By the end of the last episode I couldn't help but find myself worrying that Lawrence's late night chat with fellow merchant Abe would end up getting him into trouble, and low and behold within seconds of episode nine kicking off poor old Lawrence is left receiving the cold shoulder from Horo for leaving her alone.
Of course, this little sulk doesn't last for long, but it does set the tone for much of this episode, which becomes a study of the jealousy that both parties feel about various things - As Horo gets irked by Lawrence's habit of befriending others and staring a little too hard at other women, so Lawrence finds himself becoming snappy when teased as to how many partners Horo has had in the past. As is so often the case with this series, the whole thing feels very human and grounded in reality - After all, who doesn't find themselves swallowed up by jealousy from time to time?
Away from all of the usual teasing and probing conversational gambits practised by our two main players, Lawrence successfully gets to meet with Rigolo; a man who can see right through Lawrence as he announces that the fifty-man meeting is over (Lawrence clearly wants to know how it all ended, but also knows better than to ask), but who is otherwise both helpful and sympathetic to the information that he's trying to gather around Horo's homeland. However, it isn't Rigolo that dominates the climax to this episode but Abe, who appears intent on making a deal with Lawrence that seems almost as crazy as it is shocking at first glance (although I think I know what she has in mind)...
As per usual for this series, I have nothing but good things to say about Spice and Wolf - The verbal jousting between Horo and Lawrence is as compelling as ever, matched only by the reactions and expressions of one as the other jibes at them. Once again this episode has a great sense for showing the growing understanding between these two characters - From their far clumsier beginnings, the pair now know how to hit all the right spots with a single sentence, be it complementing the other or sending them into a fit of jealousy. Horo in particular really shines through in terms of the range of her personality - An old, wise woman on the one-hand but still insecure and almost child-like at times on the other. I could probably write about these characters all day, but I won't; instead I'll just leave it as read that I'm now counting down the days to episode ten.