Family! I hope you like hearing that word a bunch!

It’s a theme in this episode, but maybe oppressively so. It’s there in Philip’s memories, in Shotaro’s role as his big brother, in the Narumi Detective Agency as a found family, in Yuuko’s backstory, in the Sonozaki subplot… it’s 100% what this episode is about, so it’s not like I’m mad at its inability to elucidate or adhere to a theme. FAMILY! That’s the whole thing! I just wish that it felt like we were getting more than just A Bunch Of Family Stuff.

The Sonozaki/Museum stuff… it’s definitely there. It’s a plot that moves at a breakneck pace, but without really intersecting with this episode’s mystery at all, in any way. (At least last episode we got Kirihiko saving the Money Dopant.) It’s just here to flesh out the Dopant side of their group, and that’s all. We get to see Wakana’s Dopant form in action, Nazca gets a full reveal (as opposed to, uh, Kirihiko’s earlier “full reveal”) and a glimpse of the rest of the family’s Dopant forms in a cool/nightmarish wedding photo. Beyond racing through the wedding of Saeko and Kirihiko, there’s nothing in all of these scenes that narratively assists the mystery plot in this episode. It’s just, like, another thing that’s happening in Fuuto. While it’s nominally on the topic of Family, spoiler – a subplot featuring a family is sort of always on the topic of Family.

The mystery plot fares significantly better, as it’s both a tense battle to defeat the Money Dopant through either high-level mathematics or bluffing through use of the worse gambling partner, and also a fun exploration of Shotaro and Philip’s unsteady dynamic.

The bit that really landed with me is a two-part thing, apropos to Double. The earlier part is Shotaro trying to connect with Philip’s sense of frustration by quoting something Sokichi once said. It bounces right off of Philip, because he never knew Sokichi, and Shotaro’s invocation of his memory isn’t dealing with Philip’s current struggle. Philip feels an absence, and Shotaro’s like Let Me Talk Like My Work Dad. But later, when they’re at the Million Colosseo, Shotaro speaks from the heart and tells Philip that yeah, he’s following in Sokichi’s footsteps, but the result is him dedicating himself to protecting Philip. It takes what was previously a tossed-off detective cosplay and turns it into something personal and heartfelt. There's warmth and vulnerability where there used to be performative manliness, and it's Shotaro once again missing what makes him effective in pursuit of someone else's personality. It's always fun to watch that play out.

It makes for a strong episode overall, with a bonkers pre-monster confrontation (Old Maid!), and a solid story about the contours of the Double partnership. Also, a whole lot with the Sonozaki family! OH NO I SAID FAMILY AGAIN I’M SORRY PHILIP


-Akiko running down Shotaro is like oxygen for me now, but I’m glad that Yuuko’s able to realize that Akiko is pretty awful at every aspect of her job. I like when there’s parity!

-I had a vague feeling that the Money Dopant was cheating at the casino, but I’m glad I misremembered that! This whole story avoids a lot of easy outs, and I appreciate that. Yuuko just sort of goes Money Crazy; she isn’t being warped by the Money Dopant or anything. Also, everyone knows a monster runs the casino, and everyone’s too greedy to care. I love that touch!

-Santa’s here! I don’t… I don’t know why Santa’s a character on this show? Very weird, even for a toku show!