Wagon and the ToQgers are decorating the Resshas for Christmas. They’ve noticed the Shadow Line has been pretty quiet lately and they hope it’ll last until Christmas at least. Wagon says she can guarantee that. Conductor and Ticket come in and they and Wagon explain that this is the time of year the Shadow are least active because of the abundance of Imagination everywhere.
All the Christmas lights and decorations and warm and fuzzy feelings weaken the power of darkness, making the Shadow Line less active.
That is very exciting news for them. They are also excited about Akira’s reaction to the holiday since this will be his first Christmas. Tokatti calls Akira to see if he wants to come decorate with them, but Akira rejects the call.
Akira is at Build Ressha’s tunnel home when Schwarz appears saying it is time for Zaram to be by his side.
With darkness at its weakest, this is Schwarz’s best chance. Akira understands Schwarz was waiting for the Darkness Decline. Before he follows Schwarz, Akira turns to the Build Ressha and removes his hard hat.
“I guess this was not meant to be my place to die.”
Later, the ToQgers search on Build Ressha for a nowhere to be found Akira. Kagura finds Drill Ressha and a stack of papers on the console.
“Instructions for using Drill Ressha to find Shadow Towns”
But why would he leave such a note? To make sure everything will be okay even when he’s not around?! They hurry outside and call for Akira, but no answer. They see his hard hat.
Meanwhile at the Castle, Marchioness Mork and Baron Nero are feeling the effects of the disgusting annual Darkness Decline. They wonder how the Emperor is doing, but he just tells them to stay away. Nero notices the Emperor’s darkness is very weak. Mork says it’s because of that “thing” inside of him.
Down in the dungeons of the Castle, Madame Noire is enacting her plan to save Gritta.
Back at the throne, Gritta emerges.
On the Resshas the ToQgers tell Wagon, Conductor and Ticket what’s happened. Tokatti remembers his pinky swear with Akira in the last Shadow Town. Hikari thinks it might have something to do with how easy Akira was able to take back Drill Ressha.
Suddenly, the lights flicker. How can the Shadow be active at this time?!
The ToQgers hurry into town and they are shocked when they run into Bag Shadow all the way from Episode 1. The ToQgers quickly henshin.
On a nearby rooftop, another Shadow Creep is sucking up darkness and shaking. He opens his tombstone chest and the darkness appears in front of the ToQgers as Ring Shadow, the first Shadow Creep they fought with Akira.
Thinking about Akira again, the ToQgers are having trouble keeping up with the reincarnated Shadows.
Mork and Nero are watching as Boseki (Tombstone) Shadow is shaking up another round of darkness. Mork is surprised since he’s supposed to be locked up in the dungeon for using darkness too carelessly. That’s when Mork realizes who might be behind this.
They see Boseki Shadow is drawing darkness from the castle. Mork and Nero notice a white feather fly out from behind the throne curtain, but Zett tells them it’s nothing.
Mork tells Nero to keep any eye on the Emperor while she’ll go take care of Boseki Shadow.
The feathers continue falling off Zett’s outfit and Gritta realizes she is able to push back against him at this time of Darkness Decline. But he knew that. So why didn’t he erase her? He says he doesn’t know. But now that she does, what is she going to do about it?
Back to the walking dead, Bucket Shadow joins the fight. Hikari reminds the others that this isn’t their first time fighting these Shadow Creeps. They know they can defeat them.
Hikari, Mio, Tokatti and Kagura use Scope Ressha to finish off Ring and Bag Shadow while Right takes care of Bucket Shadow.
The Shadows don’t embiggen, so they are just ghosts. Boseki Shadow is satisfied with his little workout and decides to take a break for now.
The ToQgers are back to worrying about Akira. Kagura says this isn’t the first time Akira didn’t show up to fight with them since his first job is to protect the rails. He can’t always be with them. That’s true, Mio says, but there definitely seems to be a distance between them lately.
She’s noticed that Akira’s only ever referred to them as ToQgers. It never bothered her before, but she should’ve called him out on it. Tokatti wishes he could’ve talked it out with him too, but Hikari says that’s true for all of them. Right and Kagura feel bad because they didn’t even notice he was acting strangely.
That’s why they must find him and talk to him.
Boseki Shadow is done resting and he revs up again. Much to his surprise, Marchioness Mork appears. The real one. She knocks him on the head and asks why he would waste Darkness at a time like this.
