Kamen Rider Drive
Why Did They Have To Fight?
Is it just me, or does this title sound very much like the distressed tuttings of an elderly Welsh woman? Kiriko and Gou's mother confirmed, one supposes.
In this week's episode, Gou and Banno fight once more, with Gou using Chase's power to assume a new and
incredibly cheap looking strange fusion form. Kiriko sets out to find the Riders, meaning to assist them. Meanwhile, Shinnosuke, Heart, and Medic fight their way through the final three Roimyudes to try and stop Banno's ultimate creation, Sigma, from being completed and beginning the Second Global Freeze.
You know, far be it for me to give Drive too much praise over anything, but this is the first Kamen Rider episode I've seen in a pretty long while that actually gave me the impression that the heroes might lose. That's a tension you don't normally get in any television show, narrative structure being what it is and 'the good guys lost the end' being generally considered to be a pretty unsatisfactory conclusion to any storyline, but not all that long into the episode, I did start feeling that. The stakes felt high, the odds insurmountable, and there was a curious sense of suicide-missionry to it all.
A large part of that is that Drive's writers have done a good job of ramping up the tension by having the heroes actually lose people and things in this final arc. On the people side, we've lost Brain and Chase, both major characters who have been a part of the show since the very beginning; and on the 'things' side, we've lost the Drive Pit - our protagonists' headquarters since the very first episode - and Chase's Driver (and it's always a Big Thing when a transformation trinket gets destroyed).
|Going a bit Dragonball Z there.|
Combine that with the foreboding atmosphere created by the sudden pre-Freeze rainstorm, and the occasional cuts to Sigma building itself, and you have one of the most tense build-ups to a finale of any Kamen Rider series of the past decade.
(One of, but not, I feel it's worth pointing out, the most. Gaim and Double were both at least somewhat more tense, although both in very different ways to each other and to Drive.)
This episode does suffer a slight problem of trying to overcomplicate matters - such as when Medic tried to heal three cores, only for them to explode, prompting Medic to announce that she hasn't been able to heal cores properly since her restoration (wait, which restoration? It can't be when she was awoken from her coma, because we've seen her heal cores since then - when Brain restored her original personality, maybe, but I can't see that she's had the opportunity), only for Heart to say that Roimyudes who have been reprogrammed by Banno can't be saved anyway. All of this is unnecessary: The moment stands better on its own if it's just Medic trying to heal those three cores, only for them to explode anyway. Medic's power was never presented as one-hundred percent effective in all circumstances, after all.
|This looks tremendously awful.|
Can I also note my tremendous disappointment that Gou gives Kiriko the DeadHeat shift car but not his belt. Just - just give her your belt, Gou. Give it to her, give her the belt, let her transform into a Rider just once, for God's sake. There is, at this point, no reason for him not to do that - he's basically just planning to pass out in an underground car park, he absolutely does not need a transformation belt to do that. Kiriko, meanwhile, is charging into danger, and could thus really use the ability to summon some power armour onto her person.
But, you know, this episode is fine. Good, even, really good. The action scene between Gou and Banno, which was very much was everybody was waiting for, was quite possibly the best of the series, in spite of Gou's absurd Chase suit (we heard you liked armour, so we had Gou put some armour over some armour so that he could wear armour while he wears armour) and one that will be difficult to top in the finale.
|Definitely one of the more unique designs we've had.|
Seeing Banno finally get killed was also definitely worth the wait (and the 'No, don't' 'But the axe said I should go for it, didn't you hear the axe?' exchange was at least somewhat hilarious, although I don't know how much of that was in the script and how much was Over-Time taking liberties), especially since we had the pleasure of seeing him die while screaming and begging for his life.
This episode was not, in fact, the finale, as I assumed it would be - instead, episode forty-seven will apparently be the finale, which will see Shinnosuke and Heart defeating Sigma, and a final battle between the two that I hope won't end horribly tragically, but which will probably end horribly tragically. I'm actually really looking forward to that.