Toonami Airdate: October 3rd, 2015
Short version: best episode of the series, so far. Long version: read on.
The episode opens on Satoshi talking with a man named Jair, an elderly hitman that he’s looking to hire. He gives him photos of Atsuko and Michiko clipped from various newspapers and a photo of Shinsuke, and Satoshi wants all of them to be taken out. He suggest that Jair takes out Shinsuke first for being a betraying piece of shit. Later, Michiko and Hatchin are being chased on the road by a couple of cop cars, while Jair happens to be standing on the side of the road. Michiko drives by, and the two happen to quickly notice each other before she speeds off. Meanwhile in Cida de Mãn, Shinsuke is in the middle of a phone call with Saotshi, letting Shinsuke know that he’s done with his crap after the incident with Michiko a few episodes earlier, and he’s told about Jair, which freaks Shinsuke out. We get a quick scene of Michiko’s motorcycle breaking down on the side of the road, and then we get another scene of Satoshi talking with a hitman. This time, he’s talking with someone named Jim a.k.a. the Morano Samurai, a man dealing with some personal issues since his life apparently fell apart after the woman he loved left him. He’s in a bit of a hallucinatory mentality during the conversation, but he’s stable enough to engage with Satoshi’s demands: he gives Jim the newspaper clippins of Michiko and Atsuko. Jim claims that he doesn’t murder women or children, but he’s desperate enough for money that he considers it. Michiko and Hatchin stay at a hotel near Arónpolis, and Michiko heads out for a bit, running into Jair. He holds a gun up to her back, letting her know he was hired by Satoshi, and then he throws her to the ground. Instead of killing her right away, Jair offers to play a little game of cat-and-mouse which will start the following day. He leaves behind a loaded gun and his lighter for Michiko to hold on to. The next day, Michiko and Hatchin visit a repairman to get the motorcycle fixed, but he can’t since he doesn’t have the right engine type necessary to replace the busted engine. He says that his son might have the right part, and she demands to take the man’s truck so she can drive to the son’s shop to get it, offering to leave Hatchin behind to give him a back rub.
Michiko drives through a toll road where she happens to pass by Jair standing on the side. After driving further down the highway, Jair suddenly starts pursuing her, in the passenger seat of a stranger’s car. What follows from her is what makes this episode such a joy to watch: an extended elaborate chase sequence on the highway. To compound matters further, Michiko is also simultaneously being pursued by Jim driving in a black car, and he is ruthless. Not only does he constantly ram into the truck she’s driving, but he’s also equipped with a machete and a damn sledgehammer. After his car gets busted during the chase, he jacks a motorcycle to continues, using the sledgehammer more and more to bust up Michiko’s truck. He finds his way onto the back of the truck, but she slams the brakes and he falls off. However, he’s got a trick up his sleeve: ring blades that he uses to slash the tires. With the truck overturned, Michiko tries to find a way to escape the truck. She kicks the door open, and Jim’s sledgehammer immediately rams into the door.
She leaps out of the truck really quick as soon as he approaches, having used the lighter she got from Jair earlier to blow up the truck. The explosion doesn’t kill him, but it does give her a chance to get away. He throws the machete at her, but a truck happens to get in the way and intercept the blade. Jair comes in at the last minute to shoot Jim and stop him, and he agrees to leave Michiko alone for now and the two depart in a stranger’s car, but not before Jim attempts to get one last shot in. The police arrive, and rather than giving himself up, he leaps off the bridge into the ocean below. Later, Satoshi’s driving around a town, and happens to come across Shinsuke. Pissed off that Jair didn’t do the job as asked, he floors it and runs over Shinsuke, injuring him but not completely killing him.
The chase scene alone makes the episode the best of the series, so far. It is an elaborate, intense, and well-choreographed action sequence that makes it the highlight of the episode and possibly the series. This episode also marks a major “shit’s about to get real” turning point story-wise, as we can see that Satoshi’s out for blood and he’s not gonna give up. He will not stop until everyone he wants dead is dead beyond belief. If there’s any downside, I wish that Jim’s story got a little bit more elaboration in the episode. While we get just enough to sort-of understand his character through his frequent hallucinations of his lost love life, I think there could have been a bit more done with it. It’s clear from what we do get that his backstory is thematically consistent with many of the other characters’ story arcs (both major and secondary): the blind pursuit of lost loved ones. A little more acknowledgement of this on his end would have been nice, but overall, “The Daredevil Explosive Runner” is just a great episode from beginning to end.