Fists are flying in this episode of Kamen Rider Build. After a slightly weaker entry for the previous week, we come back as strong as ever with another fantastic installment in this series that continues to rock my socks. Build, where have you been all my life?

Returning us to where we left off, Episode 6 begins with Ryuuga continuing to follow Tatsuya, whom he had deliberately re-infected with Smash essence, turning him back into a brainwashed monster. And wouldn’t you know it, we’ve found the bad guys’ lair in the sixth freaking episode of this series, continuing Build’s trend of taking the rule book and torching it on a pyre of flaming tropes and modern cliches. Good riddance!

After Ryuuga finds himself surrounded, Build comes through with a surprising rescue. Despite getting knocked out last week, he’s still not going to leave this lovable idiot to get shot up or experimented on again by Faust. With the classic ninja move of using smoke to distract the enemy during an escape, NinninComic rides off with Ryuuga at his back.

Randomly, I have to say, as much as I love the actual costume, the sword Sento uses with his Ninja powers really does nothing for me. The blade looks too short to me, and the design of it is just not the business. Can’t win em all, I guess.

Speaking of not winning, Ryuuga’s bad day is only getting worse, as his disagreement with Sento turns into a full-on brawl. I love that the Full Bottles can be used both with and without transforming. Simply keep the Bottle in your hand and shake it, and you’re good to go.

After Sento schools him in Bottle Fu, Ryuuga resorts to grabbing his Driver and transforming. At least he tries to. All that crazy CGI goes to waste when the system rejects him as a user and the henshin fail knocks him unconscious.

It’s interesting to note that, despite his loss here, Ryuuga’s apparently increasing in strength with the Dragon Bottle, becoming more powerful than Sento had anticipated. A preview of things to come, perhaps?

At the Touto lab, Gentoku finds a curious Sento in a determined mood and decides to be ridiculously, conveniently helpful with the exact thing he needs to resolve the whole plot. What I love is that the show is still providing steady answers to the many questions it brings up, while also providing ones for questions you might not have even thought to ask yet. Case in point: I wasn’t thinking much about the process of turning people into Smash monsters. I just took for granted that it was bad guys doing bad shit and moved on.

Turns out there’s more to it than that, and it’s deeply connected with the show’s overall mythology. The Smash power seems to come from the gas that naturally emits from the earth surrounding the Sky Wall. Faust merely cultivates this stuff to perform experiments on it, trying to weaponize its effects, as I’d imagine they’re also doing with the Pandora Box recovered from the Mars mission years back.

That world-building tho!

Utsumi needs only to explain that many of these findings come from doomed scientist Katsuragi Takumi’s research, and SCHWING! Our genius hero is stimulated. Gentoku hovers over him with a creepy smile. All he needs is a windowless van and a lollipop.

Week to week, I find Gentoku increasingly more fascinating as a character. He’s quite clearly manipulating Sento, whose intellectual pursuits and arrogance may blind him to the treachery going on (or he just simply accepts it because there’s not much else they’re going to do right now but glare and think belligerent thoughts at each other). He’s now seen openly having phone conversations with villains such as Blood Stalk, making it that much more likely that he’s actually Night Rogue, even though I’d have preferred almost anyone else. But then, maybe I’m only hoping against it because it would be the most obvious choice. The real kicker would be what happens after the truth comes out.

Also, there’s more to Katsuragi than just some plot-relevant research. We’ve been made to accept this whole backstory about Sento formerly being a somewhat careless rocker kid, but that may all be a red herring. What if Sento and Takumi are actually the same person? Instead of simply losing his memory because of the standard Smash routine, it was the result of transferring Takumi’s intelligence into the mind of someone else. He kept his smarts but none of the memories attached to them. “The Devil’s Scientist” indeed.

If that were the case, it would mean that, in a sense, we’re looking at a new chimera of two people. Not exactly the wunderkind Takumi and not totally the fashion felon Taro either, but a weird fusion that basically destroyed both of their original lives and created a brand new one. Assuming that theory is correct anyway. Let’s move on.

Sawa and Misora have a little Girl Talk over lunch, pretty much canceling out any chance they had at passing the Bechdel Test, as the two females get together and their main topic of discussion is still about the absent boys. It’s remarkable how much I was reminded of the scene in Power Rangers RPM when the quirky Doctor K approaches Yellow Ranger Summer about choosing between two Ranger dudes. Of course, Misora wigs out when asked if she even likes either of the guys, even moreso when the object of her apparent affection, Sento walks in, grabs her excitedly, and makes her think he’s about to confess his love for her.