Boseki Shadow spills the beans and says Madame Noire told him to do this so she would let him out.
Aha! Mork knew it was Noire. She tries knocking him off the roof, but he takes her with him. They both fall right next to the ToQgers.
But Boseki Shadow has already gathered enough Darkness for his next resurrection and this time it is Bakudan Shadow. Tokatti definitely remembers Bakudan Shadow.
The ToQgers henshin while Mork continues attacking Boseki Shadow.
Tokatti takes care of Bakudan Shadow, Hikari and Right face off against a sluggish Marchioness Mork and Mio and Kagura take on Boseki Shadow.
Right goes Hyper and the ToQgers prep the Daikaiten Cannon. Boseki Shadow says they should die in order of age, so he grabs Marchioness Mork and tries using her as a shield.
But she’s not going to die so easily. She breaks free of his grip as the shot hits him and sends Mork flying.
Boseki Shadow embiggens. Right suggests they hop into ToQ-Oh and Diesel-Oh.
Boseki Shadow resurrects embiggened monsters. And one of them is Jack-in-the-Box Shadow. They remember he is the one that made Akira laugh. While Akira may be weird at times, he was always with them. He fought with them and protected them.
The ToQgers leave themselves open and absorb a triple attack. Tokatti tells everyone they need to focus on this fight first. Right lends ToQ-Oh Car Carrier and Tank Ressha to form ToQ-Oh Car Carrier Tank. They use a Car Carrier Tank Shoot to take care of two of the embiggened Shadows. Right uses Diesel Ressha’s missiles to defeat Jack-in-the-Box Shadow.
Boseki Shadow gets ready to make some more zombified Shadows, but Hikari calls on Police Ressha. That allows them to form Cho ToQ-Oh Police and use a Cho ToQ-Oh Police Cannon Last Stop to finish off Boseki Shadow for good.
But Kagura notes this victory feels pretty hollow without Akira. The others sigh.
Wagon places Akira’s hard hat atop one of the Christmas trees. But the alarm sounds. Conductor and Ticket alert the ToQgers to the arrival of Schwarz’s Kuliner!
Over at the Castle, Nero is worried things are too quiet and Darkness is incredibly absent here. Noire peeks into the throne room and laughs that this is the weakest the Emperor will ever be. She swears to save her daughter so them two can take the Shadow Line once more.
Behind the curtain, feathers are now flying all over the place. Gritta can only think of her Schwarz-sama.
Schwarz-sama has a very strong resolve and is ready to make his dreams a reality. But the ToQgers arrive and Right tries asking Schwarz if they can talk. Schwarz will not, but the Kuliner and the Resshas hit each other causing Schwarz to derail.
The ToQgers hurry over to the Kuliner, but it surprisingly departs.
Even more surprisingly though, Akira appears.
Akira tells the ToQgers not to interfere. He explains that he is joining Schwarz once more and that he is leaving the Rainbow Line.
But why?! Akira does not answer. He says he will borrow the Applichanger for now as he needs it. He henshins.
Ooooo! Very nice. This was an amazingly interesting episode. Not only was it basically prepping the final stretch of the season, it was also maybe the biggest toy commercial episode of the season.
How amazing for Kobayashi to write an episode that had a meaningful emotional punch to the characters and a big step forward for several of the season’s big stories, but also manage to include almost every toy introduced this season and present new combos as well.
All the Resshas being featured fit very well with the concept of the phantom Shadow Creeps. And it was awesome to see the ToQgers whip out Scope Resshas as well. (I love Scope Ressha… “PLEASE BE CAREFUL! PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!”)
Plus, I think we got the first use of “Go! Go! ToQger!” in-show. I absolutely love that song.
I really thought the emotional kick was done very well in this episode. I’ve always noted the interesting contrast between the ToQgers’ bond, being childhood friends and Akira being an outsider in more ways than one. The ToQgers reflected on that pretty directly this episode, but affirming how Akira has become like a friend to them and how they’ve very much welcomed him to their little circle.
And of course, the Shadow Line has been amazing. Seeing the jostling of position and the behind the curtain (literally!) sneaking around and secrecy has been a lot of fun and so enjoyable to watch.
This episode’s title was “The Beginning of the End.” ACK! I don’t want it to end! It’s just been such a great season, I honestly am not looking forward to seeing it wrap up just yet.