I think this is the first episode to really come together for me. It helps that it's a fairly light done-in-one mystery, but the big advantage is that it goes all in on Kagami and Tendou as a crime-fighting partnership.

There's a lot more friction than you usually see in a Rider show, y'know? There's this tacit agreement that Tendou and Kagami want the same result, but the actual mechanics of how they each plan to achieve that goal (and the specifics of their motivations)... I mean, these are two dudes who are so not on the same page that they are in completely different books.

The thing is, though, I feel like I've seen this dynamic before on a Rider show? It wasn't until the sequence of Tendou enjoying the mackerel miso that Kagami covets that I figured out where I saw this type of partnership before. The egotistical prick who needs the harried everyman to achieve his goal; and the easily-distracted guy who needs the power of some narcissist that can barely stop rolling his eyes long enough to actually do his job.

It's OOO, isn't it? But if Ankh was the Rider.

Once I realized that, this episode was smooth as butter.

It's a pretty fun story, despite only really having a couple moves. (Boy, if you don't immediately figure out that the Yuki who doesn't talk to anyone and runs away is actually the real Yuki and not the Worm... well, you're probably not a grown adult and thus more likely to be in this show's actual demographic and hi welcome to how weird adults can be about the shows that are made for you.) Yuki's on the run, and Yuki's in prison. Misaki and Kagami are tasked with determining which is the Worm and eliminating it, which leads to Tendou, the law of Conservation of Energy made flesh, just putting the two Yukis in one space to see which one murders the other. It's not a terribly complex setup, which is appropriate for an episode that actually spends more time making a case for itself tonally than the introductory story did!

Like, there's some backstory stuff here (Kagami recaps some details about Shibuya and ZECT, but mostly he's foreshadowing his But Why Heroism story), but the main thing we get in this episode is wall-to-wall Kagami and Tendou, and A THOUSAND PERCENT YES.

I mean, that whole prison break scene! It's Kagami flustered and terrified of getting in trouble, while Tendou's just calmly walking through the police station, living the creed that Being In Trouble Is A Fake Idea. Tendou could not care less about the laws of man, and Kagami is trapped in this conundrum of Definitely Illegal But Getting Results. It's this ridiculous combination of men that somehow, inexplicably, succeed.

It's incredibly charming, and I haven't even talked about the aces action involved in it. Tendou takes out a squadron of cops by using their movements against them, letting their anger and confusion eliminate them as obstacles in Tendou's path. It's thrilling and comedic in equal measures, highlighting how supremely chill Tendou is as he takes what wants. It's, easily, the best action sequence this show has had yet, and it doesn't involve a single rubber suit.

And then they end it with not one but TWO defining Kabuto moments. The first is that Tendou 100% leaves Kagami inside the police station, and then seems slightly amused that Kagami couldn't escape a half-dozen cop dogpile quicker. (Which, how did Kagami get out? Is he actually that good?) It's maybe Tendou having faith that Kagami could extricate himself on his own (and he could!), but I feel like it's not some small part Tendou sort of forgetting to take Kagami with him? I don't think he forgot forgot, but Is Kagami Going To Be Okay was probably pretty far down Tendou's decision-making matrix.

The other thing, though... man. Killed me. Tendou lets the imprisoned Yuki go, knowing that she'll interact with the other Yuki. As Yuki runs off, Kagami runs off after her. Tendou then gets so mad that he has to run as well. So mad! It's the most, like, aggrieved attitude he's had yet on this series. I loved it.

I found this episode delightful. It was really the thing I needed, the spark that the previous episodes missed. There's warmth and humor, but still plenty of danger and foreboding. (Howdy, Ryou.) Mostly, there's a chemistry to Tendou and Kagami that I find addictive, with Kagami viewing Tendou as a Necessary Evil, and Tendou viewing Kagami as a Useful Idiot. This was the first episode that I finished where I was aching to watch the next one.


While the good/bad split setup isn't sticking around (too confining!), I do still want to keep asking questions for these episodes. The heart of this episode, for me at least, was the mismatched buddy cop dynamic of Tendou and Kagami. There are bunches of other Rider shows with a great core duo (OOO, obviously, but also Build, W, Ryuki, and more); but we've also seen plenty of shows with a more ensemble cast (Ex-Aid, Fourze, Drive). My question to you is which type of setup do you prefer, all else being equal: a core duo or a broader ensemble?