- "In a name, there's power. While we were still young, when all we had was code numbers, you could say we lacked individuality. The one who gave us names was the young Hiro. At that time, you were a guidepost to us. But that's in the past. Right now, I don't expect anything from you."—Mitsuru
Fighting Puppet is the third episode of DARLING in the FRANXX.
Following the mock battle, Hiro's fellow pilots are assigned to their first sortie, with the task of defeating a Klaxosaur under the city, but as they are about to leave, Ikuno and Mitsuru's connection falters, thus the pilots of Delphinum, Argenta and Genista proceed without them. However, the situation turns to the worst when they end up surrounded by a horde of Klaxosaurs and are forced to flee. Zero Two asks to assist them on Strelizia, but she is not allowed to sortie with Hiro, until Mitsuru, determined to prove he is a better pilot than Hiro, offers himself to pair up with Zero Two. Together, Mitsuru and Zero Two defeat the enemies with ease and rescue the others, but when they return, they find a heavily wounded Mitsuru, as a consequence of pairing up with 002, who reaffirms her claim that Hiro is the only pilot compatible with her.
In a flashback, Hiro gave himself a name and then gave Ichigo her name because it was what came to his mind when he saw her code number. He then explains having your own name makes you unique and she asks him to give the other children names. He does and Mitsuru shyly asks for name. In the present, Hiro is being scanned for any problems.
At the Plantation's inner city, Hiro comes out from being scanned to find Ichigo. He tells her there were no problems with him found and he finds it awkward as he looks at her lips. Before he can speak, Nana calls for Ichigo, who leaves.
In the monitor room, Nana says that Hiro is the first sample that piloted with Zero Two and taken so little damage. Hachi says that he failed to common connect with Delphinium, but was compatible with Strelizia, even though he was unconscious. They wonder is it's because of the special specimen.
At Cerasus, Goro asks if something happened between Hiro and Ichigo in the cockpit since she was acting weird after the mock battle. Hiro says that she seemed mad when she ran into him earlier as well. Goro recollects their time together as children and states how happy he was for the three of them to end up in the same squad. Hiro asks Goro to tell Ichigo that it wasn't her fault to which Goro agrees with. Goro then asks if Hiro will ride with Zero Two again and reminds him of circulating rumors about her which Hiro shoots down.
Inside, Futoshi asks what happened with Hiro becoming a parasite to which the group have doubts about. Miku begins talking poorly about Ichigo failing to connect with Hiro. Ichigo, however, continues to believe in Hiro's ability. Mitsuru says she is showing favoritism towards Hiro and goes in to say Hiro was always special and expected to thrive but, with his failure, he doesn’t want see this pitiful side of Hiro anymore.
Meanwhile, Hiro is seen training alone as Zero Two watches from the ceiling. After he leaves, he finds her leaning against a pillar, seeming to be asleep. He walks over and stares at her horns. She calls him a pervert and to stop staring. He is taken back and apologizes. She says it's fine, since Dr. FRANXX says that parasites are better off being a little pervy. Zero Two stands and says that she was tired of waiting for him and begins walking, telling him to follow. In a hallway, Zero Two walks through a scanner only for Hiro to be stopped. He says that children have restrictions on where they can go and almost all of that area is off-limits to them. Zero Two shows her hand which shows she has an "S Rank" pass on it. She walks back and leads him forward, allowing them both to cross. She brings him to a balcony with the view of the city which amazes Hiro, as he has never set foot in the city. He looks over at her and she asks why he's staring again. He smiles and says that he's trying to think up a name for her, since he's really good at it. She says she's fine with "Zero Two.", even though Hiro thinks it’s boring for her to be called by her code number. As Zero Two hops over the railing and balances across the thin path, she goes on about the lack of purpose in life because they will only become a statistic once they die and she calls the city “lifeless”. Hiro asks her to come back, and she asks if Hiro wants to run away with her only to tell him the she was just kidding.
Hachi says they received sortie orders from HQ. Nana tells them that the Klaxosaur won't be as big as the one they already saw. Nana reassures the group that Strelizia won't be a part of the mission. Because they'll have to defend Plantation 13 by themselves eventually, it will show if they can handle fighting them in the future.
