidding when I talk about Ami's killer smile, she's always had a slight cold edge… but Ami was never bullied, simply lonesome, before Usagi, so she never went bad. Her instincts run to empathy, thank goodness.) So Berthier picks a fight.
I think it's the "just a game" comment that really gets Berthier going, because in her family, all games are zero-sum, and you never stick your neck out. So Berthier's trying to A) get Ami to admit to her worldview, and thus prove it to herself, and/or B) beat her at her own game to prove she's better, and (she thinks, hopes) prove to her older sisters (whom she still secretly looks up to) that she's worthy of respect.
But Ami won't break… and Petz and Calaveras leave Berthier in the lurch… and so Berthier breaks instead. And Koan saves.
As for Ami's part… I think maybe she's also betting some of her belief on this match. She tackled Berthier awfully quick that first time this episode. I suspect Ami's cold/calculating/competitive side does respond to Berthier's callous argument… and Ami doesn't like that in herself.
…Aw, shit. And that last line makes me suddenly think of Black Lagoon.
Berthier: "That was the right choice. You'll make a wonderful villain, Ami."