As neither the level three nor combined akuma pose a threat to the exorcists anymore, it would make sense to escalate things one final time as the show moves into its final episodes. Enter the level 4 akuma, a demon unlike anything the exorcists have ever encountered before.
There’s a lot of gawking by other characters as they comment on what’s happening. It helps build up tension for the most part, but one can’t help but wonder why they aren’t doing anything proactive. Allen is the only one to make any attempt to battle the creature over the course of the episode. Even the generals are sidelined for no noticeable reason.
The level 4 itself is something of a mixed bag. As shown at the end of the last episode, it has a creepy voice and a similarly creepy musical leitmotif. It’s hammered in that the existence of this thing is just wrong. Even Allen can barely stand to look at the thing without retching. It likely wasn’t meant to be a nod to Slender Man, but Allen’s reaction is very much in that vein. Bookman adds to the sense of dread by noting that a level 4 wasn’t even thought possible and that an akuma has never evolved to that point in the entirety of the war between the Order and the Earl.
For all that the episode does to successfully paint the monster in a menacing light, sadly, the design is underwhelming. It’s too human. You’d think that akuma would become more monstrous as they evolve and the souls rot, but they do the opposite for some reason. Furthermore, the akuma itself doesn’t do all that much for a long stretch in the episode. Allen’s attacks are ineffective, true, but it really only makes one attack in the fight. You could argue that it wasn’t trying and was just toying with him, but the episode becomes much more suspenseful in the latter half of the episode when the akuma actually shows what it can do.
Not only is it incredibly resilient, and capable of seriously wounding its foes in a single hit, but it reveals a devastating new ability: a shriek that somehow de-synchronizes people from their innocence. Even Tiedoll isn’t safe from this despite being shielded by one of his techniques.
Cross has a sound based weapon of his own, that he puts to use. It isn’t quite “countersong”; on the contrary, his dialogue suggests that he’s using it to move people to safety. It’s a good idea, but not what you’d think such a technique would accomplish.
The biggest flaw of the episode, though, is the reveal that Johnny survived…again. Yes, it is shown in flashback how the other scientists pulled him out after he was grabbed by the akuma and appeared to start getting consumed, but it was a tough pill to swallow after having already done a fake out regarding his fate only a couple of episodes ago. It also undercuts the cliffhanger, where most of the characters in the room have vanished after the akuma turns the lab’s floor into a fire pit. Between Johnny and Bookman, the viewer has no reason to think any of them are in any danger whatsoever and that they’ll turn up just fine in the next episode.
Like the level 4 akuma itself, the episode is a mixed bag. There are parts that work really well, but at the same time, it had the potential to do so much more to kick things up a notch. There are still 3 episodes left and it looks like this is going to be the “final boss” for the series, so there is still a solid amount of time for it to impress us yet.