House of the Dragon Episode Nine, The Green Council Review: Where’s Aegon?

The penultimate episode for House of the Dragon‘s first season, “The Green Council” is an episode full of political intrigue and infighting, as Alicent and Otto fight for control of Aegon during their coup to take the Iron Throne.
Directed by Clare Kilner, the episode begins in the aftermath of Viserys’ death, as a servant quickly relays the news of to Alicent, who is quite distraught.
I think this portrayal of Alicent is great and Olivia Cooke completley sells it.
In the book, I never got the sense that Alicent loved Viserys, since she seemed to fall into the stereotypical evil step-mother character archetype.
The show, however, clearly shows that Alicent did love Viserys, just not in a romantic way.
It makes her much more sympathetic than in the book, along with her reasoning for putting Aegon on the Throne, this being that she misunderstood what Viserys said before he died.
With the possible exception of Otto, clearly no one in the Small Council buys Alicent’s claim that Viserys’ dying wish was for Aegon to be king.
This does not the stop the majority of them from usurping Rhanerya’s throne, as it is revealed that Otto had been spearheading a plan to do this for years.
Alicent is outraged by this but she is not the only one, as the Master of Coin, Lyman Beesbury, is also greatly angered, calling this coup out for the treason that it is.
He is understandably suspicious about the circumstances of Viserys’ death.
Although, his comment that “the king was well last night, by all accounts” is pretty hilarious when you consider that Viserys looked like he was on death’s door constantly.
In any case, Criston does not take kindly to Beesbury suggesting that Alicent poisoned Viserys and murders him by slamming his head into the ball used by Small Council members.
I guess this is why we never saw these things in Game of Thrones.
The members of the Small Council were probably worried about having their heads bashed in with them.
All joking aside, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Harrold Westerling, attempts to take Criston into custody but is talked down.
So this is the second time Criston has murdered an innocent man in front of numerous witnesses and got away with the crime.
It does make sense for him to get away with it this time, though, since Beesbury probably would have been executed for supporting Rhanerya later.
With Beesbury dead, the conversation among the Green Council turns darker, as Alicent realizes Otto means to have Rhanerya, Daemon and their children put to death.
She is angered by this idea and so is Ser Harrold, who quits as soon as Otto orders him to go and kill Rhanerya on Dragonstone.
Now realizing they will have to fight to influence Aegon, Alicent and Otto race to his rooms, only to find Helaena with the children.
“It is out fate, I think,” Helaena tells a servant, before Otto and Alicent walk in. “To crave always what is given to another. If one posesses a thing, the other will take it away.”
This is a perfect reflection on the Green coup.
People really should start listening to Helaena.
Unfortunately, Alicent and Otto just want to know where Aegon is, and Otto departs when he learns he is not there.
For the second time, Helaena warns that “there is a beast beneath the boards” but Alicent dimisses this, although in a caring way.
With Aegon missing, the game to find and control him begins, with Otto sending the Kingsguard twin brothers, Ser Erryk and Arryk Cargyll, and Alicent sending Aemond and Criston.
Erryk and Arryk have the advantage, however, as Arryk is more aware of the places Aegon goes.
This includes a child fighting ring, where some of Aegon’s own bastards fight to the death for the amusement of crowds.
So, Aegon is definitley the worst choice to be king.
Not only is he a rapist but he also allows his children to be sold into fighting rings.
While searching for Aegon at the child fighting ring, they are approached by an associate of Mysaria, who has kidnapped Aegon after Alicent’s handmaiden Talia informed her of the king’s death.
Mysaria now wants a meeting with Otto, who is currently dealing with those who swore fealty to Rhanerya, demanding they now renounce these oaths and swear fealty to Aegon instead.
Many do but some are proud enough to keep their honour and are executed.
One of these is Lord Caswell, who acts as though he has switched sides, only to attempt an escape to warn Rhanerya.
He is sadly caught thanks to Larys spies and executed.
Meanwhile, Criston and Aemond are performing their own searches at brothels Aegon frequented, with Aemond venting to Criston about Aegon and the crown going to him.
