Showing is superior to telling, but not all showings are created equal. One of the ways to tell a high-class pro director from a replacement-tier one is the way they make a situation clear with the first snap of the camera. Case in point: those first 3 seconds of that shot after Haru saved Makoto. The way one set of feet was dragging and the other was limp immediately spelled out what was going down. Mix in effective not-use of music (just rain and heavy breathing), and you get an immediate impression of the state Makoto was in. It was a bit of imagery that felt like something adapted from an award-winning manga, except Free is a novel adaption that had to make its own storyboards.
One look and it’s pretty obvious someone’s not alright
The CPR scene moments later was inaccurate in that Haru did no chest compressions before going for the resuscitation, but there’s partial credit there in two places. First, Haru actually pinched the nose when going in for the breath part of the CPR. Second, they didn’t spend 2 minutes of the scene on characters loudly announcing that they were doing CPR. The whole thing, from when Haru realized the breathing was shallow to when Makoto coughed and woke up, took about 20 seconds. I’m sure people will find other uses for that clip, but it was a good bit of minimalist direction and the actions taken were very in-character for the quirky but no-nonsense Haru.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it
Nagisa this episode seemed to be a bit of a vehicle for Masahiro Yokotani to do some self-mockery. First, there was the scene of him accusing everybody before getting called on the fact that he did the same thing. Then we had the scene of him pointing out the diaplidated kana spelling of the lighthouse they found shelter in. That brand of mea culpa writing is less necessary here than it is in, say, Nyaruko-san, but it does give the makers a little more leeway when the show is being ridiculous.
The second half of the show made use of a lot of haunted house episode gags, with the group taking turns scaring each other. Beyond just being funny, this also served a dramatic purpose; it was Nagisa and Haru’s way of trying to get Makoto and Rei over what just happened, like good friends do. Since it took all of four minutes for the group to start bantering again over the proper place of pineapples in cuisine and making custom dice ala Hidamari Sketch, it was safe to say it worked even before Makoto opened up. This was a great halfway climax that left me liking all the characters more more than I already did; if they didn’t have the dynamic feel of a 100% cohesive group before, they do now.