For all of the problems in using someone like Etemon as a villain, the arc certainly ends big. A dramatic rescue mission, a couple gut check moments, a new evolution and a dramatic turn that shifts the entire series. Elvis has left the building!
Appropriately, we start out with a very pensive group of digidestined sitting around a fire unable to figure out the next move and knowing that their comrade is in captivity. Tai's eager for another chance to rescue Sora while everybody else is trying not to think about what's happening to her. Izzy uncovers more basement to the pyramid where Datamon is holding Sora, and Tai's all ready to rush in blindly yet again to save her. Thankfully he has teammates and they're more interested in formulating a strategy.
As for Sora, she's all tied up to a slab and Datamon is indeed being pretty cruel. With poor Biyomon crucified on a wall, Datamon's creating a copy of Sora so he can have the power of her digivice and crest. It's creepy, sadistic and proof that Datamon is still pretty awesome.
With Etemon loading all of his troops around the pyramid, the ensuing battle gives us something that isn't seen enough in the newer seasons- tactics. Not tactics involved with a single fight, but the kind of straight-up war strategy that pits the digidestined against the villain in a chess match. In this regard, as dense as Tai can be sometimes, he's easily the best strategist of the goggle-heads (with Thomas from Data Squad taking the overall award). Collectively, the team is able to scout Etemon's troops, draw them away from the pyramid and sneak Tai and Izzy inside. The endgame has Ikkakumon, Garurumon and Togemon surrounding Etemon in the desert. Checkmate.
While it's awesome when a plan comes together and everybody fulfills their assigned role, sometimes they have to improvise. As has been established, Etemon actually kicks a considerable amount of ass and is back in the pyramid in no time, forcing Izzy to engage him while Tai goes after Sora. This is actually kinda dumb as there's no real reason Tai couldn't have stayed back while Izzy did the rescue. After all, Izzy has the map. But no, this is Tai's mission and damned if logic's going to get in the way. The writers wouldn't ever think of disappointing the throng of Tai/Sora fans, right?
The real reason, of course, is that Tai has to confront that damned electric fence again. This time with no guide. He's gotta have a feel for it just like he tried to do last time. This time around a reckless guess that's liable to get him killed has him branded a hero, makes his crest glow and leads him to Sora. After snatching her tag and digivice, he makes a diving save to grab Sora before she falls into oblivion. And the crowd goes wild!
While Tai, Sora and Izzy make their escape, Datamon drags Etemon into the darkness which, since we still haven't had a proper boss fight, Etemon absorbs and turns him into some techno-fused boss from a Final Fantasy game. Since the Champions still can't faze him (they never really did), Tai decides to be reckless one more time, charging ahead with Greymon. It's still Tai rushing madly into danger. It's still not caring whether he lives or dies. Perhaps the only thing that separates this from the Skullgreymon debacle is the Digimon's perception of it. Greymon's with him step for step, and that must be what powers the crest and lets him evolve into MetalGreymon. One giga blaster from him and Etemon goes boom. Shame Greymon had such trite lines about courage giving him strength and Tai's high-pitched screaming sounded like it came from a badly dubbed Chinese martial arts movie.
The network goes boom too, creating a huge vortex that sucks in Tai and MetalGreymon. One more bitchslap for good measure. It closes and the rest of the digidestined are left stunned. Their leader is gone. Meanwhile, Tai and Koromon find themselves in an even stranger place. The animation is more subdued and the normal sight of people walking a park become the weirdest thing encountered so far in the show. They're in the real world, and Digimon Adventure just turned the corner.
My Grade: A-
- While Tai, Matt, Joe and Mimi are talking around the fire and Izzy is having some alone time with his computer, TK's the only one showing concern for the Digimon. They're all just as scared, and likely worried about Biyomon, who was also kidnapped and isn't mentioned once in that scene.
- Just as he landed the first blow on Devimon, Ikkakumon fires the first shots in the battle. Goooo Joe!
- Palmon evolves to Togemon instantly without a transformation sequence. It's actually quite jarring.