Green Jacket 03 – Witch(less) Hunt

Want to start at the beginning?

Welcome back to the Greencaps, which is not so much a clever portmanteau as it is an indication of my legendarily lazy fingers. When last we left our thieving conspicuously not thieving heroes, they were disproving magic and having lakefront shenanigans. Not that it really matters, because both Lupin the Third Part I and these blogs are meant to be standalones (though you can find the one on Hulu and the other under the Recaps tag). If last week was a meandering episode with a few awesome bits, this week’s is a bewildering journey of surreal nonsequitors that I’m still not sure I understand. I was really looking forward to using this week’s recap to take my mind off of the cut to the emotional Achilles tendon that is Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion. Then I saw the title.

“Farewell, my Beloved Witch” opens on a romantic speedboat cruise for two. Fujiko is cuddled up to Lupin, which is rather sweet, and she starts messing around with his signature Walther P-38. Whatever works for them, I guess. Then another boat comes by them, and Fujiko’s brain suddenly says FUCK THAT BOAT. For no adequately explained reason she shoots the engine, causing the strange driver to crash into a nearby crop of rocks. Lupin leaps to the boat driver’s rescue, perhaps lured by the scent of two X chromosomes (you think I’m joking, just wait).

creeper

He spends this entire scene cross eyed,
perhaps wondering where the bridge of his nose has gone

Still possessed by pod people, Fujiko steals the speedboat and Lupin’s beloved Walther, fleeing into the night. He’s upset for about two seconds before going into flirtation mode, because apparently the icy ocean water did nothing to stem the flow of blood downward. The marooned woman is named Linda, and she’s being chased by a boat that’s armed to the teeth with machine guns. Don’t worry about it, though. Linda certainly isn’t.

sexyface

Was Fujiko shooting at Linda for stealing her face?

All is guns, fire, so on, thrilling action scene. Yawn. But wait! Mere seconds later the driver of the boat is dead, thanks to Jigen’s newfound ability to teleport. Either that or he’s been waiting on that rock in the middle of the ocean for hours, intending to crash Lupin’s date. Both options make about the same amount of sense. Jigen leaps down to scold Lupin for not appreciating the gunman’s awesome awesomeness, but the thief dude is way more interested in introducing the new girl he found. She’s wisely split, however, leaving Lupin behind to bemoan his luck and smell the remnants of her scent on his hand (I’m not thinking about it too hard, and neither should you).

After the title card we learn that the pod people came for Jigen as well as Fujiko, because he’s the one doing the research for this heist series of events. Linda, it seems, was the research assistant for a nuclear fission expert on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. Since they’re preparing for scuba diving, we also learn what was under Jigen’s hat.

scaryeyes

I wondered where the scary eyes in Scooby Doo came from

The island is guarded by the winner of the ‘worst named assassin group’/’best J-pop band name’ Killer-in-Killers, who catch the intruders within ten yards of them coming on shore. Here we stumble on a new revelation in the partnership of Lupin and Jigen (AKA the only perfect thing that gets me through these early episodes): by all appearances the squid hallucination from the last episode has given them some psychic connection, because they are able to avoid the attack and escape in perfectly synched unison while speaking only each other’s names. It’s this episode’s Really Cool Scene, so treasure it. The first director might’ve been fired after episode two aired, but he did manage to pre-produce eight episodes, so we’ll be stuck for a while.

zombienapoleon

Also, they escape from zombie Jigen-Napoleon. Just thought you should know

Zombie Jig-poleon moonlights as Captain Obvious, telling his invisible offscreen men that Lupin and Jigen are pretty cool dudes, so they should probably back off for a while and watch (…are we the invisible assassins?).

On a distant, unnamed shore (because establishing shots are for the weak) Our…Dudes banter back and forth for a bit and discuss strategy. I’m struggling not to breathlessly recount their every scene together, because it’s not really the point and sometimes I wonder if the goggles aren’t a wee bit tight around my head. But let’s legitimize this for a minute. The goal of an ongoing series is to invest the viewer in a set of characters and/or an ongoing narrative that will keep you going from week to week. Ideally, the serialized format allows the writers to build layers on top of existing familiarity and gives the characters space to grow and develop before the audience’s eyes (as opposed to the more compact, Important Moment format in the constrained running time of a film).

