God, it must suck to be Ren at this point in the show.

I imagine he's been at this for a bit, partnering with Yui to save people from monsters. But in walks Shinji, falling ass-backwards into this volatile situation, and he's blowing up monsters that had Knight on the ropes, pulling Yui's focus, making demands, and basically establishing himself as The Real Protagonist. How demoralizing must that be, to feel so overshadowed and disregarded? How much would you loathe and resent Shinji's effortless charm, selfless heroism, demigod-like locks, and impenetrable plot armor? Just think about it. God, it must be humiliating and infuriating, all at once.

Anway, not what I really wanted to talk about from this one. Just a thought I had rattling around.

This was a good post-premiere episode. A little slow, a little exposition-y, but with some fun snap to it.

The opening Ryuki/Knight fight was excellent. Trick Vent was awesome, and had a killer mix of practical and special effects. The first part, where the one Knight steps out from behind the other Knight, they shot that flawlessly. (The one shot where you can see the taped-on squib real prominent on Ryuki's chest, a little less laudable!) It's a well-choreographed fight, showing how Knight's experience is more valuable than Ryuki's raw power, and another way the show is focused on building out Ryuki as a hero. Despite what second-paragraph Kamen Rider Die might've said (that guy is the worst), things don't come that easy to Shinji, and he learns through this episode how to be a better monster-exploder thanks to the beating Knight handed him. It's nice to see that dramatized. Shinji has to fight smarter, not harder, to win against the monsters, and that feels sort-of rare in Kamen Rider? I'd like to see it more often, I guess.

Speaking of monsters, I really dig the Mirror World setup for the monsters. I think that's a solid hook, the way the monsters are there, but not there. How they can interact with you, but you can't with them. It's a bit modern-day Doctor Who, the way things like reflections are weaponized, how the everyday becomes otherworldly. That's a fun kids-show conceit. It's nice to see more of an emphasis on suits this episode, moving away from the premiere's CG spider. The CG in this series so far, uh... you know, they're trying real hard. Like, the Mirrormovers or whatever, the ride machines, those things look great on set. They look like five pounds of boiled ass during the launch sequence. The computer effects, they do those designs, like, negative favors. Also, man, for how little transporting they do, the show seems in love with Riders getting up out of them. It's like they move about six feet, then it's a half-minute of them slowly being disengaged. Could be wrong, but this feels like the first shot in a war to minimize the riding in Kamen Rider.

Plot-wise, yeah, a bit of exposition in this one, not much else that was memorable. (Pacing for this one is weird, in that it's very fight heavy coming off of the premiere with not a lot of dialogue scenes of any weight. Only really realized that in retrospect.) Yui's brother Shiro shows up to Freddy Foreshadowing a vague warning/threat about destroying other Riders, and Yui tells us how she could detect mirror monsters as a kid and that Shiro (maybe?) created the Card Decks. It's not pivotal information, and there's not a lot Yui can do to really ground it emotionally at this point (we just met her!), but the show doesn't overly dwell on it. Mostly, it's nice to not have to see Shiro in a reflective surface for twelve episodes before someone finally tells us who he is. Like the motivation and thematic stuff from the first story, it's nice to lock this down before it gets irritating.

So, a solid enough episode. Hit the beats, really delivered on the action, but maybe not enough character interaction for my tastes.