Jonathan blasts Bruford out of the water with the Ripple but finds that this wasn’t enough to defeat him outright.
As such their fight continues as Bruford restrains him with his hair but Jonathan sees his chance when Bruford goes in for a finishing blow, channeling the Ripple through his sword to destroy his arm, and going on to pummel him with the Ripple. However while it would appear that Bruford has survived these attacks as well, the effects are simply delayed as his body begins to break down, and in death he regains his humanity, feeling joy to have fought with someone such as Jonathan and admiring his courage. Renaming his sword Pluck and bestowing it upon him in death.
Before he can properly grieve and show respect for Bruford however, Tarkus smashes Bruford’s remains and goes after Jonathan and the others. Forcing Jonathan and Zeppeli to use the Ripple to amplify their biomagnetism to create a glider, at which point Zeppeli recounts what had happened to him after his encounter with the Stone Mask. Of how he had met a youthful physician in British India who used the Ripple which led him to the mystic Tonpetty in Tibet, and of how Tonpetty had told him that if he were to learn the Ripple it would end in his destruction. This flashback being cut short as Tarkus smashes the glider into a nearby castle, and to their astonishment, emerges relatively unscathed.
However when Zeppeli tells Jonathan to take Poco and hide, Tarkus uses it as an opportunity to trap and engage Jonathan in a death match of tug of war where only after beheading their opponent, can they unlock their chains. Outside Zeppeli laments his inability to use the Ripple to destroy metal and Speedwagon curses himself for being so useless, but Poco remembering how his older sister had told him to stop being such a coward, gathers enough resolve to squeeze through a window in an attempt to open the door from the inside, knowing what would happen to his sister if Tarkus and to a greater extent Dio were to beat them. And while he takes a hit from Tarkus he manages to open the door to allow Zeppeli to come to Jonathan’s aid, Zeppeli recognises this situation to be what Tonpetty had spoken of and accepts his fate.
A pretty cool episode to say the least, the finishing moment with Zeppeli leading into Roundabout was simply awesome, but even before that we saw Bruford be met with a death worthy of a chivalrous knight such as himself and the otherwise useless Poco prove his worth. Overall it felt nicely balanced.
To start with Bruford, while the use of character’s shocked expressions to provide narrative made it somewhat clunky, the fight itself wasn’t that bad. Looking over it lengthwise it doesn’t seem as long or drawn out as it could have been, Jonathan turned things around and then just pummeled him, and the respect that Bruford showed Jonathan in his dying moments was great, while Tarkus may seem beyond redemption the same couldn’t have exactly been said for him. In showing admiration towards and leaving him his sword out of admiration, he has placed himself in a strange middle ground between friend and foe.
Other than that I also liked the development that we saw Poco go through, he might have been introduced only a single episode ago but he seemed like the sort of character who was only introduced to fill a character archetype. Especially with how quickly the story should be progressing with the lead up to the climactic battle with Dio and time skip to Battle Tendency (a part which I’m looking forward to). So while kind of crammed in, I liked that his character was able to play some sort of role and on top of that receive some nice development in the form of him realising that he has to toughen up and his relationship with his sister Peggy.
Most of all though, while cliche the extra detail to Zeppeli’s character and what it led to really made this episode or at least the ending a great one. The idea of a character being aware of their eventual and unavoidable demise along a certain path isn’t exactly original but despite only being introduced in a single episode it was executed nicely. Managing to further cement Zeppeli’s conviction to destroy the mask and put in place something that must have always been going through his mind until he recognised it at the very end of the episode. And on top of that Zeppeli will be going up against Tarkus with nothing to lose, his end is set in place but not the way he will get there.