In this episode, Ryo helps the group find shelter for the night, gets his Digimon to snap a dragon in half with its bare hands, then leaves the party to fend for themselves.
There is a right sharp number of great moments here. There's stuff that's interesting visually, funny, eerily familiar, creepy, sentimental and downright epic. Kazu and Kenta are successfully reunited with Takato, Henry and Jeri while Rika and Renamon are still on a solo tour. One more Deva is eliminated, this time in unbelievable fashion. This should be a great episode!
And yet... all together it just doesn't pack the punch of a tight, cohesive episode. It feels more like a series of independent segments, with no thematic connection and just happening to connect to each other in the timeline. Each segment works on its own, but when it's all put together it doesn't seem like it amounts to a whole lot.
Yes, much of this disconnection has to do with Ryo. He brings Kazu and Kenta back to the primary group and meets Takato and Henry. Takato fanboys a little bit, but Henry doesn't seem too shocked at Ryo's presence. The amusing part is that Takato immediately blames Kazu for Rika storming off. Ryo, ever so noble and perfect, tries to take the blame, but even Kenta knows better. With night approaching, Ryo helps the group find lodging, complete with eight prepared beds. This time it isn't a trap! Although with a Knightmon patrolling the hallways and Ryo being just too perfect a host, it easily could have been.
If Ryo is helpful there, he's critical to the team surviving an attack from dragon Deva Majiramon when he uses the super-special-awesome card (that only he's good enough to use) to grow Cyberdramon to Majiramon's size and snap the Deva into oblivion. Yes, the card nonsense is silly, but it is an epic kill. The episode seems to be focused on cementing the fact that the tamers would all be doomed to die horrible deaths without Ryo around... then has Ryo abandon them when Cyberdramon gets a little too bloodlusty. All that buildup and he's out of the picture just like that.
In between the Ryo show, one of the sweeter moments of the arc is Takato finding the letter from Mom. Since leaving for the Digital World, we have seen nothing from back home. This is a huge departure for a series that had spent the entire first half in the real world. Just as we're about to go into withdrawal and dying to see the likes of Yamaki, Suzie and even Miss Asaji again, we get this. The letter had to have been difficult to write; Yoshie is the bad cop of the family and did not approve of Takato's quest. A shot of her in Takato's room shows how rough it is. And yet, she recognizes what Takato is trying to do and proud of him for going for it. It's a simple gesture, and yet it puts her up there with Sarah Damon on the list of the franchise's greatest moms.
Jeri notices all of the feels Takato is having over the letter and her smile alone seems to help him with his homesickness. There have been a few moments between Takato and Jeri sprinkled into the last few episodes, but this is the first time they get a proper scene alone. It's clear that Takato's affection for her is still present, which is an important reminder as he's previously shown a little guilt in dragging her along and uncertainty in her less-than-nuanced approach to adventuring. Even more important is the developing affection Jeri has for Takato. She's been growing more fond of him ever since he introduced her to Guilmon, and it's one of the motivations behind her increased interest in Digimon, her desire for a partner, and determination in going into the Digital World. With that established, it makes it all the more heartbreaking when everything goes to hell.
My Grade: B
- Sometimes all it takes is a paint job. The first half of the episode becomes a ton more fun with the strange, monochrome style of the plain they find themselves in.
- Rika and Renamon may put a premium on words, and Renamon doesn't need many of them to explain that Rika done screwed up.
- At least there's some comic value in the random shots of Calumon wandering aimlessly in the desert. It's important for storytelling purposes, but the silly songs, cape antics and dealing with the Muttley-esque Doggymon (used to even greater effect in Frontier) are worthwhile.
- The bedroom Ryo puts them up in is a dead ringer for the mansion in episode 8 of Adventure. It's still not a trap as there wasn't a picture of an angel on the wall.
- Instead, the angel-motif is in Takato's room, where he has posters of Patamon and Gatomon over his bed.
- Poor Majiramon. You'd think the dragon Deva would get a little more screentime instead of being stuck as Makuramon's steed and Cyberdramon's bitch. Still, it could have been worse: at least he wasn't a flipping seahorse.