Tsukikage is hot on the trail of discovering the identity of Tendo, who is planning some form of wide-scale attack with Moryo. The gang has a lot of sentimental mentor-and-apprentice moments in the days leading up to their attack on Tendo. When they locate her, the girls capture her and force her to reveal her identity as a Moryo ally. She complies, being held hostage in the car as the girls drive back to the base. However, it was a trap! Tendo set them up to capture her! A bomb explodes in the curry shop, implying Katrina’s death.
The girls all realize quickly they’re surrounded by Moryo trucks and book it out of there, keeping Tendo hostage. When Moryo corners their car, the girls have no choice but to get out and fight — eyeing Theresia among hoards of robots. Just as Tsukikage is about to square off in a dramatic, Lion King-esque battle — SURPRISE! Mei was the traitor all along! She takes out Goe, and then Fu (after giving the most half baked villain speech on earth.) Hatsume is still trying to convince Theresia to stop her fighting, but Mei jumps in and (literally) beats Theresia to the punch. Mei punts Hatsume into the ocean and drops a bomb on her, implying her death.
Hanzo and Tendo face off in a cinematic sword duel, but for Momo’s safety, Hanzo hesitates and is killed onscreen. Mei, Tendo, and Theresia kidnap all the unconscious Tsukikage members for intel and experiments.
This is a TPK for the ages.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Before diving into the obvious twist, credit deserves to be given where it’s due. It’s rare that a show will kill off its “leader” character in the first season, and the continuous amount of death that happened definitely sparked emotion.
Feelings were had. Sadness was not one of them. Remember the good ol’ days when we were like, “Oh, of course, the traitor is Katrina! Oh how dull, how contrived! What a laugh it will be when this unceremonious twist actually happens!”
God how I wish they would have just let it be boring.
Mei is now the Hans of Release the Spyce’s “Frozen”; a try-hard, lazy attempt at “shocking” villain writing, with an even stupider character motivation to boot. Mei’s entire motivation being the sheer love of chaos barely computes with her character and previous interactions/actions (for example: the entirety of the “Never Say Never Together” episode.) Her exposition on money and chaos being her reasoning for joining Moryo seemed so poorly constructed that it sounded as though even the voice actress had a hard time believing it.
Hopefully, this entire twist will retcon itself for the show’s own self-preservation. Mei’s “true” chaotic evil alignment would have had an impact if there were a built, alluded, and compelling reason for it that could have been crafted throughout the series — it’s a little trick we in the writing business call “foreshadowing,” and it’s important to use so that our stories don’t suck.
Other things interspersed throughout the episode were laughably bad — the entire scene where the girls are eating their spices was painful to watch (“You’re doubling up on spices!?” was a real line.)
Hand to god confession: when Mei turned on the group, it was the funniest thing that had happened in the entire show, and I laughed throughout the entire fight sequence. I was certainly entertained, but for all the wrong reasons. It was at this point that I realized Release the Spyce never cared about being a good show and that I neither should I.