So, first, obviously, we have to address the most consequential development of this three-part story: Nijou thinks maybe there's a chance that this Houjou guy might, are you sitting down, not be a good guy. He might even be, and I can't believe I'm saying this, a jerk.

You guys. YOU GUYS.

I've said before that one of my favorite things about Agito is how utterly one-sided the Houjou/Nijou feud is, so this development is... I don't know. Wait and see. If this is the last time we get to experience the purity of Nijou just completely not getting that Houjou is trying to roast him, at least we went out with maybe the best one. First Houjou pulls a brutal Oh Nijou I Didn't See You There Since You're So Forgettable, and then adds on a The G3 System Won't Matter If We Can Harness The Power Of Agito And No One Will Ever Need You Ever Again Nijou I Hate You And You Suck. And, god bless him, Nijou's response is that maybe Houjou has a point. Unreal. I love this dynamic so much. There's a follow-up one, where Houjou's like Once I Win Because I'm Awesome No One Will Need You So Maybe You Can Help With Traffic, and I was convinced Nijou was going to talk about how maybe he could help with traffic, it's a real nuisance, gosh, thanks so much Houjou! It's a little disappointing that he's clued in now that Houjou goddamn despises him and wants to taste his tears. Still, I don't want to judge too quickly or too harshly. Maybe there's some fun moves coming up for these two.

That's maybe all the good will I can muster for this story, though. (Well, the final fights were strong. Gills getting lit up by the cops and then fighting G3 to a draw was neat!) I have no idea why this one wound up being three parts, considering we ended up learning nothing of significance regarding any of the central mysteries, like the Akatsuki-gou or Shouichi's past or the Unknown or Mana's dad or anything like that. A couple crumbs, sure. There's a voice on the blank video saying "come here", but no clue who's saying it or where "here" is. The survivors of the Akatsuki-gou are meeting in secret and conspiring around Agito, but we don't know who besides Aki, or why. It's a whole bunch of delays and feints, with no real catharsis to be worth dragging it all out for three episodes.

What we do get is three episodes of people acting like total idiots, and rarely in a fun way. Aki shows up, pretending to be a newly-hired housekeeper (that they already have one of, it's Shouichi, he does it for free) that no one was told about, and everyone but Mana is totally fine with it. She's a stranger, and they're just fine letting her hang out. Then, after she's been caught in a very obvious lie she told to con her way into their home, she goes Oh Shouichi's My Boyfriend, and again Mana's the only one who thinks this sounds incredibly sketchy. I get that Shouichi's supposed to be sweet and trusting, but this is all so gallingly stupid that it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. All of this is so flimsy and unconvincing that it weirdly loops around to making me think, yeah, I can see why Uncle might pay someone the same age as Shouchi to take care of Shouichi because he is startlingly bad at taking care of himself. So, maybe it's a dumb plot, but it's no dumber than the characters in this story besides Mana. She's great, and my heart went out to her on this one.

And, you know, it went out to Ryou in this story. I liked his plot, but it took a while. His investigative style is... well, his brain was not exactly in Top Gear on this one. He just cold walked up to a stranger, presented his confusing and circumstantial evidence, and then demanded she tell him the truth. That's it! It's sloppy and lazy, just like hanging around outside her house until she talks to him, but I thought it really landed at the end, where he admits that he sucks at this (he truly does!), but also that he mostly doesn't even care. He's only doing it because he has nothing else left in his life. That's... I actually said out loud, "Huh!" when it happened. I was not expecting this show to say that one of its central mysteries is purely busywork for a guy who has lost everything except this stupid mystery. It's a way of lampshading how inept Ryou is in tracking down leads and discerning truth, but in a way that allows for a secretive character to take pity on him. I mean, nothing comes of it in this story, the mystery is still unsolved, but I was okay with it becoming more about how lost Ryou is, then some dumb connection to his dad or or a driving need to expose injustice or whatever. It's real interesting to me, an investigator driven by ennui and existential dread. I kind-of hope it continues along that line, with Ryou walking up to people from his dad's notebook and just breaking down crying, right in front of them, blubbering about the "Akat*sob*suki*sob*-gou*sob*", and them being all "I WILL TELL YOU WHATEVER YOU WANT TO KNOW JUST OH MY GOD PLEASE STOP CRYING I AM AT WORK RIGHT NOW" No spoilers for the continuation of this storyline, since I'm pretty certain I'm right, thanks!