I really liked the Yuri/Wataru scene! The rest of the episode was weirdly only adequate!

I'm going to have a tough time explaining why the rest of the episode wasn't anything too exciting for me. I mean, it's full of big things: Bishop tells Taiga that he was the one who killed Mio. Bishop decides to overthrow Taiga, because systems can't tolerate what they can't control. King vows to kill Taiga if Maya stays with Otoya. Otoya becomes Dark Kiva twice, and probably dies from the attempt. Wataru gets punched in the gut by his dad. It's a big episode!

It's also a somber episode, and a ton of it feels... preordained? Inevitable? There's a fatalism to it, exemplified by Otoya's insistence on killing himself for Maya/Taiga/himself. (The previous episode, where Wataru was trying to negate his own existence, managed to be a fun lark by comparison.) Otoya's always been devoted to his own whims, to the exclusion of common sense or basic decorum, but here it comes off as frustratingly obstinate. Otoya is going to become Dark Kiva to save Taiga, even though a) it'll kill him, b) it won't even defeat King, c) Wataru is more than willing to pitch in to defeat King and keep Otoya alive. It's a suicidal plan that won't even succeed, but the show treats it as laudably heroic, a testament to Otoya's belief in self-determination.

It tries to make it seem bittersweet, what with the hushed Maya/Otoya scene, where he asks her to be strong enough to let him sacrifice himself. Both actors imbue the scene with so much love and sadness that it's easy to forget, for just that one scene, how unnecessary it all is. But for the rest of the episode, it's just this grim march towards Otoya's fate, and it's maybe a dumber, less-fun version of his own son's rush to destroy himself. It doesn't feel like a hero accepting the cost of his love for people. It feels like an egotist throwing himself headlong into a dangerous situation, when there's a more powerful hero willing to join the fight.

Speaking of that hero, it's a great episode for Wataru. I love the way the show gives the big hero speech in the middle to Yuri, to tie her ability to see the good in a break-up to Mio's desire for Wataru to live. It's a fun way of getting at how we project our guilt onto other people - letting their memories judge us harshly - when it's easy to forget how they might forgive us. Wataru's been too caught up in his own guilt to remember that Mio wouldn't've wanted him to have never existed, wouldn't've wanted to have never been able to meet him. It's the same way Yuri doesn't regret dating Otoya, even though it didn't last. Big-hearted optimism from Yuri (her only scene in this episode!) will always be worth savoring.

The rest of this one, though... hmm. Briskly-told, and with some great action (this was one of the few CG finales I really enjoyed?), but I just wasn't feeling how on-rails the Otoya story came off. It's not out of character, but it either needed another gear to it, or for the rest of the cast to call him out on his weird death wish. As it is, it's an episode where everyone's like I Guess It's Time For Otoya To Die, and that really took the wind out of my sails.

It's like, I will grudgingly allow this episode its plot, but I can't exactly praise it. That Yuri/Wataru scene, though! That part was aces.