Like the title implies, there’s a lot of backtracking this episode.
First of all, it’s only now that they get around to the code-naming. It goes as you’d expect: Ryuji chooses to be Skull because of the skull mask, Morgana is assigned Mona (this time because Ann thought it was cute, which is a welcome change) and Ann chooses Panther because she hated the other’s ideas. Ren, however, puts his on the table, since at this point they don’t know he can tame multiple Persona’s thus leading to Joker.
Second, for some reason, they don’t have a secure path to the treasure (even though they were standing right in front of the damn thing in the last episode) and have to secure it again. Kind of a waste of time, don’t you think?
Then, they decide now to flush out an aspect from the game: the swinging axe bridge. Here, instead of fighting through enemies in a trippy-looking self changing room (oh yeah, they removed the whole ‘getting closer to the Treasure makes the Palace more distorted’ bit, even though that was totally rad) and replaces it with Ann luring some guard behind the corner to be hit by Ryuji. The guard then changes to Pixie, gives Joker the key, and he accidentally convinces her to become a new Persona for him.
Whatever. They then get into the Treasure hall, where Morgana goes ape-shit, then… some of the most confusing direction and editing ever happens.
Okay, so one minute, Morgana is leaping towards a giant crown. Then Kamoshida leaps and takes it before him and… lands in the hallway just outside the Treasure room, despite being at an angle that would land him at a wall. Then our heroes are at the bottom of a flight of stairs looking up at him after running for literally one second.
Are you confused by that description? Then imagine watching it in action.
Then the fight begins. Kamoshida transforms (and the sad thing is, despite being a CGI monster he’s still one of the best looking things on screen) and launches a massive volleyball at them (which is filled with a super jarring hard edit that was clearly meant for a commercial break).
For a hot minute, it goes like the game did. They fight, they send one member to leap up and steal the crown (Ryuji) and they keep going. Here, however, the fight is inter spliced with Ren going to see Igor after being knocked out by Kamoshida’s ultimate attack. They then use this scene to introduce the fusion mechanic, mixing Arsene and Pixie. He then awakens and uses his new Persona to defeat Kamoshida (which is less impactful when you realize that the new guy is 1000% less awesome than Arsene). We then get (you guessed it) another really shit-looking All-Out Attack.
Guys… just stop. You’ve ruined it enough.
The rest is standard fare. Kamoshida’s shadow returns to his true self, they escape, and he confesses. But here’s the pathetic thing.
In the game, Kamoshida displays a wide variety of faces, both with his portrait and his character model. He sobs, he looks around desperately, and his face twists in heartbroken weeps. You can tell that he’s genuinely disgusted with himself and desperate to atone. It’s the whole point.
Here? He looks kinda sad for a few frames. Then he looks straight faced and calm as he asks someone to call the police. It sucks away 95% of the emotion from the scene. It makes the payoff… well, it sucks. There’s no way around it.
The episode ends with the credits rolling, Shiho waking up and Morgana giving Ren his new codename: Joker, Sojiro coming to accept Morgana rather quickly (which honestly is very fitting of his character) and a flash forward of Akechi talking to the completed Phantom Thieves.
Quick question: how does that last one progress the plot? It doesn’t create intrigue. It doesn’t make you wonder ‘Hey, what was that?’. It just wastes your time. And it comes way too quickly. One frame, Morgana is meowing and Ren is sighing with relief. The next, the very next fucking frame, Akechi is talking to the completed Phantom Thieves. No buildup, no establishing shot, nothing. It just cuts straight to it and ends the episode on a still shot of the Sayuri painting, which I guess is foreshadowing the next arc.
Ugh. So many choices this show makes just pisses me off. Maybe it isn’t as bad if you’ve never played the game, but if you haven’t then why are you watching it? There’s nothing here that appeals to a general audience. Hell, there’s barely anything here that appeals to the people who played the game! Hell, there were brief scenes with Iwai and Takemi (the gun shop owner and the doctor) that were so pointless and underwhelming that I didn’t even mention them!
Ugh… I don’t want to watch this show anymore… Damn me and my promises.