Uh, Faiz is my business, and business is about to pick up!

The Fourze stuff in here was… whatever. It’s one of those thematic tie-ins where it’s mostly just someone saying a keyword again and again, and hoping that makes it seem like the story’s about more than plot. Because it’s a Fourze tribute, expect to hear Sougo say Friendship like it’s a replacement for Henshin.

It’s a sensible story to do after Ex-Aid’s Teamwork story, since you can absolutely be on a team with people you’re not friends with. (Just ask literally anyone from Ex-Aid!) To devote some time to Sougo’s emotional needs within this year-long intervention is smart, and necessary. He’s a sweet little puppy dog, and he doesn’t see why a grim soldier who barely tolerates him and a girl who hopes he won’t commit one or more genocides can’t also, like, hang out with him and have a laugh. Exploring those tensions – between what Sougo needs and how the Time Orphans see him – could be a good way to honor Fourze’s superpower-inflected teen drama.

Sort of doesn’t go that way, though? There’s some minor hijinks, and an eye-rolling agreement from Geiz to team-up in a normally-climactic fight, but there’s not really a lot of space (wink) to really dig into the team’s emotional accessibility. Like, it’s all little flashes: Geiz grumpily handing the Build RideWatch back to Sougo; Tsukuyomi’s little smile at Sougo getting changed to go on a case; Geiz only briefly trying to abandon Sougo before giving in. It’s not a million miles away from last episode, which pretty explicitly was about how you can work alongside people you don’t socialize with.

It doesn’t help that this episode really leaned into some unnecessary tribute stuff. It highlights the compromises this show’s going to have to make, as we move away from the actors that basically were just on their shows. We’re looking at Fourze now, which means coming to terms with the fact that you are 100% not going to be seeing Gentarou’s face in this story. I mean, you technically do, on the Good Ol’ Days corkboard, alongside every other actor you will not be seeing return to Kamen Rider for this story. We get two of the mutant kids from the Fourze/Wizard movie, as well as Ohsugi, who will be in these things until the end of time. It makes sense in the continuity, since everyone’s long since graduated, but it's still a bit of letdown, compared to the Ex-Aid and Build stories. We’ve got whoever would return Toei’s calls, and that is going to make for some weird stories. Not sure I’d’ve devoted so much of this episode to movie-only and supporting characters?

But who cares, because TAKUMI AND KUSAKA ARE BACK.

The last episode teaser sort of spoiled it (you see Them Eyebrows, it’s time to Open Your Eyes), but we are also in a Faiz tribute!

It’s minor (definitely going to be more of the next episode), but I loved every second of it. Like, the first thing Kusaka does in this episode is try to murder a teenage girl, so that’s some A++ Faizing. And then Takumi showing up, happy to rumble with Kusaka and just generally irritate him. Perfect. Perfect!

My favorite part, though, is how smart it is to layer a Faiz story over a Fourze story. First of all, to go from Fourze to 555… man, that’s a funny gag. But to then look at a Fourze story, tease Ryusei, and then remind people that Kamen Rider Meteor was actually the second Ryusei in Heisei? After the Ryusei School (“Go Meteors!), home of so many mutant dinks on Kamen Rider Faiz? I LOVE IT. It’s the best, smartest connection. It’s a total deep cut that’s been sitting there for seven years, waiting for a writer brave enough to tie together the Friendship Show and the Definitely Not Friendship Show.

Which, boy, that’s a nice thing to do, for those of us who love both Fourze and Faiz. To do the Friendship tribute, and then immediately pivot it to the show that viewed friendship as both blessing and curse, with a Rider who fought for years to be worthy of both external and internal acceptance?

Very excited to see what happens next.


I mean, I pretty much don’t care if the FaizPhone comes down on the side of Super Important Clue or Total Coincidence. I’m just happy to spend three minutes having Team Zi-O play around with a RideWatch-themed Faiz device, up to and including having the Time Orphans try and pitch it on an infomercial.

That, and the details about where Sougo’s name is derived from made this a nicely goofy digestif for an overstuffed episode of Zi-O. I appreciate it!