WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World, Season 2, Episode 22, "Happiness Reflected on the Water's Surface," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
While comparing Re:Zero to the holiday tale of A Christmas Carol may seem like a stretch, there are some apparent similarities between Emilia's journey and the classic story -- with some delineating twists, of course. Much like Ebenezer Scrooge, Emilia witnesses haunting memories of her past that ultimately shape her into a more confident person, and she is led through these scenarios by Echidna. In Season 2, Episode 22 of Re:Zero, we see Emilia face an idyllic version of the present-day, one where Fortuna and Geuse are alive and well.
As difficult as the first two trials have been, Emilia knows how important it is for her to succeed -- and she also knows that the final test will show her the future, or at least a future. Still, like A Christmas Carol, the purpose of these multi-era trials is to prove your worth by showing immense growth. While Emilia must still face her final test, her newfound determination continues to propel her through these painful visions.
Emilia's Vision of a Perfect Life
After the first trial dug deep into Emilia's forgotten memories, uncovering the truth that her adoptive mother, Fortuna, was accidentally killed by Geuse -- who himself loses touch with reality because of it. Plus, Emilia realizes that she was the cause for Elior Forest and its residents being encased in ice. With that knowledge, Emilia is now resolute in succeeding so she can free her people, showing them the world Fortuna had dreamt of. Not to mention Ram's plea for her to triumph in the Royal Selection to, hopefully, free Roswaal from his delusions.
During Emilia's second trial, she enjoys a picturesque picnic with Fortuna and Geuse. Everyone is all smiles, with Fortuna and Geuse each blushing over their respective love for one another. However, despite this happiness and a world where Emilia has a family with two people she cared for immensely, she knows it's not real. Archi -- or at least Echidna in his likeness -- approaches Emila and asks her if she'd want to live in this reality.
Re: Zero Gives Emilia a Painful Choice
Emilia acknowledges that this is the world she would have dreamt of and is thankful to see Fortuna, Geuse and Archi again, but explains that she can't stay because she wants to be an admirable person -- like all of those who have helped her become who she is. Her admission and acceptance of the hardships yet to come are heartbreakingly touching, capped off with a literal moment of self-reflection. Emilia leaps off a mountainside cliff, staring into the reflective water below and notices the differences between her and Fortuna.
When Emilia emerges from the Graveyard, all the Sanctuary's residents greet her and express their joy that she is alright. Among them are Ryuzu Shima and the demi-human population, who we've seen very little of until this point. Everyone offers Emilia their support, and they look forward to seeing her conquer the trials, even if that means taking down the barrier surrounding the Sanctuary.
Emilia Continues to Find Her Confidence & Steely Determination
Having already seen an "unthinkable present" where she could live happily with her family, the boost of the Sanctuary's support urges Emilia forward for the final trial and highlights her continued growth. The future, or the trial to "face the disaster that is yet to come," will undoubtedly be as emotionally taxing as the previous two tests. Still, Emilia recognizes the number of people who have put their faith in her and everyone who helped along the way -- like Fortuna & Subaru. She aims to repay that support.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge's journey of discovery through the past, present and future that helped him understand his cruelty, Emilia's quest through the ages are finally putting her in the driver's seat, confidently striding forward. Even Echidna seems to recognize the changes in Emilia's strength, frustratingly -- and tearily -- stating her hatred of her. While we don't know who or what will be Emilia's version of the Ghost of Christmas Future, Emilia is ready to face it head-on.