Before battle, Goro asks if the mock battle bothered Ichigo. He tells her to switch gears, since they're going into actual combat. She says she knows and is about to say something, but stops herself and says that she'll do her best as leader and they fistbump. As the team connects among one another in their FRANXX, Mitsuru and Ikuno struggle to connect due to their paracapacity being low. Ikuno asks for more time but Mitsuru tells her not to bother. Hachi announces that Chlorophytum will stay behind. The three working FRANXX head out to a big hole. Hachi tells them to head down to the 8th floor. He says that, in order to completely neutralize a Klaxosaur, they must extract its core, and shatter it using their customized magma-energy weapons.
Back at headquarters, Nana asks Mitsuru and Ikuno what happened, and she assumes Ikuno is tired, so she offers to run tests in her later. Mitsuru asks if it’s because they are incompatible. Nana smiles and says that happens a lot on the first time and is not a reason to split them up, much to his disappointment. Ichigo says that they have visual on klaxosaur and they're spreading out. They run to it and begin slashing it. Before Zorome can finish it, it attacks and knocks them over. Miku is electrocuted and passes out. Futoshi shoots and exposes its core while Ichigo stabs it. More klaxosaurs suddenly fall from the ceiling, so they plan on fleeing. Nana says that they attracted more because they released their magma energy. Hiro is alarmed and tells her to send himself and Zero Two to help. Hachi refuses and says that he isn't an official stamen, so he can't give permission to board a FRANXX. Zero Two says that the plantation squad is going to be wiped out again and to let her pilot with Hiro. Nana says she won't be allowed to sortie. Mitsuru offers to pilot with her because he is the only stamen left. Nana warns him that Strelizia is no ordinary FRANXX but Mitsuru persists. Nana asks Zero Two to go with Mitsuru but she refuses and turns to Hiro. Although reluctant, Hiro asks her to go with Mitsuru, which makes her give him the silent treatment and she relents. As Mitsuru walks by, he tells Hiro not to come crying to him when he regrets his goody-two-shoes act later because he's going to prove that he can pilot Strelizia better than he did.
Miku wakes up and begins piloting again. Hachi tells them that Strelizia is about to help. Ichigo is surprised on who could be piloting it and she remembers kissing Hiro, which causes her connection with Goro to falter. This allows the klaxosaurs to get in and the units flee but are again accosted. Surrounded by klaxosaurs, Ichigo berates herself for thinking of unnecessary things and she is suited as a leader. Strelizia then appears and kills some klaxosaurs. Mitsuru tells them to get back and Hachi tells them to evacuate. Panting and enjoying the sense of great power, Mitsuru is amazed by how changing partners could make such a difference, and he knew he wasn't the problem. As he begins brutally killing klaxosaurs, he tells Zero Two that he wouldn't mind becoming her official partner, to the dismay of Ikuno. Zero Two says that she should go all-out for a bit.
Hachi tells her to stop, as the others had already evacuated. Nana orders that Strelizia get retrieved. The three FRANXX are surprised what happened and Zorome apologizes to Miku. When they retrieve Strelizia, Zero Two walks out and smiles and waves at Hiro, who returns the gesture but sees that Mitsuru hasn’t come out yet. Inside the cockpit, Mitsuru is gravely injured and unconscious. She says that he isn't suited to be her darling, only Hiro is.
DARLING in the FRANXX
|STAMEN||Hiro | Goro | Zorome | Futoshi | Mitsuru|
|PISTIL||Zero Two | Ichigo | Miku | Kokoro | Ikuno|
|OTHER||Naomi | Old Woman | 081 | 090 | 245 | 9'α | 9'β | 9'γ | 9'δ | 9'ε | 9'ζ | VIRM|
|APE||Papa | Vice Chairman | Gorilla | Marmoset | Lemur | Baboon | Tarsier|
Dr. FRANXX | Hachi | Nana
|FRANXX||Strelizia | Delphinium | Argentea | Genista | Chlorophytum | Standard | 9 Model|
|EPISODES||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12|
13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
|CHAPTERS||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20|
|MUSIC||KISS OF DEATH | Torikago | Manatsu no Setsuna | Beautiful World|
Hitori | CÅGE | Vanquish | Escape | Darling
|LOCATIONS||Cerasus | Garden | Chrysanthemum | Gran Crevasse | Cosmos|
|KEYWORD||Klaxosaur | FRANXX|