This is one where I like the idea behind it, a whole story more-or-less devoted to Houjou’s ambition running up against his ideals (he has ideals!), but the execution was a little lacking.

Hey, speaking of execution: those Jellyfish Unknown lightning attacks were awesome. Very cool visually, and certainly one of the most horrifying monster attacks yet on Agito. It’s a shame that the monster stuff was so minor to this story, including a final fight with Agito that was maybe four moves long. That Jellyfish dude exploded out from that fight like he had a bus to catch. It was weirdly brief.

But, sort-of irrelevant, since this whole story was about Chief Tsukasa, Houjou’s mentor and the new overseer of the G3 Unit.

He’s either a complex character, if you’re into his contribution to this story, or a contradictory character, if you’re feeling uncharitable. I’m not 100% sure how I feel, so soon after watching, but I’m probably leaning towards the latter.

His introduction is good, his warmth and camaraderie with Houjou, the way Houjou unreservedly respects Tsukasa, it’s a neat change of pace from the cowardly striver we usually get. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that cowardly striver.) All of the Houjou/Tsukasa scenes are great, showing not just where Houjou gets his analytical skills as a detective, but also where he gets his little sarcastic jabs. (That bit at the end where Tsukasa says he used his left hand to stage the murder scene because he took a bullet for Houjou in his right arm, deadly. Merciless.) It’s a very nuanced, layered relationship between two men who share victories and defeats. That part tracks all the way through the story. It’s the rest of it that largely fell apart for me.

First, it’s absolutely clear from the first second of the baker’s murder that Tsukasa did it. There’s never a single moment where there’s another suspect. That makes the inevitable reveal of why and how Tsukasa did it take forever to arrive. It’s nearly one-and-a-half episodes until Houjou lays it out for the audience.

Which, that’s the second problem. Maybe 70% of the motivation for why Tsukasa killed the baker is stuff the audience is never told until the final scenes of the story. That the baker was engaged to Tsukasa’s sister, that she was murdered (I just assumed she died of non-murder reasons, stupid me), the watch and the cellphone and the remote detonator and just all of it. The story doesn’t spend any time investigating it as anything other than an Unknown attack, so there’s no place to seed in any of the clues the audience would need. We’re just kept in the dark until the very end, where two episodes worth of clues come out in one monologue. It’s a good monologue, though, and no mistake. Houjou and Tsukasa are brilliant in that scene, a mentor proud of his protege, a protege horrified to have to destroy his mentor, the shame and the guilt buried under the need to face these revelations with dignity, to honor their dedication to justice, it’s a great scene. Tsukasa has failed his ideals, and Houjou has to defend them.

It’s just, Tsukasa also spends two episodes framing the G3 squad as negligent and misguided, in service of covering up his murder, so it’s a little difficult for me to see him as this, like, paragon of justice who let his need to avenge his sister warp his priorities. He keeps using the fact that the baker was murdered as proof that everything the G3 unit ever thought was wrong, and that they should be reassigned. Holy shit! That’s a monstrous abuse of power, and it’s never shown to be something he regrets or does by accident. He is basically framing them for this crime. He gets away with murder, they’re all dismissed from service. Additionally, the tactics and strategies the entire Task Force has been using are cast into doubt, tactics we know work (to a degree, anway), so expect a ton of innocent people to get hurt while the Task Force has to figure out which way is up. That’s disgusting. I think we’re supposed to see Tsukasa’s choice as a regrettable lapse of judgment, but holy shit did he throw a lot of bodies onto this one. A lot.

And while we’re on the topic of bodies, let’s bring it all home and talk about Gills. He’s in the first scene of the story, a recap of when he scurried away after getting incredibly shot by G3, and then he disappears until midway through the second episode, slowly limping through tunnel, then we don’t see him again until the very end of the story. It’s a weird way to squander the momentum of the previous story, but, bright side, Shouichi’s got a new roommate!!!!!!!!