WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 16 of Higurashi: When They Cry - Gou, "Cat Deceiving- Part 3," now streaming on Funimation.
Higurashi: Gou has given its viewers a lot to digest in recent weeks, which continues with the third part of the “Cat-Deceiving” arc. With Episode 16 resuming what has been a brutal arc for Rika, fans keep looking for any clue about who is responsible for these new loops, and though there aren't concrete answers, it leaves a few doors open.
The episode starts with Rika waking up in her bed following Angel Mort's massacre in the last loop. Wincing in pain, she is greeted by Satoko and recounts dreams, wondering why she has to suffer so much. As Satoko chides Rika for her ignorance, she lifts the covers to reveal a massive wound across Rika’s body.
Satoko tells Rika that the two will have their own Watanagashi Festival and begins sorting out various medical tools at her side for a ritual to rid Rika of the curse Oyashirou-sama placed on her. Satoko claims that she has been communicating with Oyashirou-sama, who revealed that Rika is cursed because she wasn't fit to be his priestess anymore.
Rika tries to reason with Satoko, arguing that Oyashirou is a hallucination due to her descent into Hinamizawa Syndrome. Refusing to listen, Satoko strikes Rika and mentions her secret desire to leave the village as a reason she deserved the curse put on her. Satoko claims that Rika’s feelings were inappropriate given her status as Oyashirou-sama’s priestess, and a teary Rika agrees with her.
Rika recalls the hundreds of loops she's endured and how the terrors and traumas she suffered throughout made her feel trapped in the village. This only furthered her desire to leave Hinamizawa once she had changed her fate in the “Festival Accompanying” arc. Rika thinks back to the original series' events and briefly remembers telling an unidentified person of her dream to one day leave Hinamizawa.
Satoko apologizes to Rika and tells her that the only way to absolve her sins is to perform the Watanagashi ritual on her. As Rika passes away into the next loop, she thinks back on when she started hating Hinamizawa. Memories from the original series' and recent events cause Rika to wonder if wanting the leave was selfish before eventually rediscovering her love for the village. She wakes up teary-eyed to find Satoko standing over her once again.
After a brief conversation with Satoko, Rika realizes that things have reset, and Keiichi and the others call them over. On their way home, Rika opens up to Satoko and apologizes for having wanted to abandon the village. Satoko consoles her and promises that she won’t have any bad dreams anymore.
As time passes, Rika comments that the current timeline is peaceful and hasn’t been affected by the unfortunate circumstances and misunderstandings that plagued the past ones. Rika performs the Watanagashi ritual dance on the night of the festival and runs into Jirou afterward. As she approaches him, the two are met by Miyo, who has something to say to Rika.
The “Cat-Deceiving” arc of Higurashi: Gou hasn’t been incredibly kind to Rika. Though her last five deaths have been somewhat shocking, Satoko’s involvement and knowledge in this latest murder should have some fans curious about her potential involvement in the underlying mystery. It’s very much possible that her part in the mystery might be nothing more than a red herring. But this hopefully indicates that the narrative will be moving towards finding the main culprit sooner rather than later.