I won’t presume to speak for everyone, but I would think most viewers would concede that the developments in episode 20 of Tiger & Bunny were immensely entertaining. Where some will probably complain is in the area of believability, but I’m going to speak out in defense of the series even there.
I doubt anyone will be feeling too charitable towards Albert Maverick after this week. The only question will be as to whether he’s just plain evil, or insane – I personally vote for a combo of both. Certainly he’s a megalomaniac of the highest order, and he sees the world as his plaything. Oddly enough, I do think there’s a sort of sick affection – perhaps borne of guilt – for Barnaby there. But more than anything this is a man who was given the worst possible NEXT power, because he clearly loves to see the world bend to his whims. I wonder which came first, the power or the psychology?
Kotetsu is still Kotetsu, for better or worse. Dancing close to the truth, he’s never quite able to connect the dots – even when he accidentally spots Barnaby’s friendship pin under a table in Maverick’s office. Sunrise certainly played the old “poison cup gag” to the fullest – right down to “do you have any cream?” and the ringing phone. I’d thought perhaps Kotetsu had used his super smell to detect whatever it was Maverick had dosed his cup with and was going to switch them, but no – it was pure happenstance that he never drank. It seems likely it was just knockout drops, so that Maverick could recondition his memory at leisure, though I did wonder if it might actually be poison.
With Kotetsu and Samantha’s stubbornness throwing a spanner in the works, Maverick – a big thinker if nothing else – comes up with a much bolder plan than his original one. This is where things got really ugly, because poor Samantha became the first innocent among the major characters to be killed off. Maverick has clearly passed the point of any possible redemption with this act, and it’s set Tiger off on the run as a fugitive from justice. Here’s where the catcalls may start, because I’ll admit Maverick has left a lot of potential holes in his plan. First of all, with so many players brainwashed, isn’t it more likely someone’s conditioning will break? I also wonder how Maverick could possibly be sure he managed to brainwash everyone who knew Tiger’s true identity. Presumably he knows Kotetsu’s family will need to be dealt with, but there’s Lunatic first of all – not to mention Kotetsu’s old manager, and who knows who else. Bad plotting, right?
Well – maybe not. I’d say that while to a logical person this plan seems hopelessly flawed, to someone so egotistical he thinks the whole world and everything in it are his to play with, it makes perfect sense. This is a megalomaniacal plan to fit Maverick’s megalomaniacal personality. It should provide great entertainment value, too, as we get to watch Kotetsu as “The Fugitive”, and the matter of his family – surely under direct threat from Maverick now. The guessing game of how all this will unravel is great fun, too. Will Kotetsu unravel it himself, Dr. Richard Kimble style? Will one of the brainwashed – most likely Barnaby – break through the conditioning and unmask Maverick’s plot? Will Kaede use her newly awakened powers to rescue her Daddy? And then there’s the fascinating wildcard, Yuri. If he doesn’t know Kotetsu’s true identity already I expect him to guess almost immediately – he’s way too smart and too close to the situation to fall for this. With his Shinsengumi-like sense of justice, I think Lunatic would see Maverick as a prime candidate for “Destroy evil immediately” under the circumstances. Will the story give us the ironic twist of Lunatic saving Tiger’s bacon?
I wasn’t thrilled at first about Kaede and her storyline being tossed aside for the length of the episode. But I admit I was totally engrossed by what was happening, and the epilogue makes it clear she’s directly involved in whatever happens next. As mentioned, she and her Grandmother and Uncle at the very least are under direct threat from Maverick now, as he’ll assume they know Kotetsu’s identity (could this be the vehicle for Kotetsu’s brother to reveal his NEXT powers? Hmmm…). I have to admire the artful way all of these plot threads are being pulled together, and this remains one of the most entertaining shows in many a season. For an original series (in contrast to another original series currently in its second cour) it’s striking just how coherent the plotting and consistent the pacing are with T & B. There’s not a lot of improvising going on here – this is a series that’s clearly known all along what it was and where it was going.
Incidentally, as you recall I speculated here last week on the likelihood of a second season. Well, this week there’s apparently talk from the producers of the show that a second season is likely already in the plans. I certainly wasn’t the only one considering the possibility, but I did rather enjoy the timing of the discussion…