When Aemond mentions the way Aegon spoke of women, Criston replies that every woman in an image of the Mother and must be spoken of with reverance.
Well, that’s pretty hypocritical coming from the man who called Rhanerya the C word in Episode Six.
Along with Criston’s hypocrisy, we also get a good look at Aemond’s envy, as he wishes to be king and, honestly, would actually be better suited for it than Aegon.
Yet, as the second son, he is doomed for the support role.
Aemond really has a lot of parallels with Daemon.
Even their names are almost identical.
Despite their lack of success in finding Aegon, Criston and Aemond catch a lucky break when they spot Otto secretly meeting with Mysaria.
Maybe it was the Hand of the King badge he stupidly wore under his hood which gave him away?
As for Mysaria, yep, her accent is still terrible.
I like Mysaria as a character, as her motivation to stop the child fighting rings in King’s Landing is noble, yet it is hard to get into her story when the actress’ accent is so bad it distracts me.
I’m still really hoping they remove this accent in Season Two.
While all this is happening, Alicent meets with Rhaenys, who has been locked up in the Red Keep until now.
Informing her of Viserys’ death, Alicent attempts to convince Rhaenys to side with the Greens, admitting that Rhaenys should have been queen but stating that they can still have power through guiding the men above them.
Rhaenys grows newfound respect for Alicent’s conviction, yet correctly states that, “You desire not to be free but to make a window in the wall of your prison. Have you never imagined yourself on the Iron Throne?”
This was an excellent moment for Rhaenys and Eve Best continues to do great work as the character.
Meanwhile, thanks to Otto’s deal with Mysaria to stop the child fighting rings, Erryk and Arryk are able to locate Aegon, only to be ambushed by Aemond and Criston, who followed them.
A fight ensues, during which Criston and Aemond take Aegon captive, as Erryk leaves, disgusted by Aegon, as he now knows he is not fit to be king.
Aegon begs Aemond to let him go, stating that he will find a ship and never return.
Aemond seems to consider this but, before he can do anything, Criston leads Aegon to Alicent.
With Aegon now firmly in Alicent’s clutches, she meets with Otto where he tries to worm his way into Alicent’s good graces.
Alicent is having none of it, however, leaving when Otto says she looks so much like her mother.
Despite his manipulations, I could not help but think that Otto was oddly proud of Alicent in this moment.
Not everything is going well for Alicent, however, as it is revealed that she trades sexual favors to Larys in exchange for information, specifically by presenting her feet to him.
I had heard the leaks for this scene and I was quite concerned about it but, after having seen it, I think it was handled as well as it could have been.
It certainly makes the moment Alicent takes her shoes off when talking with Larys in Episode Six creepier.
The guy with a club foot having a foot fetish is a bit on the nose, though.
Larys informs Alicent of Mysaria’s spy ring, leading to her ordering an attack on Mysaria, pretty much destroying her deal with Otto, which is not exactly a good thing, since Mysaria pointed out to him just how much power the small folk actually have.
Another blow to the Greens is Erryk Cargyll, as he frees Rhaenys, defecting to the Blacks.
He intends to lead her out of the city, leaving Rhaenys’ dragon Meleys behind, only for Rhaenys to be swept up in a crowd that is luckily heading for the Dragon Pit.
It is here that Aegon is crowned as king by Criston and it is also here that I have to mention one of my criticisms, this being Criston’s role in crowning Aegon being reduced.
Sure, he does place the crown on his head but in the book he played a much more important role, since he was actually the one to convince Aegon to take the throne by claiming that Rhanerya would kill him and his entire family if he did not.
This earned him the title of King Maker.
In the show, however, it is Alicent who convinces Aegon and Criston merely crowns him.
I hope they do not downplay any of Criston’s other actions in future seasons.
As for Aegon, we see that he has overcome his reluctance to become king, due to the love he recieves from the crowd in the Dragon Pit.
As messed up as Aegon is, he did want love and affection from his parents and now he is getting that affection from the people of Kings’ Landing.
Or rather, what is left of the people of King’s Landing because Rhaenys chooses this moment to bash through the ground with Meleys killing an untold number of small folk, and fulfilling Helaena’s “beast beneath the boards” prophecy.
