WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 8 of My Next Life as a Villainess, now streaming on Crunchyroll.
My Next Life as a Villainess' reborn heroine, Katarina Claes is surrounded by friends and admirers in the otome game she's trapped in, including her possessive fiance Geordo Stuart and the adoring Mary Hunt, while Nicol Ascart has blended into the background for the most part. Now, in Episode 8 of Season 2, Nicol must face his intense feelings about Katarina Claes.
Nicol longs for Katarina, as his behavior during the school play suggested, but he cannot determine a way to express these feelings and claim Katarina for himself. He feels trapped by his situation until Frey Randall and his own sister Sophia give him strong words of encouragement. Like Rufus/Sora, Nicol must find a way to fly free.
On paper, Nicol Ascart has no chance of winning Katarina's heart and stealing her away from Geordo Stuart. He wouldn't even if he could; being a noble and kind person, he would feel guilty if he swiped her from Geordo, a dear friend. Feeling trapped by emotions that he can neither dismiss nor act upon, he agrees to meet potential spouses. Nicol meets many young women over the next few days, and only the last one stands out: Frey Randall, a girl who also feels trapped by noble family politics.
Frey and Nicol bond over their common dilemma, and Frey longs to stay single and devote her energies to joining the Department of Magic, just like her idol, Lady Larna. Very few women and even fewer women of nobility make it into the Department, but Larna and Katarina did so, and Frey feels inspired. Frey understands Nicol's dilemma and encourages him, telling him that if Nicol doesn't act soon on his feelings, he will regret the missed opportunity forever. She also maintains that it would also be cruel for Nicol to marry another girl while his heart belongs to Katarina; he shouldn't do that to any future wife of his. Nicol agrees. His feelings are strong, but he's not the type to act selfishly at someone else's expense.
Nicol explains to his father that he won't accept any arranged marriages for now, and his father understands. Later, his little sister Sophia meets with her brother again and tells him an illuminating story about how their parents married. Mrs. Ascart was engaged to another man until Nicol and Sophia's father worked hard to become governor and thus worthy of his paramour. Sophia makes it clear that if their father can go to those lengths for the woman he loved, Nicol can do whatever it takes to win Katarina Claes' heart. Sophia dearly hopes to see them together someday.
Recent events may have brought Geordo and Keith closer to Katarina than ever before, but Geordo's lead in the harem contest is narrowing, and an empowered Nicol Ascart stands poised to overtake him in the race for Katarina's heart. Many Fortune Lover characters once felt trapped by fate, including the impoverished Sora, but Katarina and her friends realize one by one that nothing is set in stone. This is a real-life otome game where any route is possible, and Nicol won't let Geordo act as a doom flag for his heart's desires.