So far, Green Jacket’s had what you might call difficulty with consistency. But what is starting to shape up, just in these few episodes, is that glorious partnership. It’s the ideal of episodic television: the basic dynamic is instantly communicated to writer and viewer, it’ss solid enough to serve as a familiar settling point in a variety of situations, and has malleable potential for further layers beyond what’s immediately apparent. The franchise never consistently (there’s that word again, go ahead and drink) reaches all of those sweet spots with Goemon, Fujiko, or Zenigata, though they each get their share of times to shine (looking at you, Fuma Conspiracy). Everything else comes after, takes longer, is rougher around the edges from version to version. There’s not even any heists yet, the alleged root of our gentleman thief type series. What we’re looking at here, in cool shoot outs and dopey beach time banter, is the heart of the series. You can always come back into it, and if you leave your heart there you can always come back without disappointment. It’s what I’ll always love.

But that’s getting way too sappy, so let’s revisit creeper Lupin.

sniff

The stock ‘dog sniffing’ sound is what really sells is

Turns out the smell is a field of flowers that signify our Girl of the Week, Linda. In a moment of lazy lack of budgeting artistic brilliance, Linda is glimpsed as a five year old’s watercolor painting medieval art before joining the world of animation.

painting

Breathtaking

Linda gives a few coy hints about the field of Totally Not Plot Relevant flowers, then insists Lupin play tag with her. Because hey, sunlit field. Sadly, the slow motion reunion music was not included. Jigen, just as disgusted as the rest of us, goes off to look for the plot.

They find the resident old dude, who doesn’t so much appear to be studying nuclear fission as botanical chemistry, but whatever. Turns out the flowers can be powderized and combined with a ‘certain liquid’ to make super intense explosions, and the J-pop assassins want that agent turned into fuel for a nuclear bomb (okay, there we go). In an unexpected plot twist, Zombie Jig-poleon is actually working for Walter White.

walt

You magnificent bastard

Unable to bear the guilt no longer, the good doctor reveals that he used the drugs in human experiments on Linda, and she can no longer survive without the flowers. This supposedly makes her the titular ‘witch,’ but she performs no magic and we only have word of mouth that proves she needs the flower to survive (really, she doesn’t get to do anything in this episode except look sad and give Lupin a reason to care about the plot, because nuclear annihilation is no big for Our Hero). It’s by far the stupidest, laziest writing I’ve come across in quite a while, and there’s no good explanation for it. So it’ll make just as much sense if I peg Linda as an unfortunate precursor to Jesse Pinkman. The flowers make Blue Meth.

On the other side of the island, Fujiko was (offscreen) able to convince Linda to show her the flowers and is now preparing to take off in a private plane. They must’ve bonded over the attempted murder. Jig-poleon is having none of that, though, and shoots the plane down (in the tail, though the fire has spread to just the wing by the next shot). Lupin sees the plane going down and Jeeps to the rescue. Apparently this island is large enough to have a beach, a forest, an enormous sustainable flower field, a mercenary base, and an expansive desert, but is still totally secret. Alternately, they’re all very high and sitting in a hotel room making ‘bang bang’ sounds with their hands.

Anyhow, the mercs are tired of having a live researcher who seems to be complying with their plans, and decide to stage a take-no-prisoners attack on the lab so they can harvest the plant for themselves. Jigen’s busy protecting the scientist, since Lupin fell down a thirty foot hole (without breaking his spine) and got captured by Jig-poleon (whose name is Stern, but I refuse to include him in a Tiger & Bunny joke).

