Spy x Family – Episode 16
Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to dive back into Spy x Family, and see what further madness Anya gets up to now that she’s acquired a precognitive steed. The limiting factor on Anya’s capacity for mischief has always been her tiny legs, so now that her mobility is improved by a factor of one big floofy dog, I imagine some profound chaos is in order.
Last episode seemed to mark the end of this dedicated Bond arc, so I’m guessing we’ll be returning to Anya’s school drama in force this time, and once again attempting to secure Damian’s friendship. The relatively open canvas of the school setting makes it an easy venue for episodic larks like the dodgeball episode, but I’d also be happy to dig more deeply into Damian’s situation, and give Anya some clues regarding his home life. It appears they’re setting up Damian’s home life as the inverse of Anya’s: while Anya lives with an allegedly fake family that actually love each other, Damian lives with an allegedly real family that’s utterly lacking in familial love. You all likely know I’m a sucker for that “family is who we choose to love” theme, so I’d be happy to either pick at those intricacies or just marvel at some hilarious episodic madness. Let’s get to it!
“Yor’s Kitchen / The Informant’s Great Romance Plan.” So it appears we’re getting two half-episode vignettes this time, with the first focused on Yor. I’m always game for material that fleshes out Yor’s personality, so I hope this isn’t just “Yor can’t cook” jokes ad nauseum
“Lately, Yor’s been coming home late.” Loid’s softening all the time. Even behind closed doors, he now respects the sanctity of the family dinner
It’s a subtle trick that captured him, to be fair. Loid initially embraced the trappings of family life because those were the visible components of his new disguise, and thus performing family was the most efficient way to complete his mission. But the thing about the trappings of family life, or about “performing” family, is that if you do it for long enough, you’ve sort of become a family in spite of yourself. Family is not an immutable fact; it can often be more a practice than a stable demarcation, and through the consistent practice of family, Loid has started to value these behaviors, and become a family man without ever intending to
“A gloomy, somber expression and cuts all over her hands.” The framing is obviously intended to convince us she’s just returned from an assassination, but I’m pretty sure she’s actually just returned from an unsuccessful cooking lesson
Yor’s actions also reflect the mercurial nature of family, and its uneasy relationship with any stable, external markers of identity. Yor believes that “a mother who can cook great food” is a necessary marker of a family, and feels disappointed in herself when she cannot reach that mark. But as I said before, family is more of a practice than a fact, and Yor’s commitment to bettering herself for the sake of her loved ones is the practice of family in a nutshell. Her failed but consistent attempts to cook good food are all the proof of her identity that is needed
Of course, none of that philosophy of family does Yor much good. And because she feels she’s failed as a mother, she actually pushes back against the others, saying they should share dinner without her. Our impressions of our own familial worth might not be accurate, but we can make them accurate if we embrace them
Bond’s precognition clues Anya in to Yor’d distress. Simply not going to ask how Bond predicted a scene he wasn’t actually present for
They continue to play up the “is Yor on an assassination mission” ambiguity as she heads to her cooking lesson. I’ve already gotten the joke, but I still find it amusing that she uses her same Killer Eyes for cooking practice
“My husband was stuck in the bathroom for a whole day because of the breakfast I made the other day!” Oh, poor Yor. You need to come up with excuses more carefully Loid, you’re giving Yor anxiety!
Camilla gets roped into helping Yor when another coworker volunteers her as a good cook. Sometimes in storytelling the means are defined by your intended objective; “Camilla helps Yor even though she kinda hates her” is the funniest way to play out this scenario, so use whatever device is necessary to get Yor into Camilla’s kitchen
Yuri is also invited over as a food tester. Might as well invite all of Yor’s tertiary characters for her cooking saga, I suppose
For her minestrone soup, Yor has supplemented the usual vegetables with a cactus, chocolate, some rope, and a fish
“How does this happen when you’re just peeling potatoes!? There’s a whole sea of blood!” Yor can only create crime scenes, whether using her own or someone else’s blood
Camilla is ultimately too nice to turn Yor away, and urges her to continue in spite of her missteps
And the minestrone is complete! Camilla tragically failed to convince Yor not to use that fish, so I imagine it’ll have mostly a bone-and-brine flavor, but nonetheless
Actually laughed out loud at the smash cut from Camilla sampling the food to her just dead on the floor. Some staples just always work, particularly when your comedic timing is perfect
Of course, “comedic timing” takes different forms depending on the medium in question. For manga, it’s largely driven by the placement of panels, which collectively create a “tempo” at which a joke is told. Eiichiro Oda is a master at comedy through paneling, and the One Piece anime can only occasionally match his deftness of timing
Yor then tries to cook a meatball, and somehow still ends up with a goddamn fish in there
Yuri is happily accustomed to Yor’s culinary war crimes, so Camilla asks Yor to think of something her own parents cooked her, that she might draw on a flavor profile less poisoned by her own cooking experience
Camilla notes that marriage has softened Yor and made her more relatable. She’s not just going through the motions of civilian life now, she’s actively invested in her life outside of the confines of her missions
“I think people in that region might use sour cream in this stew.” Cooking is an excellent choice for exploring Yor’s shifting family situation. Food is a way to connect with others, a way to reunite with your history, and a process that invites collaboration and camaraderie around the kitchen. Through cooking this meal, Yor draws closer to the family of her early years, and carries those memories forward to literally nourish her new family
“I thought I needed to protect this life to continue killing. But to think that having them acknowledge me… having them smile… would simply make me this happy.” God, what a good sequence. Yor’s not a naturally good cook, but this segment wasn’t really about harping on that, so much as proving to her the incomparable satisfaction of making your family smile. Easily some of Yor’s best material so far, touching on understandable anxieties, incorporating her history in a smart way, and letting her experience that golden aura of familial success
And with tears drying from that sequence, we shift to something much goofier: our informant Franky is in love, and needs Loid’s help planning a date
Honestly, why would you turn to Loid for something like this? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know about sex yet
His object of affection is Monica McBridge, and being an informant, he’s already tracked down everything about her personal life
“I created a conversational flow chart based on what kind of person she is.” On second thought, Loid is precisely the kind of neurotic, systems-based person Franky was probably looking for
“Tomorrow I will use the strategic art of conversation to make Monica fall for me!” I always wonder what people who employ schemes like this think will happen on the day after they secure love, or the day after that, or the day after that. You gonna keep that dazzling, insincere performance up for the rest of your life?
Franky is unsurprisingly shut down, and Loid commiserates with him at the bar. Nice brotherly bond between these two
And that’s another exceptional episode in the books! I was perfectly prepared to enjoy some random school shenanigans, so instead receiving Yor’s best material so far was a welcome surprise. To see that material come in the form of an ostensible “Yor can’t cook” sequence was even more surprising, but as this episode emphasized, food and family tend to be natural companions. This episode took Yor’s anxieties seriously, drew a natural line between her childhood and her current fears, and ultimately earned that final, poignant payoff of someone who believes they’re unworthy realizing they are valuable and loved. A key victory for Spy x Family!
This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.
This article first appear at Spy x Family – Episode 16