Railgun 23 is one of its best episodes. It manages to throw in all the strengths of the show while mostly avoiding its weaknesses.
So let’s start with one of the weaknesses. Telestina goes from a possibly good but suspicious character into one who is stark raving mad. She spends most of the episode either being nice but threatening or distorting her face and saying evil lines. It’s like they threw a switch in her. Maybe they did, or maybe it’s the result of the experiments done to her years ago. Whatever it is, it doesn’t quite work, though I’ll say she’s quite fun when she’s in crazy-mode.
But that’s about the only weakness in this episode. Everything else they try manages to work. There’s a nice scene where Uiharu convinces Kiyama to bring her data on the kids to MAR and Telestina, and a subsequent shock when she does and Telestina shows her true colors. The Judgement investigation scene (and these scenes often fade with dull writing), is very good. It’s not just the info they find (rattled off in a hilarious “You mean to say that blah blah blah” speech by Saten, until she just bursts out “What does it mean?” out of sheer frustration. It works.), but how it affects the characters. Uiharu can’t stop crying until Kuroko slaps her. Misaka, blaming herself for the kids’ abduction, goes off on her own, which leads nicely to the other thing this show likes to do.
Misaka, as I said goes off on her own, only to get clobbered by Telestina in her battle armor, aided by the Capacity Down noise (Always troublesome to me when such a small figure gets beaten up like that). After her rescue (by Kongou, of all people, and they don’t tell us how she does it), she is admonished by Kuroko for going off half-cocked like that. Misaka’s anger is her greatest weakness (though it adds to the fun of her character), and it blinds her to the fact that she has allies who can help and dearly want to. Railgun likes to have scenes of girls bonding, though they don’t always do it well. This time they do. This theme is revisited when Kiyama is spotted chasing after the caravan–on her own.
The girls make peace with each other and prepare for a big rumble. Very good episode, though I kept wondering “Just how did Kongou get Misaka out of that jam?” I hope they won’t forget to tell us.