As we reach the penultimate episode of House of Five Leaves, so we also enter what seems likely to be the last ever job for the Five Leaves themselves, with Yaichi leading a plan to kidnap the son of the one of the Shogun's direct retainers. The knowledge that this could be their last job seems to leave the gang members with mixed feelings - On the surface, the earnings from this final job should see them good for some time, thus rendering the group unnecessary, yet the bonds between the members themselves are clearly harder to break than that.
However, with the kidnapping completed successfully, it appears that there's a spanner about to be thrown into the works when only half of the ransom is delivered, along with a message to kill the boy as he isn't wanted by his family. Oddly, this seems to be almost exactly what Yaichi wanted to hear, as he tells the kidnapped boy of his situation with a mixture of disgust and relish - Something which Masa duly notes.
From here on in, we see Yaichi's life, and more importantly his past, unravelling and presenting itself in front of an astute Masa, who now knows enough to fill in almost all of the blanks about his friend and comrade. We also get to see a little more of Yaichi's past (before he took up that name) during his time in the Bakuro gang, which also tells us a little about why that past is threatening to catch up with him.
While this episode is ostensibly all about Yaichi, it's really Masa who interested me the most throughout this instalment - From the clumsy, uncertain, shy and socially awkward character we were originally introduced to, he really does seem to have blossomed amongst the Five Leaves - Come this episode we get to see a far more impressive man, not only in the way that he stands up to defend Yaichi despite what he knows, but also in his astute and sharp train of thought when it comes to his friend and what drives him. These traits aren't new to the character per se, they are simply a sign of a man coming into his element, and it's this kind of thing that makes these later episodes of House of Five Leaves - For all of the drama and history of the situations portrayed, it's really the characters and the behaviour of those individuals that wins the day in terms of the series as a whole. This makes for a pretty fascinating viewing experience, and also one that is as different from your average Edo/samurai series as this show initially promised.