Phil is a younger Grace Field House student who appears for the first time during Emma’s animated personality advent in Episode 1. He asks Emma for assistance tying his shoes, and she carries him down the stairs like a younger brother will indeed, constructing their relationship and Emma’s presumed involvement within their orphanage “parents.” We similarly dismiss him. We disregard the black and blond-haired creatures on Emma’s left and right — they’re her younger brothers, and she enjoys interacting with and assisting them.
I don’t recall their names, but I recall Phil’s. It’s because Phil’s name comes up as potential during a pivotal scene in Episode 4 when Ray urges Emma to consider all of her Grace Field House brothers as potential traitors. He has high test scores for his age and is among the more attentive kids overall. Ray is shown to be the traitor in question, but the show needs us to understand who Phil is, or at the very least remember his name.
We knew Ray was Isabella’s confessed agent after the fourth and fifth episodes, but Phil’s graphic cues mimic how the show laid the seeds for Ray’s defection before Norman’s accusation. Going to past episodes before Ray informs us to investigate him (through Emma) indicates that the show aesthetically differentiates him from his colleagues, even in group shots, both before and after Ray raises him as a possible traitor. It doesn’t automatically imply that Phil is a traitor like Ray, but Phil promised Neverland needs us to close notice to Phil for whatever reason.
Phil comes up time and time again at opportune moments. Phil discovers Don and Gilda in Isabella’s room, scaring them because they thought it was Isabella herself. At that moment, he is purposefully separated from Don and Gilda visually by a table. In the parallel narrative thread to Don and Gilda’s snooping, Phil is the one who informs Emma regarding the morse code in William Minerva’s library volumes. He comes across Sister Krone rummaging through Ray’s possessions and questions her what she’s up to. Phil appears throughout every episode, particularly after the series first mentions him in Episode 4. Phil’s deeds and looks are never in a vacuum, especially with the mounting tension around the children’s escape as well as Isabella and Krone. The tension of The Promised Neverland itself frames them.
Outside of the reality that he’s graphically shown as a child who sneaks around regularly, there’s little to imply Phil is a spy. His actions range from shushing Don and Gilda to slipping down the corridor in pursuit of Krone’s hidden pursuit. He’s astute and astute, yet he’s never deceiving on the surface. In the beginning, Phil is given a big role, but he is also shown holding Emma’s hand in a show of unity and trust. Before Norman, Emma, and Ray told Don and Gilda the truth; he received comparable visual cutaways. This instructs us to pay attention to him without implying that he is a traitor or a spy.