12. Take heed of the snake in the grass 「草の中にいる蛇に用心せよ」
Oh boy. Should have seen this come from miles away. Somehow the series managed to lull us into false sense of security by being incredibly fun and entertaining, but things never are that easy when it’s a Sunrise show we’re talking about. After spending a week wringing our hands at what’s going to happen to Ivan, it turns out that he was the least of our worries. Welcome to mid-series crisis.
Since Aki is still in a state of wanting to throw vending machines at people, I guess this post is on me. (Not that I can blame her.)
The heroes now know where to find Jake Martinez, and Barnaby volunteers go to and scout ahead to draw less suspicion. Kotetsu’s worry gets the better of him and despite Barnaby’s request he follows and intervenes, severely damaging the trust Barnaby had gained in their partnership. Jake gets away but Ivan is saved, and Barnaby is now furious with Kotetsu.
I can understand both sides. Kotetsu has already gone to great lengths to protect Barnaby and even though he may not have said it out loud, he clearly cares about him very much. It’s not easy for Barnaby to let other people close to him and he doesn’t trust easily, so Kotetsu ignoring his request for trust must have hurt him a lot. I don’t think Kotetsu would have done what he did if it had been any other hero going to scout after Jake. He knows he messed up big time, and it’s very obvious from his expressions and body language for the rest of the episode. He looks pained whenever he looks at Barnaby and avoids eyecontact with the others. And Barnaby isn’t ready to forgive him so easily, the apology is met with a cold shoulder. It’s painful to watch how they both are hurting, and I really hope they can mend their partnership.
And what about Jake, then? He’s still holding the city hostage and he orchestrates a one-on-one match with the heroes, promising that if any of the heroes beats him, he’ll withdraw. And if no one beats him… city goes boom. The whole thing seems rigged from the start when he draws Sky High as the first opponent – starting from the King of Heroes it’s easy to cause panic amongst the people. And Sky High loses, but not without finding out more about Jake’s powers. So far we’ve seen Jake do bizarre art by burning the walls of his cell, so we thought he might control fire in some way. Then we saw him blast through prison bars and kill another inmate just by looking at them. He shoots beams at Ivan after blowing his cover. This still isn’t the full extent of his NEXT power, as Sky High finds out that he’s actually creating a barrier around him and using it as a weapon. But that’s not all.
After Sky High and Rock Bison have been defeated, Jake draws Wild Tiger for his next opponent. Kotetsu sees this as a way to redeem himself and prove to Barnaby that he can do something right. Trying to beat Jake with the sheer speed of Hundred Power turns out to be impossible because all of Kotetsu’s attacks are dodged. Even after the five minutes of power are exhausted, Kotetsu keeps fighting because at this point he’s doing it for Barnaby and he doesn’t want to give up – he promised to beat Jake and this time he wants to keep his promise. With the drawn out battle, we learn one more thing about Jake’s NEXT power: he can “hear everything”. He’s able to read thoughts and he proves this by using Kotetsu’s real name after Kotetsu thought about it.
Which brings me to the question: how the hell did they lock up Jake in the first place? There are no details of how Mr. Legend captured him on record. There are no records of his NEXT powers. Yet this man is so dangerous he wasn’t even given clothes in prison. And they (read: Maverick insisted) let him walk free so easily instead of trying to buy more time to disable the powered exosuits Kriem is controlling. Nothing about this situation seems right to me. Maverick acted more like he should in this episode but he’s not off the hook when it comes to our opinion on him. Also, since we now know of Jake’s ability to read thoughts, it’s clear that no one tipped him off about Ivan – Jake knew that Ivan was a spy as soon as he was close enough to read his mind.
What about Barnaby? He’s channeling his all his hurt, disappointment and anger into determination to take down Jake when he’s set to face him in next episode. Even Kotetsu landing in the ICU after losing the battle doesn’t shake him – and in the current situation it may be for the best. Worrying too much about Kotetsu right now he might not be able to put his full strength into facing Jake. He’s still in disadvantage against Jake’s mind reading ability, and I doubt his chances of winning unless he’s been able to get enough hints from the previous battles to realize Jake’s underlying power. Barnaby is shown crying in the preview for next episode, but it’s impossible to tell why. They may be tears of defeat, or they may be tears of relief. His expression looks pained so I’m going to bet on him losing and Jake escaping.
What did the episode title this time mean then? I think it most likely refers to Kotetsu failing to trust Barnaby and causing the breach in their partnership. It can also mean the way Jake fights, not letting the full extent of his NEXT power show.
This episode was physically painful to watch, and I got no pleasure from rewatching it for writing this. I think Kotetsu will spend a long time recovering, since we caught a rumor about a timeskip happening soon. The most logical time for that would be between episodes 13 and 14 because new OP and ED are starting from episode 14. Keith and Antonio are probably badly hurt as well, and a timeskip will allow everyone a chance to regroup. If I’m right about this, episode 13 will probably have lots of important things happening. (Though at this point I can’t trust any predictions – not even the previews seem trustworthy anymore!)
I’m going to remain optimistic and hope that everyone will pull through all right, and that Kotetsu and Barnaby will be able to get along again. It will probably be a bumpy road for them to reach an understanding, but if it doesn’t happen I’ll be seriously disappointed.