WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 14 of Higurashi: When They Cry - Gou, "Cat Deceiving- Part 1," now streaming on Funimation.
Higurashi Gou picks up in Episode 14 with the miraculous breakthrough of the “Curse-Deceiving” arc abruptly going to waste. Rika is once again thrown into a nightmarish cycle of death and rebirth. The “Cat-Deceiving” arc looks to examine the mental and emotional strain that this loop takes on her while setting up some later drama.
The events of the Watanagashi Festival play out from the end of the “Curse-Deceiving” arc. Following her ritual dance, Rika notices Ooishi heading towards her group of friends, wielding a bloody baseball bat. Apparently suffering from the symptoms of L5 Hinamizawa Syndrome, Oishi kills two villagers and takes Rika hostage. Oiishi accuses Rika of being behind the mysterious events surrounding Oyashiro-Sana’s curse and demands answers.
With his gun to Rika’s head, Shion and Mion try to get Ooishi to stop but are both shot dead. Rika defiantly tells him that he’ll never know the truth, causing him to beat her with his bat. As she loses consciousness, Rika sees a bloodied Satoko absentmindedly walking towards them before a shot rings out.
She wakes up screaming in the Sea of Fragments and is once again greeted by the fragment of Hanyuu. As the two talks, Rika realizes that she remembers who killed her in the last loop, which Hanyuu attributes to her using what power she had left to give herself a fighting chance going forward. With her perfect ending having been ripped away from her in the most bizarre way possible, Rika loses confidence and laments the bleakness of her situation, noting how futile her efforts have been in the new variant timelines.
Hanyuu reminds Rika of the scars her previous 100-year experience left her with, and that the last five years of normalcy have only done so much in helping her heal. Rika confides in Hanyuu, revealing her relief in having escaped Hinamizawa following all the tragedies she endured. With this new series of loops, Rika fears she'll never truly be free of repeating the events of June 1983. Hanyuu tells Rika of a sacred sword that'd allow her to die permanently if it kills her, effectively freeing her from this nightmare. As Rika asks Hanyuu why she’s telling her this, Hanyuu begins to disappear, much to her dismay.
Rika wakes up, once again in June of 1983. Satoko notices something wrong with her, but plays it off, and the two rendezvous with the rest of the club members (except for Shion). Noticing Rika's somber mood, the group lets her pick the game for their afternoon activity. Rika chooses hide-and-seek, saying they must locate her before sundown, ominously mentioning that they shouldn’t blame themselves if they can’t.
The group searches all over for her, going well past sundown. As they come up empty, Rika is shown rummaging around the ritual storage, searching for the sword Hanyuu talked about. Finding its place empty, Rika breaks down in tears before finding a fragment of the sword and putting it to her neck. Before she can do anything, she hears her friends calling out to her. With the ability to end her suffering whenever she pleases, Rika declares that she’ll keep trying for five more loops before giving up for good.
Having been so optimistic about how the events of the last arc played out, Rika’s frustration and desperation in this episode are entirely understandable. Episode 14 does a great job at examining how all these horrible experiences have exasperated Rika, and the next five loops will now serve as a critical juncture in the series. The cause for the new looping timelines has yet to be explored, and with less than half a season left fans to have to hope that Gou gets a second season to tie things up. Rika’s new ability to remember the cause of her deaths should come in handy in piecing things together, and will hopefully allow fans to see and discover more from her perspective.