Although I've enjoyed the past few episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal a lot more than anything from the show's first half, it would be hard to acknowledge that anything has really actively been done by the dwindling Sailor Senshi. But not this week: It's time to get things done! Sort of.
Yes, character agency is the theme of the day, and it's largely because everyone's starting to get a little tired of each other's bullshit — Usagi is sick of Black Moon picking her friends off one by one, Minako is sick of of no one asking Chibi-Usa what's going on, hell, even the Black Moon subordinates are sick of dealing with the mysterious agenda of Wiseman. People decide to get things done, and on the whole it works out for them.
Let's start off with Usagi, who decides to start butting heads with Chibi-Usa, not just because the two do that anyway, but because the gang needs to start questioning what she knows about the Black Moon. Of course, they still butt heads, and it doesn't get the team anything new (partially because Chibi-Usa freaks out at the earring the Senshi collect at the start of the episode, left over from Petz's death), but it's finally people acting on something they've spent the past two episodes simply talking about. Sure, it doesn't work out, but it's at least the characters doing something rather than standing around talking about it.
Although the main thread of the episode is really about Calaveras, the fourth and final Spectre sister and her attempt to draw out the Senshi. It's a plan so very-early-Sailor-Moon-y you'd think Calaveras lifted it from the Dark Kingdom Book of Easily Foilable Schemes — getting the Senshi's attention on TV with a less than discrete disguise, and mass hypnotism to boot! — and Minako essentially falls for it hook line and sinker. It sort of makes sense that even though Usagi is the one to inadvertently discover the plan through a DVD Naru and Umino watch at school, it's Minako that spurs into action to stop it: while Usagi is distraught at the abduction of Ami, Rei and Makoto, Minako is outright angry at it, and at herself for letting it happen. Its her anger that spurs Usagi and Mamoru into questioning Chibi-Usa, and its her anger that leads to her racing in alone to stop Calaveras.
It's surprisingly subtle characterisation for SMC, and although Minako doesn't get as much of a spotlight as the other Senshi have received, showing her frustrations through her hasty decision to crash Calaveras' weird channelling session alone might not have worked out quite so well, considering she pretty much instantly gets blasted with a lightning attack that incapacitates her (womp womp), but at least this time it's a character making a stupid mistake for character-based reasons, rather than just because the plot dictates they do something stupid.
While Poor Minako gets fried though, Usagi hunts down Chibi-Usa after her transformation brooch goes missing, only to be waylaid by Rubeus. Caught at a weak moment, it all seems bad for the duo, but as ever, Mamoru is conveniently on hand to interrupt at the last possible moment. But after realising that going after a fire-flinging alien badguy with a cane was not the brightest of ideas, the spirits of the Shitennou grant him something:
A new power that makes his slightly less useless than he has been! Good job, Tuxedo Mask.
Look, I love ragging on the not-even-clad-in-a-tuxedo-you-damn-idiot hot mess that is Mamoru Chiba. In fact, it's probably why I'm still recapping SMC, because it is consistently delightful to see how hapless Tuxedo Mask can be. But it's great that in an episode that's about characters standing up and fighting back, about these characters growing, even in infinitesimally small ways (If there's one thing Sailor Moon Crystal loves, it's taking the babiest of baby steps towards being an interesting show), that even Mamoru develops in a way that isn't him either being a creep or being spectacularly useless. He stood up, got stuff done, and got an energy power to use as a reward.
But because I do so love to rag on Tuxedo Mask, I will say this: Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber is the best-worst name for an attack ever. I mean, it's perfect for Mamoru: sure, it'll get the job done, but you still kinda want to laugh at it.
Ultimately though, with Chibi-Usa and Usagi safe, the gang head on over to Sailor Venus and save the day, finishing off the last of the Spectre Sisters without anyone being captured. See team, this is what happens when you get shit done! Huzzah. But it's not quite over yet — having seen such a sparkling display of active agency not seen in Sailor Moon Crystal for ages, Chibi-Usa decides to reveal why she's here: She's from the 30th Century, has her own future Silver Crystal, and wants Sailor Moon to go on some time-travelling escapades. Buh-wha?
To be fair, I'd have this reaction too if someone as wildly annoying as Chibi-Usa spent a few weeks generally being frustratingly unhelpful, stealing my stuff only to then pull the "yo I'm from the fuuuutuuuure" defence. Hang on to your hair buns, because it's about to get weird, Usagi.
Next time, everyone who stopped caring about Sailor Moon Crystal comes back for an episode because SAILOR PLUTO IS HERE TO GET ALL TIMEY WIMEY ON YOUR ASS. See you in a few weeks!
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