KAMEN RIDER DRAGON KNIGHT: “XAVIAX’S WRATH”

I WILL SURVIVE!

So um… Yeah, that was easily one of the best episodes of the entire series.

It was another giant action episode. So much so that we didn’t even see Kit’s face the entire way through. But for what it’s worth, I thought his vocal performances were surprisingly good. In fact, both Lunsford and Mullins have stepped it up for these last couple episodes.

Last week pretty much screamed at us that this was going to be a major episode, and I am so very glad that it made good on its promise. Len’s vow to take out Strke actually succeeds, and it happens in a very satisfying way. I love the way the Survive Mode was used.

In Power Rangers, there’s this tendency to introduce a cool new gadget and then pretty much just show it kicking ass non-stop until the end of the episode, in order to make it look as awesome as possible. The Ranger using the gadget is made to just look invincible with his/her new hardware, but next week it’s like they’re back to being helpless. In this instance, we see Len demonstrate his newfound power by laying the smackdown on Strike, but as soon as he is hit with a Final Vent, his Survive armor vanishes. The same happens later with Kit. Which explains away the whole “only for emergencies” thing they hyped up earlier. (Though I’m still wondering why Kase never thought to give them this stuff before now.)

So, with the help of Survive Mode, Len finally vents Strike. I suppose you could say it was obvious that this might happen, but I still found myself kind of surprised. Only because we’ve got very few human enemies left for the heroes to fight and about nine episodes before the series ends. To a lesser degree, it reminded me of the venting of Drew/Torque.

I enjoyed the exchange between JTC and Len before the venting. JTC trying to talk his way out of it and Len telling him he’s a victim of his own cowardice. I think the only thing that would have made the moment better is if Len had said “Have fun with all your victims on the other side.” I also LOVE the fact that Strike is doing his trademark “arms spread wide” run toward the camera as he vaporizes. The best way for his character to go out. JTC, you will be sorely missed… unless you get to come back in a few weeks… >_>

Wrath, of course, arrives late to the party. And although they didn’t quite make enough of a point out of it, I like what this says about him and his relationship with his minions. Typically, when Xaviax’s side loses, it’s because he simply doesn’t care enough about his people. He hears the cries of his soldier, and takes his sweet time until it’s too late. Later on, Kit insists that “teamwork is what wins.” And then they not only have Strike beat, but they eventually take out Wrath as well.

Sadly, taking out Wrath comes at a pretty high cost, as Kit is vented along with him. And this right here takes the prize for most unexpected venting of the series. I mean, those of us who saw the japanese version may recall that Shinji also died. But that was comparatively much later on in the series, when such a thing could have been easily anticipated. This one just came entirely out of the blue, and I loved it for that.

Not only did we get to see Wrath perform his Final Vent (which I don’t remember even seeing in Ryuki), but when Dragon Knight is vented, he doesn’t even realize it. The drama of the scene is fairly intense. The most striking moment of all is when Len approaches and Kit tries to say “It’s okay” as if to reassure him somehow. And then he falls back and disintegrates… Damn.

The episode could have ended here and I would have loved it. But they surprise me again by having a really amazing sequence where the No-Men pull up and Maya, Trent, and Lacey all rush over to Len and they realize what’s just happened.

Now… There was a lot of boasting that KRDK was an edgier show and that they did things that Power Rangers “would never do.” To be honest, that was almost never the case. But this… This is most definitely something that we would not see on Power Rangers. At least not as it is today.

Maya and her friends have just realized that Kit is essentially dead. And we don’t quickly cut away or jump into another action sequence. We don’t fade to black or have any ridiculous dialogue inserts telling us that “it’s all gonna be okay” even though the visuals tell us something different. We’re allowed to sit with the characters as they experience a deep sense of loss. It’s one moment where the employment of slow-motion is actually really useful, but in completely different ways from what is considered the norm for this show.

And the final kicker is when Michelle Walsh approaches Len with a message. Looks like the No-Men aren’t quite as useless as they seemed… Thank God.

This episode gets an A+. Foregoing whatever mistakes that might have been made before now that couldn’t be helped, “Xaviax’s Wrath” pretty much did everything right. I have no real criticisms. And that’s saying a lot, considering I wasn’t thrilled about the last few weeks. This one just worked.

And let me just say, as silly as it seems to me right now, what happens to Maya next week? I WANT TO SEE IT RIGHT FREAKING NOW!

-Dr. Tristan of HeroPower

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