WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Shadows House Episode 3, "The Soot Sickness," now streaming on Funimation.
Episode 3 of Shadows House is divided into two halves. The first follows Emilico's squad as they confront a soot Phantom that's roaming the halls of Noble House. The second half focuses on a seemingly unrelated topic: Kate's and Emilico's little ragdolls have been moving on their own -- which has never happened before.
It kicks off with Emilico's chicken doll, Rolly, jumping from her desk into her arms. Emilico crafted Rolly in Episode 2, following Kate's advice to find something she treasures as much as Kate loves the baby sootman doll that Emilico almost ruined. Surprisingly, Emilico is delighted and assumes Rolly moving is a wonderful, normal event. But even in this creepy haunted house inhabited by living shadows and their child slaves, that isn't normal.
Later in Episode 3, Kate reminds Emilico that when cleaning, she should put things back where she found them, pointing out her sootman doll is not in its usual spot. Emilico launches into an excited explanation about how sootman is moving just like Rolly, but Kate is having none of it. Her head starts emitting soot, indicating her annoyance at what she perceives as Emilico's lies and excuses. It's only when Rolly jumps out of Emilico's pocket and flies through the air that an astonished Kate relents.
Kate and Emilico put their heads together to find an explanation. Nothing in Kate's extensive studies mentioned that ragdolls could move on their own, and unlike Emilico, she knows very well they are not the same as "Living Dolls." Emilico remembers that soot scorches can develop a basic conscience of sorts. She had used some soot to fill the bodies of both ragdolls -- soot that Kate probably emitted herself. She asks if Kate might be the one controlling the doll's movements, and Kate is floored when she realizes she can make Rolly flap its fabric wings with only her thoughts.
While writing down the day's developments in a matter-of-fact way, Emilico notices that while the negative soot from Kate's unbalanced feelings is mostly an annoyance, Kate can direct it in a more constructive way. Suddenly her bell rings -- it's Kate, calling for her. When Emilico arrives in Kate's room, still on her nightshift, she sees that her mistress has been practicing her new powers and can now direct a ribbon of soot into a glass cup with great precision. Emilico is amazed at her skill, and can't wait to tell the other Living Dolls about what her mistress can do.
But that's exactly why Kate called for her. She doesn't want anyone else to know, at least for now. Kate thinks there's a reason why this ability isn't mentioned in any of her books, and none of the possibilities are good ones. She asks Emilico to be her eyes and ears outside of her room, which she's currently not allowed to leave to talk to other Shadows.
Is every Shadow able to control the soot around them, or is it something only Kate can do? Is it connected to the way Grandfather brainwashes the Living Dolls with soot dissolved in water? Given Episode 3's other revelation -- that soot can coalesce into aggressive Phantoms -- personifying soot in the shape of a doll might be inviting trouble.
Shadows House, based on the manga by Somato, was created by CloverWorks, directed by Kazuki Ōhashi, written by Toshiya Ōno, with character design by Chizuku Kusakabe and music by Kenichiro Suehiro. The series is currently streaming on Funimation.