I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Last Day Before The Final Battle, but for the villains before? Plenty of series have done the story of the heroes enjoying one last day before their ultimate triumph or eternal defeat, but I don’t really recall an episode where the lieutenants tried to cross off some bucket list items by getting a Rider to kick the bucket?

As the Giffamilia either expands its ranks or evaporates three chumps, we get three short stories of the final days of a few returning villains: the Planaria multi-level-monstering guy from the Jeanne debut; Kudo, the scheming attorney; and Commander Chameleon, Fenix’s most recent traitor. They all get one last day to work some evil magic, before they’re forced to get upgraded/obliterated.

Hard to say there’s a main story for this one? We’ll start off with the Kudo/Ikki/Vice one, since it features our title Riders. There’s not a lot to this one (expect to hear that criticism again), but I appreciate how what looks to be a dark story of unhinged revenge turns into a confusing demand for a marauding psychopath to remove his shoes, and then sort of lightly critiques Ikki’s (relative to Riders) lack of empathy. It’s an emotional attack by Kudo that sort of lands on Ikki, since Ikki isn’t super keen on hearing people out when he gets up on his high horse, but it’s not really a fair read of Kamen Rider Revi. It’s Kudo deflecting the blame for his situation onto someone else, because it’s always someone else’s fault with that guy. He took a shortcut that landed him in hock to a cult that worships a yonic sculpture as their dad, and now he’s going to try and shift the blame to the guy who most recently kicked his ass. There’s really nothing in Kudo’s argument to respect or rebut, which is how Vice is able to get Ikki back on side. It’s a cute little story, but it’s not really trying too hard to interrogate Ikki’s nosiness or pushiness.

The Sakura/Multi-Level-Monstering one is very cute, as you might expect. It’s focused on Sakura trying to hide her new superhero identity from her friends at school… for about one scene, before MLM rolls up and challenges her to a duel. There’s not a lot to this one (*gif of Vice saying “Two”*), but it’s agreeably goofy in how quickly MLM tries to get out of doing any fighting himself, and how thoroughly Sakura beats the holy hell out of him. We don’t know anything about Sakura’s friends (at least, the ones who didn’t kidnap themselves for attention), and we’ve never been to her school before, so a story that at least briefly hinges on Sakura attempting to conceal her identity and maintain her status quo… sort of doesn’t work? It’s a story that might’ve worked better if we’d had even one school scene before this episode, or if it ever felt like there was a reason for Sakura to conceal her Rider powers. The cast of high school girls makes it funny, and I will never say no to an excuse to see Lovekov heckle a creep, but this one coasts pretty hard on comedy and charm.

Finally, we’ve got Commander Chameleon versus I Guess The Only Three People Who Work At Fenix, and I liked this one more than I thought I would? It gets weird, in its melodrama, which I super wasn’t expecting. When Commander Chameleon bugs out his eyes and wags his tongue (like a… hmm, I’ll get it, hold on), it’s almost exactly the answer to my criticism of Kagerou’s performance. It’s gleefully unhinged, and it’s a brilliant counterpoint to Hiromi’s WHYHAVEYOUBETRAYEDUS meltdown. This whole sequence is just George and Daiji stunned into silence as the two most buttoned-up Fenix guys completely lose it, at different ends of the Losing It spectrum. The Giff Stamp gets stolen, Fenix is maybe done for good (who can tell with that part of the show), and Hiromi is screaming into carpet squares that the world no longer makes sense. Maybe my favorite part of the episode!

(There’s an epilogue scene where the now six-strong Giffamilia tells Aguilera she’s the next sacrifice, and I confess to not exactly understanding the significance of this whole power structure. I guess they’re going to make her be a monster lady? I understand very little about Giftexes and sacrifices and whatever is supposed to make Giff unfold like a flower on his wedding night!)

Interesting way to get at the next phase of the show’s story, this episode. It definitely makes me more invested in all three of the new henchmen, maybe to a greater degree than Julio and … Olteca? I think the green one is Olteca? Fun angles on this one, from conception to execution. Not exactly a lot to the individual plots (“THREE”), but I liked the whole package.