In this episode, Thomas is determined to earn Kurata's trust and learn what he's planning, demonstrating his loyalty with minor trifles like killing Keenan.
Perhaps it's the dub playing down references to bad stuff. Perhaps it's lost in Thomas's betrayal or Kurata revealing his plans. Perhaps it was the way it happened. But it's hard to grasp, hard even to register the fact that Agumon is dead. Not at the hands of a Gizumon or a punk trying to justify his ill-gotten powers, but at the hands of his own partner. This is the fourth time we've seen a partner Digimon die. This is the third time we've seen a dark evolution. This is the second time we've seen the two go hand in hand. This is the first time it doesn't dominate the story. Because Thomas and Keenan aren't going to wait for Marcus to finish grieving.
For as much as Marcus's attitude is celebrated, the series is quick to acknowledge his naivety and inexperience. Now that Kurata is turning up the heat, Marcus is making more and more mistakes. This one was colossal, as his emotion not only allowed an evolution to go wrong, it also clouded his judgment when he missed the only clue that Thomas is playing Kurata.
The first tenet we learned about The Marcus Code is that fighting someone is the best way to judge their character. It's the foundation of Marcus's relationship with Agumon and was on display in his disdain for Kouki. He fought Thomas too. And for the first time all season, he knocked Thomas down. If The Marcus Code is to be believed, and it must be to preserve this season's integrity, that was the sign. One wordless signal to Marcus that Thomas isn't fully invested in this fight and that he's either being coerced or has his own motives. Marcus should have just conceded defeat and called back the fallen ShineGreymon, trusting that Thomas will come through in the end. Instead, he loses his cool, loses his partner, blows up half the city, and remains convinced that Thomas has turned heel.
That signal was important as well as Thomas has dedicated every minutia of body language into selling his loyalty to Kurata. His steeled face when he learns of ShineGreymon's death, his nasty smirk when learning about Belphemon, and his dedicated pursuit of Keenan all suggest that this is real. It's almost too much; even if legitimate, Thomas should be at least a little reluctant about all of this given the reasons for his turn. Gaomon's reactions are far more natural, showing some disapproval of Kurata and struggling to keep his mouth shut at the horrors of what he wants to do.
While our desire to punch Kurata in the face goes up a few hundred notches, his willingness to incorporate Belphemon into his plans isn't quite as hypocritical as it seems. It's still hypocritical, of course: guy's espousing the evils of Digimon while planning to unleash one of the evillest in his end game. But between the Gizumon and the Bio-Hybrids, he's always been adapting the concept of Digimon into his arsenal. In many ways, he's obsessed with Digimon. What he fears and demonizes is the inability to control them. This has been his pattern all along, and his desire to control Belphemon isn't inconsistent at all.
Keenan not only jumps out at Thomas, but all of us. Kid's been laying low for the last few episodes and it's good to see him doing something again. Thomas simultaneously shows his loyalty to Kurata and his duplicitous scheme again in his pursuit. He calls off the Gizumon in order to stop Keenan himself, which protects Crowmon more than anything else. MirageGaogamon really shouldn't get this much fight from an Ultimate, but it sets up a great underdog performance from Crowmon. Keenan even exploits a weakness MirageGaogamon sustained in his ShineGreymon fight. They're dumped into the sea in the end, not like that's ever been fatal in this show. In all, recognizing that Marcus is off his game and Thomas isn't fully committed to his fights makes everything a lot more interesting.
My Grade: A
- If you compare Marcus to the reasons behind Takato spawning Megidramon, it really shows the respect Marcus secretly has for Thomas. It doesn't take a murder for him to flip out. Just the apparent betrayal itself is enough for him to churn such anger. His words are significant as well, accusing Thomas of not just betraying DATS, but also the Digimon that have died trying to stop Kurata.
- Lalamon says they have no idea how long it takes for a digiegg to hatch, despite witnessing Biyomon's fast turnaround. It's one thing to say that the time varies, but shrugging the question off is pretty lazy.
- There's some interesting crest of courage imagery outside Belphemon's tomb.
- Finally, it must be said that Belphemon Sleep Mode is absolutely adorable and I want a plushie of him.