WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Cells at Work! Season 2, Episode 3, "Dengue Fever/Acne," now streaming on Funimation.
It looks like going forward, Cells at Work! episodes will be split into two parts, with each part focusing on one of the lesser-known cells introduced in the first season like Mast Cell and Basophil. Although Episode 2 barely mentioned the protagonists Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell, this week, Episode 3 saw the return of our two favorite characters, with U-1146 becoming a young cell's hero.
The cells deal with possible dengue fever and acne this week, though the degree of seriousness the show treats these two ailments with seems a little bit backward.
The "Hysterical" Histamines
In an effort to protect the body, Mast Cell unleashes too much histamine, irritating the other cells in the body. She gets berated for "overreacting" and is called a "hysterical cell." At that, Mast Cell instantly explodes and starts throwing objects and cells out of her office, yelling hysterically that she's not going to do anything anymore.
Unfortunately, when the body needed histamine the most, Mast Cell disappeared. A mosquito bite in the form of an alien invasion is the latest problem for the cells. Not only does it suck Red Blood Cells, cells and platelets up, but the mosquito bite also leaves something behind: a red mask with a long nose that looks suspiciously like a mosquito mouthpart.
AE3803 is one of the few Red Blood Cells not abducted by the mosquito-UFO, thanks to the gentlemanly Langerhans Cell, a type of Dendritic Cell that presents bacteria and viruses to the immune system. For some reason, Langerhans Cell decides to put the mask on, resulting in the mask latching painfully onto his face and infecting him with the dengue virus.
As more and more Langerhans Cells get infected, Mast Cell's immediate first thought is to release the histamines but upon remembering what the other cells said, she decides to not do anything. But Basophil suddenly appears on her monitor in all his cryptic glory. As chaos ensues behind him, Basophil tells Mast Cell to believe in herself just before the camera cuts off. With that, Mast Cell activates the histamine, alerting the other immune system cells to the area to kill the infected Langerhans Cells. Ashamed, the other cells apologize to Mast Cell and she's just about to apologize as well when she pauses and realizes: hey, why did she have to apologize?
The Emancipation of the Hair Cells
Up in the head, the Hair Matrix Cells are being enslaved by worm-like acne germs who have taken over their workplace in the pore, turning it into one of the worst things to happen to a body: a pimple. When a particularly young Hair Matrix Cell is about to get punished for standing up to the Acne Bacteria, U-1146 saves him. Things don't get any better when U-1146 gets injured trying to save the young Hair Matrix Cell and the two of them are thrown down into a pit.
The young hair cell reveals that the other White Blood Cells tried to free the hair cells but were all defeated, showing U-1146 a mountain of White Blood Cell bodies. The hair cell repeats to U-1146 what he had been told by an elder: they're only one pore -- what can they do? U-1146 shows that, in fact, everyone has the power to make an impact. With the help of the other hair cells, U-1146 defeats the king of the acne germs.
It's somewhat strange this episode didn't treat Denge Fever, a potentially dangerous disease, with nearly the same level of seriousness as acne. The damage inflicted by the infected Langerhans Cells are, at most, some strong windstorms, but the second half had slavery, U-1146 almost drowning to death in a vat of sebum and a massacre of White Blood Cells.
It's strange, to say the least, that it feels like the tones are flipped in Episode 3 with "Acne" taking on a more CODE BLACK-esque style. But in true Cells at Work! fashion, the episode had a heartwarming ending with U-1146 becoming an honorary hair cell.