It would seem Jig-poleon is a ditzy sort, because he managed to lose a submarine with a nuclear warhead on it. He’s hoping Lupin will be a ‘no hard feelings’ sort of guy, find the warhead and give support to the assassin group. With that kind of logic, I can only assume he thinks his death flower will bring world peace. Lupin responds by being completely insane.

captured

And we have this episode’s Terrifying Lupin Face

He gets the jump on Jig-poleon, steals his clothes, makes a mask from nothing, and goes whistling off into the proverbial sunset with none of the guards the wiser. Sure, why not. I’m afraid if I question it that face up there will take my nose off. During this scene we’re also introduced to my very favorite piece of Green Jacket music. Because it just…it is the most 70s thing you will ever hear, and they whip it out once an episode with zero fucks given as to the action-level of the scene. You can fight it, or you can let it grow on you. He’s a nice man.

Groovy

Turns out that walking two yards and then ripping off your disguise isn’t the smartest plan, so the guards are onto Lupin pretty quick. Things seem unusually dire for about two seconds, so that the following moment can exist.

my-hero

Aaaaaaalmost a human emotion. Keep trying

In the escape-mobile, the scientist (who has a name, but do any of us honestly care?) asks Lupin for his help, since he’s known as such a groovy magnanimous guy. They commandeer a plane from somewhere, and Lupin sets the flower field on fire. I’m guessing at least a few guys are burning to death off screen, so let’s safely raise the death counter to a dozen. In the midst of all this, there is one hole in their cunning plan.

burning

Whoops

Lupin’s very distraught about this girl he’s known for five minutes. Whom he cares so much about that he didn’t mention her before agreeing to the plan that would burn her livelihood. If the writing were better, I would point this out as a neat indication of Lupin’s impulsiveness being both the source of his genius and a potent destructive force. But they just wanted to eke out a sad ending, so no characterization points for them. Linda turns into a swirling mist, because this is all a drug trip, and the plane flies away. But not before Jig-poleon makes a Hail Mary shot through the window of the plane, hitting the scientist and nothing else. Scientist dies, plot wrapped, the end.

But wait! There’re still a few minutes of runtime to fill, and didn’t we cram a warhead in there somewhere?

WE SURE DID. SPEED RUN (-ON SENTENCE): Lupin dives down to the sub, pretends to be sad about Linda in a set that they’ll go on to reuse for the nuke-firing scene in Secret of Mamo, Jig-poleon is inexplicably there, there’s a neat fake-out where you think Jigen’s saving the say but really it’s Fujicakes, and Lupin plans to ride the missile back to Japan. Unfortunately, Fujiko snuck along and with the combined weight they crash pretty much immediately. Because today’s Fujiko is doing things for the lulz, it would seem.

fission-mailed

Worst seduction ever

At some point Jigen must’ve lost the plane he was flying, as the three are left trying to float the nuclear device back to Japan on a couple rafts. Why they’re delivering it to SCIENCE rather than just destroying it, who knows. We’re spared having to think about it, as well as the many other things that fail to make sense about this episode. And here’s your ending.

Now we know what he was looking at on the wall

If things are a little on the short side this week, it’s because I’m honestly not sure what to make of this episode. It’s not as offensively bad as the first, not as enticingly weird as the second, and not as on-the-road-to-good as the fourth will be. It just sort of is – poorly written, acid trip heavy, and completely forgettable in concept and execution barring one good scene. Don’t worry, Pops is back next week. I’ve missed him something fierce, how about you?

NEXT TIME: A wild Zenigata appears, Lupin steals Edmond Dantes’ beard, and I question why this couldn’t have just been the pilot episode. Hope to see you there!

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One comment on “Green Jacket 03 – Witch(less) Hunt

  1. nitrateglow says:

    The sad part about this episode is that it had the ingredients to be a moving story. If Linda had better development as a character, a better connection with Lupin, and a better explanation of how being linked to those flowers cause her pain, it could have been touching. But as it is, she’s too opaque and passive to be interesting, and the story just seems all over the place. For me, the best part of the episode are the interactions between Lupin and Fujiko, but otherwise, it’s such a mess.

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