Given Fire Force's usual pattern of sandwiching it's most important exposition dumps in between standout action episodes, I had a feeling that “A Pair of One-Eyes” was going to follow up the awesome “Shadows Cast by Divine Light” with something a little more…talky. This one's a doozy too, cramming in some genuinely huge revelations that set up what I can only assume will be the final major conflict of these last thirteen episodes, and most of that time literally does consist of Benimaru, Joker, and Captain Burns standing around and talking about Big and Important Temple Secrets. The episode description on VRV claims that Burns is offering the vigilantes “the scant leads” that he's uncovered, but as the audience, we've got the gift of an omniscient perspective on our side, and the heroes of the Fire Force are on the path to cracking the very foundations of their society wide open.
Back when Joker was just “No. 52” of the Holy Sol Shadows, he went on a mission with Joker to investigate a disturbance at Amaterasu, which led to the both of them having a direct experience with the Adolla Link. The experience transported them to another plane of existence, burned out each of the men's respective eyes, and led the two down their respectively heretical paths. Joker has been playing the vigilante, while Burns has been investigating from within the system, and the Captain has discovered the diary of the wife of Raffles I.
Though the exact details are unclear, the woman's account of her husbands own mysterious brush with the “divine” Adolla Burst has led Burns to suspect that, during the famous pilgrimage that ended up founding the Holy Sol Temple, Raffles was replaced with some inhuman imposter, and the will of the Church has thus been to deceive and manipulate humanity from the start. And in case you were thinking that this mystery might be the focus of the next few episodes: Nope! We almost immediately cut to the Ashen Flame, where Inca gets the bomb dropped on her that Raffles I was just Yona, the shapeshifty guy, in disguise, and that the Holy Sol Temple was indeed just a puppet arm of the Evangelist all along.
Not only that, but the episode awkwardly reminds us that Haijima Corporation is also probably a tool of the Evangelist. Fire Force has tried to establish Haijima as really big deal in the new Tokyo Empire, but I feel like this is the first time we've actually been given any concrete details about it that feel relevant to the plot – something like 80% of all of the Empire's businesses are owned by or linked to it, apparently, which is something that you think would be more apparent before episode 37 of the series. Licht's shady connections to Haijima were technically introduced back in the first or second episode of Season 1, if I'm remembering right, but I can't recall the last time they were brought up since he joined Company 8; either way, those ties are important now, since Licht is working as a spy for Haijima, and the big boss of the corporation is planning on using Licht to get to Shinra, and kill him.
It is a lot to unpack in a single episode, and “A Pair of One-Eyes” definitely suffers from the expositional burden of it all. David Production still does its damndest to make the info dump entertaining though, with the exceptionally cool depiction of Joker and Burns' disastrous Adolla Link encounter being the highlight of the episode. Also, while I'm certain that Licht will end up siding with the good guys eventually, this Haijima complication is bound to raise some interesting conflicts for the men and women of Company 8, especially Shinra, and Inca's shocked reaction to Yona's reveal is maybe a hint that her allegiances could be in question (hopefully she'll get to do something soon, considering all the time we spent establishing her character). Fire Force may be clumsy when it comes to setting up the pieces of its story arcs, but the payoff has been worth it time and again this season, so consider me excited for whatever ludicrous twists and cool explosions the show is doubtlessly getting ready to throw at us.
Odds and Ends
• Lest I forget, in the middle of all this, Lisa comes back! Don't worry if you don't remember who that is, because I sure didn't, at first — she was Vulcan's assistant who betrayed him for the Evangelist, though she's staying with Company 8 now that she's out of the hospital for…reasons? It's weird, but I'm willing to see where it goes. The joke where Shinra thought that Lisa might be a boob activated sexbot that Vulcan built was…well it was something. It becomes slightly more endearing when you consider that Iris also thought that Lisa might be a robot with nipple buttons, and Lisa's appropriate reaction was something along the lines of “God God, you guys are freaking stupid.” You're damn right they are, Lisa. Welcome to Company 8!