In this episode, if the random Lovecraft references don't get you, the strange gothic lolita girl that might be dead will.
Once again, the show is in need of some magic provider that bestows the power of ultimate ownage upon our heroes. Whether it's the angels of prophecy or Prequel Gennai's sack of goodies, sometimes that final evolution needs a little help. It's a little weird this time around as the three tamers had already achieved bio-merge, only to lose the ability to an unfortunate onset of logic (something that never seemed to happen to Davis). Then, right on cue, the writers manage to pull something out of their ass to make sure the good guys have the biggest guns.
Still, if the writers need to make something up like this, they might as well make it as epic as possible. Thus we have Alice and Dobermon, who own the stage in the few moments they get, managing to be simultaneously awesome and completely incomprehensible. Alice is a blue-eyed, blond pixie in a gothic lolita outfit. Dobermon is a fearsome, yet noble, doggie. They're alone, with D-Reaper's agents in aggressive pursuit. All are delightful images that leave an impact in their limited time, which somehow makes us forget that all this came out of nowhere and is never fully explained.
The little we do know is that Dobermon was sent by the Sovereign to inform the tamers that the fight against D-Reaper hinges on them. By sacrificing himself, he gives the tamers the ability to bio-merge again, making him some magical canine pinata. While that alone makes some sense, the addition of Alice both complicates and elevates this. Alice certainly wouldn't represent the Sovereign (Zhuqiaomon wouldn't stand for that), but she has a deep, emotional bond with Dobermon. Her only connection to any known entities is that she appears to be Rob McCoy's granddaughter.
The official explanation from the show's creators is “we don't know either,” which isn't encouraging. Konaka has speculated that Alice is actually some sort of ghost, explaining both her ensemble and the weird way Rob looks at his family photos in other scenes. Even without an explanation, both Alice and Dobermon show genuine pain as they realize that they must part ways, a strangely moving moment. We may not know anything about these figures, but they make us want to.
Speaking of moving, the parents again step up, setting up a camp at Rika's house to offer a good meal and some comfort to the tamers in the midst of the their battle. By now, the parents have all realized that they can't get around their children fighting, which is emotional enough on its own. But what really sets these folks apart is that they not only accept this, but they actively do what they can to make the battle as easy as possible. The get-together is occasionally silly and sometimes embarrassing, but the gesture should be commended.
While neither Hypnos nor the Monster Makers produce a whole lot in this episode, their presence is greatly appreciated. The interviews with Dolphin and Curly, combined with other discussion and field reports, chop the episode up into a quirky pastiche of that one Lain episode “Protocol.” Curly and a second expert are listed as hailing from Miskatonic University, because we haven't had any good Lovecraft references in a while. In addition, Yamaki ponders his responsibility in all this, Riley helps him realize that what matters is what he does to fix it, and he finds a strange line of code from the arc that will set up future awesomeness.
Oh, and Takato's finally noticed just how broken Jeri is when he sees her mumbling about about the chaos of the world and all the pain within the human collective. We've hit a pretty dark place when Shibumi seems pretty normal here while Jeri has become the Lain character.
My Grade: A-
- The news reporter makes an interesting comment on the level of heat that D-Reaper is radiating. Whether it's due to its digital/electrical nature conducting heat or some other reason is never explained, but it's a neat little note on some of the other side effects to having this thing in town.
- Hypnos is revealed to be worldwide organization, but no mention of overseas branches has ever come up before and Yamaki is acknowledged as the system's creator. Not only that, but he also has to answer to that one government asshole (whom we'll still call Kurata), who spends this episode dodging questions and denying responsibility while the Monster Makers attempt to be honest and informative.
- Riley makes a pretty alarming and pretty accurate comment that Yamaki is only the first in a long line of people that will unsuccessfully try to control the internet.
- Better Know An Agent! The wave of artillery agents that chase Alice and Dobermon are called Bubbles while the strange arms/ribcage number at the end is called Creep Hands. Both Dobermon and Rob comment on how D-Reaper is evolving to use more sophisticated techniques, with Rob actually using the term “agents.”