“In which our hero uses the Poke of Doom.”
Back in season one, at the moment where Hyoga murdered his own men, it was clear who the “real bad guy” of this series was going to be. While the characters in the show may have been most worried about Tsukasa, we've seen that Tsukasa has a code of honor that is very important to him—even if he has broken it in extreme conditions. Hyoga, on the other hand, has no such constraints. So it was only a matter of time till Hyoga tried to take control himself. And frankly, Hyoga's not wrong in recognizing this moment as his perfect opportunity.
With Tsukasa distracted with his sister and everyone else still high on their victory, none of them notice when Homura escapes until she, under Hyoga's orders, blows up the “miracle cave”—the source of both the nitroglycerine and the revival fluid. Of course, such a tragedy calls for Tsukasa's personal attention—which causes him to leave his sister in the care of his most trusted lieutenant: Hyoga. And so Hyoga waits until Tsukasa is at just the right distance and then thrusts his spear at Mirai—leaving just enough time for Tsukasa to take the hit for his sister and nothing more.
After Tsukasa, Senku, and Hyoga subsequently fall into the river and are washed up on shore, we get the typical bad guy “join me or die” speech from Hyoga to Senku. While the speech is a bit cliché in its very nature, in it we can see the philosophical difference between Tsukasa and Hyoga.
Tsukasa is an anarcho-primitivist. He believes that the technological advancement of society is bad for both humanity and nature—that reverting to a hunter-gather state is best. Thus, Tsukasa wants to revive all the young people as they are less tainted by the evils of modern society. However, he is pragmatic enough to start with the most useful of them first—which is why Hyoga agrees to work with him.
Hyoga, in contrast to Tsukasa, is a eugenicist. He believes that the strong survive and the weak need to be culled—and that the petrification of humanity was nature's way of agreeing with him. While he and Tsukasa have had a common goal in the short term, it would have eventually reached the point where Tsukasa started to bring back the weak, simply because they were young. And that's something that Hyoga couldn't permit.
The other important thing we learn about Hyoga is that he has no bias against science—quite the opposite, actually. He sees its usefulness and wants to control it. However, his problem is that he doesn't respect science—doesn't fear it the same way Tsukasa does. This is what leads him to his defeat.
In the fight between the three, Hyoga focuses mostly on Tsukasa, believing the physically stronger individual to be the bigger threat. This, however, this buys time for Senku to build not only armor for himself but a Taser as well. And so, at the moment where Hyoga is most sure of his victory—as he's pushing his spear into Tsukasa's throat—Senku defeats him with a single (electrically charged) finger.
Thematically and emotionally, it's great stuff. We see Senku and Tsukasa return to the same side—and become the force they could have been if their personal philosophies weren't so diametrically opposed. However, even with all its potential, this final fight scene is also one that works far better on the page than in animation.
At the climax, Senku and Hyoga hold a minute-long conversation in which Hyoga realizes he's about to be zapped. However, he doesn't run away—despite the fact that all he has to do was let go of his spear and step out of a crawling man's reach. If this were a metaphorical conversation—the thoughts running through each other's heads projected as a conversation—that would be one thing. However, we see lip movements implying that they are actually talking. This turns an engrossing climax into a bit of a silly one and drastically undercuts what should have been the series' most satisfying moment.
That said, I can't wait to see all the fallout next week.
• I laughed my butt off at the mental image of everyone trying to put a dress on stone statue Mirai—especially the inevitable moment where someone breaks off one of Mirai's fingers, Tsukasa loses his crap, and Yuzuriha just sighs and goes to fetch her glue.
• It's interesting that the stone “scars” can be made on hair as well as skin.
• Man, the panic and rage on Kohaku's face when she's held back from diving in after Senku.
• Tsukasa fights pretty well for a man with one lung.
• I'm somewhat shocked they decided to take Homura with them. I had assumed they left her back at the village with the old people guarding her.
• This episode has a mistake with the subtitles where Homura is referred to as “he”—which, in the moment, made me wonder if Homura was a trans character and no one thought to inform the rest of us. (The actual Japanese uses neither “he” nor “she” as subjects were dropped from subsequent sentences once the topic of conversation—i.e., Homura—had been established).
• I haven't forgotten that Homura is still running free out there—and that's she's loyal to Hyoga not Tsukasa. We can only hope that Kohaku finds the three injured warriors before Homura does.