The Final Lesson
Shino is the latest ninja to be possessed, and it’s time to find out if Boruto and co. have what it takes to knock some sense into him. After all the buildup in last week’s episode, “The Final Lesson” has several loose ends to tie up, and for the most part, manages to wrap them up nicely with both Mitsuki and Shino getting proper time to complete their arcs from the previous episode.
Picking up where the previous episode left off, a possessed Shino has lured Boruto, Shikadai, and Mitsuki into a forest with the intent of killing his disobedient students. Thanks to his mysterious eye power, Boruto quickly realizes Shino (much like Metal and Denki before him) is not himself. The students, aware their abilities pale in comparison to the experienced Shino’s, must take advantage of his enraged state to defeat him. Because Shino represents a much bigger threat than their previous foes the battles in this episode carries some actual emotional weight, especially during the final encounter.
Their struggle for survival is reminiscent of the “Forest of Death” phase of the Chunin Exams (on a much smaller scale of course), and it is exciting to see the show try and create some of the same intensity that made for some of the original series’ most memorable moments. I was a little disappointed at first to see Shino’s internal struggle from the previous episode set aside in favor of this long battle, but it makes sense for his emotions to manifest as anger in his possessed form. The end of the episode reels it back and offers a capstone for his tiny arc, with him finally gaining the respect of his pupils.
Mitsuki, on the other hand, continues to be a total mystery. While his classmates run for their lives, he uses his superior stealth and jutsu to avoid the situation altogether, seemingly more interested in observing Boruto than the life or death scenario before him. While I was hoping to get some answers about his motives out of this episode the writers are doing an effective job of stringing us along, revealing just enough to cement Mitsuki’s place as a major character. Shikadai seems to be the only character who has caught on to Mitsuki’s peculiar behavior, and I’d be willing to bet that whenever this unseen evil is revealed Mitsuki will likely be involved.
The episode’s only real weakness is the resolution, which feels a little underwhelming considering the two episodes they spent building this storyline up. Everyone forgives Shino, the students think he is cool, and Naruto finally decides to investigate the strange possessions. Everything about it is by the numbers, and I was hoping for something more ambitious (for a minute I was even fooled into thinking the show might actually kill off Shino). Not that I believe killing a character is automatically a better story, but going with “all is forgiven” lacks a little punch, as far as endings go.
Considering this is the series’ first multipart story, “The Final Lesson” mostly sticks the landing. Shino’s evolution from sadness to rage is handled well, even if it doesn’t result in any surprising changes for the character, and Mitsuki gets a chance to show off his battle prowess, resulting in some great moments. Weak resolution aside, this was the best storyline of the show so far, and I hope these longer stories become the norm for the series moving forward.