I just… I basically don’t care about suits? As stories?

I got progressively less interested in this episode as strayed from what looked to be an absolutely killer premise – Sakura and Daiji have to team-up while Hiromi and Ikki are benched – into something that was pleasant, but less original – Ikki needs to have the courage to believe that people can change – and then finally into a glorified showcase for Revi’s upgrade form.

I care about suits to the degree that they illuminate some evolution of the character, but that’s where it stops with me. Ikki still seeing Vice as the monster that tried to eat his mom, instead of the supportive and steadfast friend he’d become over the last few months? That’s awesome. I love that. There’s something innate in Ikki that worries about his family as the first choice in any interaction, and it can keep him from being as supportive as he wants to be. (We even get to see Ikki learn to stop rushing to his siblings’ aid at the drop of a hat, and let them fight their own battles!) He cares about his family so much that he’s been holding it against Vice, even when Vice clearly doesn’t deserve it anymore. We’re miles away from Ikki almost suiciding himself against Giff Juniors to teach Vice a lesson, and it’s starting to get rough watching Ikki treat Vice like shit. It was time to have Ikki realize that Vice isn’t a demon that’s haunting him, he’s his buddy. We’ve finally reached the point where Vice can stop being some humiliated apparition, and start being a part of the family.

But then we get an extended sequence of Barid Rex, complete with Jumbo Brachio Remix, and I don’t think it’s as cool as the show does, pun very much intended. It’s an okay suit, even if it’s inherently less fun because Vice is being punished by George. I like the shattered egg motif, and how it symbolizes Ikki coming out of his shell and befriending Vice. The pink gradation over the turquoise is pretty. But I don’t need so much of a one-off episode to be devoted to glory shots of it in action. The finale of the episode for me was the pre-Henshin slow-walk of friendship by Ikki and Vice; everything after that was epilogue.

And while I didn’t get a full episode of Daiji and Sakura teaming up, I liked what little I did get. I really wanted to see what their dynamic was away from Ikki, you know? We haven’t really seen the two of them on their own yet, and I don’t really know what that relationship is like. There’s some fun notes so far, though. I like how they commiserate over Ikki’s helicopter brothering, and how hard they have to work to get him to back off. There’s a little bit of Daiji trying to be a voice of authority, and a clear indication that Sakura has never and may never see him as anyone to listen to. But, y’know, the episode very quickly pivoted to Barid Rex and Kagerou, and we didn’t really get the Daiji/Sakura spotlight I’d’ve liked.

Not to say the Kagerou stuff was unwelcome! The episode included a lot of intriguing story teases around the edges on this one: Kagerou’s reactivation, however briefly; Hiromi’s reasonable and relatable vow to lay down his life to protect Lovekov; a(nother) traitor in Fenix; the impending activation of Giff, maybe, possibly, who really knows. None of the villain plotting got me thinking in new ways about their schemes or characterization, but I liked them going on the offensive. A “base under siege” story is always entertaining, and the brevity of this one kept the pace fast all the way through. It’s a quick story, but a solid one.

I did manage to thoroughly enjoy this one, even if the last several minutes were not at all the high point for me. I like the developing dynamic of the Igarashis fighting as Kamen Riders, and I’m thrilled that we’ll be getting more Vice interaction with non-Rider characters. I can’t wait ‘til Vice meets the parents again!