Their search for Maria and Mamoru was never going to be easy, but should Saki and Satoru even be continuing it at all? Perhaps not, given the content of the letter written to them by Maria and handed to them by Squnk.
In short, the letter's contents amounts to "please don't try to find us", but Mari has plenty more to say besides this in what turns to be a rather large monologue - a fond look back upon her life and friendship with Saki, and something of a damning indictment of the village she called home for so long in light of the truth she and her friends learned about the populace, their history and the way they handle future generations. Long-winded though it might be, it actually serves as a powerful summary of, and opinion piece towards, everything we've seen in the series to date, and it's worth watching just to soak in some further thought on those topics alone.
Despite initially steeling themselves to do as Maria asks and return to their elders to report that she's dead (and even considering an offer from Squera to create some fake skeletons for the bodies), Saki ultimately can't bring it upon herself to abandon her friend, and so their search continues. The longer this hunt goes on, the more a depressing reality hits Saki - that virtually everything that she knew and loved has been lost forever. That is, of course, to reckon without Satoru, but that aside it appears that the series might be about to take a new turn as a hauntingly vivid dream has some macabre requests to make of our protagonist.
Having hit plenty of high notes in recent weeks, this instalment of Shin Sekai Yori felt perhaps a little too meandering to be considered as suitable company for some of those better episodes - it just never quite managed to link some really interesting and impressive points of discussion and story-telling together in an entirely satisfying way. Thankfully, there's still no shortage of good material to pick through when you take the episode scene by scene - its early segment was almost part-recap but still had plenty of interesting things to say, and Saki's inner thought processes and realisations are also fascinating on multiple levels, both within the core of the series and as a wider treatise on puberty and growing up. With another leap forward in time seemingly on the cards starting with the next instalment, I'm once again intrigued as to where Shin Sekai Yori is ultimately heading.