Playing Games (Digimon Adventure Episode 43)
Just as WarGreymon is about to be crushed in the jaws of MetalSeadramon, Whamon appears and tackles MetalSeadramon, getting himself shot by the Dark Master’s River of Power attack in the process. Enraged, WarGreymon flies into a frenzy and launches himself into the open mouth of MetalSeadramon, tearing out the sea serpent’s entrails and rending him asunder in the process. Whamon’s side has been pierced straight through, leaving a hole from one side of his body to the other and MetalSeadramon is totally wrecked beyond all recognition. Both die and fade away as data into the datastream to be reassembled at a later date as DigiEggs.
With the Dark Master of the sea now destroyed, the oceans begin to drain from Spiral Mountain and ascend back toward the sea. The Digital Ocean begins to reconfigure itself back into its old form and the Digidestined are left on its shore to reflect on sacrifice with one less ally to help them in their battle to save the Digital World. Mimi is the most visibly shaken by the experience and we see her creating dirt mounds with cross grave markers in remembrance of their friends Wizardmon, Chumon, Piximon, and now Whamon, who gave their own lives to ensure that the Digidestined survived.
These sacrifices are notable because they arise in response to the seemingly reasonable forms of Evil that generated them. As Piedmon and his gang represent the Jester, or the figure who makes deconstruction into a game or an intellectual exercise, instead of giving it its full weight as a tool to reach truths of total freedom and anti-foundationalism, the Digidestined must in response represent the figure of Zarathustra by recognizing meaninglessness and creating viable, socially functioning alternatives to the now-defunct systems of modernity. They can only be taken seriously once they show the true danger of the Jester and sacrifice is a powerful tool to ensure the danger is emotionally manifest. But the burial mounds are reminders in physical space that can function as symbols and instantiations of resistance to the Jester, thereby making the prophetic urge toward creation of the Digidestined viable and socially graspable.
However, Tai is bent on another metaphor for struggle: one that emphasizes the physical conflict over and above the ideological current running underneath and powering the whole event. Urging his comrades to move forward and to keep fighting immediately, he states, “This is war. Sometimes people get hurt.” Sometimes this approach is prudent when time constraints are in effect and conflict must continue quickly. However, the Digidestined just reclaimed the Oceans of the Digital World, and the Dark Masters have already been operating in the Digital World for years (in Digital World time). As such, there is no real urgency to move on quickly. They have plenty of time to recoup their strength, to rest, to regroup, and to plan for the next attack. Plus, the act of commemorating the fallen serves the powerful ideological role assigned above and should not be rushed as this might belittle the sacrifices of their friends and undermine the whole point of the exercise in the first place.
Matt, sensing the power of the moment and the need to relax for a time, calls Tai callous. His outburst gives Mimi the time to create her memorials and makes Tai reflect on his own urgency, questioning whether Matt was right about him being callous. This outburst also mirrors earlier conflicts between Matt and Tai as the would-be de facto leaders of the group and prefigures a new conflict that will arise in the coming episodes between the two.
Later, after they have decided to move on and continue their quest, the gang enters a forested area where Kari hears the voice of Puppetmon inexplicably. it is revealed to us, the viewers, that Puppetmon controls the forests from a Chateau deep within its recesses. Being petulant and impulsive in nature, he spurs them on quickly to come to his abode by moving their path forward like a conveyor belt. The Digidestined decide to hide in some neighboring trees to avoid being dragged into his trap, but are all subject to other effects. Puppetmon has voodoo doll-like toy figures of each Digidestined that he can move around at will. He brings T.K. to his chateau to play with him, and ultimately to destroy him.
Slightly before this period, Matt asserts control over T.K. by being overprotective. Matt does not seem to recognize how much his brother has grown up and that he doesn’t need him anymore to protect him. Matt has watched, often from the sidelines, as his fellow Digidestined have grown in character and strength, while he himself has felt stagnant. When T.K. outsmarts Puppetmon, destroys his surveillance toys, and steals the voodoo dolls, thereby limiting Puppetmon’s direct control over them and the forest, he returns to the group all by himself and proves his own self-sufficiency. The other Digidestined children congratulate him on his ingenuity and how much he has grown in such a short time. He now has more autonomy and the ability to fend for himself than ever before, and this troubles Matt, who believes he is weak in comparison.
As Kiwimon emerges the brush to track down T.K. and the dolls, Matt attempts to fight him, but is so mentally blocked that his Digivice and Crest won’t even glow. Gabumon cannot Digivolve, and instead Sora and Birdramon must do the job for him. Depressed and disillusioned with his own lack of progress emotionally and in character development, Matt leaves the group and runs off into the woods for some much-needed introspection. but in his current unruly emotional state is Matt easy pickings for ambush by Puppetmon’s forces? And can he get over his own mental block to rejoin the group and fulfill his role as a Digidestined?
Let’s see, next time,
The Digidestined Cody