JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 20 of
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind ?
Oh no, JoJo's. Oh no.
So, Golden Wind has been a really good show. That's probably not news to anybody. It's fairly evident that the story at the heart of this season is remarkably different from Araki's past ventures, because this isn't just JoJo's with a slicker coat of paint. The execution itself is great, but the underbelly driving the whole thing is a whole other monster. It's really surprising that this is an adaptation of a Jump manga that ran in the mid-'90s, because these themes of trauma and found families are as present as ever in the magazine decades later, but so few series have managed to tackle them with the brutality and precision that we're seeing here. It makes me wonder, where does a story like this even come from? What inspired Hirohiko Araki to tell this tale five parts in?
This episode declares itself as Team Bucciarati's "final" mission from the boss. Bruno is tasked with escorting Trish through the final step, and the rest of the crew have to wait outside per the boss's meticulous orders. Giorno and Bruno have a moment before they split, and I realized I had completely forgotten how this entire story even began. I had gotten so used to thinking of Bruno as the leader that his desire to help Giorno usurp the boss feels out of place now. Regardless, Bruno's a good dude, and the quiet moments of solidarity he gets to spend with Trish are incredible. Trish is normally emotionally closed-off, but she's really sweating this encounter.
"I wonder if I'll be able to like my father."
"No family worries about that."
Whoa! That really got me! This show has been effectively playing with the mystery surrounding Passione's boss. As long as he's hiding out of sight, the audience has a chance to fill in the blanks with their own ideas about what kind of man he is. It's clear he's meant to be the big bad, but in a story about how criminals and murderers can be sympathetic, you can somewhat entertain the idea that maybe he's just complicated. This exchange between Bruno and Trish offers some amazing clarity by reminding us that even in the best case scenario, this man is not Trish's father. Not really.
And that's the best case scenario, which makes the sharp turn revealing the situation to be so much worse all the more impactful. The boss didn't want to keep Trish safe. The boss wanted to make sure he killed her himself. He's still lurking in the shadows, but we encounter his Stand, 'King Crimson.' The scene where Trish disappears in the elevator and Bruno is shocked to find himself holding her severed hand delivers such an onslaught of emotion. It's that supernatural thriller vibe that characterizes JoJo's, and the heartbreaking betrayal of a power beyond our understanding. Bruno is scared, confused, and furious. All of his trust and loyalty, effortlessly torn to shreds.
This episode really feels like a big deal. I know King Crimson's time-erasing powers are a big meme, but for now its cryptic nature is part of what makes it threatening. The boss punches Bruno through the chest, and I genuinely can't tell if we just had a major character death. Diamond is Unbreakable ended with very little blood on its hands, so I actually don't know what stakes are even on the table anymore.
We also got a bit of Bruno's backstory this week. After some of these flashbacks, "divorced parents" almost seems shockingly benign, but it does get a lot darker once the drug dealers and mafia get involved. This story is mostly here to twist the knife in Bruno's angst even further, re-establishing the sense of family and hope that Passione has offered him. This alternative to the broken justice system is itself a system built on a foundation of evil.
I'm left with a lot of questions about where the story even goes from here. Is Bruno dead? Is the entire second half of the series going to be a fight against the boss and his cronies? I know the Execution Squad has one dude left, so he'll have to get tied in at some point. The obvious direction would have been to take care of all those guys before we moved on to the next phase, but now the future is anybody's guess. This is an exciting turning point for Golden Wind that really captures the rawness and honesty that made this season's criminal underworld so endearing. Easily one of the best episodes yet.
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