Rating: 4.5 (of 5)
Despite the episode’s ominous title – “Will They Pass or Fail” – Anya getting into Eden College was never in doubt; Master Henderson’s evaluation gave them an edge if even if plot necessity didn’t mandate it. The slight drama over this does allow for an amusing opening sequence about our featured family experiencing omens of bad luck on the way to learning the results, and for Yor’s finely-depicted scene where she contemplates murdering someone to force a withdrawal to get Anya off the waiting list (liked the color contrast there!), but all of it ends up just being an excuse to give Anya a really elaborate reward for her hard work in contributing to this key event happening. So of course that means acting out a scenario from Anya’s favorite spy cartoon.
In other words, this is easily the most absurdist episode to date, and boy, does it get played to the hilt! Twilight’s curly-haired contact seems to take a perverse glee in setting up and acting out the scenario; guess a spy’s gotta have fun when he can, right? And what better way to act out a scenario based on a cartoon than to have the whole thing operate on cartoon logic? Forget practicalities, like how the mask Loid gets cornered into wearing wouldn’t hide anyone’s identity, how this is an abusive waste of time and resources, or how all the other agents buy into the belief that this farce needs to be played out because either A) the elite spy Twilight would never do something so unprofessional, B) it’s an opportunity to go head-to-head with the nation’s legendary spy, or C) both of the above. Anything which keeps things entertaining – and especially makes Anya happy – is justifiable here.
And that includes manipulating circumstances so that Loid and Yor get their first head-to-head fight scene. The whole second half of the episode is an action extravaganza, with a number of low-danger-level, slickly-animated action sequences; a personal favorite was the one where Loid dives onto the balcony and rolls. Out of all that, though, the highlight is unquestionably the completely soused Yor losing track of the fact that she’s supposed to be just play-acting and going after Loid for real. That’s a sequence that I expect to se GIFs of and people still talking about come to the end of the year, as it’s not at all clear that Loid could have beat her if she hadn’t passed out in the middle of it.
In the end, the series once again nails its overall formula: mix in quality action with lots of fun, more good Anya reactions, and the occasional tender moment between Loid and Anya. Maybe not the best episode to date, but it still works and primes Anya to do her best at school, which will apparently be the focus of next episode.