Raise your hand if you were secretly hoping each of the Ultimate 4 needed their own episode to go down. Yeah, me neither. That said, given the excruciating pacing at points earlier in the series and the massive personalities on both sides of the battlefield, they could have given each of them their own spotlight episode. But that should have come with the promise of changing the matchups and probably dashed once Rei set the tone by shooing everyone out of Bio Manor. We’ll never know if four episodes for the Ultimate 4 would have stretched them too thin, but we can confidently say taking three out all at once was too much.
Is this the point where we look back on those unproductive episodes after Offmon’s introduction and wonder what we could have had without all that wasted time? There’s still enough time after this to wind to a proper climax, but it’s a concern when another episode tries to do the work of two, especially when we’re dealing with what should be major battles. Watching three go down at once makes the entire group look weak and meaningless, a far cry from their menacing introduction.
It also doesn’t give Cloud or Charismon a ton of credibility. No matter how much Charismon shrugs it off, there’s no way to spin losing three powerful lieutenants into a positive. Furthermore, if the other three were really supposed to prevent the Appdrivers from reaching Charisma Castle, why were they so content letting Haru advance while fighting whomever stayed behind? The buildings themselves proved to be no deterrent: Fakemon could have installed a million traps and a funhouse maze in Fake Mansion, but instead it was just a place for him and Astora to fight.
The climactic defeats of Beautymon and Fakemon were short and underwhelming, both losing to the Duo-powered Appmon in one-hit knockouts that make us wonder why we ever felt threatened by them. The L-Power, introduced for no reason three episodes ago, is wasted when applied to Beautymon and Fakemon even before the battle starts. Although the buildup provides cute/cool moments, it’s a little sad that Eri would get self-conscious about losing makeup she didn’t show up with. Hell, the whole beauty competition has never been a part of Eri’s persona and it doesn’t work here. Astora, meanwhile, worries about Eri in a couple sweet moments, but it’s labored and drags on. If he really felt that Eri was in danger, he’d sprint back to Beauty Palace, not shuffle like a zombie.
Rei and Biomon are the saving grace. Rei’s unwavering need to get answers about Hajime and Biomon’s manic sadism make this a fierce, dirty fight. It’s also the only time L-Power almost matters. Rei ultimately outsmarts his enemy by allowing himself to be tied up, listening to Biomon’s taunting while Revivemon heals himself and gets the decisive hit in. Now the tables flip and Rei gets to show off his crueler side. We knew he was capable of it, but the level of pain he inflicts on Biomon must be one of the darkest acts committed willingly by one of the good guys on the show (who else even scratches this list- Kiriha?). His insistence that the others go ahead of him so they don’t get in his way might be one of the badass lines of the franchise.
We get a partial answer before Charismon prevents Biomon from spilling more. Hajime has been turned into an Appmon, discarding his human body. Again, not unprecedented (though Hajime is probably not BanchoLeomon), but again, super disturbing. Without any further hints, every Appmon Rei encounters, both friend and foe, could be his little brother and his best source of information just got zapped away. Something to think about with every Appmon we’ve run into across the span of the series. With Cloud and Charismon poised to be disappointments, it might be the biggest thing we have to look forward to.
My Grade: B+
- For all the sadistic villains we’ve seen before, it’s impressive that Biomon manages to take it to another level. Cutting up an opponent, then gleefully promising an anesthetic-free operation is spine-tingling.
- What’s probably most frustrating about Beauty Palace is how Beautymon’s attempted glow up of Eri doesn’t even seem to be a battle strategy, no matter how intense and humiliating the various treatments are. Once they get past all the makeovers, Beautymon has no answer for Oujamon.
- Nice of Astora to call out the trope of the supporting crew handling the initial obstacles while the protagonist heads to the final boss.
- Biomon haunts Rei by saying if he doesn’t know which Appmon Hajime is, he might kill his own brother. You almost wish he’d take it to the extreme by suggesting that maybe Rei already has.