If you were disappointed by the relatively Horo-free zone that was episode four of Spice and Wolf II, then I'm afraid that you're going to have to prepare yourself for more of the same this time around, as the focus remains well and truly upon Lawrence for the vast majority of this instalment.
Of course, this focus is there for good reason, as Lawrence looks to swing the plans outlined last episode into action - This firstly means talking to Bartose, whom he wins over with honesty and, above all, patience. This in turn allows him to put forward his required offer to buy pyrite from the town's alchemists, but has he been beaten to the punch? He certainly isn't the first to come forward with an offer, that much is for sure.
So, as the episode continues, we see both Lawrence's fortunes and his confidence in his own situation wax and wane, which makes for a wonderfully tense viewing experience as we're dragged along on that rollercoaster with him - One moment we sit back and smile, safe in the assumed knowledge that Horo wouldn't choose Amati over Lawrence, then the next we find ourselves pushed over a precipice into an almost unbearably fast downward slope, convincing ourselves that maybe Amati does hold all of the cards in what is all but a merchant's equivalent of Russian roulette after all.
That aside, Lawrence finally begins to understand his own position emotionally in regard to Horo - If you thought that he was just being shy when asked by Horo what he thought of her, think again, as it very much seems that only during this episode does he actually realise the truth about what she means to him thanks to a number of progressive moments of clarity.
As feathers seem to be the name of the game thematically for this episode, so Spice and Wolf II itself seems determined to add another feather to its cap, keeping us at arm's length from all that sparkling dialogue of past episodes and instead forcing us to run the gamut of nerves and tension that come from the scenario that is panning out. I, for one, have finished this episode feeling at least as nervous and unsure of what will come next as Lawrence, so I guess that's mission accomplished for this story arc at present. As much as I miss that great chemistry and dialogue, this is proving to be gripping stuff in a very different fashion.