This time on Kamen Rider Blade: A trip to the Whispering Cave puts Amane in the hospital! A Centipede Monster is her only hope of survival! But can she survive being treated in the exact same room that Mari from Faiz died in?!

This is an episode that didn't really do anything wrong, but never really dazzled me. It's got some tense action sequences, and it's great to see all of the Riders involved in the same story for once, but it... I don't know, it never rose above Entertaining for me. I was still entertained, though!

Thematically, I really liked what this episode was talking about. I'm not sure if it's just where we're at in the story, or if it's something the series is going to be about, but I'm liking the prolonged discussion of how we process mortality. It's an interesting idea for a Kamen Rider show to be about. Most Rider shows have an element of How Do We Live, an emphasis on struggle and goals and appreciating what you've got. Blade seems to be spending more time on Death Is A Natural Part Of Existence.

It's all over this episode, what with the trip to the Whispering Cave. It's a location that's all about the ways we can't let go of people, how we can let grief push us into making dangerous decisions. It's something that dovetails well with Hirose's continuing crisis, as she starts to suspect that her dad might've been integral in freeing the Undead in order to save her mother. (Just in case that parallel was unclear, the show puts Hirose's emotional struggle directly after the scene of Amane declaring she desperately wants to talk to her dad no matter the cost. They are not being terribly subtle with their themes!) And that's on top of Kenzaki giving his But Why Heroism speech, which mostly spells out what was a pretty easy guess. Kenzaki feels guilty about not being able to save his family, so he wants to keep trying to save others. He's another character that can't seem to let go of the dead.

But then you've got someone like Tachibana, who can't let go of his own mortality. He instantly deduces that CHAIRMAN of the BOARD faked his death using magnesium and a hologram and... what?! So, CHAIRMAN got up off that table, snuck out, left behind a hologram, and then burned that hologram to ashes? Ashes made from a hologram?! It's an absolutely bonkers resolution to last episode's cliffhanger, and it's both insultingly/hilariously convoluted and serves to push Tachibana's quest for answers a little further down the road. It's fun to keep seeing Tachibana vacillate between determined badass (he's almost respectable in parts of this episode!) and self-centered coward (he really really doesn't want to die!), and while he's maybe not showing any new sides to his character in this outing, I like how extreme he is in trying to accomplish his (ridiculous) goals.

Mostly, this is a story that pushes Kenzaki and Hajime a little closer together, and that's the most interesting plotline for me right now.

They, first of all, do not get along. Kenzaki tries to politely invite Hajime to come with them to the Whispering Cave, and when he gives a brooding denial, Kenzaki's like Aw Shucks GOTTAGOBYE. Like, he can't get away from this grumpy jerk fast enough. It's a unique relationship for this show, where proximity keeps these characters in each other's lives more than any friendship or rivalry.

But then they sort-of have both in the end? The easiest way to get Riders to work together is to place a child in danger, so Amane's injury and poisoning at the mandibles of Centipede Monster rallies Chalice and Blade to get the antibodies necessary for Amane's survival. It's just, Garren would very much like to kill that monster because he's really going through a lot don't you have any care for his pain why are you being so mean to him. That leads to a solid final fight in the episode, with Blade trying to keep Garren at bay long enough for Chalice to figure out how to get the antibodies out of the monster.

It's a solid enough dilemma, even if it's a little rote. Everyone's doing what you'd expect their characters to do, but nothing more than that. It's fun to see Kenzaki start to put the pieces together on Hajime/Chalice, but the rest of their interaction is just Heroism, and it's a little predictable. (Best part was Kotaro accidentally humansplaining the Undead to Hajime.) Of course Chalice is going to try and save Amane. Of course Blade is going to defer if someone else has an idea on how to save someone. (He's a real good follower, Blade is.) Of course Garren is going to think only of himself. It's competently executed, as a climax to an episode, but it's not very surprising.

So, yeah, a fun enough story with some interesting thematic threading that never really makes enough turns to be worth raving about. Still fun, though!

Next time on Kamen Rider Blade: Hirose needs help from her friends! Blade is captured! And nobody understands Tachibana's pain!