The previous episode of Angel Beats! seemed to pretty much set up the final couple of episodes with everything which needed to be resolved, although I could only question whether two episodes would be sufficient to get the job done. Well, here goes anyway....
As this penultimate episode progresses, we see the number of shadow monsters which make their appearance increasing at an alarming rate, to the point where the entire school complex seemed to be packed out with them. Despite everyone going away to make their own choice about either fighting on with Yuri or going down their own path towards "graduation" and moving on from this world last time around, that doesn't mean that anybody is ready to abandon their comrades just yet, meaning that we soon see most of the usual suspects fighting off these shadow creatures together.
Together, that is, apart from Yuri, who pursues the origin of these beasts by moving into the bowels of Guild once again in the hope of finding their source and creator... something which isn't easy when there are monsters patrolling these tunnels too. Despite her not inconsiderable skills, Yuri soon falls victims to these monsters, pulling her into some kind of school life which seems like some kind of paradise for Yuri - A paradise that she rejects on account of it being both too perfect and too simple, coupled with the return of Otonashi, Kanade and others to help her out in her own particular quest.
This assistance allows her to finally find the source of these shadow monsters, powered by a large number of computers and what appears to be some kind of artificial intelligence NPC who controls it all at the behest of his "master" who is now little more than an NPC himself. While this AI knows little about the world of this series as a whole, it does know the trigger which sees these shadow monsters activated - Love. But just whose love is it? Finally, all is revealed about Yuri, and why she resides in this world, but are even Yuri's own realisations about herself mean that she can leave this place?
For all of its plot holes that you could arguably drive a double-decker bus through, and despite its occasionally almost schizophrenic blend of humour, drama and emotion, Angel Beats! has been nothing if not a wonderfully entertaining and fascinating ride, and this episode summed up that blend nigh-on perfectly. While it didn't have as much time for cracking jokes as most episodes of this show, it managed to mash together stylish action, human drama and some intriguing twists and turns that were compelling despite the obvious Lost and Matrix trilogy comparisons. My only concern is that the series has peaked slightly too early, leaving the final episode as effective an elongated goodbye to your favourite characters. Then again, this series has thrown up so many surprises and last-minute twists that I wouldn't want to trust my instincts until the very last second of the very final episode.