Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 18 – Divided Loyalties

Tiger & Bunny Episode 18 – Divided Loyalties

Well, after the rather uplifting ending to the last episode, it’s time for Tiger & Bunny to mess with the heads of the protagonists again. In particular, we see this episode how fragile Barnaby’s new Zen exterior is, and how Tiger finds himself caught between vying obligations with incompatible demands. As of last episode, both were certain they knew what was the right thing to do, and had the will to achieve it. Now that’s all thrown into question.

When Tiger returns, he—foolishly in retrospect—doesn’t tell anyone of his plans to retire. First he packs everything up, and when he finally rejoins his fellow heroes he decides to wait until informing Barnaby first. This last part makes sense: Tiger’s biggest mistake until now was not to tell Barnaby about his power decline in the first place, and there are something your partner deserves to be the first to know.

Blue Rose pretends she wasn't eagerly awaiting Wild Tiger's return, but the other heroes call her out on it. Tiger still doesn't seem to notice

Unfortunately, this happens to be the same time Kriem, Jake Martinez’s assistant/disciple, wakes up from her coma. When she learns of Jake’s death she rips herself out of life support and kills herself, but not before she delivers a final stab at Barnaby. Jake, she says, didn’t kill Barnaby’s parents. She knows because she was with Jake on that day.

It’s something that was sort of hinted at during Jake’s confrontation with Barnaby several months earlier. Jake never admitted to the crime; he just seemed to enjoy how worked up Barnaby got from thinking he was the killer. When Barnaby is first in denial, citing his own memories of Jake being the killer, Tiger checks the footage to confirm that Jake, despite being Ouroboros, lacks a tattoo on his right hand. Combine that with the oddity that a proud Next like Jake would have no need or desire to use a gun, and the story falls apart.

Jake spent nearly all his screentime wearing gloves. This was the one exception, so quick most viewers wouldn't notice the discrepancy

Barnaby then tries to focus on the memory itself, only to have it change as he recalls it, with the face of the killer matching person after person from his childhood. No longer able to differentiate his true memories from fake ones, he’s left with everyone of his former friends and caretakers as possible suspects.

This focus on the killer, while understandable from Barnaby’s point of view, is a mistake. What he should be asking is how the face of Jake Martinez, a man he had never seen before, got mixed into his head as the face of the killer. Given he “recovered” his memory while in a special deep sleep chamber at the behest of his employer, the most likely option is that either the doctor, or his boss, or someone even higher up the corporate food chain (including, of course, Albert Maverick himself) somehow planted it, and planted it just in time for Kriem to come and break out Jake.

Kriem's "How I Became a Villain" story is a rather cliche one, responding to prejudice and oppression by wanting to become an oppressor in return. Tiger redeems it slightly by pointing out the flaws in her logic

Granted, Maverick doesn’t have a tattoo on his hand any more than Jake did. (We’ve seen them more than once.) Kriem also lets slip that there are many other Ouroboros cells out there, and one of them is likely guilty of the murder. But although there certainly can be a connection between the real killer and whomever planted the false memory, there doesn’t have to be. All that would be needed is someone who had a vested interest in giving Barnaby a personal vendetta (and great story to sell) against Jake, who also knew about the upcoming hostage situation. And everyone who would profit from that situation is someone would Barnaby would think is a friend.

Barnaby is too emotionally distraught to consider this at the moment; with his desire for vengeance reawakened and his search for his parents’ killer back to square one, his recently acquired calm breaks down. He even confides to Tiger that he might give up being a hero completely, which naturally puts a damper on Tiger’s attempts to tell Barnaby that he’s already made that decision.

The one time Tiger finally has the will to inform Barnaby, the latter keeps interrupting and misinterpreting his words. To be fair, Barnaby's in sort of a rough spot mentally

Although I went into this episode dreading the circumstances that would make Tiger, or rather Kotetsu, break his promise to his daughter, that was more because I thought this would reveal Tiger’s fundamental weakness and desire to stay in the hero game for a bit longer. Here, he’s obviously just trying to delay for an opportune moment, and when he realizes there won’t be one, he tries to get it out anyway. Barnaby just won’t let him though, and in the end Kotetsu is left realizing he won’t be able to extricate himself as quickly as he wishes.

Kaede isn’t pleased to here this; it’s just another in a string of broken promises from her father, and it comes at a time where she needs him most, and when his entire family needs him most. But Barnaby also needs Kotetsu more than ever before, and only one of them can have him at a time. This set of circumstances probably came about because someone willfully betrayed and manipulated Barnaby, but not it’s left Kotetsu in a situation where he has no choice but to betray somebody.

Kaede is having a lot of trouble controlling her new abilities, particularly because, she, as a power mimic, winds up with a new one every time she passes another Next. Of course, the odds of another Next being in her hometown seem slim, but it's better for comic effect that there are

To a certain extent, Kotetsu’s problems are self-inflicted. He’d have a much better reaction from Kaede if she knew he was staying only to help her idol Barnaby, and he should have told his partner about his power loss weeks ago. (Even now, when practicing his “I’m going to retire” speech, he doesn’t see fit to mention it.) But there’s also the fact that the show is conspiring to ruin him. I just didn’t expect it to do such a good job.

You can watch the episode here.

As Barnaby ponders, his memories of his parent's murderer further morphs, until he's pulling the trigger himself. He's only a few short steps away from completely losing it

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