Somehow, having such a long gap without any episodes of Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino to watch made the eighth episode of the series all the more disappointing, as it took what was by all accounts a powerful and poignant part of the manga and somehow managed to turn it into something decidedly bland and lifeless.
Thankfully, episode nine is much, much better in virtually every way I can express said improvements. Although the episode jumps around rather a lot, and almost rushes through its main plot point much of the time, it still manages to cover plenty of ground while bringing together the disparate elements that make Gunslinger Girl what it is. We see the worries and problems of the girls handlers, specifically in the case of Jose this time around, coupled with the neuroses of the girls themselves (in particular Henrietta), while also mixing in a bit of action together with those moments that always send a chill down your spine - Seeing Rico grinng from ear to ear as she proceeds to beat a suspect senseless in an attempt to get information out of him is a disquitening experience, and exactly the kind of thing that the franchise has always managed to do so well.
Overall, this could quite possibly be the best episode of this particular series so far, feeling like just the kind of affair you'd expect from Gunslinger Girl despite its slightly off-kilter pacing. If only this kind of formula could have been applied to Il Teatrino as a whole, it might have been a rather less hit-and-miss affair than it has generally proved to be.