In Defence of Isabella – The Promised Neverland

Every villain is the hero of their own story. A hero will do what must be done, regardless of how it makes them look, even if to some they will appear to be the villain!

What’s this post about? So, I’ve been watching The Promised Neverland for ten weeks now and spent a lot of time thinking about it. It’s probably not been helped by the fact that I am writing episode reviews and spend a lot of time reading other’s reviews. As a result, I have come up with some fairly radical theories and I thought I would get them down before the finale.

As you may have gathered from the title, my theory revolves around Isabella, the Mother at Grace Field Orphanage in The Promised Neverland. I think I’ve gone on record several times saying that she has been an outstanding villain, but what if I was wrong?

So, who is Isabella? Not a lot has really been revealed about Isabella. Sister Krone claimed that she was thirty-years-old. If that’s true, then Isabella will have spent twelves years inside an orphanage, where she will have had to score perfectly every day just to survive that long. There is some buzz that the girl on top of the wall in Grandmother’s flashback was Isabella as a child.

Given how relaxed Grandmother was about knowing that several of the children knew of the truth, it would appear that it’s a fairly common occurrence with the high performing children. Therefore, it’s likely that Isabella knew about what awaited her from a young age and was why she tried to escape.

After this, she was selected to enter the program to become a Mother. Obviously, she accepted and completed the program with flying colours to become one of the youngest Mothers. So far we don’t know how long that program is, but from Sister Krone’s flashbacks it wasn’t a short course. I’d hesitate a guess that it was possibly another twelve years. Sister Krone told the children that she was twenty-six and we know that she was trying to become a Mother.

In the last episode, Isabella casually mentioned that after getting onto the Mother program you have a child. The children at the orphanage seem to range from one to twelve, so I think about two years of the program will be having a child and raising it. After that, who knows, but my assumption is that it goes to one of the orphanages.

That’s all pretty dark so far, but it doesn’t end there. Isabella then managed to become a Mother and run her own orphanage. Here’s where it gets really dark. There are more girls selected for the Mothers program than can become Mothers, so even when Isabella got the position, there is always someone snapping at her heels, waiting for their chance to replace her. Sister Krone for example.

So, not only does Isabella have a device attached to her heart that can be activated at any time, killing her instantly, but she has to raise the children and lead them off to their doom. If she doesn’t do it, her life will be over and someone else will. Even after surviving the orphanage and the Mothers program, she is still fighting for her life.

The best way to survive is to raise the best children. She needs to produce an environment that is loving and wholesome, where the children are free to run, play, and learn. On top of that, she needs to bury the pain and lose that she must have suffered, hiding it away from the children.

I think this is why she has the room with mementoes from all the children she has taken to the gatehouse. Isabella made each one of those stuffed toys by hand and gave them to the children. She watched them grow and develop, and then they were gone, leaving her alone with another abandoned toy.

So, assuming that it was Isabella on top of the wall, she has tried to escape before. She knows what she’s up against and is likely aware of the hierarchy of the ‘demons’. If she wanted to hurt them, there is one way to get to do that, one way to bring the top target into play. The one that the ‘demons’ refer to as ‘him’ gets only the most intelligent children. Isabella knows this and has managed to raise three at once.

In order to manufacture the opening, she has had to make many sacrifices, some that she will never be able to atone for, but if she can succeed, many more will be saved. We’ve already seen hints of a resistance in the form of William Minerva and his bookplates. It’s not much to go on, but it’s enough for me to attempt to rationalize what is going on in this absurd theory.

I may be way off the mark, but we don’t know that Norman died, only that Isabella told Emma that he had. Why show us Conny in episode one and then not Norman in episode ten? There’s no reason not to unless he isn’t dead. So, if that’s the case, what was behind the door? Isabella clearly knew what it was, which makes me think that she is in on whatever it is.

We know that Isabella can act. She’s been pretending to be good, so she could just as likely be pretending to be evil. As for breaking Emma’s leg and threatening to kill her, Isabella has been working on this plan for six years and these children are potentially going to ruin it, costing Isabella her shot at the big boss and her life, and probably the children’s too.

This is all complete speculation based off of the ten episodes to date. There is as much chance that I am completely wrong as there is that I’m right, which is one of the things I love about this series. They’ve done such a good job or warping our reality and destroying our trust and faith in what we see that anything becomes a possibility.

If you have any theories on how things might pan out, let’s have them. I already have my tinfoil hat on, so I’m open to pretty much anything. Just don’t spoil it for me, if you’ve read the books and already know the answer. As you can imagine, I’m looking forward to episode eleven. Thanks for reading.

Other posts in the series

12 thoughts on “In Defence of Isabella – The Promised Neverland”

  1. I had my suspicions about a potential plan Isabella had in the shadows too, and it was the scene where she took Norman to that room that kind of confirmed it. The only reason I couldn’t go with it is because I didn’t imagine she would go against HQ considering the bomb inside of her, which meant that any attempt at gaining freedom would result in her death, so what else could she be fighting/planning for? The kids’ maybe? Well, It’s certainly interesting to speculate about what is going on with her and basically anything about her, I guess we’ll see as the show progesses.

    1. She has little chance of survival either way so I thought she could be trying to set up the downfall of the demons, trying to lure out the leader. It was fun to try to work out a way that it made sense. Not so sure that’s true after watching the last episode, but that doesn’t change her history and what she’s been through.

    1. Thanks. I’m not sure some of my predictions will hold up after the last episode, but I think her past still makes sense. She’s been through a lot and I still think she may want to take down the demons. I know I would.

  2. I never really viewed her as this big bad evil force like a lot of folks did. She’s the antagonist, but a lot of her choices really boil down to necessity. Or rather, at least what she believes to be the case. The show does a really good job emphasizing that Isabella has a lot more going on than meets the eye. While you wrote this before the ending, so taking that into account here, I think you got at a lot of important things people seemed to miss. Norman in the other room for example. Taking the ending into account, you can see that Isabella was never really against the kids at all.

    She’s the best character in the series by a country mile and her story was by far the most interesting portion of the show. Enjoyed the read and thank you for submitting this to the showcase! 🙂

    1. Thanks and yes, she was the star of the show for me. It’s interesting that in the manga (I’ve read the first three volumes now) they showed the numbers on her neck in the first chapter but not in the anime until much nearer the end.

      In reality, whilst she may not of had a chance to escape or help the children escape, she was doing what she believed would be the best for them. A happy life in an environment that enhanced their chances of surviving for longer. Not to mention that, ultimately, she’s just trying to survive too.

  3. when i saw this was an indepth post i screamed. i stopped at episode 3 because i got busy but wow, your post makes me want to go watch it NOW. great analysis, now when i watch it i’m going to be watching her, did you figure out the answer by the end of the season? (has this series ended?)

    1. Thanks, yeah, the season has ended. I won’t tell you what I got right if any for fear of spoiling it for you. Let’s just say I really enjoyed the whole series and especially the ending.

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