In this episode, in a desperate attempt to make Tommy appear useful, here's a tribe with a penchant for doing it wrong and an element that makes Tommy's spirit super effective.
The first two episodes haven't shown Tommy in a particularly good light. He starts out a balling crybaby, commits a dangerous high-wire act that nearly gets him and Takuya killed, goes along with JP's scheme to catch a train home (despite being indecisive about his desire to actually leave) and proclaims that he's not supposed to be here more often than Dante in Clerks. Is there any other character that gets a worse introduction? Well... maybe JP, but he's still an ass here so we don't need to talk about him yet.
This is Tommy's redemption episode, where he shows inner strength, finds his spirit and becomes the big hero. In this effort, the episode succeeds. We can start to see him in a better light, and he suddenly goes from being the helpless baby of the team to its second strongest member behind Takuya. Granted, it must be recognized that this is achieved by lowering the rims, putting bumpers on the gutters and making the task as foolproof as possible.
First off, he and JP are given one last chance to leave for good. While JP gets on the platform without a fight, Takuya pushes Tommy to go home (Zoe too, but she has enough sass to talk him down). Tommy was never all that committed to bailing in the first place, knowing that he should go but wanting to see if he's got some hero in him. So when the Trailmon leaves and neither of the two are on board, it wasn't as dramatic a change of heart as it could have been. Especially since JP stayed when he realized how boring his home life was compared to a Digital World that offers him all sorts of chances to stalk Zoe.
This now makes three characters who have opted into all this not out of a desire to help the Digital World, but because life at home wasn't doing it for them. Takuya and JP make this explicit and that seems to be the case with Tommy as well. Tommy even claims that his parents will understand what will end up being a lengthy absence if he comes home a stronger person, implying that his parents must really think he's a weakling and that he's more eager to become a superhero than to actually save the world.
He gets his chance to prove himself facing a Candlemon tribe that does everything ass-backwards. They steal the fractal code for the rail bridge over them for defense, even though the missing bridge becomes the sole reason the kids visit them in the first place. Despite this, their first assumption is that the intruders are there to steal their artifact, which the digidestined weren't even aware existed. They worship the ten Legendary Warriors until Takuya uses the spirit of one, at which point they suddenly feel the urge to run them out of town.
Since Candlemon don't mind being set on fire, Agunimon's fire attacks aren't very effective. Recognizing this, Tommy springs to action, jumps into the (suddenly very shallow) river and uses his giant hat to douse the Candlemon with water. It's an act of courage to be sure, and it's enough to call forth the
digiegg spirit of ice and turn Tommy into Kumamon, who has an ice
breath attack that just so happens to be perfect against fire types.
It certainly counts, but given how the encounter was tailored towards
Kumamon's strengths and that the Candlemon claimed to just be testing
the digidestined and weren't all that threatening to begin with, it
doesn't count for much.
My Grade: B-
- I've missed this kind of internal strife. Just as Zoe did last episode, JP makes it a point to note that he's older that Takuya. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but JP and Zoe each make it clear that they are not going to automatically listen to Takuya, especially as he's the second-youngest on the team. Takuya's age gives him a credibility gap that neither Tai nor Takato had to deal with (with the older kids looking over his shoulder, Davis arguably did).
- Apparently the best way to descend a steep cliff with limited walking space is to run down it.
- The story of the Lucemon and the Legendary Warriors is part of one of the richest mythologies in the franchise. It's underutilized, to be sure, but it's nice to see some serious thought put into it, especially as the legend influences the thought and mentalities of many of the Digimon down the road. This certainly won't be the last you'll hear about this.
- JP is smart enough to write down all this information on the legend, particularly the mark for each spirit.
- While Wizardmon's appearance is unnecessary and downright regrettable given his role in Adventure, it's amusing that he's voiced by Joshua Seth. His battle with Agunimon has a real Tai vs. Matt sound to it.