(Programming note: Turns out that the 50th Birthday and Transformation Lessons files I had were without subs, and I couldn't find any subbed versions to replace them. So, we’re skipping those for now. If anyone’s got subbed versions to share, please reach out! Thanks!)

I thought this was a fine second episode? Nothing exceptional or even necessarily memorable, but a solid one-off that establishes the parameters of our title Riders' relationship.

It’s a story about how two people can want the same thing, but want it in such vastly different ways as to make teamwork functionally impossible. The golfer and the caddie are a nice Monster Of The Week entryway to this concept, since they’re both ostensibly pulling in the same direction; they both want the golfer to win. Similarly, Ikki and Vice both want to detonate Deadmans. But all four characters are defined more by their incompatibility than their similarity.

Ikki’s the one I was most interested in in this story, because his arc is the most thoughtful and nuanced. He’s not just No Heroics until he’s All Heroics, there’s a… he’s got very specific reasons for his wanting to Henshin or not. He initially declines the Fenix offer, not because he doesn’t want to help people, but because the responsibility of answering to Fenix can’t ever take precedence over his obligation to his family. It’s a non-starter for him, that offer. He instantly grabs the Revice Driver when there’s danger, though, because he can’t stand by when people are in danger. He’s got a duty as a Kamen Rider, but a deeper, stronger commitment as an Igarashi. He won’t join an organization that would ask him to put his family second.

His mom clarifies the issue for him, though, in my favorite scene in the episode. (I like when the whole family is in one room together! This episode only did it once! Not a great decision!) It’s not about him protecting the family to the exclusion of the world, it’s about him recognizing that their family exists within the world. It’s also not about him alone sacrificing for his family, but them supporting what’s special about him. If Ikki can save people as Kamen Rider Revi, then the rest of the family will provide him space to do that. He doesn’t have to say no to a part of himself in order to care for his family.

It’s a nice message in this larger story of teamwork, even if it’s maybe not the one the show is keen to focus on.

The big part of the episode is Vice not really getting the whole Protecting People part of superheroes, and if the show glides through the dilemma a little too quickly to really do it justice, well… you kinda can’t have a show until Vice stops trying to eat people every time Ikki Henshins. It’s going to be a bit of a distraction! Sort of a big problem! The solution, to have Ikki basically go I’m Going To Get Murdered By Monsters And You’ll Die Too until Vice agrees to be a helpful, non-eating-people’s-moms demon… it’s okay. It’s way too early in the show to really have a serious, emotional throwdown about Ikki’s dedication to protecting people versus Vice’s inherent selfishness, so this shortcut version is fine to get our two main characters to be effective enough to take down the lowest level of weekly monsters. The resolution is such that we are definitely going to circle back to this (Vice’s acquiescence is more about self-preservation than a deep love for humanity), but it gets our oddball dynamic to at least stop trying to negate each other. That’s a win! Sort of!

And that’s the basic lesson for this episode, through the weird golfer/caddie double monstering: focus on how effective you can be as a unit, and stop trying to blow it up for your own appetites. It’s not an all-the-way-through success of an episode – too little family dynamic, the golfer’s motivation is Chaos I Guess, I don’t care enough about Fenix’s command structure or employees to need to start the second episode off with a guy getting dressed-down and embarrassed, and I absolutely do not like the Remix routines and their accompanying horrible CG. It’s got some stuff I’d’ve maybe corrected on an edit, for sure. But the structure is solid enough, the MOTW plot rhymes with the Ikki/Vice arc, and the cast is pleasant enough.

I can work with this!