Trapped in an AR Field with the Ultimate 4, this one had trouble written all over it. It’s the first time we’re seeing major villains in action. That usually means the good guys are about to get whooped. Usually there’s a narrow escape, often precipitated by some heroic deed. All of this is incorporated here, along with a few other things that weren’t necessary. But this time instead of the close shave resulting in little more than a dire warning, we really do end up with the worst case scenario we always fear. It’s as heart-wrenching as it sounds, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Per the rules of Ultimate App Realize, this whole thing took place in a hot minute. As prescribed for a villain’s introduction, the Ultimate 4 pick apart and stomp the good guys with such force that we can believe it was over that quickly. We’ll call the time spent to show us their personalities a bonus flourish: we get a feel for Charismon’s chattiness and power of persuasion, Fakemon’s delight in being a trickster, Beautymon’s vanity and eagerness to give Oujamon a makeover, and Biomon’s thirst for performing invasive surgery. It’s a proper clobbering, and the lack of effective retaliation is par for the course. So where the actual battle’s concerned, we’ll give the minute thing a pass.
But Knight messes everything up. This L-Power is unnecessary and pointless in an episode that’s already loaded and dire enough. At no point were the Ultimate 4 losing these battles, but Knight wants to turn up the heat even more. This could have been scary as all hell… if Globemon and company ever looked strong enough to beat these guys. You know, take the beating now, training montage, come back stronger and gain the upper hand than WHAM! L Power! Now they’re all dead! Doing it now is forgettable overkill, and takes away the element of surprise when it becomes necessary later.
Knight also decides to drop in and proselytize about AI’s superiority over humanity. This terrifies poor Haru plenty, but he’s already terrified and Charismon is doing plenty of proselytizing himself, going off about the limitations of Minerva and how she led them down an evil path. While Haru at least listened and appeared to have a few doubts last time, this time he’s too freaked out about Globemon’s well-being to ponder human morality and free will. It adds to the tension, but it’s empty compared to the real crisis.
And that’s the problem- this tried to cover the plot points of three different episodes, but they’re all tied together with a blow so crushing it’s all we can talk about. Deaths in Digimon aren’t taken lightly. The more time we get to appreciate them, the more powerful they are. We see enough of Gatchmon’s death to die along with him. Knowing Rei has already lost everything adds an additional note of tragedy to Hackmon. Those are strong, but it makes it harder to properly grieve for Dokamon and Musimon. No final words from them, just terrified App Drivers.
Furthermore, the feeling of utter hopelessness not only weighs us down, but makes it hard to imagine things getting any worse. The best deaths are compounded by the knowledge that it’s not over yet. Here’s there’s no room left but for the sobbing and literally no room for anything other than miraculous intervention. Yujin comes in out of nowhere and saves Haru so quickly that after all the devastation we’ve already seen, his sacrifice feels like one more on the pile. You almost don’t even register that Offmon’s trapped in there too! Given his conspicuous absence last episode, it would be a real disappointment if it was just coincidence that he was late to the party, showing up only in time to be the big damn hero and pull Haru to safety. It’ll make Haru’s angst that much stronger, but that only piles pressure on the next episode to properly reflect that.
My Grade: B+
- Just worth pointing out that almost everyone wanted to get the hell out of there at the first sight of the Ultimate 4. Rei was the one that pushed on the notion that they’re connected to Knight, who might know about Hajime. Biomon threw in a Hajime hint that proved him right, but that was a strain of a lead for such a nasty situation. Typical Rei, even getting into it with Astora, but damn.
- Beautymon being Eri’s designated opponent lines up in that dumb sexist Izumi-Ranamon sort of way, but she’s actually fighting Oujamon and there’s not much of a dynamic there the way there is for the other three.
- It’s heavily implied that all four battles were happening at roughly the same time, yet Yujin managed to save all four of the App Drivers? That’s almost as hard to believe as him saving Haru last.