Damnnnnnn~ this episode was even better than I thought it was going to be. Lightning’s character truly shined, highlighting what makes him such a wicked villain. It was truly worth the wait. (Also, he has a sick deck design. The Armatos are themed around soldiers of a massive army, which would suit him perfectly since he intends to take over the world.) Did anyone else get the chills when Lightning challenged Blood Shepherd?! It was so eerie!
For while now, Lightning has been quietly observing the network, weighing his options of how to proceed until he catches Revolver attempting to recruit Blood Shepherd. To ensure that the Hanoi Knight don’t pick up another talented hacker, he decides to make his move. The virus they have developed and used against Windy was so effective, even he couldn’t fully restore him to his original condition. It is because of that, it served as a point of how he doesn’t have enough members on his team, so he decides he will target Blood Shepherd, lure him with a challenge and destroy him before he joins an alliance. He does this successfully as Kengo stubbornly insists to work as a lone wolf, but all he is doing is walking into the trap that could result his demise. Should Kengo lose this duel, Lightning will take over his entire existence, his data, and consciousness, and he will become their vessel like Jin.
The whole confrontation was quite exciting. I knew this duel was going to go on for another episode when it only started during the half-way point. They did a great job of building up the tension and excitement, as well as setting the stage. Kengo was also able to deflect Lightning’s attempt to destroy him within his first turn, but thanks to being given a hint about Judgement Arrows prior to their confrontation. But considering Lightning is the one who created Judgment Arrows, it would be naive to think he doesn’t have another hidden ace he has been developing up his sleeve. Not to mention, Lightning is extremely confidence he will win this duel. Unlike how Windy behaved, I don’t see his kind of attitude as cockiness. Rather, he probably knows he can defeat him, because he has something prepared to demonstrate to everyone. That’s why Lightning has deliberately invited Yuusaku’s team, and even Revolver to come and watch the duel play out. It’s one hell of a way to set an example of why they should fear him, and remind them all just how powerless they actually are against him (with the exception of the Hanoi Knights who have the knowledge and programs needed to stand a fight against the Ignis.) Either way, it’s all the more reason why I am looking forward to seeing how the duel will unfold between them, as Lightning knows exactly how to get under Kengo’s skin.
This and among many other reasons are why I don’t expect Kengo to win this duel. Simply put, they can’t have the Ignis lose to another Human, much less Blood Shepherd who doesn’t have nearly as much knowledge or experience as Yuusaku or the Hanoi Knights does against them. Lightning needs to set an example of why he should be feared, and use it as a means to demoralize his opponents by diminishing their hope.
That being said, there might be a way that ensures his survival, but it will come at a price.
Earlier in the episode, Kengo told Emma to stay out of the fight. It is actually quite endearing how he looks out for her, and doesn’t want her to get hurt in this mess. But I also feel like, this may potentially be foreshadowing Emma sacrificing herself to protect Kengo. In a way it will be counter-productive of her attempts to to persuade him to join the fight for co-existence, since it will create a situation where the Ignis have hurt the ones he cares about most. But at the same time, if Kengo were to lose his consciousness to Lightning, then even afterwards, unless he has an amnesia, one would expect his grudge against A.I/Ignis will remain.
But there is also a good chance that Kengo will lose his consciousness to Lightning, and will suffer the cruel fate of serving as the vessel of the one who attempted to (or successfully) murdered his Origin. Either way, both situations are super messed up, and as someone who has come to care about Kengo’s character, yeah it’s gonna hurt.
Of course there is another scenario that could play out, but it’s one that would be treated as a miraculous save I mentioned last week, but I’m not sure if I or anyone for the matter would like it. Because everyone are present at the scene, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t at least try to intervene. Lightning of course (as we have seen in the past) has ways to imprison them, or even stun them temporarily so they have no choice but to helplessly watch another one fall. It will be interesting to see whether or not anyone will still honour the agreements (perhaps even to Kengo’s demands because of his god damn pride).
But Kengo’s fate was not the only concern this episode. In fact, it is a part of a much graver problem. Since Programmers/Hackers are considered as serious threat against the Ignis, there is a good chance he will be (or already is) targeting Kusanagi or Akira. Furthermore, taking either one, or both of them down would also be a way of quietly reducing his enemies’ numbers. Another point that may have hinted this was how Lightning deliberately said he is targeting the weakest ones first. I feel like Kusanagi is probably the main target though to become an additional vessel, as the opening has been foreshadowing for quite a while now that something is going to happen. And when it does, my god, I don’t know how Yuusaku is going to handle it.
If that does happen in a scenario where Emma doesn’t sacrifice herself to save Kengo, then this may be a way for her fill the position serving as the team’s Hacker.
In other news, whatever Bohman’s doing at the moment is almost complete, so Windy has been assigned to head over to the “designated location”. We don’t know where that is yet, but it will likely serve as their new headquarters and be the moment when they officially begin their attacks on Humanity.