So, obviously, I have to comment on the monumental failure of this episode. How – in the name of God and Seiji Takaiwa – do you introduce Zi-O Trinity in a Blade tribute, instead of properly, in the Den-O tribute?! It’s a Den-O gimmick, you morons! You do it in the episode with Momotaros, at the very least! F MINUS.

That aside, this was a solid episode of Zi-O that maybe bit off more than it could chew.

I liked how this story managed to send Hajime and Kenzaki off happier than when they started. There’s the obvious emotional catharsis of Hajime and Amane navigating their relationship better as adults (I totally believe Amane depended on Hajime a little too much; I totally believe Hajime ran away without actually discussing things with Amane), but there’s also the resolution to the TV show’s Sword of Darkroaches that was hanging over our heroes. Locking the Joker powers up in two Ridewatches gives Team Zi-O the power of Legend Riders, and it also lets those Riders finally get a little bit of peace. It’s the exact opposite of the way the early episodes cut down heroes in their prime and just sort of shrugged at it. I like this new phase of storytelling for the Legend Riders!

I’m a little conflicted about Zi-O Trinity, though.

I don’t know that it fits great in a story about exactly two Legend Riders, but that’s not a deal-breaker. (But: BLADE WAS EXPLICITLY A FOUR RIDER SHOW.) It’s more that… the Geiz and Woz stuff felt a little rushed to me? I can see how the show might mean this quick resolution to the Geiz/Woz conflict. Geiz still doesn’t like or forgive Woz, but he’s willing to put aside his animosity for the greater good; specifically, Sougo’s vision of the future. Sougo’s built such a massive amount of trust in Geiz that Geiz wants to live up to Sougo’s example. Grudges are toxic. Why shackle yourself to recriminations about the past when you could be working together to build a better future?

Nowhere is that clearer than in the absolute best, most definitive moment in the show: Sougo’s pep talk to his enemy, Hat Woz.

It’s the perfect note for this episode, and the way it sets up the third act of the series. Sougo wants to make a future for everyone, and he can’t stand the idea of anyone giving up on their dreams for the future. That heroic attitude even extends to a guy who summoned the Sealing Stone to obliterate all life on Earth, and is actively working against Team Zi-O on a weekly basis. Sougo doesn’t really see it that way, though. He’d rather fight against weekly Another Rider schemes forever, than watch Hat Woz give up on himself. Schemes can always be defeated, but giving up on yourself? That’s not something Sougo can allow to happen.

It’s a view of the future that I really like, how the best one makes room for everyone. Sougo wouldn’t want a future that excludes people, so he needs Hat Woz to find the strength to keep reaching for a future he wants to live in, even if it means getting roughed up by Team Zi-O a lot. Because just like in Blade, defeats can be how we learn to be better.

All of that was really great! I just… I’m not sure that it felt We’ve Become A Trinity good, you know? They all finally get along, Sougo and Geiz and Woz, but them literally unifying to defeat Another Blade… I don’t know. It feels like a powerup that’s maybe overstating what they’ve achieved. (After the fight, Geiz did not at all care where Woz wandered off to!) I like them being able to work together, and I like them figuratively being of one mind about their mission, but I felt iffy about them literally being of one mind.

I’m sure I’ll come around on it, though. I like thinking about it already. I like how this show is extra-inclusive in its empathy, even for visitors from vanishing timelines that try to force Geiz to kill Sougo. (Really loved the Hat Woz death scene. Both actors did great! Wait–) To get that kind of warmth and humanity in a story that also acts as a well-earned happy ending for Kenzaki and Hajime?

This is the future I was hoping Kamen Rider Zi-O would create.

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