It's remarkable how this episode is better than its premise. It has no business being all that good. Myotismon's already gone, half the time is spent getting a lecture from Gennai and the whole thing centers around a basic card puzzle. It's not even a particularly difficult one, especially for Izzy, who seems like the kind of kid who could hack the passwords of old Mega Man games.
Yet everything seems to meld into an episode that flows well, creating intrigue at the beginning and tension at the end. It helps that Gennai decides to be a little more involved, inviting the digidestined to his undersea palace. During the journey to his house, the sea parts and they find a tranquil Japanese garden... that promptly fills back up with water once they go inside. Here, Gennai is slightly more useful, explaining that Myotismon has reached Tokyo and giving the team keycards to reach the other world. He doesn't explain how to use them, but it's a start.
Finally, we start to get a little information on Gennai, namely that there is no information about Gennai. He's not really human and not really a Digimon and claims to have no attributes- a null figure in the equation somewhere outside the distinction between data, virus and vaccine. It's an interesting characteristic for an advisor figure as nothing suggests that he should be either a good guy or a bad guy. Nothing even suggests that he should be a guy at all.
His exposition is interesting, however, especially alone with Izzy who probes further. It's the first time important established terms emerge such as data, virus and vaccine types to loosely denote neutral, good and evil Digimon. Incidentally, each Digimon Analyzer screen denotes this type in the upper-right. It's in Japanese, but once you work out the “digicode,” you can watch as the lines steadily blur: Guilmon's technically a virus type! It's also the first time specific levels of Digimon are called In-Training, Rookie and Champion... outside of the theme music.
All of this is much appreciated and useful for those of us trying to classify things better, but the second half is where things really take off. Megakabuterimon wastes no time in trashing the Devidramon guards... along with half the castle. As they are trapped in, there's a stirring moment where Tai is finally declared the leader of the group. It's a surprise to him, but not to any of the others, for reasons I've stated in prior episodes (namely that nobody can stay together or agree to anything without him). Tai ponders it over and makes a wise executive decision- make Izzy do it. It's one of his smartest moves.
For all the agony over the card code, it's ultimately pretty simple: each column represents the vaccine/data/virus classification while each row represents Rookie, Champion or Ultimate level Digimon. Izzy says the classifications in the wrong order and says In-Training/Rookie/Champion instead... but the cards end up in the right slots anyway. The only drama is who between Agumon and Gomamon belongs in the Rookie Vaccine slot. Izzy's stumped and leaves it to Tai to guess.
While all this is going on, Dokugumon shows up and all hell is breaking loose. Spiders are attacking, the castle is still falling apart, rocks are falling everywhere... it's pretty epic stuff and offering plenty of distractions to keep Tai from concentrating on this decision. Ultimately, he plays the Gomamon card and hopes for the best. WereGarurumon finishes off Dokugumon just in time for him to devolve and dive through the gate with Matt.
After the same stock dimensional void footage from episode one... they're all back home. It's all peaceful. The Digimon are there as well making bad jokes. Tai held onto Agumon out of personal sentiment, which was the correct call... probably for the correct reason. Heart of the cards, y'all.
My Grade: B+
- Gennai completely loses it when Tai suggests trial & error to figure out the correct card placement. It's a major departure for him, and quite amusing.
- On that note, Gennai says the consequences are that they may end up in the wrong world. So... there are other worlds out there? Is this one of the crackpot explanations for the Digital Worlds in seasons 3-6 having different rules, mythologies and atmospheres? Please say yes.
- Gennai mods Izzy's laptop to load analysis data from other digivices. He loads Joe's in this episode. Let's see how often he uses it after this.