I loved the mysterious feel the Galar Mine gave off in this episode. Though, the colors are a lot different from the actual games. The mine in the anime is a more realistic brown, while in the games there was a blue/purple-ish hue to them. However, I did like how empty the mine was in the anime. The emptiness was used to show viewers that something was definitely off, especially with how Pokémon were running away frantically, and how there wasn’t any sign of workers until they got in deeper. The show did a great job building up that forlorn atmosphere for the latter part of the episode.
While Amethio’s group make their return, it was overshadowed by the debut of Galarian Moltres. The Pokédex entry for Galarian Moltres in Pokémon Sword states that it has a "sinister, flame-like aura will consume the spirit of any creature it hits", and that its victims "become burned-out shadows of themselve". The anime did a very good job showcasing this, with its entire appearance gaving off ominous vibes, and the effects of its life depleting aura were clearly shown. Although it is one of Lucius’ companions, it’s hard to tell if it’s angry or sad, which is a good thing because this can open up some possibilities for future plot development. On the one hand, there’s a chance that Moltres is actually evil and wants to break away from Lucius’s control. Alternatively, Moltres could be mourning its former trainer, and is actually really lonely. This will be a good opportunity for Liko and Hatenna to figure out why Moltres is acting this way, building more on the developing plotline about how Liko wants to learn more about and understand the feelings of Pokémon.
Liko and Roy were separated from Friede as a source of conflict in this episode. Fortunately, they were aware that the separation was caused by Sprigatito and Fuecoco running off out of distraction. However, I did find it annoying that Roy couldn’t wait for Friede, and had to venture deeper into the mines to search for Rayquaza, making them even more lost. I liked both Roy and Liko in this episode, but the way Roy wasn’t caring about the dangers of going off on their own really irked me. I just wished that Liko was a bit more assertive with what they should and shouldn’t do in these kinds of situations instead of going along with him. This feels like it's connected to the plot points from the previous episodes about how Liko hesitates in the face of others who are assertively or aggressively moving forward to try and accomplish their goals, so hopefully Liko will get better here over time. Fortunately, later on in the episode Roy did stick with Liko and not run off when they encountered the scared Pokémon and listless workers.
I feel like Amethio’s return in this episode served no real purpose other than to hinder Friede from finding the kids. Friede and Amethio go into Round 4 of their battles, but this one also didn't come to a proper conclusion; seriously, why have them fight if they’re not going to finish? It’s getting annoying at this point. Zirc and Onia were just there; they find the kids, but they do nothing when the big bad bird came and stole their status as the episode’s villain; all they did was send out their Pokémon and evacuate. Talk about pointless.
Captain Pikachu was the clear MVP of this episode. He was the one who found the kids, proceeding to protect them from both the henchmen and from Moltres. Like, without Friede’s commands, Cap is very intelligent. He knows that Moltres is much stronger than him, so instead of fighting with it head on, he goes for the defensive and aims to protect the kids from all of its attacks. Cap, you are an honorable mouse; you have my utmost respect.
There are a few scenes I quite enjoyed aside from the main plot. In the beginning, Dot gets the Swirlix Cotton Candy that she wanted three episodes ago; if you watch the episode closely, the cotton candy was actually suggested to her by a user named “Muscles of Rhydon”. If you remember back in Episode 8, this user is highly implied to be Zir, who is one of Amethio’s henchmen. That means Amethio’s group actually stopped by the Battle Cafe and got the cotton candy after beating Mitchell. The thought of them relaxing and having fun actually sounds cute to me. Another scene I enjoyed was when Liko and Roy encountered the scared Timburr, Roggenrola, and Woobat. The Timburr was so cute with the way it ate the cookie. I think Liko did a splendid job of trying to understand Pokémon’s feelings. Even Hatenna enjoyed the snacks.
Overall, I’m scared for what will happen to Friede since he got trapped in the mine with Amethio. There’s absolutely no way these two can beat that Moltres. What do you think will happen next week? What are your thoughts about this episode?