In this episode, of all the wily tricks they pull on Dorbickmon, Christopher manages to defeat him using the same power that was totally ineffective the day before.
One of the most simultaneously infuriating and clever things Fusion did was completely disregard the notion of level. It's infuriating when Shoutmon X4K is defeating one of the Dark Masters in episode 14, but only because we're using another season as a frame of reference. It only feels wrong because we remember Machinedramon being a lot tougher in Adventure; the actual rules and information here doesn't suggest anything amiss. That's what's clever about it: there are no established constraints, so they can do pretty much whatever they want and we don't have any valid grounds to complain. This allows for some impressive defying of the odds, such as ZekeGreymon killing Dorbickmon at the climax of this episode.
Except for one problem- levels may not be in play, but one is certainly implied by this whole evolution thing. So much is made of Shoutmon's ability to evolve that MetalGreymon figuring it out is clearly meant to be an equivalent, particularly considering their next trick against the next Dark General. So how can OmniShoutmon be so helpless against Dorbickmon at the start of the episode, while ZekeGreymon totally dominates the general's stronger form at the end of it? As easy as it is to buy into Christopher's newfound determination, it results in a stretch in logic that tests our ability to believe he can really pull off a stunt like that.
Letting ZekeGreymon no-sell his way to a one-hit victory against Dorbickmon also flies in the face of Christopher's big lesson. All this time, he's been about raw power and the intimidating beat 'em down victory. The massive power of Bagramon's army makes the slam dunk win impossible, and Christopher is going to need to learn to add courage, resolve and teamwork to his playbook. Quite simply, he'll need to start doing it the hard way, which doesn't suit his style at all. He puts it all together in the climactic battle, but the result looks a lot more like the curbstomp that he's comfortable with than the gritty, skin-of-his-teeth win that he needs to grow accustomed to.
By comparison, Nene and Mikey have been doing it the hard way for a while, and this episode makes the hard way look so much more fun. As ridiculous as Nene's sudden affinity for cosplay is, her strategy is brilliant. She's blending into her surroundings, gathering information, picking her spots and exploiting weaknesses. Who knew dragon types were weak against allergy season? While Nene will be a perpetual support character behind Mikey and Christopher, this is the sort of stuff that will keep her interesting, as opposed to other support types like Yoshi.
Nene's creative side also makes the big rescue possible, and the whole team uses some devious tactics to pull it off. While Shoutmon is refreshingly useless in battle this episode, the threat of him doing something awesome provides the distraction Nene and Dracomon need to blow up the waterfall and allow Mikey to escape with the rest of the Fusion Fighters. This is encouraging stuff, and would appear to be necessary against such strong and organized opposition. Dorbickmon goes out of his way to stack both an impressive quality and quantity of guards in what is so clearly a trap for Mikey. Succeeding against him the way they do shows a deal of respect.
Christopher ultimately learns the lesson he needs to, and a weak yet resilient and resourceful counterpart like Dracomon is a great parallel. The initial punishment Blue Flare takes from Dorbickmon proves plenty. It's great stuff, but if the net result is going to be yet another impressive ass whupping, it does feel like we lose sight of the main message.
My Grade: B+
- Hey, this episode title is a near-perfect translation of the Japanese episode title! Which should only remind people that the Japanese episode titles are pretty awful.
- Constantly captioning all the attacks is one of Fusion's odd traits, but it is used beautifully when played completely straight with Nene's attack. Although one has to wonder how exactly Nene is pulling off a wide range attack seemingly on her own.
- Speaking of Nene, what's up with the new outfit? The costumes are a fun touch, but her new default outfit is completely unsuitable for battle. Of all the things to wear in battle, why dress like she's going to a sweet sixteen party?
- Again speaking of Nene, if she's really been spending the whole time gathering information around Dragonland, how did she not know the rest of the Fusion Fighters were all captive in one place?
- Wait- one more! I can't decide if Nene having a heart-to-heart with Christopher while still in her alligator costume is a silly idiosyncrasy or completely takes you out of the scene.
- What a lovely response Christopher has while Nene and Mikey are talking about being unified. He doesn't necessarily disagree with them, but he's clearly not that enthusiastic about the idea.