Last week saw us wave an emotional goodbye to Kurisu Makise and return us to the beta world line as we enter the final straight of Steins;Gate - but there's little time for Okabe to reflect on what he's just achieved, and lost, as he's called straight into action in his new "home".
That call to action comes from none other than Amane, who is alive and well in this new time line and just so happens to have dropped by in her shiny time machine to pick up Okabe for a mission that will (she hopes) prevent World War III from breaking out in the future by transitioning the world to its ideal world line - the so-called "Steins Gate". While Okabe is reluctant to do any more time travel given everything he's been through, the objective of the mission soon grabs his interest, for its goal is quite simple - to save Makise.
Thus, Okabe returns to the scene of Makise's death, avoiding his other self (because as we all know, that would be bad news) and setting out to both find out the identity of Kurisu's killer and prevent her murder. He certainly succeeds in the former of these two tasks, and it would be an understatement to say that the killer's identity is unexpected.... so much so that it renders saving her life impossible. With visions of his impossible struggle against Mayuri's death in the alpha world line still fresh in his memory, Okabe resigns himself to a similar intractable problem involving Kurisu here - however, it appears that for once our unlikely hero is giving up too soon, as someone out there has this all planned out...
After the emotional denouement of last week's instalment had me a little worried that Steins;Gate had peaked just a little too early, here am I being made to eat those words by an utterly fantastic episode that gloried in its ability to turn everything on its head multiple times in that wonderful way that the series has proved capable of throughout; surprising us while leaving us baffled that we hadn't thought of these latest developments ourselves. After showing impressive moments of restraint and tension-building into the bargain, we're now left holding our breath-excitedly for the show's final episode - and I'm genuinely not sure I can wait. Anyone have a time machine handy?