Family are the people who can love you the most. Family are also the people who can hurt you the worst.

There’s a neat complexity to the beginning part of this episode, where emotions and relationships are allowed to be complicated: Daiji resents Ikki’s lack of focus as Kamen Rider Revi; Ikki chafes against Daiji’s value system and selfishness; Ayaka resents her sister’s primacy in their mother’s eyes; Ayaka’s mother is maybe doing a not great job of caring for one moody teenager and one pre-teen celebrity, but is mostly just guilty of some slight inattention. It’s a group of characters that all have valid reasons to be upset, but also are all lacking in the empathy that would let them consider someone else’s feelings. It’s messy! I like a messy storyline where everyone’s a little wrong!

The problem with a messy storyline on a Kamen Rider show is that, nine times out of ten, there needs to be a good guy and a bad guy; things need to flatten out for a clear victory with a side of Rider Kick. What starts off as a nicely nuanced exploration of differing perspectives and emotional needs within a family structure just resolves into Ayaka’s Mother Was Wrong and Ikki Signs With Fenix. It’s two characters subsuming their own needs into what’s best for someone else, rather than anyone collectively learning to respect boundaries and/or prioritize self-sufficiency. In a story that desperately needs to end with a middle ground solution, we’re left with two winners, and two losers.

And even the solution… it’s just Love Them More? It makes a little more sense for the clearly troubled Ayaka than it does for Daiji, but both conclusions feel rushed and somewhat myopic. Ayaka’s got a sister that she imperiled, and a mother who (based on two episodes of appearances) is raising both of these kids solo. I don’t know if Ayaka’s mom is who should be at fault here? And Ikki’s asked to set aside his own convictions (reasonable ones!) to pick up Daiji’s slack and support Daiji’s goals, which is maybe not a great long-term strategy for resolving Daiji’s mood swings. I can respect Ikki opting to put in more energy to meeting Daiji’s demands as Ikki always sacrificing for his family, but alongside the Ayaka stuff, it’s a disappointing solution for a legitimate dilemma.

In the periphery, we get some interesting exposition from the Giffamilia, where the types of monsters (and their scarcity) gets detailed, and Aguilera gets a little scene to emphasize that the enemy group is also a family. It’s not really a ton, and it’s maybe only a few degrees more interesting than the Book Club ever was on Saber, but the Giffamilia is intriguing enough to not write off yet. (I mean, it helps that Aguilera’s performance is so goddamn magnetic. There’s a seductive exuberance to her threats, and a performative petulance to her impatience. She makes such neat choices as an actor!) There’s also George’s robust Kamen Rider collection, which strangely goes unremarked upon, but I’m sure we’ll get there soon.

Overall, I thought this one was a miss. The show reached for an emotionally complex problem, and then solved it in the flattest, least-complicated way possible. Hopefully they’ll get back on track next time!