In this episode, Kumamon is far more effective fighting his friends than he is fighting his enemies.
Two episodes ago, the focus of the discussion was handling Tommy's inability to keep up with the demands of the world. Last time, it was the relatively modest angst the non-Kojis are stuck with. This time, an enemy targets Tommy, recognizing him as the group's weakness. It exposes some deep angst within Tommy that is mundane as it gets, but still proves to be very dangerous.
The group may be back together, but they're in no hurry to reach Forest Terminal. Or, rather, they're incapable of hurrying to Forest Terminal as JP and Tommy have no stamina to speak of, forcing them to go at a slower pace. This results in them camping in the woods for a night, giving them a chance to demonstrate their knack for outdoor survival. They're actually pretty good at this, putting the girls in charge of gathering a convenient food source nearby while the boys prepare a fire. With no matches and no Agumon, give credit to Takuya and Koji for pulling this off without spirit evolving.
Bokomon's incompetence remains on display here as Neemon finds a hidden page in the book revealing the existence of beast spirits, essential information that went unobserved, leaving the digidestined in the mindset that the fetch quest part of the mission was over, and terribly unprepared for Grumblemon's trump card. Bokomon's sole job is to guard the book and dispense useful information from it. One of the job requirements should be that he's actually read the damn thing. Combine this negligence with having less walking endurance than JP and he's almost as useless as Neemon and twice as incompetent. It endangers their cause as much as having someone like Tommy on the roster.
It's important to state that Tommy himself shouldn't be blamed for his weaknesses. Blaming the minds that chose him for the job (both in-universe and from a production standpoint) is fair, but this is the only kid in the group who didn't volunteer. It's not his fault that he is at a physical and emotional disadvantage. Nobody expects Suzie to be able to pull off the same things Henry did. We've been spoiled with our youngsters after TK and Cody were such troopers.
Still, weakness is weakness and Cherubimon's forces do the smart thing and attack it. In this case, a Bakumon's attack gives Tommy vivid nightmares. You want some everyday angst that can still cause problems? Tommy is not forced to revisit any deep-rooted childhood trauma or even the bullying he's been subjected to. His nightmare is his new companions separating him from his mother. It's bland, it's boring, it's... something nobody would ever want to face.
It's not clever or interesting, but it's effective. Tommy goes completely berserk, threatening the other digidestined first with a stick and then turning into Kumamon. Evil Kumamon is somehow incredibly dangerous, using his ice breath to fell trees and attacking directly with that icicle move of his. It's a shame Takuya and Koji both agree that they can't spirit evolve to engage Kumamon directly, as that would have been a nice bit of drama in an otherwise straightforward episode. JP suggests it, but is voted down quickly.
Eventually, Koji and Takuya do spirit evolve in order to expose and capture Bakumon. Bakumon uses the same attack on Agunimon and, wouldn't you know, it doesn't work at all. Takuya's nightmare is that all his friends are secretly conspiring to undermine him, which he finds completely inconceivable. The difference here is that Takuya can't fathom a scenario where his friends are trying to betray him. Tommy can picture his nightmare, because the deeper he follows the others into this adventure, the farther he gets from his childhood and the protective arms of his mama. That's enough to strike fear into any child.
My Grade: B-
- During the opening summary of the last episode, Rika mistakenly says that Kapurimon becomes the most popular kid in school instead of Tsunomon. Given how kids can behave sometimes, we're calling that a Freudian slip.
- Not that it makes Bokomon any less culpable, but what the hell were the book's original creators thinking when they included a foldover page? Is that even possible with ancient printing technology? It's an old tome, not a girlie magazine.
- With all these TV screens showing real world locations (including some specific to the kids, which is curious), and the fact that the Digimon are all too aware of the existence of humans, you'd think this would all be building up to some plot about the eroding connection between the two worlds.
- So Takuya is shocked to learn that Koji is an only child, but just senses that JP is and doesn't treat it like a big deal.
- JP apparently subscribes to the common fan overreaction that any physical contact between two characters of the opposite sex (and in some cases, the same sex) suggests that they are destined to fall in love and be together forever. Even when such physical contact involves a diving tackle and even when the parties involved don't treat it like any big deal.