After it's actually rather well-timed one week hiatus, Code Geass R2 is back in traditionally mind-blowing style in episode nine. After a million Japanese were exiled as Zero last time around, time fast forwards a little as the ship on which they all left the country arrives at its destination, an island loaned to the Order of the Black Knights by the Chinese Federation.
While this could have lent Lelouch and company as much time as they needed to prepare for their next step, it appears that Britannia were one step ahead, arranging a marriage between the female child monarch of the Chinese Federation and a Brittanian prince which was planned to see Brittania take control of part of China's territory and give them a new tool to combat Zero's threat. Thus Zero has to go all out to stop this from happening, which he does by... playing his brother at chess. If this isn't an odd enough way to try and change things in your favour, we also reach a bizarre situation where both players are looking to lose the match. This plan doesn't exactly pan out, which leaves Zero with no option but to take even more drastic action on the prescribed wedding day, which at least gives him a chance to laugh maniacally - Something he hasn't really been able to do in a while in al fairness, so it was long overdue.
With a whole new scene to set, it's not too surprising that this episode struggled slightly to find its feet, with its pacing feeling a little off at times. However, Zero's cunning and sheer balls in facing down his opposition (not to mention doing so in person, always a dangerous move) never cease to entertain me hugely, and the shift away from the Order of the Black Knights simply fighting to beat Britannia in Japan has added a huge new scale to the drama which can only be built on further over the coming weeks. Exciting times.
Again, we're given some more questions as to Lelouch and Kallen's relationship, which really does seem to be burgeoning somewhat to my eye, although it's hard to tell thanks to C.C.'s interruption due to a major problem regarding sauce for her pizza. How C.C. even manages to get pizza on some island in the middle of nowhere is beyond me, I would imagine Pizza Hut's delivery service isn't that good...
Anyway, in closing... It's Code Geass R2. Thus, what we have is another hugely entertaining episode which stands almost solely on the compelling nature of Lelouch/Zero's character. However often we get reminded of reasons why we should probably hate him, you can't help but cheer on his audacious bid to destroy Brittania.