by Andy Pfeiffer,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Dr. Stone ?
If there was any ambiguity on Tsukasa's true feelings toward Senku after last episode, this week was quick to clear it away. Replaying Senku's childhood but with Tsukasa inserted as a loyal fourth member of the gang is as heartbreaking as it is spine-chilling. This also solidifies his decision to discard any chance at solidarity in this new world. From now on, Tsukasa exists only as an avatar to rebuild humanity in his own image of purity, and anything he may want on a personal scale will forever be sacrificed to that end.
On that note, we also learn that Senku didn't choose to sacrifice anyone! This is another flashback-heavy episode, but it still offers plenty of forward thinking. Rather than using flashbacks to easily explain away current events, Dr. Stone is happy to use them to recontextualize events, much like a detective story. If you go back and check, Senku's neck-cracking was not a quirk he exhibited when it was only him and Taijuu, or in the flashbacks to before the Stone World. While the probability of this influencing Tsukasa is suspect, it's still commendable enough to have this detail be established here rather than only happening right before the supposedly fatal blow, enough that Yuzuriha and Taiju are able to piece together the clues for the audience. This leads back to Senku's choice, the tried and true Shonen Protagonist option of saving everyone. It doesn't matter that it didn't seem to be a viable choice, all that matters is that if there is a way, he will do his best to find it. This mentality is the key to Yuzuriha and Taiju discovering Senku's true gambit, and returning him and civilization to life in the Stone World.
In addition to fleshing out his decision, the second half of the episode is also made entirely of flashbacks, but this time for the purpose of further establishing Senku's character. We've only ever seen him through the eyes of others thus far. Upon Taiju's revival, he had already set up shop with little issue—or so we suspected, before we finally get to watch Senku live through his time alone. Taking it baby step by baby step as he used what basic science he could recall to survive, all under the watchful eye of a cartoonish monkey chorus. We end there with the renewed knowledge of Senku's character, what his friends mean to him, and what his survival means for the future of the Stone World.
As for Tsukasa, it's safe to assume that he has an inkling that something is amiss. It wouldn't be out of character to dismiss the gang's actions as desperation now that Senku is gone, but their teamwork without Senku already caught him off guard, and he's not exactly the type to make the same mistake twice. It's a clever play on their initial flight, as Tsukasa is unable to easily deduce the truth, but the story maintains the tension of him possibly giving chase. Either way, next episode is sure to have at least one reunion and revelation, and I'm eager to move out of the realm of flashbacks and into the future.
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