This episode continued the process of “humanizing” Lelouch, showing that there is much more to him than being a purely pragmatic, ruthless, and calculating leader willing to go to any length to meet his goals. It’s still unclear whether he has any genuine feelings for Shirley, but he at least cared about her enough to use the Geass to wipe her memory, presumably causing her to forget some painful memories (perhaps even of his existance altogether, since in the conversation immediately following they were speaking as though they didn’t know each other). During the preview for the next episode, he mentioned that “this power causes people to be lonely,” suggesting that he might be trying to distance himself from those he cares about (such as Shirley) lest any more of them get hurt by his actions.

Mao is finally fully introduced in this episode; as expected, he has some sort of past with C.C., though there aren’t many details yet (outside of the fact that he seems to be completely infatuated with her). It’s hard to tell for sure whether he is going to end up being one of Lelouch’s enemies in the long term, but he did seem quite intent on killing Lelouch (after making him emotionally suffer a bit, of course).

Overall, I thought it was a good episode, and it’s nice to see signs that the writers want Lelouch to be an interesting character that develops over the cours over the show. His character had been pretty static up to this point, and I had been getting worried that this would be a repeat of Arika. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I look forward to seeing how things will continue to play out.