WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Cells at Work! Season 2, Episode 8, "Cancer Cell II (Part II)," now streaming on Funimation.
The second season of Cells at Work! has been a short one -- capping out at only eight episodes -- the final of which comes down to a showdown between Cancer Cell and the immune cells, with our heroes pulling through in the last second. However, the real hero is one whose simple act turns the tide against Cancer Cell -- Ordinary Cell.
Ordinary Cell Leads the Good Bacteria's Triumphant Return
For a few tense moments in the Season 2 finale, it looks like it'll be the end for Ordinary Cell, especially when the opportunistic bacteria decide that siding with the harmful bacteria is their best bet. A few White Blood Cells come to Ordinary Cell's rescue in the nick of time, but there's such an overwhelming number of harmful bacteria that even the immune cells find themselves at a loss.
But the good bacteria come to the rescue with the last lactic acid bacterium leading the charge in the end. Within a couple of minutes, the lactic acid, immune cells and opportunistic bacteria -- who switch sides once after sensing that the good bacteria would win -- successfully suppress the harmful bacteria. Most importantly, the toxic environment in the intestine improves tenfold.
Memory T Cell Obliterates Cancer Cell With a Punch
Meanwhile, U-1146 begs Cancer Cell to fight him instead of Memory T and NK, but Cancer Cell refuses because of the fact that he actually likes U-1146. He sees U-1146 as a kindred spirit, as both of them struggle with their destinies: U-1146 as a White Blood Cell that kills other cells and Cancer Cell as an aberration who must be killed.
But Memory T has one final trick up his sleeve: the ultimate secret technique "T Cell Perforin Cannon Punch." It's a mouthful, but the name recalls a memory for Regulatory T Cell: back in training school, Memory T Cell's seniors taught the move to him as a joke, but he took it seriously, practicing and honing it until he had it down. Now, as he faces against one of the strongest foes he has ever fought, Memory T powers up and throws his deadly punch and it lands, not on Regulatory T, but smack dab on Cancer Cell, who gets blown away. Regulatory T finally recognizes who Cancer Cell is, though it's not because of Memory T's punch, as we might have expected, but because Cancer Cell's shirt gets so badly ruined that it reads "CLL" instead.
Cancer Cell Dies (Again)
Sensing that this could be the end, Cancer Cell creates a titan-sized copy as his trump card. He transforms once more into a form with a more elaborate set of wings, but his victory is short-lived. Because the intestine's toxins have dissipated due to the work of the good bacteria and immune cells, it's not giving Cancer Cell the boost that he needs. When U-1146 breaks out of his pod and deals the finishing blow, Cancer Cell dies with a smile, saying that he's glad he was killed by someone he considers a friend.
The second season of Cells At Work! didn't pack quite the punch the first season did as it was more or less focused on exploring the other cells in the body. Although the finale ends with an epic battle between the immune cells and Cancer Cell, the rest of the season has felt a bit disjointed; the middle episodes divided into two parts with very little connection between them until the last few episodes. While Cells at Work! is meant to be light-hearted, a deeper exploration of U-1146's inner conflict over being what's essentially an assassin would have created some interesting food for thought, but it was quickly brushed away with Cancer Cell's death.
The majority of the season also pushed Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell into supporting roles with the two rarely in a scene together. With its darker spinoff airing at the same time, Cells at Work! does give a much-needed reprieve for fans but could have been so much more.