by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 840 of
One Piece ?
It's now finally time for One Piece to answer the question, "why bother saving the Vinsmokes?" The initial pitch was that Sanji couldn't just walk away and let his family die, even though they did all those horrible things to him. I kind of understood what he meant at the time—we can sympathize with the fact that he saw himself as weak for wanting to do so, which made Luffy's support that much more empowering—but it creates a weird pretzel of alliances where we're trying to save one awful family by helping Capone assassinate another awful family. I don't think casual audiences are going to find the idea of helping the bad guys in a series that normally punches them all that thrilling or cathartic, either.
And that's where episodes like this become really important. Now that Judge's goals and ego have been shattered by Big Mom's betrayal and Sanji's rescue, Sanji's in position to make a firm declaration of secession. "Admit you're not my father!" and all that. The child known as "Vinsmoke" Sanji died at sea as far as our hot-headed cook is concerned, and the act of kindness he's offering his family by saving them is more about upholding Zeff's values than anything else. It's here that the Whole Cake Island arc reveals itself as a grand-scale version of what we saw Sanji doing way back in Baratie, where he'd feed hungry pirates knowing full well they could turn against him the second they were back to full health. Sanji and Zeff's attitude of "I'll save your ass now and then kick it later if I have to" attitude is pretty cool and inspiring, and that philosophy is the spine that makes the rest of this arc even possible.
That's the most important event that happens this week, while the rest of the episode plods along slowly as Big Mom finally returns to consciousness and starts whacking away at the Big Father, which is where our heroes are currently hiding. There's really not much going on this week until we reach the Sanji and Judge scene, so it's otherwise a pretty unexceptional episode. That scene is solid, however, one of the cleanest emotional beats of the arc. By the end, Judge is turning his back to the audience, ready to head out and start his fight with Big Mom again because he doesn't want to owe Sanji anything. If there's one thing these two men can agree to work together on, it's getting to the point where they don't have to be in each other's lives anymore.
I do wish this episode gave me a larger variety of things to talk about. Now that we're in the action half of the arc, I fully expect to see the pace pick up and slow down at random like this, which has me sweating. The Straw Hats' fight right now is to be anything other than sitting ducks, since Capone can only keep them safe for so long and they only have a vague idea of an escape plan. It's been a good three episodes so far of "Oh no! The Big Mom pirates are closing in!" This is possibly the most important episode in terms of Sanji's arc in WCI, but it sure isn't much else.
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