She looks ready to kill the Greens until Alicent jumps in the way.
Having gained a newfound respect for Alicent and also sympathising with her as a mother, Rhaenys spares the Greens’ lives and departs in epic fashion to warn Rhanerya of her crown being usurped, bringing an end to the episode.
This moment is entirely show original and has recieved mixed reactions, since some have said it makes no sense for Rhaneys to kill many civilians but then spare Alicent and the rest of the Greens immediately afterwards.
However, I think it works when you take into consideration that the nobles do not really care about the small folk in general.
I mean, there is a literal child fighting ring going on in Kings’ Landing and no noble did anything about that.
So, I think this change does work.
Overall, “The Green Council” is another solid episode of House of the Dragon. 
It is not one of my favourites but it does build nicely into the finale, which I am very excited to see, as a book reader.

Book Spoilers:
I am probably more excited for Episode Ten, “The Black Queen”, than I have been for any previous House of the Dragon episode.
This is because we will get the first dance between the dragons in “The Black Queen”, if you can even call what happens a “dance.”
It’s more of a slaughter, actually, with Lucerys’ Arrax standing no chance against Aemond’s Vhagar.
It will be brutal and, along with the stillbirth of Visenya, will be a tragic way to end the season, with Season Two almost definitley not arriving until 2024.
It will be a long wait but I think it will certainly be worth it to see many of the epic and horrifying events that take place during the Dance of the Dragons.
One of these horrifying moments is the Blood and Cheese incident, where Daemon and Mysaria send hitmen to murder Aegon’s son in retaliation for Lucerys’ death.
Mysaria’s involvement in this act makes a lot of sense after Episode Nine because of how her chance to end the child fighting rings was destroyed by the Greens in this episode.
We also have to take Helaena’s “beast beneath the boards” prophecy into account.
Yes, she was most likely talking about Rhaenys and Meleys but her prophecy could also have a double meaning by referring to Blood and Cheese.
We will have to wait for Season Two to know for sure.
Until then, we can enjoy the final episode of House of the Dragon‘s first season, which airs today.

Spy x Family, Episode Nine, Show Off How in Love You Are Review: Don’t Encourage the Creepy Brother, Yor.

Picking up from the cliffhanger of the previous episode, which teased a kiss between Twilight and Yor, Episode Nine of Spy x Family, “Show Off How in Love You Are,” pays that cliffhanger off but not with a kiss.
Directed by Takashi Katagiri, the episode begins with Yor getting herself drunk so she can kiss Twilight.
Not exactly flattering for the spy but it was probably the nerves that made Yor do this.
Unfortunately for Yuri, this leads to him being mortified when Yor’s drunkenness makes her act rather lewd when she goes to kiss Twilight.
Unfortunately for us, this builds into another flashback from Yor and Yuri’s past.
The reason this is unfortunate for us is because it shows just how deep Yuri’s obsession for his sister goes.
Yor kisses Yuri on the cheek for scoring a 100 on his test, and Yuri responds by saying he will marry her when he grows up.
Yor’s response to this is to sit Yuri down and tell him that they cannot get married because they are siblings, although she still loves him as family.
Nah, just kidding.
What Yor actually does is say that she will wait paitiently for him.
Thankfully, Yor is clearly humoring Yuri in this flashback.
It did no favors for Yuri, though, as this memory leads to him lunging to stop the kiss between Yor and Twilight, only for the pay-off for the teased kiss to arrive.
Not with an actual kiss, however, but with a slap, because the pay-off for last episode’s cliffhanger is humor.
Too embarrassed to kiss Twilight, Yor appears to try and slap him, only to accidentally slap Yuri into the wall instead, causing him to sprout blood from various parts of his head.
The crashing sound also wakes Anya up who, still half asleep, comedically thinks it’s the end of the world, before falling back into bed.
Back with Twilight, Yor and Yuri, Yor goes from unintentionally slapping Yuri to intentionally slapping him, when he tearfully gives Twilight his permission to kiss his sister, before he storms from the house, all the while Twilight is trying to convince him to go to the hostpital.