If I didn’t find these characters so adorable, I think I’d be more disappointed. I have no problem with romantic subplots (or whatever you call this) but I wish it was presented differently. Like, why can’t the guy be the lovesick one and the girl be the person with no time for them? I like my Misora dry and charmingly dismissive, not melting into a puddle of unrequited squishy feelings when her boo is too busy hanging with his bro to notice.

I do like how quickly and easily Sento and Ryuuga seem to get over their previous beef. Sento has a new lead on the case and all is forgiven, just like that. These two crazy kids just can’t say no to each other. The real lovefest is clearly between them. Sawa gets more points for just perceptively sitting back with a smile, trusting that it would work itself out in due time. She knows what’s up.

Sneaking back toward Faust’s hideout, Sento introduces Ryuuga to his new dragon-themed CG toy – let’s call it the Dragon Zecter – that will watch out for him if he ever thinks beating up his best friend in the world and running off to face dozens of armed killers alone is a good idea again. And Sento’s GorillaMond demonstrates more fun, practical uses of his Rider powers by turning the environment to diamond and punching an entrance into the underground lab. We get only the briefest look at the NinjaTank combo form, with which Build uses both his sword weapons at once, but it’s a beautiful suit.

Upon arrival at the lab, witnessing the chained test subjects, and the tank, and the gas masks, Sento starts to have a bout with PTSD. He remembers the horror of being put through this mess and he’s not in a happy place right now. Ryuuga predictably just grabs the first guy he can and starts screaming for answers, getting none. Some poor sap gets shot in the back as Blood Stalk swaggers into the room.

This guy. I love this guy. He’s got to have one of the most interesting voice performances for a villain in quite a long time. So totally unimpressed by the non-threat these kids and their impotent rage are presenting him with, openly laughing at their attempts to scare up clues from this near-hopeless raid. With little effort, he injects poor Ryuuga with poison, which at first looks cool but then turns into some really bad make-up.

Blood Stalk tells Sento and Ryuuga that they had both initially been exposed to the same Nebula Gas that turns people into Smash but, for whatever reason, it didn’t transform them like it does everyone else. They’re special.

Sento doesn’t take the news very well. Blood Stalk barely reacts to Build’s furious attack, still just kind of amused by the whole thing, encouraging him to keep pushing himself further. After his Zecter removes the awful poison make-up, Ryuuga has to hold Sento back when he tries to chase after Blood Stalk while the place is about to collapse on top of everyone’s head. This is a side to Sento we rarely see, and I should just set up shop on the floor because this show just wants to keep me there with these awesome leaps in development.

Despite his best self wanting to help others and be the hero Touto needs him to be, when the truth is right in front of him, after the nightmare they’ve put him through and then taunt the crap out of him with, he can’t help but go a little crazy. Losing himself to his anger, just wanting to beat the hell out of the sadistic Blood Stalk, despite his unwillingness to tell him more than he cares to at a given time, waltzing back into the shadows like the whole scene was just a trifle to him. It takes Ryuuga, of all people, to set him back on track.

Admitting that Sento’s whole “good guy” routine had made him wish he was a better person, Ryuuga reminds Sento of his priorities. Help others now, help yourself later, if you can. And I just don’t know what to say. This show consistently knocks it out of the park with these heroic gestures, strengthening the bond between the characters, endearing me to their story more and more as we go. How is this only the sixth episode? I cannot stress enough how amazing this is.

The badass duo stands together to rescue the test subjects from the remaining Guardians and Smash, working in tandem so that everyone gets out safely. Even goofy-ass Tatsuya, after finally being freed from the shackles of the Smash essence. When the three escape the exploding base, Tatsuya claims that he had dropped Taro (aka Sento) off at Katsuragi Takumi’s apartment about an hour before Ryuuga says he’d found the guy dead, starting this whole chain of events. If the window between those two disasters was that small, it sounds unlikely that it’s all a coincidence. Did Sento kill Takumi?

Of course not, but the question leads us to search for more clues, so it’s all good.

Honestly, I’m astounded. Very few Kamen Rider series have ever been this insistent to tell their story, constantly stacking plot onto more plot, making every episode count, never taking us as viewers for granted. The show is aptly named, as every few scenes builds on the previous few with such hunger to tell us this tale, fearlessly pushing forward, with so much more left to learn. To top it off, the characters are fantastic and the action is often creative and exciting in ways other shows only wish they could be. This is how you do it, folks.

Kamen Rider Build wins again.

Next: Episode 7