When I was a kid, I used to watch with my mom a South-American soap opera in which the identical twin sister of a wronged woman, played by the same actress, disguises herself with a wig (and nothing else) in an attempt to seduce the man who had done the wronging and get revenge against him- an attempt which succeeds, because at no point does the dude realise that the lady who looks exactly like his former girlfriend except for the wig may be related to her or something. There is a lot of that in this episode of „Sailor Moon Crystal”, except Mamoru doesn’t even bother to get a wig. He just shows up at the arcade one day and says „Hey, I’m a totally different guy and absolutely not Mamoru”, and Usagi believes him, just like that, and starts sneaking out of important meetings with the Senshi just to play video games with him, while he tries to hypnotize her into giving him the Silver Crystal. I have to say I am officially over this version of Usagi, so boy-crazy that she cannot spend a single second without moping over Mamoru. Not that the other girls are any better, judging by the fiasco from the previous episode.
In any case, Mamoru/Endymion/Evil Tuxedo Mask, now a minion of Queen Beryl, manages to gain access to the Senshi command centre under the arcade by brainwashing Mako, since she was the one who responded to his hypnosis. I’d like to be kind and say that this makes sense, since Mako is the most open and trusting of the non-Usagi Senshi, and it’s plausibile she’d be the easiest to brainwash, but the show has not invested enough characterisation into the girls to justify such an explanation. Besides, Usagi is even more open and trusting than Mako, and she manages to resist. No, I think it’s just another instance of „Crystal” showing us that Usagi: good and strong, other girls: weak and useless.
Anyway, there’s a big fight in the command centre, and all the Senshi are weak and stupid all over again, this time defeated by Tuxedo Mask and Motoki from the arcade, a couple of dudes who don’t even have magical powers. Usagi/Moon refuses to fight him, initially, because she thinks he may be Mamoru after all. But then Evil Tuxedo Mask hits Luna, and Usagi has a revelation: I mean, beating up her human friends is one thing, but the real Mamoru loves felines dearly and would never hit a kitty. Remember when he tenderly caught Luna as she was thrown by Usagi from a bus in Episode 3? So she is ready to fight him, however, Beryl appears and reveals that he is, indeed, Mamoru, the episode ends, and I have zero interest to see how this will all play out.
I mean, there isn’t really any way that „Crystal” can fix all the ways it went wrong in the way the characters are written, but to be honest, there was quite a lot of entertainment value to this episode in the form of camp and unintentional hilariousness. We’ve had:
-Evil Mamoru acting like a character from „Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and thinking he could enter the Senshi command centre just by playing the Sailor V game really well;
-Ami being so wealthy that she allows Minako to smash a big diamond to pieces just to demonstrate that Minako’s sword is really awesome, instead of simply saying „Minako, your sword could smash a diamond to pieces”. It’s already established that Ami is a genius, I don’t think Minako would have said „Well, I have to see that to believe it!”
-Usagi not giving a rat’s bum over the other Senshi, but getting all teary and emotional when her cat gets hit. The only thing Usagi loves more than Mamoru is her cat! Well, at least cat owners can relate, I’m sure.
But if we are to encapsulate everything „Crystal” is doing wrong in a single moment, let’s consider the point in this episode when Usagi falls asleep in a meeting with the Senshi in Ami’s apartment. In the manga, Mako carries Usagi to bed and then the girls continue talking. In „Crystal”, Usagi simply wakes up in a bed, thinks of Mamoru (because of course she does) and then quietly slips out to go see Not-Mamoru-But-Actually-Mamoru at the arcade while the girls continue talking.
This very simple gesture, carrying Usagi to bed, was a small bit of important characterisation for Mako. It shows two of her defining characteristics, her physical strength and her kindness, carrying Usagi to a comfortable bed instead of a cramped sofa. It would have taken less than a few seconds to show this, but it was not something „Crystal” was interested in showing, because „Crystal” has no interest in character development for Mako or any of the non-Usagi girls anymore. Instead, they chose to have 3 minutes of stock transformation footage.
And this is why we can’t even blame the manga when „Crystal” is failing, because the manga was definitely better than this at writing characters. I’m glad that there are only two episodes left of this arc.