In this episode, Christopher learns the sort of valuable life lessons that only come with ordering the murder of his own Digimon.
As was the case with Matt in season one, Christopher turning on the team is pretty cheap drama. They fall prey to the enemy's mind games far too easily and the rush to violence against their allies in a stressful time that demands unity is hard to swallow. While we enjoy the hell out of the fireworks and their subsequent rehabilitations are handled well, there's an element of disbelief that neither scenario is able to shake. It leads to a frustrating episode that has a one-of-a-kind situation and an amazing sacrifice marred by so many elements that are just plain annoying.
Let's start with the bad, because that's what the episode does. When Matt turned, he had this really nasty look in his eyes that we'd never seen before. It told us he meant business. Christopher gets an entirely different animation style. As seen in other seasons, completely different animation styles tend to get pretty ridiculous, especially since Mikey and Nene still appear fairly normal while Christopher suddenly turns into a Dragonball Z character. While Mikey tries to be calm about the sudden shift, calmer than anyone else at least, he's really dumb to let Shoutmon fight ZekeGreymon. He has to believe Gravimon is still around somewhere and there was no reason not to think Christopher was going to stop this with only the teams' aces fighting.
Deckerdramon singlehandedly saves this episode. He removes Mikey from the situation, he stands up to his general, he doesn't fight back even after Christopher orders the Code Red, and he even shields the lot from Gravimon's bullet for good measure. Now this is more than needless drama. This is Deckerdramon understanding that Christopher is frustrated, his confidence shattered after succumbing to Gravimon's trap. He knows Christopher needs to take it out on somebody, and absorbs it so Mikey and Shoutmon don't have to. As cruel as Christopher is in attacking someone on his own team, there's no more fight in him when Mikey and Nene intervene.
You have to stop and appreciate how this beautiful sacrifice is only possible in the Fusion universe. There's no way a digidestined is attacking his own partner so brutally under a traditional human-Digimon dynamic. There's also the ingrained notion of one army hailing supreme. Mikey's team and Blue Flare have never been more than allies of convenience, and while it's immature and strategically stupid for Christopher to break that off now, it's not unprecedented. Deckerdramon even makes a great point comparing Christopher to Bagramon. Christopher's goal is to prove his superiority, but he's also stated that he would mold the Digital World according to a code of harsh social Darwinism. The D5 plot is the only thing making Bagramon more evil than that.
Deckerdramon's True Heart powers apparently let him show flashbacks at will. He reveals that a tough-love father, seeing said father at his weakest moment, and seeing said father's “friends” steal off with Christopher's lifestyle and security are what made him who he was. It's uncomfortable to watch the dub tiptoe around making Dad's death explicit (it's still heavily implied) and presumably leaving Mom alive, and the presentation loses points.
At the same time, like the incident inciting Mikey's need to help others, its attempt to shield us from reality actually makes the story darker. Kiriha proving his strength had to do with self-preservation and making his father proud. Now it stems from a hatred of Dad's business partners making him unable to trust anyone but himself... and despite still presumably living with a mother demonstrating and trying to teach unconditional kindness. Those trust issues are the biggest obstacle to him fully accepting Mikey and Nene's help. It's a shame his friendship speech is so trite, as he could have turned the friendship=strength theme into something more suited to him. As it is now, it's hard to tell whether they just called forth Shoutmon X7 or activated the Elements of Harmony.
My Grade: B
- The battle between OmniShoutmon and ZekeGreymon is weird in that both seem to unveil some new moves we haven't seen before. Why did they save them for something like this?
- While it's fair to criticize Mikey for letting Shoutmon fight, he shows an impressive amount of restraint in not going after Christopher himself. Unlike the time when Christopher actually was brainwashed (Mikey makes sure to confirm that this isn't another instance), Mikey knows going directly after Christopher would only make things worse.
- So here's a pretty dark case of a dub edit accidentally making more sense. It's implied that Kiriha loses his family's fortune when his parents die. Unless his dad was an even bigger asshole than we thought, there's no way he's not making sure that his next of kin receives his estate. In the dub, Christopher's dad is still alive when his business partners conspire to take away his stake in the company. This is far more feasible, and if the position carried with it a certain lifestyle and status, potentially no less devastating.
- What's really odd is that while Christopher's backstory has certainly been nerfed, there's no dancing around the death of Deckerdramon. It still keeps us in okay shape with Ewan's future.
- So remember all those troops that popped out to scare the crap out of Christopher? All down with one shot from Shoutmon X7. Between that and the massive troops that were knocked out last episode, the good guys are actually starting to look over-leveled.
- Two unusual things about the Data Collection segment. One is that it forced the dub to cover up chibi-Mervamon, presumably out of spite. The second was a surprising nod to Frontier in spotlighting Agunimon. There's plenty of throwbacks to the first three seasons in Fusion, but a Frontier nod was a pleasant surprise.