Sailor Moon Crystal 22 – Hidden Agenda – Nemesis
In Hidden Agenda, Saphir lays bare the Black Moon’s original plans for the Earth as well as the complications and changes to their plans that came when Wiseman contacted them. We glimpse the made-over Chibi-Usa and Wiseman’s smiling eyes, which tell us that there is something more going on. Takeuchi’s long game pays off as things set up over multiple episodes come to fruition here, for the second time. This is another set up episode after one only a few episodes ago and utilizing much of the same elements, but it feels good because of the active role Usagi takes in rearranging the pieces.
While there was some heavy exposition, the plot felt like it moved along quickly, perhaps even forcefully, because so many moves were made. Mamoru wanders through time asking Usagi for strength and carrying her busted up Moon Rod. Usagi learns her friends are somewhere in the castle. Demande tries to put the moves on Usagi again, but Usagi and Mamoru’s love stops it. She defiantly tells Demande she’s going to save her friends and follows through. The encounter with Saphir shows how deluded Demande is, how Saphir himself has become unstable from all of this, and establishes an issue for Usagi to answer with a clear, focused and powerful response.
The facade of the Prince’s power over the future Queen warps and cracks as he once again attempts to show her that she has no agency in their relationship and never did. He had fooled himself into thinking that his resolve and borrowed power were enough to strip away everything from her. His self-deception comes from the fact that he wants to defeat Neo Queen Serenity, but is left with the option to fight her past self before she became the woman he fixated upon and hated. Demande is like the anti-Endymion, in that he doesn’t believe in Usagi. His overconfidence is his weakness and it sets the stage for Usagi to prove him wrong by, for a time expressing her inner strength and expressing the full potential within.
Act 22 earns a 3 out of 5 for executing a competent setup with recycled materials and showing off the awesome power of self love and personal affirmation.