Well, Episode 17 is a clip show with a couple new fight scenes, so there's really nothing to talk about there. We can skip that one. On to the next two-parter!

Godai is sidelined for this two-parter, poisoned by a Kissing Grongi, and it's a weird choice. I mean, it's not an unusual choice. Rider shows (that I've seen) frequently take the main Rider out of commission for a story, to better spotlight the supporting cast and talk about how each of them views the main Rider. (I just watched Build, and they did a similar "the main guy is poisoned and the rest of the cast reacts to it" story, to mixed results.) And, you know, that's what this one does! Godai's hospitalization/"death" causes the other characters to work in his absence to stop the threat, while reflecting on Godai's value to the team. Luckily, Godai resurrects just in time to stop the monster and save the day. A solid story.

It's just, that's practically every Kuuga story. While the threat to Godai is new, the concept of everyone else doing their job in relative isolation to stop the threat is more common than one that's got Godai in a primary role! Those types of stories are only maybe the last few episodes. The first, like, twelve episodes were ones where Ichijou tracked down a monster, Sakurako translated bits of ancient inscriptions, Pole Pole scenes happened for no reason, and Godai showed up at the end to Rider Kick a monster to death. That's the Kuuga formula! This story tried to position itself as an alteration to the routine, to make Godai's absence mean something, but he's mostly absent from this show. He only just recently became the star. Why do this type of story now? Like I said, weird choice.

Still, it is solid. The pace is consistent, the acting and direction has flashes of craftsmanship (the scene where Creepy Medical Examiner has to tell Ichijou that Godai's dead, and they frame it heavy to each side, and Ichijou's silent in his car, really emotional stuff), the Grongi scenes are compelling, and the fight songs are terrific. Have I mentioned that? The last couple stories, there's this guitar-heavy fight song that's energetic in a late-80s hair-metal way. It's kitschy but exciting, and I totally dig it.

So, yeah, it's not a bad story, it's just weird to do a "Godai is missing" story when he's almost always missing from the story on this show.