One of the biggest lessons we learned in the Dark Masters arc of the original Adventure (and to a much lesser extent the early Digital World episodes of Tamers) is to always split the party. Everyone was getting a little too comfortable with Taichi leading the way, so by dividing the team everybody gets room to breath a little more. There’s nothing here that reinvents anything, with the conflict and character interactions all stuff we’ve seen before. But at least this time we get to dwell on them a little longer. And the show’s careful to add some extra flourishes to make them fun, even if they aren’t remarkable.
You can see how useful splitting them off is by looking at the team away from the spotlight. Taichi, Koshiro, and Mimi only feature at the start and end of the episode, but you’ve got Taichi eager to explore the new sight he found at the top of the wall, Mimi pouting about having to climb the wall before Palmon comes through with a solid, and Koshiro obsessing over a trove of potential new information. Mimi’s boredom is natural, but when even Taichi’s getting annoyed you can sense some of that much-needed tension fostering between what had been the more agreeable team members.
The featured team runs into a clever challenge in that they can’t proceed through the air thanks to pesky SandYanmamon launching dust devils everywhere, nor through the sand thanks to a Scorpiomon targeting everything that moves. It’s a handy way to ensure that all progress is stopped and forces the team to stop and regroup. With friendly, scared, and helpless locals stuck with them, the dilemma arises. Help escort them to sanctuary at the risk of increased exposure to two threats or screw them and hustle through the desert?
The whole thing works because of how new this team is, how unfamiliar they are with each other and how neither Sora nor Joe want to step on the toes of their new, very competent, and very ornery teammate. Yamato’s not divulging his secret reason for wanting to hurry, and even the little Sora pushes is enough for him to bail and go his own way while the others saddle themselves with Neemon’s little crew.
It does work better than last time since Yamato did have a conflict to overcome in his head, but it’s all very basic, skating the heavy lifting these moments are ideal for. That’s the trouble with having a second round of evolutions so early. These characters are right where they should be at this point in the story, but far from the optimal development needed for a new evolution. Yamato’s still rough: he claims that he intended for them to lure out Scorpiomon for him, which is either a lie or gross manipulation. And while it’s cute that Yamato’s afraid to admit he’s freaking out about Takeru back home, Sora and Joe have affected families too and yet are still capable of compassion. It’s no excuse for being a jerk, and it’s fair to ask if the emotion that does sneak out is worth the reward he gets.
My Grade: B+
- The fact that they’re flying around and totally not concerned about all the Soundbirdmon that know exactly where they are still raises the question of why they couldn’t just fly over the miasma. There are still answers, but it makes you hungrier for a real one.
- Garurumon gets a totally unnecessary full evolution sequence early in the episode. Later, when Birdramon and Ikkakumon are executing their (terrible) plan, they get nothing. We know who this episode’s about.
- Don’t think we’re ever quite going to get over Neemon being thoughtful and competent. It’s even the same voice actor as the one in Frontier!
- Neemon wants to get his little squad to a resistance camp Leomon is leading. Foreshadowing! (Lord help us…)
- Knowing now that this dark miasma is infecting some of the enemy Digimon, it’s a little unsettling that MetalGreymon and WereGarurumon are straight-up killing them. Not that there are clear alternatives in those cases, but it feels like there should be a little more conversation about that. Original Adventure got almost halfway in before they were regularly killing opponents, and Miyako and Iori had loud objections to it in Zero Two.
- The temple in the end had the look of Adventure episode 19 and the mood of Adventure episode 10. It’s kind of cheating, but helps establish what’s going on in a very short time.
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