The deliberate pace of the series in the early going may have some fascinating stuff in it, but it takes longer to gain proper forward momentum. We're not quite there yet, but clearly all of the cogs are now turning and ready to take off real soon. This episode establishes the framework of Rika and Renamon's relationship, Impmon's troubled past and Yamaki acting like a bad, bad man. All of these transition nicely into the next phase of the series.
Rika and Renamon are the primary focus of the episode and their stubborn little kabuki dance is a nice illustration of how complicated the two can be. This is the first time we've seen a serious row between partners since TK and Tokomon in Adventure, and that was fueled by a lie. There's no such influence blocking things here. Both Rika and Renamon have shown clear concern for the other, but aren't convinced that this partnership thing is right for them.
For Rika, her frustration over the complexities of Digimon taming has her calling it quits, all the while secretly hoping to get swept back into the fold. She's even tolerating Calumon because he's the only one putting an effort into that. What she really wants is for Renamon to show up and excite her again, reminding her why she liked this whole business in the first place. Yet Renamon is nowhere to be found, frustrating her all over again.
Renamon, meanwhile, is coming to terms with the fact that she can get stronger without Rika. She dispatches a trio of Flybeemon on her own and later seeks council from Impmon, who has been championing the act of going solo. We see a glimpse of Impmon's history here, and his partners- a pair of toddlers who fought over him until he got fed up with it and bolted. This personal trauma has him guarded against everybody, even Renamon when she actually treats him with respect and values his opinion.
Yet through all of her freelance ass-kicking, Renamon realizes that there's no point in getting stronger. In the end, it's just empty battles and more data to digest for more empty battles. It's unfortunate that she reaches this conclusion in the middle of a fight, allowing her opponent to gain the upper hand in a suddenly raw battle. As Harpymon tries clawing her way into Renamon's face, Rika, having left her cards at home, rushes in with a stick in the back. It's not the first time a human partner has interfered with a battle, but the impact and symbolism of the moment makes it stand as the definitive example of a kid getting physical for their Digimon. Harpymon turns on Rika, but Renamon evolves to protect her partner just like they did in the old days.
Takato's making a new connection himself, and a much stranger one at that. After Kazu and Kenta flipped out and bolted when Takato tried introducing them to Guilmon, his awkward conversation with them the next day sparks Jeri's interest. Now she wants to meet him and against all common sense Takato arranges this. That's how stupid she makes him... and he wasn't exactly smart to begin with. Yet the reaction is not at all what Takato expected when Jeri thinks Guilmon is the cutest thing ever. He hates having his fearsome monster dismissed as cute but he goes with it as Guilmon seems to enjoy the attention and he's scoring some serious points with her.
Yamaki also shows up to deliver vague threats, both in soliloquy and directly to Takato and Henry. He's in clear villain mode right and one day he might even do something to prove it.
My Grade: A-
- We had only seen minimal interaction between Terriermon and Calumon, but they're suddenly great buddies and Terriermon's dying to teach him tai chi. Sadly, Calumon doesn't quite have the skeletal structure for that.
- There's something really fun in the way Renamon stalks Impmon, sort of a role-reversal as he's the one getting pissed off that someone's on his tail. The walking shots are just silly and awesome.
- You know they're working too hard to sell Yamaki as menacing when there's a meaningless shot of him standing in front of the Matsuki bakery. He's pretty damn menacing as it is; they don't need to push it.
- Rika's grandmother is starting to establish herself as the wise matriarch of the family, but with Rika in no mood to listen, she doesn't get very far. It'll get better, Seiko.