I wish I could tell you why I started crying at the end.

It's not a great finale. It does a decent job trying to tie the Native stuff into the series themes, at long last. There're some really sweet moments at the end of the whole cast celebrating their victory. But it all feels Too Little Too Late, with a bunch of plot points that have all the randomness and accidental hilarity of Oh Hey Daisuke Showed Up Again.

The biggest problem this episode has, and that 47-49 collectively have, is that 44 is still the better series resolution. It's just bigger and better in every single way, not least of which for how much it makes Hiyori and Tendou's relationship a central point. They don't even share a single scene in the finale! That is a top-shelf failure, no matter the behind-the-scenes circumstances. It's like this story was a three-legged stool with one of its legs missing. There's some minor balance, due to luck, but it's nowhere near as sturdy as the previous finale.

The one way this episode improves on 44 is that it finally starts to make the Natives feel like they're looped-in thematically with this series. From a very early point in the show, Tendou has been someone who views personal achievement as a societal good. If you improve yourself, you improve the world you live in. Letting everyone follow a path to self-improvement is what he's fighting to protect. Negishi's plan is the opposite of that. It's changing the world to match the Natives. It's robbing people of the chance to be anything more than the Natives, to flatten experience and cut off paths. It's literally everything Tendou's been fighting against, in one villainous scheme.

Beyond thematically, though, I'm not sure there's a ton to commend this plot for? Goro as a final villain is just... I mean, it's Goro, I'm a fan, but he's the definition of a lieutenant. He's the guy you fight before you fight the big boss. Making him the actual final monster, it's like... it is emblematic of every way this final episode is a step down from 44. He's not the mastermind, he's just some guy who's happy to draft off of whatever scheme puts him closer to power. He's got no ideology beyond I Hate You Guys. He doesn't represent anything beyond an obstacle, a Villain. Beating him isn't like defeating a massive Worm army and a flashy dude who'd wiped the floor with literally every other Rider. Beating him is the end of nearly any forgettable monster-of-the-week story, and it's done on the most boring set imaginable. (Pretty cheap looking, too!) As the absolute final battle between the forces of Justice and the forces of Evil, it feels regrettably small, no matter how long the actual fight runs.

Which, yeah, feels a little padded? For an episode? It's really only three parts: Kagami leaving the hospital, the fight at the TV studio, and the epilogue. Nearly anything else just gets a token reference, nothing the episode really wants to spend a lot of time or effort on. The Dark Kabuto/Negishi stuff is the biggest offender, where Another Tendou only wakes up long enough to pull Negishi into an explosion that kills them both. It's yet another plotline, Another Tendou, that show just seemed to lose interest in after 44. He only says a couple lines and then explodes. Afterwards, the Riders send their Zecters away and finally relax.

Everything after that last explosion... I mean, yeah, I loved it. It is pure fan-service. It is the dessert after a 49-episode meal. (I adore how much the epilogue is about food. Nearly everyone gets a job related to food! Those are my favorite types of Kamen Rider jobs!) It's a pretty great ending, one that not even the redundancy of 47-49 could dim my enthusiasm for. Tadokoro becoming a super weird soba chef. Misaki running the Discabil business in Japan, since Tsurugi and Jiiya are busy in France. (A shame they couldn't fit Tsurugi into the finale, but, again: busy in France!) Daisuke and Gon, just hanging out because we all love Daisuke and Gon. Hiyori and Juka as sisters.

Is it the Kagami stuff that I find so adorable that it brings tears to my eyes? God, maybe! Him going into a job where he watches over children, protects them... it's not the usual caregiver roles we see when it comes to kids on these shows (teachers, day-care workers), and the specificity of A Cop For Kids is the most perfect idea for what happens next for Kagami. And Tendou going to France for tofu, because of the visual of the Eiffel Tower... it's very cute. It's a simple gag, with Tendou doing half his Tendou Souji speech in French, and then pointing to the viewer as a button, but it's very sweet.

That ending, man... hard to be objective after that! I definitely didn't like these last three episodes, even if this was the best of the three. (That thematic stuff for the Natives bought a lot of my goodwill.) But having a third of the episode be about everyone's future, about Kagami and Tendou being canonical friends... it's nice. It is a very nice feeling to end this show on.


Essay question this time: Why didn't Tendou run into Tsurugi when he was in France? It would've been the perfect way to include Tsurugi (and Jiiya) into the finale, while honoring the earlier episodes where Tsurugi decides to leave Japan. Did the writer just forget?