Come the end of the last episode, we were left teetering at the brink, with the end of the Mahjong qualifying tournament final literally a few hands away and Koromo still holding a pretty solid lead. However, with Saki smiling like some kind of crazed, sockless genius, things were never liable to be that clear-cut for this episode....
First and foremost though, the start of this episode refocuses on Koromo once again, as we finally come to understand what drew her into the world of playing Mahjong in the first place. In short, the whole idea came originally from Touka, who gathered people around Koromo and encouraged her to play Mahjong in the hope of finding her some friends. Of course, up until now Koromo's terrifying performances at the table have hardly given her opportunity for friendship, but will things be different this time around? For a while it looks as though we may never find out, as Koromo's emotions boil over to such an extent that they course a power outage at the competition venue.
However, the lights soon come back on - Not just at the venue, but also in Koromo's head, as she snatches another victory and makes the chance of victory look even more bleak for the other three. Saki is still smiling though, and as we enter the final hand so she pulls off a combination of ridiculous power to claim victory at the death, while also giving us a tale of happy ever afters for the other players - Kana doesn't get punished by her teacher, Koromo makes some friends (and discovers some others that she actually had all along) and Yumi and Momoko... well, who knows, but it all seems happy enough.
So, at long last, the qualifying tournament is over, although it seems to come at an odd time for the series, with only seven episodes left to run. This almost certainly (particularly when coupled with the runaway success of Saki in Japan) means that we'll be seeing a second season of the series, but on the less positive side I suppose there will be a fair amount of filler to round out the season, starting with a swimming pool-based episode by the look at it. Well, after getting so swept up and carried away by the excitement and tension of recent episodes, perhaps I need a break from such "high-pressure" stuff as well... Regardless, the past few episodes have been fantastic viewing if you can put the slightly ridiculous nature of the whole thing to one side, and I for one have surprised myself with how much I've grown to love it.