Home > Episode Reviews, Tiger & Bunny > Tiger & Bunny Episode 19 – Constant Betrayal

Tiger & Bunny Episode 19 – Constant Betrayal

Barnaby has had a rough couple of days. With the peace he felt at having his parents’ murder both solved and avenged, his lifelong burden was lifted—and unlike many driven by revenge, he found a remarkably positive goal to replace it. Since last episode, all that has fallen apart.

I mentioned last time that Wild Tiger would face a choice whether to break a promise to his daughter to return immediately, or whether to abandon his partner in a time of great need. Either way, he would betray someone important to him. As I suspected (indeed, as plot logic would necessitate), he chooses to break his promise and stay with Barnaby. Kaede is, understandably, not happy.

But just because Tiger stays with Barnaby, that doesn’t mean he plays straight with his younger partner either. The oddest (and smartest) plot point in this episode isn’t that Tiger betrays Kaede to aid Barnaby. It’s that he manages to betray both at once.

Kaede hits the "I'm not talking to you ever again" stage, but this time it's hard to blame her

Tiger, of course, thinks he’s doing the supportive partner thing, and doing it well. He says all the right words and points Barnaby in the right directions, while trying to keep him from doing anything over emotional and rash either. He understands the value of being present, and he gives that to his partner.

What he doesn’t do is be honest with Barnaby, either about his condition or about his desire to resign. In his own mind, I’m sure, Tiger has an convincing rationale about how dropping such a bombshell on Barnaby at this time would be inappropriate and place Barnaby under further emotional stress, etc. All that happens anyway when Barnaby overhears Tiger talking with Kaede about his retirement plans.

Tiger thinks he's hanging around to provide emotional support (and perhaps some nursemaid duty). What Barnaby needs right now is something a little different

The revelation is made worse by the fact that Barnaby found out by accident; he’s hurt and upset that Tiger didn’t discuss it with him. Much like Kaede has a history of being shoved off so that Wild Tiger can focus on his hero work, Barnaby has a history of Tiger treating him as a junior partner, not to be relied upon in sensitive moments. It was just such an action that caused the last major rift between Tiger and Barnaby, and it seems to Barnaby that Tiger did not learn the lesson.

Barnaby’s probably right too. Tiger, after all, never really apologized for not trusting Barnaby before. And at no time—when it first started happening, when he made the decision to retire, and even after Barnaby found out he would be leaving—has Tiger been willing to come clean about his power degradation.

Even when directly asked why he's planning to retire, Tiger blows it off with unconvicing excuses. Anyone decently acquanted with Tiger would be able to tell he was lying—and Barnaby knows him every well

It’s nothing personal toward Barnaby: Kotestu had to be confronted by his brother before admitting it to him. But coworkers in life-threatening fields like policing and firefighting form similar bonds, and Barnaby was willing to let his partner in to his own dark history and obsession with finding justice for his parents. Given the chance to reciprocate that trust, Tiger balks. And without trust, how can there be a healthy partnership?

Barnaby’s recent admiration for Tiger has approached the level of infatuation, but perhaps something simpler is at work. Perhaps Barnaby has come to accept the older man as a father figure, a mentor, a replacement for the father he lost. Earning the respect of that figure has been Barnaby’s goal for the past several months; he’s only now convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he doesn’t have it.

After catching a conviently timed old interview with Barnaby, Tiger might in fact realize his mistake. We'll see what he does next episode

Barnaby’s track record with father figures is looking fairly poor at this point; Albert Maverick, also, proves remarkably untrustworthy. There were some plot hints before that Maverick had some dirty dealings in the past, and was likely responsible for messing with Barnaby’s memories. I didn’t expect him to be a Next himself, with the power to rewrite memories, which he used to implicate Ouroboros for a crime he himself committed.

Maverick’s dealings with Ouroboros have been long indeed, providing advanced technology for the organization in return for grand crimes for his heroes to fight. Paradoxically, this arrangement might have hurt Ouroboros considerably, as such heroic crime fighting diminished the public’s fear of Next and thus denied Ouroboros disgruntled and ostracized mutants to recruit. Even still, it was horribly unethical and illegal, and a secret worth killing for.

Barnaby's parents were particularly upset Maverick was trading off their designs to criminals

There’s some interesting questions left in the background: Did Maverick implant the memory of Jake killing Barnaby’s parents at the time? Or was the particular killer’s face added just as Jake was about to escape to increase the drama for the public? Does that mean Maverick is still collaborating with Ouroboros? Did he know about Kriem’s attack before it happened?

Of course, the more pressing concerns at this point are for the safety of Wild Tiger and Barnaby’s old housekeeper, who are the only loose ends after Maverick rewipes Barnaby’s memory. Maverick’s implanted memories won’t last under repeated contradiction, so if the TV mogul is to keep his main star compliant, he’ll need to make sure that no one is around to raise inconvenient questions.

Maverick talks like he's doing Barnaby a favor by altering his memories. If one completely disregards the value of knowing the truth, he's got a point

Trying to tie up those loose ends will put Maverick in a very vulnerable position, which is likely what will undo him in the end. But Barnaby, in his own way, was undone even before Maverick tampered with his mind. Since the night his parents were murdered, those closest to him have deceived and betrayed him. You can only experience betrayal, after all, from those whom you trust.

You can watch the episode here.

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