Hey, guys, before the review just wanted to quickly plug Murphy Plays Valkyria Chronicles Part 8: Goat Simulator. It has goats. Well, people mention goats, at least.
Please go take a watch if you're interested, like and share if you enjoyed it, and so on.
Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 30: Who is Speaking with the Real Criminal?
After getting off to a promising start, I feel like this two-parter has kind of fizzled out into a less-than-great and surprisingly confusing finish.
In this week's episode, the team learns from Chase that 001 can alter people's memories using threads of ice. With this new information, Shinnosuke and Kiriko set out to protect one of the witnesses to the robbery twelve years ago, a young woman whose memories have apparently been unaltered. Meanwhile, Chase locates Gou, intending to check to see if his memories have been altered by 001.
There's one part of that short synopsis I want to mention again, and that's 'the team learns from Chase'. Arguably, the driving force behind the previous episode was trying to figure out what the marks behind people's ears are, as that's set up as the key to solving the mystery. In this episode, Chase just tells them, quite early on, thus rendering any kind of investigating-the-mystery plot dead in the water and killing any tension that might have been built up from the dramatic irony of the audience knowing (roughly speaking) that 001 was inserting sharp objects into people's heads to brainwash them, and the characters not.
|What a nice restaurant. Lovely aesthetic.|
One instance of this would be bad enough, but the episode actually does it twice, using chase as their Exposition Robo-Monkey both times. The second time is when Chase regains his memories, and a holographic projection from his eyes conveniently lets everybody know that Secretary Makage is 001. Again, there's no real effort on the part of the protagonists, and this doesn't feel like a pay-off from their struggles to find 001 - it comes entirely out of the blue, instead, stabbing the mystery plotline of this portion of the series in the jugular and then dancing away into the night.
It's baffling writing, and it's not the only bewildering writing choice in this episode. First, 001 can 'alter people's memories with threads of ice'? You maybe want to expand on precisely how that works, Chase?
My last great issue with this episode is that towards the end, Chase, who knows that Gou has had his memories altered, decides instead to lie to Kiriko and have her believe that Gou has gone to the villain's side of his own free will.
I recognise the narrative that led us to this point - Chase is meant to be misinterpreting the situation, believing that because Shinnosuke said that people worry when something happens to their family, that it would be better for Kiriko to think that Gou is physically and mentally fine and just happens to be evil. I recognise it, but I think it's stupid. I think that someone needs to hang a gigantic neon sign in the Kamen Rider writer's room that says 'NO MISCOMMUNICATIONS ALLOWED', and that someone with a measure should be installed to rap the back of their hands if they try to write any plotline that involves unclear phrasing, misinterpretation, 'white lies', or anybody not asking for clarification.
|Is 'let me die, let me die, let me die' an acceptable caption for an image? No?|
I remember 555. I know how bad this can get if you let the miscommunication plot device get out of control.
As far as everything else in the episode - there's not a lot to say, to be honest. We got another Gou vs Chase fight scene, and while it was gratifyingly short I am getting increasingly weary of those. It feels like we just went straight from Chase fighting Shinnosuke every episode to Chase fighting Gou every episode, and I just don't know what made the writers go 'You know what viewers love? Functionally the same fight scene just repeated every episode.'
The reveal that Gou has had his memories altered isn't surprising, but I think it's a less interesting path to go down than either 'Gou has genuinely become a villain' or 'Gou is waiting for his chance to double-cross the Roimyudes'. A hero having been brainwashed and temporarily working for the villains is a very workaday plot, and there are more interesting ways of having a protagonist join Team Evil.
Other than that, I'm a bit at a loss. The comic relief scene with Nira was fine. The fight scenes were mostly fine - I quite liked the sequence of Shinnosuke rapidly switching between tires, we don't get enough of those - and didn't drag on for too long. We had a very atmospheric villain scene with Heart and Medic.
I'm just a little disheartened, because there was a stretch of episodes a while back that made it seem like Drive was really hitting its stride, but it's becoming increasingly clear that there is no stride to hit. It is strideless.
Next week, it looks like Shinnosuke will be pursuing 001, and there's an ice-themed Roimyude in the preview who I'm guessing is 001's evolved form, given that we know he has some form of ice powers, but may well just be a Roimyude of the week.