This gag goes on for a good while too, with Yuri eventually asking two strangers about the station’s location, only for them to scream at him to go the hostpital first.
Afterwards, we get my favourite scene of the episode, which is Anya’s reaction to the previous night when she reads her parents’ minds.
First, she stumbles from her room, still half asleep, mistaking a plant for Twilight.
Both him and Yor are surprised to hear that Anya does not even remember how excited she was to meet Yuri, before she fell asleep.
Anya only remembers this when she reads Twilight’s mind and learns Yuri is a member of the Secret Police, meaning she was denied her daily excitement that comes with having a spy and an assassin as parents.
Her outraged reaction to this left me chuckling.
After this point, the episode moves into its main plot, as Twilight becomes suspicious of Yor, wondering if she knows Yuri works for the Secret Police, leading to him bugging her.
Meanwhile, Yor is worried that Twilight sees her as a disappointing wife.
Anya picks up on both of these things with her mind reading and tells them they need to get along, before hopping on the school bus, leaving her parents to go about their activities, Yor at work, and Twilight spying on his wife.
Before the episode goes further into this plotline, however, we get the conclusion to this part of Yuri’s story, as his boss further pushes him towards eventually finding and capturing Twilight, Yuri not realising that Loid Forger is the spy himself.
We also get a look inside Yuri’s locker during this scene and surprise, surprise, it’s full of pictures of Yor.
You have to wonder what his colleagues think of his creepy obsession?
Well, he’s clearly a good agent, so they probably don’t care too much so long as he gets the job done.
Cutting back to the main storyline of the episode with Twilight and Yor, Twilight listens in to Yor’s conversations at work and hears her fretting over her lack of cooking skills, worried that this makes her a bad wife.
However, Twilight is still not completley satisfied that this clears her, so he concocts a scheme with Franky, disguising themselves as Yuri’s bosses to interrogate Yor, thinking she will name Yuri as a member of the Secret Police to help herself, proving to Twilight that she knew about him.
Instead, Yor proves herself to Twilight as both innocent and strong, figuratively and literally on the latter, as she is figuratively strong by speaking up for her family, and literally strong with how she easily beats Franky when he tries to take her with them.
This leads to Twilight calling the scheme off, allowing Yor to go and rightly feeling quite guilty for his actions, which Franky calls him out on, saying he should not develop feelings for Yor because it could endanger his mission.
Twilight retaliates by ripping off Franky’s mask, ruining his chances of picking up women with it.
As Franky mourns the lost oppurtunities, Twilight tells him that it is a terrible idea to date a woman while deceiving her, a hilariously hypocritical statement from him.
Twilight then meets up with Yor and removes the bug, before cheering her up, saying she should be confident with herself.
He then suggests they get a cake for their one-year wedding anniversary.
Time sure has flown for them, huh?
The episode then ends when Anya arrives home and is overjoyed to learn her parents are getting along again after reading their minds.
All in all, “Show Off How in Love You Are” is another really good episode of Spy x Family. 
Once again, my only criticism of it is how deep Yuri’s obsession goes for Yor.
Otherwise, it’s quite an enjoyable episode, with some wholesome moments and good humor, mostly with Anya’s reactions and the slap pay-off to the kiss cliffhanger.

The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode Nine Review: How Convenient!

two out of five
In my review for Episode Six of The Promised Neverland Season Two, I said that Norman’s exposition scene was one of the worst instances of telling instead of showing that I have ever had the displeasure of seeing.
Well, after seeing Episode Nine, I can say that Season Two has done it again, this time providing one of the worst elements of convenience that I have ever seen.
Directed by Kakushi Ifuku, Sumito Sasaki and Tsuyoshi Tomita, everything about this episode is so freaking convenient.
Think about it.
The old demon, Vylk, just so happens to have found a dying human 15 years ago, who just so happened to have the pen part that Emma and the others needed, which just so happened to have a map into Grace Field, and also just so happened to have the cure for Norman and the other Lambda escapees’ illness.
Not to mention how ridiculous it is that all this informaiton is somehow up to date 15 years later.
