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X episode 22: Betrayal

DVD Cover

As the episode opens, we see that Hinoto has pulled a Gollum as she has two personalities, the newer one is, of course, evil. I was going to say that this plot twist comes out of left field, but as Kamui explains, something had been up since the series started.

I did enjoy seeing Kamui explain to Sorata how he put the pieces together. It was a nice little Batman-esque moment for him. The smoking gun was, not surprisingly, that fake Earthquake ruse that kept he and Sorata away from Arashi and Yuzuriha a while back. As I suspected, it was a decoy to divide their forces so that they couldn't come to their compatriots' aid.

This tactic rears its head again as Yuzuriha is attacked by Nataku. Again, she finds herself on the losing end of the fight. I guess she works better as part of a group because her track record so far isn't very good. To the other dragons' credit, they try to back her up but are again kept busy; Kamui and Sorata by Hinoto's henchmen and Aoki by Kusanagi.

The exchange between Aoki and Kusanagi was weird. It was trying to be deep and philosophical, but it didn't really work. We get an environmental tirade from Kusanagi (which, to be fair makes sense seeing as he's a Dragon of Earth). The real wallbanger was Aoki saying that only humans feel sadness over the death of another. Even Kusanagi calls it out as bogus. It doesn't really go anywhere either. While the Satsuki/Yuzuriha dialogue annoyed me, it felt like it had more reason to be there than this did.

The connection between Kusanagi and Yuzuriha comes to the forefront as Kusanagi shows up as Yuzuriha is wounded. At first, it looks like he has a change of heart as he seems OK with letting Nataku finish her off, but he steps in before the deed can be done. Fuma apparently predicted this and warned Nataku about it.

Speaking of that little romance, this exchange was also rather goofy. Yuzuriha admits that she knew what he was, but loved him anyway. When he points out that he's part of a group that wants to destroy the world, she responds by saying that she was fine with it because it was the path that he chose for himself. Yeah, I know, I don't get it either. I know that the power of love allows you to overlook some character faults, but that's a pretty big hurdle to jump.

Meanwhile, Hinoto kills herself in order to change the future and to stop her evil half. This has a several pronged effect. Not only does it free Sorata and Kamui from her machinations, but it also breaks the seal of the divine sword, granting Fuma full power and forcing Kamui to step up his game so that he, the sleeper, can truly awaken as the Dragon of Heaven.

It would have been interesting to see more conflict between the two personalities, but I suppose it couldn't be avoided. When Kanoe confronted her, I expected the evil Hinoto to kill her to show that she's the new big bad, but as their goals are apparently aligned, she just rolled with it and let Kanoe talk and leave in peace. Surprisingly enough, when Hinoto dies, Kanoe breaks down and cries despite her earlier claims that she despised her sister and reveled in her pain.

We finally see what happened to Arashi as she mortally wounds Kusanagi during that confrontation. Sorata's shock at seeing this is odd, seeing as he is still one of their enemies. The lightning strikes and her glare were ominous enough that I guess he was able to figure out what was going on. I'm guessing the details of her heel turn will be elaborated on next episode.

This episode was a doozy. At first, I figured it was going to be more reflective as several characters are introspective, but when things pick up, they do so in a big way. Characters continue to drop like flies and this episode really does live up to the title as there are, what, three or four betrayals that occur over the course of the episode? It's impressive.

It really does feel like things are starting to kick into high gear for the final battle. Even Fuma alludes to it before the credits roll. With only two episodes left, things really are looking stacked against the heroes. Destiny says that they will lose, but it isn't set in stone. We'll have to wait and see how the Dragons of Heaven turn the tide in this ongoing struggle.

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