Ryoji tries a sneak attack on Kaito who says the rules are to find the most Lock Seeds. But Ryoji wants to settle things and are then joined by Oren who also wants to forget the lame rules and have fun with the boys instead.
Kota watches from behind a tree and says everything is going according to plan so he goes searching for the base Mitch suggested may be in the forest.
Back at the Yggdrasill command center, Ryoma reminds Takatora not to destroy the Drivers and he affirms their goal is merely to drive the other Armored Riders out.
By himself, Ryoma is excited at the thought of all the Drivers in the forest at the same time and looks forward to seeing Takatora show off his skills.
At the Garage, Mai and the others are practicing for their Christmas performance while hoping Kota and Mitch are doing okay. Mitch, still in Kiwi Arms, encounters a couple of Inves as he makes his way through the forest.
Elsewhere, Kaito and Oren continue fighting. Oren wants to peel everything off and leave Kaito’s banana completely bare. (!!!!) Kaito uses Mango Arms and Oren comments on how much stronger he’s become.
Ryoji arrives as Hideyasu watches the fight from behind a tree. Hideyasu says they should wait until Kaito and Oren weaken each other for them to jump in. In the meantime, why doesn’t Ryoji go fight Mitch instead? Good idea, Ryoji says and he runs off.
What idiots, Hideyasu says to himself, thinking he’ll probably win the tournament. He heads off to grab some Lock Seeds but runs into two Inves who he manages to scare away. But suddenly, Takatora shows up and proceeds to fight Hideyasu until he de-henshins and falls unconcious.
Kota watches from up a tree as Takatora orders his men to take Hideyasu to The Crack. He decides to follow them and finally comes across the base where he finds the larger than normal tear and a bunch of tents. He finds a guard uniform hanging by one of them and puts it on.
He enters one of the tents where two scientists are looking over papers. He notices a table full of Lock Seeds when the scientists note they haven’t seem him before. Kota says he’s new and the scientists think nothing of it.
The two scientists continue talking to themselves as Kota listens to some valuable information. They mention Helheim Forest then watch on the screen as “Chief” has found the “guinea pigs.”
Takatora attacks both Kaito and Oren. He first takes on Kaito and Oren falls in love with Takatora as he forces Kaito to de-henshin. But Oren has no time to crush on the white Rider for long as Takatora turns his attention to the Durian and makes him de-henshin too.
Kota asks the scientists what they mean by “guinea pigs” and they explain how these “brats” will jump at the chance to gain a few Lock Seeds without knowing this is all a part of Yggdrasill’s experiment. Including the Inves Game? Of course, which is why the brats jumped at the chance to use the Sengoku Drivers too.
Sid sits at his usual booth at Drupers continuing to explain to himself that the youngins would jump at a chance at great power like the Drivers, no matter how dangerous. That’s difference between being young and being an adult.
Kota’s anger comes to a boil. So you don’t care what happens to us!?
The scientists have no idea what he’s talking about and instead turn their attention back to the video screens. Takatora has found another Rider, Ryugen.
Mitch wonders to himself if this white Rider really is his Niisan. Takatora attacks, but Mitch is careful not to hit him as he fires away from the white Rider. Takatora says he will show no such mercy.
Meanwhile, back at The Crack, Kota is about to run off to help Mitch, but a swarm of Inves suddenly converges on the base and attacks the Yggdrasill employees. Kota henshins and tries to fight the Inves off and tells the people to run to safety.
Takatora is about to deliver the final de-henshing blow to Mitch, but he gets a call from the base camp telling him about the Inves swarm. Takatora leaves Mitch to go help, but Ryoji stops him and challenges.
The scientist mocking the “guinea pigs” from earlier pleads with the henshined Kota to help. Kota calls him a hypocrite but does what he feels is right and changes into Ichigo Arms for more power.
Takatora tries to get away to hurry to the base, but Ryoji doesn’t back down. He continues to fight until Takatora strikes at the Driver and forces Ryoji to de-henshin. Takatora realizes he might have damaged the Driver.
He calls the base, but he gets no answer. Instead, he gives Mitch the confirmation he needs.
“Someone respond! This is Kureshima!”
At Yggdrasill, Ryoma heads down to a monitoring room where they report on the Inves attack and how The Crack is unprotected despite the defense system being activated. It’s only a matter of time before they break through.
Ryoma says to initiate defense level 2 and to lure the Inves to the top of Yggdrasill tower and to activate the aerial camouflage device.
Kota sees a watermelon Lock Seed nearby and decides to use it. He fires his way through The Crack and follows the Inves up to the top of Yggdrasill Tower. The roof opens and Kota realizes where they are.
Some bystanders on the street below notice some strange activity above the Tower, but the camouflage device blocks the intense battle from being seen on the ground.
Deciding to help Kota out who is doing the best he can to fight off the swarm, Ryoma activates some rooftop laser beams which gives Kota the opening he needs to finish the Inves off.
The scientists watching in The Crack room think it was Takatora doing the good work up top, but they are shocked when they seem him walking through The Crack.
Takatora can’t believe his men were saved by “trash.”
Back in the forest, Mitch comes across the boxes and cases of Lock Seeds at the now abandoned base.
DJ Sagara reports on the results of the competition with Team Gaim easily winning with their 213 Lock Seeds. (Baron with 8, Invito with 3 and 0 for Mr. Dangerous and Raid Wild.)
Kota and Mitch carry their box of Lock Seeds into Drupers and delivers them to Sid who happily accepts.
But Kota has some words for him. We’re not your lab rats, he says as he and Mitch storm off.
Sid thinks maybe it’s time to close up shop.
That night, Team Gaim performs their Christmas stage. Kota thinks about this moment, seemingly recalling it from the future. This is when the gears started turning. They all thought becoming stronger and powerful would help them achieve their dreams and bring them into adulthood. But as they will apparently soon find with the battle to come, one becomes an adult when he can no longer be a child.
Well damn! Kota’s narration in that last moments of the episode is definitely an amazing way to close out the year, launch into the one week break and get things hyped up for the rest of Gaim in 2014.
As if it wasn’t abundantly clear already, none of this was ever just fun and games. Kota’s words feel very ominous and we’ve already seen how intense things can get. It’ll probably only get more crazy as the story continues charging ahead.
While I loved those closing scenes, my favorite thing about the episode has to be Kota finally taking charge and really feeling like this is his battle. There are the other Rider Rangers of course, but him getting fired up, putting the pieces together and his seemingly looking back at the end reminds us that it is Kazuraba Kota, Armored Rider Gaim who is our titular hero this season.
There was definitely plenty of exposition this episode, but it all worked in the grand scheme of things. Seeing both Kota and Mitch uncover some of the truth and leading to their mini-confronting of Sid is a great launching pad for the next act of the season. They know who they’re fighting against, but now they must find out why.
What an amazing 11 episodes of Gaim. Now this is how to sell toys AND give the audience a great story to watch too.