In this episode, a series of flashbacks reveal that the conflict between humans and Digimon is complex and multi-faceted. Just kidding, it's all Kurata's fault.
All this time, we've come to accept that all this hostility is more complicated than normal. Neither side is really the good guy, neither side is really the bad guy, yet it's too much to ask for cooler heads to prevail. Keenan does his best, stopping the fight between Marcus and Merukimon and making sure they spend at least this episode talking things over. Several things come out of this conversation. We learn that Frigimon, as well as Frigimon's death, forced Merukimon's hand when it came to raising Keenan. We learn that Marcus's father is unbelievably awesome. We also learn that this entire war is pretty much all because of Kurata, thrusting him immediately into the primary villain role and making all of this just a little too tidy.
Usually we're fooling ourselves when we try to condense the cause of a war into one sentence. We got a delightfully complicated scenario in Frontier. This felt like one of those wars, where tensions and distrust led to some boundaries being crossed and escalating into something uncontrollable. Thinking of the war like this adds such realism to the series and forces us to think about how two well-meaning sides can come to blows. That's all gone now, as the war now can be described in one sentence: “Kurata felt threatened by Digimon and tried to kill them all.” Furthermore, all of the other players making things worse are out of the picture. Gotsumon's dead, SaberLeomon's really dead, and even Spencer (who worked so hard reassuring Merukimon that humans weren't going to invade) is MIA. With them gone, there's only one place to point the finger, and it feels like something's lost as a result.
At the same time, auditing each character's actions remains worthwhile. Kurata continues his rapid decline, covering an season's worth of character progression in three episodes. He goes from pandering snake to cowering weasel to smug asshole in a hurry... and he hasn't even reached his final form! There's a bit of whiplash here, but at least he's consistent in the flashback. Kurata is one of those types that hates anything he's intimidated by, and he doesn't react well to things he hates. With the technological know-how to overcome the strength advantage of large Digimon, he's not afraid of them anymore, but boy he still hates them.
The flashbacks also fill in the blanks regarding Merukimon and Keenan. It's hard to see Merukimon playing things any differently. Taking Keenan from Frigimon would have been harsh and hard to justify. Befriending Spencer and taking him at his word felt right, and certainly Spencer meant everything he said. And what else was Merukimon going to tell a child that's going to hate those who killed his mother? He can't tell Keenan the truth, but he can enlist him as a warrior to guard against future attacks. The inability to figure out where Merukimon went wrong makes his death all the more tragic.
Then there's Spencer. If anyone thought Marcus was ridiculous, this isn't going to help. Spencer's interest in Digimon and curiosity about the world are great. His willingness to stay behind in order to ensure the party's escape is admirable. His ability to match fists with Merukimon, to the point where Merukimon accepts him as a friend... that's stretching it a bit. It's a shortcut to an understanding between the two. While it's essential to the plot and certainly consistent with the dogma of the series, it's a little too extreme to take seriously. He can even take credit for inventing the digivice and the formation of the Data Squad. I mean who the hell does he think he is, Hiroaki Ishida?
My Grade: B
- The fact that Marcus (and Thomas and Yoshi, for that matter) believe Merukimon over Kurata is a good indicator of just how much respect they have for their “enemy” and how dubious they find their “ally.” They probably don't even register it, but they don't seem to doubt Merukimon's claim that Gotsumon acted alone.
- Funny how Keenan's the first one to point out that his partnership with Falcomon is proof that Digimon and humans can co-exist peacefully. The entire Data Squad and most of DATS have partners and none of them thought to bring it up.
- Goddamn those Gomamon were adorable. And given how Agumon and Biyomon evolved differently than their Adventure counterparts, it was actually kinda cool to see them evolve into Ikkakumon proper.
- Remember back when Gotsumon found a random gate in the middle of the forest? Who wants to bet that's the same one Kurata opened up when escaping Merukimon following his napalm operation?
- To be fair, Kurata does bring up an excellent point about the Data Squad's treatment of Digimon that emerge in the real world... until he gets to the part about letting the eggs go home to regenerate.