The scene where this is revealed was so terrible that I was honestly laughing my head off at it.
I could not get over how absolutley nonsenically convenient everything was, and this isn’t even the end of it because we still have to talk about the beginning of the episode, where Norman and his squad all give up on killing demons easily.
This was rushed in the manga too but it is a thousand times worse here.
You’re telling me that Barbara, the person who was all gung ho on slaughtering and eating demons, now hesitates and gives in?
I don’t buy it one bit.
Also, was that dying human Vylk met supposed to be Yuugo?
I hope not because if it was then that is probably one of the most insulting things about this season.
And then there’s the cheap cliffhanger where Vincent is suddenly a traitor.
I’ll get into the reason for this being cheap in my review for Episode Ten, which, oh boy, is just as laughably bad.
There is absolutley no hope for The Promised Neverland now.
It’s a train wreck and Episode Nine is easily one of its worst episodes, full of characters who just magically change their minds on a dime and one of the most laughably awful cases of convenience I’ve seen.
The voice acting and animation are the only redeeming qualities at this point.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Nine, Brave Volunteers Review: Rubbing Salt in the Wound.

4 stars
Another week, another good episode for the final season of Attack on Titan. 
Last week’s episode, “Assasin’s Bullet”, was one of the most tragic in the entire series, featuring the death of long time fan favourite, Sasha Blouse.
So, after a traumatising loss like that, how does the latest episode, “Brave Volunteers”, follow it up?
Well, by showing Sasha a tonne in flashbacks, just to rub salt in the wound, of course!
Wait, what?
In all seriousness, it was both nice and tragic to see Sasha in these scenes, as her jokes always landed, while also making us feel sad, realizing that this will probably be the last time she makes us laugh in the series, considering her death.
Directed by Kōki Aoshima, “Brave Volunteers” is mostly comprised of flashbacks, explaining what happened to the Scouts during the three year timeskip, providing plenty of context for their actions in the attack on Marley.
This context is provided by the first scene, as we learn about the titular volunteers who betrayed Marley under the orders of Zeke Jaeger.
The opening scene showing this is a well done adaptation of the manga, as the episode begins with Armin talking to someone off screen, while he holds the seashell he retrieved at the end of Season Three.
From here, the episode transitions to not long after that final moment on the beach, where the Scouts have to stop an oncoming attack from a Marleyan warship.
Thankfully, such warships are no match for a Titans powers, with Eren picking the ship up with ease, in a moment that is very similar to one of his predecessors and namesake, Eren Kruger.
Slamming the ship down onto the beach, the Marleyan invaders are then greeted by an enthusiastic, yet nervous, Hange, in an excellent case of voice acting from Romi Park.
Hange’s welcome to the Marleyans was funny in the manga but Park’s delivery here makes it even more hilarious, with her giving the best performance of the episode.
However, this is a performance that the Marleyans are not quite buying because Hange and Levi’s captive, Niccolo, is not too cooperative, and the captain of the invading forces would rather die that “drink pig piss” with “devils.”
Well, die he certainly does, as courtesy from Yelena, who blows her commanding officer’s brains onto the deck, before other members of the Volunteers, Onyankopon among them, take control of the ship, as Yelena accepts Hange’s offer for tea and then ominously states how she has been looking forward to meeting Eren.
The reason this is so ominous quickly becomes apparent in the next scene, where Yelena reveals her connection to Zeke, with her worshipping him, like a god.
Before this, though, Hange and Levi get an exposition dump about events in Marley, since they defeated them at the battle of Shiganshina, learning all about how Marley had entered a series of wars because of their defeat and how the Titans used to trap the Eldians have surprisingly become a defence.
Although, these Titans have been long since defeated so if Marley had found that, Paradis would have been in a world of hurt.
Also, when Yelena is mentioning these Titans, we get a comedic shot of them dancing, which I can’t believe I criticized when I reviewed the manga chapter this episode adapted.
Seems a bit of a weird thing for me to have complained about in hindsight.
Back to the episode, the Garrison and Military Police are understandably skeptical of the volunteers because of their connections to Zeke.
However, this changes when Eren learns that Zeke’s secret plan involves both the Founding Titan and a Titan of royal blood.
