WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 19 of Higurashi: When They Cry - Gou, "Village Destroying - Part 2," now streaming on Funimation.
With Higurashi: Gou’s “Village-Destroying” arc shifting its focus to Satoko and Rika’s relationship following the events of the original series, the pieces are gradually starting to fall into place. Viewers still don’t know how Satoko was able to drag Rika back into the never-ending tragedies of June 1983, or who her accomplice in all this is. But Episode 19 does shed some light on Satoko’s motives for doing so, while also forcing the cracks in her relationship with Rika to emerge.
Picking up from the last episode’s ending, when Rika explains her dream of attending St. Lucia Academy to Satoko, the latter has trouble understanding Rika’s motivations for doing so. Still, she assumes that Rika’s ambitions are just a passing phase and tentatively goes along with her request to attend alongside her.
This leads Rika into shifting all of her focus into preparing for the entrance exam, which helps Satoko eventually realize how much attending St. Lucia means to Rika. So, she decides to give it her all as well. The two spend the next two and a half years studying for their entrance exams, bonding and creating many good memories in the process. Rika is accepted and though it takes her a little while longer to locate her student number, Satoko makes it in as well.
Though elated, the seeds of division are sown almost straight away at the academy. Satoko and Rika are placed in different dorms but are still in the same homeroom. Though somewhat annoyed by them not sharing the same roof, Satoko is happy to see Rika most of the day during class. Rika, meanwhile, thrives at St. Lucia. She is idolized by many of her classmates, does well in school and routinely participates in tea parties and discussions with her new friends.
Satoko, on the other hand, struggles to adapt to her new environment. Having only attended the academy due to Rika’s request to stay with her, she isn’t motivated to keep up with the demanding curriculum and is ostracized by her peers due to her low grades and clashing personality.
Satoko’s academic struggles force her to attend daily extracurricular lessons, meaning that she can’t spend any of her free time with Rika as a consequence. Rika offers to help her study, but Satoko doesn’t want to impose on her, simply laughing off the idea. To make matters worse, Rika’s new clique mocks Satoko’s reaction, questioning how someone with her personality ever made it into the academy. Though Rika seems upset with what transpires, she fails to stand up for her friend.
Satoko's slide continues when she meets an older student who tells her that most of the students in study hall were pulled from regular classes in their second year due to their subpar grades. Satoko is warned that should she continue to struggle her free time will be spent taking remedial lessons until she graduates, effectively isolating her from Rika for the rest of their time at St. Lucia entirely.
While Rika once again enjoys tea with her friends inside the school’s parlor, Satoko spots them from outside and looks towards Rika with resentment and, as the cicadas cry loudly in the background, she wonders if Rika remembers her promise of experiencing life at St. Lucia together.
Higurashi Gou's revelation of Satoko being the mastermind -- or at least one of the masterminds -- behind the new series of loops rightfully shocked many fans due to the closeness of her and Rika’s relationship. Rika wanting to move away from Hinamizawa and pursue a different kind of lifestyle for herself were things that viewers could easily understand. But seeing things from Satoko’s perspective in this arc, and in Episode 19 specifically, has made things less clear-cut.
Rika’s actions have been somewhat questionable, as have Satoko’s. Though nothing so far that justifies putting Rika through another series of loops, this episode provides some much-needed context without yet singling out an obvious catalyst for Satoko’s eventual turn.