Recap: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Episode 44 – The Last Smile

Ex-Aid 44

The Bugsterheads are being very zombie-ish and infecting more people. Emu, Taiga and Hiiro try fighting off the summoned big Bugsters while also getting attacked by the Bugsterheads.

Poppy and Parado watch from behind the bushes. Parado says they have to do something. Parado wants to fight, but Poppy says there is something else only they can do.

Before Poppy reveals what that is, Kuroto fights with Kamen Rider Build to promote the new season.

Anyway, Emu thinks he’s found a way to fight Papadeus. But Poppy takes the vaccine Gashat and runs up to the roof. She says if she inserts the Gashat into her body, she’d somehow be able to spread the vaccine to every single person immediately. But if she does that, she’ll disappear.

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Poppy says she knew this day would come eventually. Bugsters threaten the lives of patients, so naturally all Bugsters would be eliminated one day. It’s their fate. Emu refuses to believe that. Poppy has always been their ally so why would it be her fate to die?

Poppy says she trusts Emu and Parado can defeat Gamedeus while she will cure the Bugsterheads. She wants to help bring back people’s smiles any way she can.

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Emu collapses to the ground. He says Poppy won’t keep her promise of playing games with him. She apologizes and says thank you before stabbing herself with the Gashat.

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Helpless Emu and Parado watch as Poppy dissolves into the sky and begins to literally rain down on all the peoples, immediately curing them of their Game Disease.

Poppy has final messages for her friends. Emu must become a doctor of the people. Hiiro must cut down on sweets, Taiga and Nico must live happily ever after. Kiriya must stop lying. And Kuroto must not be a pain in the ass to others and instead create fun games for everyone.

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Emu eulogizes Poppy on the roof to Parado.

Meanwhile, Taiga, Kiriya, Hiiro and Kuroto face Papa Dan who spouts off some insane nonsense before morphing into the big Gamedeus form. They henshin.

Parado picks up the Gashat and tells Emu that they must not let Poppy’s death have been in vain. Emu agrees and he runs off to where the action is.

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The others are struggling against Papadeus. Emu arrives and says he knows exactly what to do. He pulls out his Mighty Action X Level 1 Gashat and reminds everyone that a Bugster and host can only be separated in Level 1.

The others think that’s cool so they all downhenshin to Level 1 too. The Level 1 attacks actually work against Papadeus.

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Papadeus won’t give up though and he is about to finish off Emu when Parado arrives to block the attack. Parado then injects the vaccine into Papadeus and tells Emu and the others to hurry with the Critical Strikes.

The Riders are all forced to dehenshin, but Papa Dan is spat out of Gamedeus who is being eradicated thanks to Parado.

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As Gamedeus dies, Parado smiles and is happy to have had the chance to atone for his sins, even a little. He thanks Emu for the chance to play with him and have fun, even for a short time.

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Parado dissolves and is gone too.

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While the Riders are sad at Parado’s demise, Papa Dan is unharmed and eager to henshin to Chronus again.

Episode Thoughts

I feel really bad because I feel very underwhelmed by this episode. Like, I’m sad Poppy and especially Parado are dead (or whatever happens to Bugsters when they disappear) and their sacrifice was amazing and honorable.

But it didn’t really hit the feels, as the youngins say these days. I mean, I cry at the smallest things in toku, tbh. Plenty of MaGMCMs over the years. But I didn’t feel that way this episode and, again I feel really bad about that. I don’t really know why. I wish I did tear up a little. But I didn’t.

There’s certainly solid ground for Poppy and Parado to sacrifice themselves. Their deaths certainly had more build up than any of Drive‘s final deaths or any of Takeru’s 100 deaths in Ghost.

But I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. Maybe the one or two scenes of Poppy and Parado watching from afar weren’t enough to think that they might just do something like sacrifice themselves. Or maybe it’s because Papa Dan has been basically invincible this whole time and immune to every single attack they hit him with. And the pandemic again felt very rushed and underused. Though I guess Toei wasn’t going to make more than a dozen or so Bugster heads to have people wandering around in to give that sense of global chaos.

Poppy’s farewell messages to everyone almost felt like Graphite’s “You two were my only friends” goodbye a few weeks ago. Poppy’s messages seem more suited to a character who played a mentor or a parent-type or even an older brother/sister-type of wise character who looked after these loveable brats. But I don’t think Poppy or Asuna were any of those things to the rest of them.

Parado’s “I atoned for my sins, even a little bit” goodbye was definitely more logical and fit more comfortably with his character arc. But I’m also reminded of how his story really shifted into top gear (sorry, Drive pun) a little too late.

So I dunno. Bringing back the idea of Level 1 Riders being the only ones to separate a Bugster from its host is a fun and clever way to get those suits back before the finale. But ending the episode on like the 40th time Papa Dan lives and cackles another day just really diminishes the whole thing.

Also, I am definitely one of the people who legit thought Episode 44 would be the real finale and Episode 45 would be the usual inexplicable epilogue/next season tease only. So I guess I am pleasantly surprised. But as always, the next Rider cameo felt so contrived and out of place and just halted any possible build up and excitement in this episode.

I will say though that I enjoyed the CGI with the Level 1 Riders and Papadeus. It was very well done.

2 thoughts on “Recap: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Episode 44 – The Last Smile

  1. I guess the problem here is that they really haven’t utilized that whole maternal aspect of Poppy’s personality stemming from her being born from the data of Kuroto’s mom. That really would have underpinned a lot of development here, from Kuroto’s shift into what he is now to Parado’s development, to even that whole Taiga-Nico romance. To be fair, it is there, but they hardly reference it outside of that Kuroto reiaval ark.

    That’s really a stark contrast as to how they were able to effectively bring back the Riders’ base forms to fight the final boss, as per KR tradition. For one, there is a good deal of logic here compared to other KR shows doing this, since they already established the rules behind it early.

    Im also not fond of that Build cameo. It just felt too long.

    • Yeah, I was waiting for Kuroto to remember his mom or something during that very motherly final scene with Poppy, but it didn’t happen. It’s like they forgot it.

      And yup, definitely one of the most logical ways to bring back the usually least powerful base form.

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