Kuroo and the soldiers have been taken prisoner by the Viet Cong. Their captors attempt to force them to sign a statement that the US forces have been massacring civilians, but they refuse. Kuroo is taken and brutally tortured. They are kept in terrible conditions, chained on their backs in a tiny cell. To calm the panicking photographer, Takayanagi, Kuroo tells him a bit about his past: he was caught in a bomb explosion at age eight, requiring his body to basically be put back together piece by piece. He had to force himself to re-learn how to move and walk.
The soldier Steve is still injured, and his wounds have become infected due to Kuroo’s inability to properly treat him. While Kuroo attempts to treat Steve, Phan is taken away to be tortured. However, the soldiers are called away to action before they can finish. When she is returned to the cell, she reveals that she has obtained a key, which allows them to escape while their captors are away.
As they escape, Phan explains that one of the soldiers had given her the key, due to a change of heart as a result of being saved by a Japanese doctor. Kuroo guesses that the doctor must be Yabu. They escape without pursuit, but are starving and lacking strength, especially having to transport Steve. The group passes out, but are rescued by Yabu. Kuroo and Yabu decide to operate on Steve immediately.
The US soldiers send in a medic to help Kuroo and Yabu with the surgery. He immediately gets into a conflict with Kuroo, calling him an amateur and referring to his treatment of Steve as “playing doctor”. Unlike Kuroo, this new doctor is confident and brash, easily making difficult decisions supported by years of experience. After a quick and successful operation, the new doctor surprisingly compliments Kuroo on his willpower and bravery.
I apologize that this review took so long to get up. The reason is that I found this episode EXTREMELY hard to watch. While I get that it was focused on the horrors of war and captivity, I felt that this episode was over the top in terms of how much it tried to gross out viewers. We were treated to scenes of vomiting, wetting oneself (and discussions of said wetting), closeups of maggots infesting a wound, and, most egregious of all, the overly sexualized torture scenes featuring Kuroo and Phan.
I have seen some defenses of the torture scenes, specifically because Kuroo’s (male) was a lot more sexualized than Phan’s (female). Er…no. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I would be criticizing this scene regardless of the victim’s sex. A torture scene supposed to be about revealing the atrocities of war should NOT be focused on the victim’s shirtless chest….In previous episodes I praised YBJ for being “unafraid to be ugly” but here, the ugliness and grossness went far too far.
The worst part is, the entire captivity segment of the episode, with its seemingly never ending parade of new gross scenes, felt like filler. The main plot of the episode was Kuroo reuniting with Yabu and the appearance of the new doctor, and the next episode preview revealed that the “In Vietnam” arc is actually a three partner. I feel like the entire captivity sequence could have been removed, and the three parts condensed into two, without much loss.
I am interested to see where the introduction of this new doctor, who seems to be a sort of rival to Kuroo, will go and to see more of their interactions in the next episode (as well as more of Kuroo and Yabu, now that Yabu has gained a lot of confidence and overcome his fears). However, next episode had better be really strong to make up for the 24 minutes of nasty that was this week.
Yabu is lovely as always and the new character is amusingly snarky, but unfortunately they can only earn this mess of an episode this many Dios: