This episode of Free! Eternal Summer focuses mainly on the past and present relationship between Rin and Sousuke.
Because this episode focuses so heavily on Sousuke and Rin, it is incredibly flashback heavy. We see flashbacks from Rin, Sousuke, Gou, and Nagisa. These flashbacks are nice, as they serve to help characterize Sousuke as more than just someone with a grudge against Haru. Although Rin and Sousuke were best friends growing up, they also clashed quite a bit when it came to swimming philosophy: Sousuke saw swimming as an individual sport while Rin saw the support of teammates as important, especially in relays. It will be interesting to see if Sousuke’s seeming change of heart at the end of this episode is a lasting change, or if he’s merely saying it to be able to support Rin.
Meanwhile, Gou attempts to make sure the Iwatobi boys are eating balanced diets to help with their training. While I’m a little tired of the trope of female managers of male sports teams being awful at cooking, and this little occurrence seems as little more than a way to work this trope in, it does offer us a deeper look at the interactions between Gou and the boys. Last season, the majority of her interaction was canned, brief, and focused on Haru or Rin; it’s nice to see her interacting with her contemporaries Nagisa and Rei this season, as well as being able to see her cement her place as manager of the Iwatobi Swim Club.
And finally, this episode further highlights Rin’s skill as captain of Samezuka Academy’s swim team. He takes the first-years swimsuit shopping and helps Momotarou, in particular, pick out something best suited to his swimming style. He continues to support Aiichirou’s efforts to better his times, even if it’s only subtly that he does so. And his speech at the end of this episode is proof that he’s trying to make the team his own. He’s changing the way Samezuka Academy chooses members for its relays in order to reflect the importance he places on teamwork and friendship.
While Free! Eternal Summer has yet to delve deeply into any sort of conflict, I’m sure we can expect that in the next few episodes, particularly once we reach the prefectural tournament.