by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 890 of
One Piece ?
When the Straw Hat alliance split up back in Zou so Luffy could pick up Sanji, most the remaining gang made their way to Wano to wait for them while Cat Viper took a group of Minks to go searching for Marco and the remnants of the Whitebeard pirates, hoping to recruit even more allies in their battle against Kaido. After Whitebeard died, his crew got into a battle with the Blackbeard pirates, now known as the "Grudge War," and their organization has seen better days. The lives of powerful pirates like Marco, Jozu, and Vista have remained a mystery in the fallout of their crew's destruction.
As of this week, we're not quite done with the expanded world-building in the calm before the Wano arc's storm. This episode sets out to show us where Cat Viper's journey has taken him, filling us in on Marco's new gig as well as providing some fresh insight into the life of the late Edward Newgate. The filler this week puts us in an odd situation, since this episode is very Whitebeard-focused and we already got a Marineford recap a few months ago. The show's solution is to give us another Marineford recap, overlapping footage be damned. I'm going to call this the end of my mini-retrospective reviews, since we're so close to starting a new arc and the new story material this week is interesting enough to discuss.
Marco now lives in a small village and works as a doctor, using his regenerative phoenix powers to heal the local people and animals. This is not the first time a character has been retrofitted into a doctor role (looking at you, Trafalgar Law), but it still makes perfect sense. I'm just never ready to learn that a pirate of such high rank also has a medical degree. The island where Marco now lives is special, because it was Whitebeard's secret pride and joy. The old man used to funnel dirty money into the place, and because the village was poor, it was never able to join the World Government, so it needed protection from somebody strong. There's a surprising amount of heart being communicated in such a small amount of detail. We see Marco fighting back tears, remembering how stingy his father-figure was and how everybody on the crew was okay with it because they knew what he was actually doing with all his treasure. I always appreciate how One Piece can show the delicacy of familial love like that, where a seemingly negative quality has a secret true meaning that only those closest to them can see. Because this island was Whitebeard's final memento, Marco has decided to spend his retirement protecting it in his stead.
It's an interesting piece of the world to show us at this point in the story. When Cat Viper first set out to search for Marco, I figured that had to mean Marco was eventually going to join the main story again, but now he appears to be rejecting that path. He and Cat Viper's conversation is brief but effective, and I can't help but wonder what kind of role Whitebeard's legacy will have in the coming arcs. He could have something to do with Rox (which we know is relevant to Big Mom and Kaido), or perhaps Weevil (the man claiming to be Whitebeard's biological son) is finally going to become important soon. Either way, it doesn't look like the former Whitebeard pirates are going to be following us into Wano.
This is yet another episode that I wish didn't have to be weighed down by excessive amounts of recapping, but I appreciate the new material quite a bit. Even in a vacuum, this side-story paints a complex picture of a man who had already felt like a fully-realized character. When you map out Whitebeard's life story in your head, even the parts that were filled with smiles and happiness leave you with an aching feeling. There's a lot of chest-puffing in this series over who's going to leave the biggest impact and be remembered by history, but even the larger-than-life characters eventually succumb to the fleeting impermanence of life. There's a good mix of sweetness and sadness in this episode, and it manages to say a lot with a little.
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