In this episode, SaberLeomon dies. With no regeneration. That should make everybody a little bit uncomfortable.
Let's break down the three different flavors of Leomon death. You have the ally deaths that change characters and tug at our heartstrings (Adventure, Tamers). Then you have the villains that do little more than get in the way before they are inevitably defeated (Frontier, Fusion). At first glance, that sounds about right for SaberLeomon, but considering what lies ahead for the Data Squad, he belongs in the third category alongside X-Evolution- enemy deaths that happen so suddenly that it's actually a bit jarring to the main characters that were fighting them.
It's the exclamation point to a stellar multipurpose episode that emphasizes two of the best things about Digimon Data Squad: Keenan accepting humanity and Kurata shaming it. Neither of the two are fully realized, of course, but it sets the table for both nicely. From the start, Kurata's introduction has a tone of suspicion. Nobody at DATS is all that certain about the guy, which he attempts to alleviate by being a pandering little bitch. He claims to be a Digimon nerd and has the knowledge to back it up, as well as the honor of having worked under Spencer. It's a masterful way to get his hooks into the group. DATS is leery and keeps its distance, yet recognizes what he brings to the table and gives him the freedom to do what he wants.
His agreeable attitude is what makes him such a contrast to someone like Merukimon. Merukimon is stern and humorless, but by now it's clear that he's no villain. He's tried harder to keep the peace than anyone else so far, trying to protect Digimon and punish only guilty individuals. He's tough, but fair. Kurata tries to be friendly, sucking up to everybody in the room. When Sampson shuts down his wish to experiment on Keenan, he takes it in stride. By acting like it's no big deal, everybody forgets how cruel his request actually was.
Keenan ends up in Marcus's custody, and the fact that this wasn't the worst proposed solution says everything. Without Kurata slithering around, things take a turn for the sweet as Keenan experiences the human home life. He learns about such pleasantries as a nice bath, Mom's cooking, pillow fights and girls. His reactions to all this are enjoyable and do more to ease his hatred of humans than any amount of battlefield kindness or the many startling revelations he's had to face. It's a world that's totally ordinary to the rest of us, but offer so many of the simple memories that make us happy. It's a treat to see him experience these foreign things for the first time.
It's also important that he's not instantly comfortable with it. He's terribly timid the first time Kristy sees him. He's nervous at the consequences of losing the game. Most importantly, he's beginning to associate the household's warmth to his feelings for Frigimon. His mind is changing, he's growing to accept humans and he doesn't like it. Keenan feels like he's betraying Frigimon, and to turn away from the truth and something so good is about as human a reaction as it gets.
SaberLeomon's attack interrupts all of this, and for the second consecutive episode gives us a villain taking the direct approach. As a Mega, he dominates the Data Squad, looking indestructible against all of their tricks. In all fairness, he should have his victory, having proven that Digimon can amass an insurmountable force against the humans. That's why his death is so shocking, doubly so when his digiegg disintegrates. It's clear that the culprit is neither human nor Digimon. It's just unnatural. And whoever is responsible for it has no concern with fighting fair.
My Grade: A
- Adding to the awesomeness of her and Megumi's antics last time, Miki does a fair bit of emoting when she's dismayed that Keenan refuses to eat. One more scene like that and she's on par with Yoshi.
- The bigger question shouldn't be who Kurata is. It should be how he got in that chair with nobody noticing.
- Marcus does a good job remembering that Falcomon had attacked his family, prompting the Guilmon box. It doesn't work and it ends up being terribly awkward, but at least he tried.
- The dub shows two splashes of water in the bath, but shows only Falcomon getting thrown in. Somehow they must have frowned upon Kristy throwing a naked Keenan into the tub. Still, she is strangely comfortable with doing so.
- Sarah has a surplus stockpile of food for her and Kristy in case the boys eat it all. Mother of the Year.
- What really makes this episode shine are all the little remarks thrown in. Marcus's enthusiasm for Keenan trying to escape, Marcus calling Falcomon Keenan's pet, Kristy's rubber ducky being eaten, Kristy reminding Marcus to change out of his jammies before he leaves... so many winners.