Recap: Jojo battles Santana in the depths of the Nazi base.
After a week break, we come back to… a surprisingly slow episode, especially considering how well JoJo has paced itself so far. The average viewer is probably expecting an exciting, climactic battle with Santana, but it mostly consists of showing us exactly what’s going to be going on for the rest of the arc. Thankfully, the key points can be summed up rather quickly.
- In case it wasn’t obvious by now, Joseph is a goofy trickster and he will make ridiculous, counter-intuitive strategies to win.
- The Pillar Men created the stone mask and therefore vampires, and they have the same weaknesses: that is, sunlight and the Ripple.
- While Joseph has perhaps more natural aptitude with the Ripple than Jonathan did, he is also unskilled in its use. He needs training.
- Stroheim is a crazy bastard and a loyal soldier to the end.
Put all this together and there isn’t really much of a fight to be had; it’s mostly Joseph trying to figure out a way to properly connect a Ripple to Santana and pulling all manner of goofy tricks to do so, eventually ending with Major Stroheim’s heroic sacrifice and Santana being defeated via their combined efforts. With Stroheim’s last words, he tells Jojo that there are other Pillar Men in Europe; Joseph must head to Rome and find a specific man so that he may master the Ripple. And well, surely we know someone who’s Italian and strong in the Ripple, right?
In this episode, we finally get to see the battle between Joseph and Santana, the Aztec vampire, revived within the depths of a secret Nazi base. I’m beginning to realize that there’s really no point in me trying to summarize this shit because it’s gonna sound this ridiculous every week. Regardless, Joseph starts off the fight with his usual trickster joker antics, singing his stupid Happy Joypy song and joking around until Santana gets serious. Unlike Jonathan, Joseph’s lack of Ripple training makes him rather ineffective against Santana. Luckily for him, he makes up for it in ingenuity and manages to temporarily overcome the ancient vampire.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Jojo without utter insanity presented as a completely normal occurrence. Santana, exploded by Joseph’s sly Ripple tricks, somehow manages to use his organs and destroyed flesh bits as weapons against Joseph, forcing Stroheim to jump into action. In the end, Stroheim sacrifices himself for the glory of Germany, like every good radical insane Nazi should. Still, it’s quite manly all the same, even if it fails to actually stop Santana. Oh well, pointless sacrifices are kind of a thing in Jojo.
Overall, this was a fun episode to watch, as we get to see both the full abilities of a true vampire as well as a redeemed Stroheim in action…for a little while anyway. This being Jojo, it’s probably quite obvious that Joseph won’t be able to stop the other Pillar Men from being revived and he’ll have to fight them as well, so that’ll be a treat to watch. In addition, we’ll also get to finally see Caesar, a man who is just as much of a bro to Joseph as Zeppeli was to Jonathan, so look forward to that.
Despite the fact that this is meant to be a climactic action episode, I was actually a little disappointed with this one. The JoJo/Santana fight is disappointingly static and the crucial balance between monologues and action leans a little bit too far towards standing around and talking to each other in this, especially since Santana doesn’t really respond to any of the insults that get hurled at him. He was terrifying while tearing through cannon fodder, and there’s flashes of the freaky scariness that he embodied there, particularly when he uses his ribcage as prehensile claws, but most of this episode is just him looking menacing and putting his hands into people.
Having said that, the episode picks up considerably in the back half, as JoJo pulls off an impressively gory body detonation and then there’s a protracted almost comical sequence where he battles the various parts of Santana’s body. It’s nice to see Stroheim get in a few good licks too, and while his dramatic proclamation about the door is one of the more notable ‘Just DO IT ALREADY’ moments in the show, it does lead to a moment of stone-cold badassery where he unflinchingly asks JoJo to cut his leg off (if JoJo is mobile enough to reach a wall-mounted axe, why can’t he just open the door himself?). It’s a pretty impressive sendoff for the character too, combining his crazed Nazism with a touch of redeeming nobility, although his obvious exposition dump drags the sequence perhaps a tad too long. I also liked the very brief JoJo/Santana battle afterwards, which is a great little last, desperate gambit on the Pillar man’s part.
With Santana offed, it becomes apparent that he was just a warm-up, and the true battle still lies ahead (which anyone with a brain worked out ages ago, as there are three silhouettes in the opening and Santana is not one of them). Unlike in Phantom Blood, where Dio was always the main objective the team worked towards, here JoJo will once again be going in blind, so it’s almost as if this is the end of a sub-arc. Next week we’ll hopefully finally meet the mysterious Caesar, who’s been in the OP from the get go, and learn the nature of the remaining Pillar Men.