In this episode, while Christopher has endured the lengthy, brutal conquest and transformation of the Digital World, Mikey shows up and finds himself in inescapable mortal peril after about five minutes.
It's probably unfair to be way more interested in what happened while Mikey was gone than what's going to happen now that he's back. It's not the first time a world has been radically transformed and occupied by evil rulers that the returning heroes will need to pick off one at a time. It is, however, the first time humans experienced it, endured it and tried to fight it. Perhaps it falls back into the old trap of caring more about the kids than the monsters, but the Bagra Empire has changed the world so drastically and Blue Flare has apparently been such a visible resistance that there has to be some good stories in that.
We have to appreciate how few other kids would be able to survive this new Digital World the way Nene and Christopher did. While we'll see Nene later, there's no doubt that she had to get sneaky to dodge Bagramon's forces. Christopher evidently was the ruthless asshole we all love. His re-introduction endangers Mikey just to get a free shot at Dorbickmon's troops. It's the sort of mentality one certainly would need to have, especially if he wasn't exaggerating when he said he actually made headway against Bagramon. That's sort of incredible actually.
Blue Flare's presence also kept Bagramon honest. It's implied that Christopher's meddling prompted the integration of the Darkness Loaders into the Dark Generals' arsenal. And despite having the world under his command, Bagramon is intent on inflicting more misery to unleash even more destruction via whatever this D5 thing is. Maddeningly evil, yes, but the important thing is he's not resting on his laurels.
Of course, that impressive setup leads us into what is basically the plot of a Mega Man game: pick a boss, get through stage, defeat boss, repeat until you get to final castle (spoiler: fight bosses again). It isn't even a case of saving the strongest for the end; Dorbick
-mon is said to be the most proficient with a Darkness Loader and
Dragonland is said to be the most savage world. It's a simple one,
where dragons are enlisted into the dark forces and everybody else
suffers. It's the sort of place where someone like Mikey would have
instantly gotten into trouble sticking his neck out. Just like he
does for Dracomon the moment he arrives.
Dracomon helps kicks things off right, a dragon that wastes no words in refusing to go after Dragonland's harmless locals. Early on, it's important that we see some sort of Digimon resistance against this massive army. While he's never going to win anything himself, his refusal to submit to Dorbickmon, even as he would be afforded an oppressor's role, shows some impressive courage and resiliency. He brings some unique skills to the table, is smitten with the aura of Blue Flare more than Christopher's actual personality, and is a good local ally to get us rolling again.
The first episode in this new season is never going to dazzle us with shocks and surprises. Mikey's going to arrive, get into a narrow scrape, barely survive, Shoutmon will show us why they have a fighter's chance, and everything will be teed up for a bigger showdown next time. The drama over Shoutmon's temporary inability to evolve was silly and seemed to only draw out the suspense and let us enjoy Christopher's unfounded skepticism. Seriously, why would Mikey lie about that? And after everything they've been through, Shoutmon needing an act of selfless bravery to evolve seems like an unnecessary hurdle. Has he not proven himself enough? It's not like one level of evolution alone is going to make that much of a difference in this massive war. We know it'll take more than that.
My Grade: B+
- What a formulaic, blatant and above all appreciated story recap while Mikey was in zone transfer. A reminder of how much time had passed, that Bagramon had taken full control, that they needed to reunite the full team and that Shoutmon can now evolve. It's almost like they were talking right to us!
- Mikey did have a good point, expecting a hellish landscape and instead landing in the closest thing to the valley of duckies and bunnies.
- At first glance, it would appear that Laylamon and Blastmon are set to be comic relief enemies. While they'll get their serious moment, that's a pretty good role for them, despite the massive demotion.
- Dorbickmon will never go down as the most memorable of the Dark Generals, but he's a strong opening act. He has a defining trait in his belief in dragon superiority, but other than that he's simple and doesn't screw around in trying to use every advantage he has to eliminate his enemies. They're lowered into a pit? Set it on fire! They may have escaped into a tunnel? Set it on fire! Itchy, flaky scalp? Set it on fire!
- Even as Christopher is unnecessarily harsh towards Dracomon's escape effort, Dracomon doesn't dwell on it and still admires Christopher, perhaps understanding his dissatisfaction at the situation and stress after all that rebellioning.