Realizing that his theory about those two being necessary to activate the Founding Titan is correct, and now having a way to use the power without endangering Historia, through Zeke, Eren admit this knowledge that he had kept hidden from the rest of the Scouts.
This starts the slow spiral of the Scouts not trusting Eren any more, which culminates in them losing trust in him completley with his attack on Marley.
Still, Eren’s revelation also gains some support for the volunteers, helped further by them assisting in taking down further attacking ships.
We see one such take down, when Yelena and Onyankopon lure the enemy soldiers in, only for Armin to force them all ashore with his Colossal Titan, where they are meet by Levi, who is kind enough to offer them all some pig piss, throwing the words the dead captain spat back at them.
With trust in the volunteers now ascertained, many of them begin helping out with other tasks, like Onyankopon, who helped the island set up a port.
This leads to the comedically awkward moment where Sasha asked Onyankopon why his skin is dark.
Just like that, Sasha was cancelled by all of Twitter.
Jokes aside, this comedic moment did lead to a moment of insightfulness from Onyankopon, who states that their creator most likely thought it would be more interesting if different kind of people existed in the world.
This ideology will become important to Onyankopon’s character in the future and is why I think he is such a great side character.
Another volunteer who helps out, although much more unwillingly in this case, is Niccolo, who broadens the 104th’s perception of food, something that is greatly appreciated by Sasha.
Que another comedic, yet tragic, Sasha scene where she dives into the lobster, like a rabid animal, and declares Niccolo a food genius, earning a blush from the previously prejudiced soldier.
Despite coming so far with the volunteers, though, Eren is not as convinced as Armin and Mikasa that this can eventually create a chance for peace.
He points out that the world despises them because they can turn into monsters, which they are not exactly wrong about, and how they need to buy time to stop them from attacking.
With this line, Eren fires a practice shot, which transitions cruelly, yet beautifully, into Sasha being shot, showing how Eren is partially responsible for her death because of his attack.
From here, the episode switches to the present, as the 104th attend Sasha’s funeral, only for Niccolo to be attacked by an Eldian soldier for being Marleyan, showing how bigotry is now unfortunately starting to run strong in Paradis’ ranks, as well.
Thankfully, Niccolo is protected by Jean and Connie, who bring him to the grave, where the characters say their goodbyes, including a heartbreaking line from Connie, who says that Sasha was like his twin and now it feels like a part of him is gone.
Sasha’s parents then arrive, with the young girl who Sasha saved all the way back in Season Two, who they seem to have adopted, showing that Sasha really did make a difference with her fighting.
Niccolo offers to cook a meal for the family in memorial of Sasha and her father agrees to, free of charge.
Like father, like daughter, it would seem.
However, while there is a coming togethor of would be enemies here, this is very much not the case with Levi and Zeke, whose rivalry continues to grow in two very tense, yet comedic, scenes.
First, there is the carriage ride scene, where Zeke comments how the ignorance of the Public on Paradis is frightening.
Levi wants to kill Zeke but is willing to wait to see if this plan of his plays out, to which Zeke acts grateful for, before cautiously asking Levi if he can stop glaring at him.
Monkey PTSD intensifies.
Then, we get the hotel scene, where Zeke is welcomed to the five start hotel of the Titan forest, a perfect spot for relaxing and possible ODM Gear fights if Zeke tries anything.
Zeke wants to show Gabi and Falco the luxury of this “hotel” but I doubt they’ll be too happy about it, especially with Gabi chewing her fingernail and ranting to herself about Eren Jaeger, as she and Falco currently sit in a prison cell.
Finally, we get our three big moments from Armin, Mikasa and Eren this episode.
For Armin, it is finally revealed who he was talking to all this time: Annie.
The Female Titan is still stuck inside of the freaking crystal four years later.
Then, there’s Mikasa, who sits against Sasha’s grave for the second time this episode, repeating the words Eren first spoke to her, “Fight or die. Win and live.”
With her repeating Eren’s line, we cut to the man himself, inside a prison cell, looking particularly dead inside, and sporting a new hairstyle that is suspiciously similar to the way the Warhammer Titan styled her hair.
