“How Was The Golden Drive Created?” / “What Is The Truth About The Goddess?”
Several women in town lose consciousness under mysterious circumstances, muttering the name of a man named Shou. Shinnosuke and co. quickly find out the woman at the centre of it all is one Misuzu Hatori, a woman with an uncanny resemblance to Medic, who is still struggling to reach her Ultimate Evolution. Meanwhile, Banno sets his plan into motion.
Kamen Rider Drive has been doing a baller job at sliding back into the two-episode mysteries mold lately. Not only has it been providing some of its most enthralling cases to date, it has also managed to organically tie these standalone stories into its overarching plot. As with the ‘exploding sauce’ case from two episodes ago, an ever-more-desperate Medic turned out to be the culprit once again. Sorta. Having realized that her love for Heart is not enough to make her reach her Ultimate Evolution, Roidmude 009 takes a cue from her colleague 008 and searches out a “Shou” the girl she copied loved. Of course, Medic wouldn’t be Medic if this search didn’t lead to dozens of unfortunate victims. This episode better then ever showed off the seemingly contradictory entity that is Medic. How did a Roidmude with the ability to heal her peers and driven solely by love come to be such a petty villain? It’s been an intriguing question at the centre of her character that the show has always tip-toed around by simply passing her off as a sociopath who cares about Heart only. With the revelations these episodes, however, all of her previous actions have been cast into a different light.
Apparently, Fumika Baba does existential melancholy as well as she does mean-spirited scowling, and these last two episodes exploited this contradiction for all it is worth. Medic bounces back and forth between maleficent scumbaggery and surprising humanity at the drop of a hat, until she finally breaks down and downright begs Shinnosuke to understand that she can’t help her love turning into obsession. For viewers under the impression that both Heart and Shinnosuke have been cutting her a bit too much slack lately — she is still, after all, bent on eradicating anyone who isn’t Heart or herself — the revelation that Medic’s negativity isn’t her own should be ample justification for her actions. It is, after all, the first time the show really drives home why the Roidmudes want to be human so badly. They are slaves to their one emotion, a sole reason for living they didn’t even get to pick themselves. They can choose to accept it, like Brain oh-so-hilariously does, or suffer like Medic, and essentially doom themselves to become pawns in the schemes of the neighbourhood mad scientist.
What ultimately drove home the excellence of this arc, however, was the directing. Gone are the days of obviously cheap slowdown and confusing jitter cam, and in are shots that belong in a stylish music video. Especially episode 42 is a visual delight, as director Kyohei Yamaguchi uses atmospheric lighting, some well placed mirrors and clever cuts to give Drive some much-needed cinematic flair. You’d be surprised at how much more you’ll appreciate toku fights when they hold the damn camera still for once. Banno actually feels like a threat. With Medic brainwashed, he has created the only possible scenario in which Heart would be willing to work with him. In a brilliant display of fist-bumping irony, this leaves the fate of man- and Roidmudekind in the unlikely hands of the fugitive Brain. Yes, Brain. Shinnosuke, for one, doesn’t seem all too fussed by this terrifying prospect, as he’s got bigger fish to fry. After considerable beep-booping on what love is, Chase is swooshing in to steal his girl with all of his bad boy killer robot charms. This is the cliffhanger Drive decides to end such a nerve-wrecking two-parter on? I love this show.
- Both Zigg and I thought that Banno would have made Medic kill Heart for maximum tragedy, but in retrospect, this would have seemed like tactical suicide. After all, there aren’t many more Roidmudes left who can reach Ultimate Evolution.
- Between Heart and Banno, the latter is obviously supposed to be the bigger scumbag, yet a second Global Freeze does sound a lot less bad than, y’know, the total annihilation of mankind. Consequently, I’m gonna assume the Global Freeze Banno is hoping to trigger will be a permanent one.
- Don’t worry, Shinnosuke. Even if Kiriko picks Chase over you, the fact that you’ve met your son from the future should tell you it’s all gonna turn out just fine.
- I am more than a little disappointed in Banno’s ultimate form being little more than a cheap recolour of Drive’s suit, especially since the Suprise Future movie already features another ‘evil Drive’ as its main villain. Are Toei suffering the budgetary consequences of Gaim‘s bazillion Riders?