In this episode, Suzaku and Seiryuu spend the whole time arguing about whether or not killing children helps their cause. On the plus side- no Miaka.
Now that we're firmly entrenched in the affairs of the gods, things operate on a much larger scope. Any thoughts of beating Zhuqiaomon into submission have been retired. The priority now is surviving divine wrath, hoping that maybe they can talk him into reversing a course of action in which he has sacrificed months of time, his strongest knights and the very concept of Digimon progressing as a species. It's looking bleak.
Credit the three Digimon partners for keeping their tamers alive through this. Taomon returns remarkably quickly after the previous battle to provide protection spells. Terriermon and Guilmon can't evolve again so soon, but they throw themselves into the battle to at least give Zhuqiaomon a different target. This gesture is key because Takato realizes that he needs to replicate it to get Gallantmon back into the picture. He falls through Zhuqiaomon's attack to pull off the bio-merge, a visually impressive and damn gutsy move. Gallantmon isn't a huge factor in this battle, but you can bet Rika took notes for next episode.
Ultimately, they were never going to accomplish anything against Zhuqiaomon. Somebody so anti-human and so committed to his plan isn't going to listen to the same kids that had destroyed his Devas. It takes a fellow god for that, so in strolls Azulongmon, everyone's favorite exposition-provider. While he delivers as much backstory here as he did in Zero Two, this time it's more as a second opinion. Most of the key points are touched on via argument. It's much more enthralling than last season's episode of Magic Dragon Storytime.
It also raises some fascinating questions of strategy, with parallels to real-world military build-up, weapons testing and capitulation if we want to go that far (we won't). This “true enemy” is awakening, seemingly due to the Digimon evolving and progressing. The Sovereign respond by sealing away the catalyst of this evolution in the form of Calumon and expelling it to the real world.
Stop there for a moment: is that sensibility or cowardice? It's an awful fate either way. For a growing and prospering species to feel that evolution is angering some mysterious force from below, and thus deeming it dangerous and clamping down on it. Whether or not it's the right decision, it's terrible to take what all creatures strive for and forcibly suppress it.
Either way, it didn't work as this enemy continues to threaten the Digital World. Now the dilemma becomes whether to continue capitulating or fight back, seizing the catalyst and using it to evolve to the point where the Digimon can fight back. That second option just sounds right, possibly because we've been ingrained with a “never give up, never surrender” mentality since around the Etemon arc of season one. It's surprising, then, that this is Zhuqiaomon's mindset, and everything he and the Devas have done so far have been with this objective in mind. Now we know why Henry heard all that stuff about good and evil being based on perspective.
While this sort of vindicates Zhuqiaomon and makes it very hard to call him a true villain, his anti-human kick is very unfortunate. This is ultimately where Azulongmon is most useful, suggesting that instead of being repulsed by humans and Digimon evolving together, they may be the key to stopping this D-Reaper thing. The kids may not have a lot to do in this episode, but at least we appear to finally have a real villain now.
My Grade: B
- There's a neat implication where it's suggested that the Monster Makers are using grid computing to derive some of the more complicated algorithms necessary to get their ark operational. The idea of a massive collective operation to get these kids home is inspiring.
- We've seen Ryo noticing all the Megidramon-related disturbances, but how do those prompt him to find Baihumon? As much fun as Ebonwumon is and as cool as it is to see all four of the Sovereign in this series, there's not much of a point to Ryo's visit.
- How's Jeri holding up? “All we've seen is pain.” Nice to see she's doing well.
- The layout of the Digital World as a series of concentric circles surrounding the Earth, with D-Reaper as the extreme outer ring, is not only an awesome visualization, but creates an interesting distinction from the ways the world is constructed in Frontier and Fusion.
- Shibumi is still a Lain character. Nothing else to see here.