As he looks at his reflection in the jail mirror, Eren ends the episode with him twice repeating one the words associated with his character, “Fight. Fight.”
Who Eren will be fighting against now that he is on Paradis, though, remains to be seen.
“Brave Vounteers” is another really good Attack on Titan episode.
It gave us some much needed explanations about what the Scouts had been up to during the time skip and gave us more tragedy, with the comedic Sasha scenes that only rubbed salt in the wound that is the pain from her death.
One thing that has surprised me about the last couple of episodes is that they have been pretty slow paced, compared to the previous episodes anyway, adapting only one chapter as opposed to two.
This makes me wonder just how far the season will adapt, since there’s only supposed to be 16 episodes, after which we will probably either get a Final Season Part Two or a movie.
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
In any case, the next episode “A Sound Argument” is set to air today and it will be extremely interesting to see the fans’ reaction to it, given what is revealed there.

My Hero Academia Season Four Episode Nine, Red Riot Review: A Spear and a Shield vs a Shield and a Shield.

5 stars
I have been anticipating the ninth episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season “Red Riot” for a while because it was this moment in the manga that propelled Kirishima to one of my favourite characters.
Thankfully, the episode did not disappoint, adapting both Kirishima’s backstory and his and Fat Gum’s fight with Kendo Rappa and Hekiji Tengai perfectly.
“Red Riot” picks up from Tamaki’s battle with three of the eight bullets of the Hissaikai and sees Mimic send Fat Gum and Kirishima into a dark room where they are meet by Rappa and Tengai for a battle of spear and shield vs shield and shield.
In this case, Rappa and Tengai make for the perfect combination, with Rappa dealing out devastating blows as the spear and Tengai providing an almost impenetrable shield for them.
As for Kirishima and Fat Gum, their status as shields puts them at an instant disadvantage from Rappa’s punches, especially Kirishima who is hit so hard that his hardening starts to come undone.
Que, emotional backstory to inspire him to save the day.
In all seriousness, Kirishima’s backstory is one of the best in the series so far.
Kirishima always tried to help people but he lacked something to dive in head first.
In comparison, fellow student Mina Ashido had all the qualities of a hero in the making, protecting her friends from a gigantic villain (who will be important later) by giving him the wrong directions to a hero agency.
Kirishima witnesses this but is unable to act and this causes a massive blow to his confidence.
It is then that, as if by fate, he happens to see an interview from his favourite hero, Crimson Riot, who tells the story of how someone died because he did not act and now his biggest fear is being unable to act, which drives him forward.
Inspired by this, Kirishima set out to completely remake himself into a chivalrous hero, apologizing to the girls he did not help, (even though they have no idea who he is but that is not important) and even dyes his hair red, prompting playful teasing from Mina.
The scene between the two is very sweet and is what made me start to ship them when I read the manga.
Back to the situation at hand, upon remembering why he set out to become a chivalrous hero in the first place, Kirishima leaps in front of Fat Gum to protect him with a burst of inspirational music.
This allows Fat Gum enough time to transfer his quirk from a shield to a spear as he stores the power of the blows Rappa is unloading on him into pure energy, which he releases, along with all of his fat.
It is here that we get our first look at him without this fat and I am sure a number of Squidward “oh no! He’s hot!” memes will be generated from this.
In any case, it is with this release of energy that Fat Gum defeats Rappa and Tengai with the help of Kirishima.
Kirishima’s growth during this episode is fantastic, with his self doubt transitioning perfectly into his backstory, which then leads to his heroic return to the fight at the end of the episode.
Likewise, Fat Gum also gets his moment with the reveal of his spear attack.
It is not just Kirishima and Fat Gum that shines in “Red Riot”, though, as Rappa instantly stands out as the only member of eight bullets who does not follow Overhaul blindly.
The reasons for this will most likely be unveiled in the next episode and make him the most interesting member of the Hissaikai, with the exception of Overhaul himself.
Overall, “Red Riot” is the best episode of My Hero Academia‘s fourth season so far with Kirishima’s character arc being particularly exceptional.