On paper, this should be one of the seminal episodes in Digimon. Ken is defeated, he is forced to face the reality of his actions and Wormmon sacrifices himself to make this all possible. It's all amazing material, with plenty to delve into as one loses his mind and the other loses his life. The problem is that the action stumbles over itself multiple times, and circumstances behind Magnamon make him a very difficult character to root for.
Not only did the Digiegg of Pulling Wins Out of Nowhere (often shortened to the Digiegg of Miracles, which means the same thing) create Magnamon, it also healed all the other Digimon and seemed to call Kimeramon back into the base. When those two go at it, the resulting structural damage prompts the digidestined to get the hell out of there. Wormmon wants Ken to do the same, trying to convince him that Kimeramon isn't answering to anybody. Ken's scared to death at this point, stubbornly clinging to the notion that he can control his creation, no matter how untrue that is.
The digidestined end up meeting with Ken as well, leading to a war of words as they try to convince him that Digimon are real creatures and it's awfully cruel to play either Emperor or God. It's the first time we get the “Digimon aren't just data” speech, so it shouldn't sound as trite as it does, but this is a well that's tapped repeatedly in future seasons. Namely all of them, with the possible exception of Frontier. It's not fair to downgrade this episode for hitting on such a common theme, but it's something I'm going to get really sick of hearing so I'm certainly not rewarding it. Besides, Ken blows them off anyway, calls Kimeramon his ideal partner. A long evolution sequence completely kills the pace of the episode, and exists solely to get the digidestined out of the base before it crashes.
Not only is Magnamon's origin dubious, but he's not all that effective against Kimeramon. The battle rages back and forth, which is fine inside the base but gets tiresome once they're outside and there's no potential for collateral damage. Miraculous as Magnamon is, he seems to be in a losing effort. Also, while such a big deal is made about Kimeramon being a renegade that refuses to listen to Ken, he's doing exactly what Ken would want anyway, and quite successfully.
As Wormmon and Ken escape on a leftover Devidramon, Wormmon continues to plea for Ken to call a halt to this. It's a great speech, but the pace doesn't slow down for him at all and it seems rushed, especially what follows- he knocks Ken off Devidramon, pilots the steed into Kimeramon, takes a nasty hit and transfers the last of his energy to Magnamon in order to kill Kimeramon. Nobody is allowed a breath in any of that, which is problematic as the impact of what he's doing needs time to breathe.
Wormmon ultimately goes down as a tragic hero unlike any other, who gives his life up not to save his partner from some external threat, but because his partner was losing his grip on reality and needed a fresh start. It's a betrayal of the purest intent. Wormmon never disapproved of Ken's effort to conquer the world, only the increasingly dark path Ken took to do so. Ken is forced to accept not only defeat, but the reality of what he's been doing to innocent creatures. He breaks down completely, made worse when he finally sees what Wormmon was getting at all this time, only to lose him too. He staggers off, not listening to anything else the digidestined have to say.
Next is an odd transition to the campsite, where Jun finally arrives, followed soon by the digidestined. It's some serious mood whiplash given what we've just seen, but it's awfully damn funny. The best shot, however, is that of the new kids as they fall asleep on the ride home. They've never looked so young and fragile, but given what they've accomplished, Tai and Izzy note that they're doing just fine.
My Grade: B
- At the conclusion of each Armor evolution sequence, the evolved form has a line invoking their corresponding crest. The exception has always been Digmon's “drill of power.” He changes it to “drill of knowledge” with a silly line to write off what had clearly been a dubbing error. Doesn't change the fact that “drill of knowledge” sounds stupid in English... and that we're getting Ankylomon in a few episodes and Digmon won't be seen all that much anyway.
- Did they really make a Hindenberg joke once Ken's base went down? Too soon!
- We all know Wormmon was on fire during his big moment, but why exactly was he glowing? And how did he manage to convince that Devidramon to ignore Ken and fly directly at Kimeramon?
- The best shot may have been the kids sleeping on the ride home, but the most awesome shot was the look on the faces of Matt, Tai and especially Izzy when they see Jun pull in.