WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 7 of Higurashi: When They Cry - Gou, "Cotton Deception - Part 4," now streaming on Funimation.
Higurashi Gou’s “Cotton Deception” arc comes to a close with the season’s eighth episode, and just like the “Demon Deception” arc, things don't go quite as expected for series veterans, with Rika disappearing entirely. With this latest development, Gou continues to change things up in interesting ways while saving each respective arc’s best for last.
The trouble starts school shortly after Keiichi’s tense conversation with Rika. Back in class, Chie Sensei notices that Rika is the only one not yet back from lunch break. Satoko draws suspicion to Keiichi saying that he was the last one seen talking to her, but it is revealed that an unknown man was actually seen with her shortly after her conversation with Keiichi.
Keiichi, Mion and the rest of their classmates go looking for Rika. Keiichi and Mion search the school grounds and Keiichi eventually comes across a locked door, but he hears Mion call to him before he can look into it. Mion claims to see Rika on the roof, and the two get a ladder to help them search, only to find nothing of interest. Before Keiichi can descend, Mion rants about the mysterious deaths and disappearances surrounding the Watanagashi Festival, shaking the ladder violently as she does. She snaps out of it, though, as Chie approaches them, and the students head home.
At home, Keiichi receives a call from Mion and agrees to meet her at her house where Mion once again asks him about what he did on the night of the Watanagashi Festival. Keiichi comes clean and apologizes for sneaking into the Ritual Equipment storage with Shion and the others.
Things only get stranger from here. Mion forgives Keiichi and tells him of her suspicions surrounding Hinamizawa’s three main families -- hers being one of them -- and the role they play in the yearly tragedies plaguing the village. She brings him down to the Sonmozaki estate’s basement, revealing a room full of old torture equipment.
Further in, the two enter a panic room containing a small cell and various security monitors. Mion locks Keiichiu in the cell and tells him that she plans on keeping him in the isolated room until she’s disposed of everyone she assumes is involved in the mysterious deaths and disappearances -- therefore saving Keiichi from Oyashiro-sama’s curse.
Mion notices something on the monitor and leaves Keiichi to confront the intruder, but not before taking a loaded revolver out from a nearby drawer with her. Keiichi pleads with Mion to stay with him and call the police but she ignores him.
Keiichi knocks his cell door open and tries to do the same with the panic room’s main door, though it proves to be too thick and he just ends up concussing himself instead. Coming in and out of consciousness, Keiichi hears Ooishi calling to him but isn’t able to stay awake long enough to answer.
Sometime after, Keiichi is released from the hospital and stops by the game store from the beginning of the arc, looking at the doll he gave Mion through the display window. He is approached by Ooishi and the two discuss what transpired at Mion’s house. Ooishi reveals that Rika was found dead in the school’s septic tank, and Keiichi recalls not being able to open the door to the facility prior to searching the roof with Mion. He then tells Keiichi that the police found the bodies of Shion, the Sonozaki family matriarch and other unidentifiable remains in a well located in the Soinozaki estate’s basement.
When Keiichi inquires as to what happened to Mion, Ooishi tells him that both she and Satoko were found shot in the Sonozaki main house. Ooishi then departs, leaving Keiichi questioning whether or not Mion was really trying to protect him.
The"Cotton Deception" started off slow but this episode, once again, leaves fans with some intriguing questions that will keep things interesting as the rest of the series plays out over the next few months. Keiichi’s consideration for Mion’s feelings early in the arc seems to have put her in the role Shion occupied in the original series, which made what happened to her this time around all the more tragic. The show will now hit the reset button once again with the “Curse Deception” arc.