Waiter, there’s a Steven Spielberg masterpiece in my soup.
Following their escape from the church, our heroes (minus Fugo now) sail through the rivers of Venice, as Bucciarati is worried about the boss sending any of his own assassins after them. The group decides to take a quick break for lunch as Sex Pistols begins to complain of starvation. As they eat and converse with each other, Narancia accidentally causes a nearby patron to spill wine on his pricey suit. The man gets massively heated over this, but Narancia suspects that he might be an enemy of the party, so he proceeds to violently assault him, with Mista and Abbachio joining the beatdown shortly afterward. However, they soon realize the man is just an ordinary person, causing them to back off as they get back to planning their next move: finding out the boss’s identity. The group knows that Trish is the key to all this, and while Narancia expresses his worries about her emotional state, she overhears the conversation and interrupts with a surprise revelation: her mother had originally met the boss on the island of Sardegna 15 years ago, giving them a clear direction to head in.
While the group discusses how to proceed, Narancia gets back to eating his soup before noticing that his spoon has mysteriously disappeared. Failing to locate it, he just takes another spoon from the nearby table and tries to get back to eating, until he fishes out the mangled head of his spoon from the broth. Suddenly, a shark-like creature emerges from the soup, catching Narancia off-guard as he attempts to warn the others, simultaneously smashing his soup into the ground to interrupt the attack. As he tries to point out its location, the shark disappears from the soup puddle on the floor only to emerge from the spoon in his hand and bite his tongue off, teleporting into a nearby wine bottle. The group panics as they’re unsure of how to fix Narancia’s bleeding tongue, but Giorno has a crazy idea: he stabs Narancia in the throat with a pen in order to open up an air pipe for him… and it works! Now Giorno has time to conjure a replacement tongue for his weakened ally as the enemy Stand warps away into the company of its owner: Squalo, an elite servant of the boss, and his partner Tiziano. As it turns out, Squalo’s Stand is named Clash, and it has the ability to warp between bodies of water rather quickly.
Back with our heroes, Giorno successfully manages to heal Narancia’s tongue, allowing him to speak normally… or so it seems. When he tries to warn his fellow teammates about the Stand in question, he starts spouting suspiciously false and inaccurate information. His attempts to warn about the nature of the Stand result in various contradictory statements, and while everyone seems aware that something is up, they don’t suspect any further Stand activity outside of Clash. Bucciarati does conclude that members of the boss’s elite guard must be nearby, confirmed when Narancia sees Clash coming out of the nearby river. He tries to point this out to the team, but his arm forcibly switches direction and points inside the restaurant bathroom. As the rest of the gang heads inside, Tiziano reveals that his own Stand, Talking Head, has taken control of Narancia’s tongue and is forcing him to give the exact opposite response of whatever he truly intends to say.
Inside the bathroom, the gang looks around for where they think the enemy Stand could be. Narancia, realizing Clash’s power, attempts to clean up any water he sees to prevent its own movement, but Talking Head stops him from cleaning up the sink. When the gang attempts to look in the toilet, he distracts them by letting loose a “golden” stream of his own. Everyone is agitated and heads back outside, but Giorno stays behind to see what is happening with Narancia. Suddenly, his tongue grabs hold of his switchblade and slices his finger open, attempting to create a bloody pathway for Clash to emerge. In order to avoid trapping Giorno, Narancia uses Aerosmith to shoot up a pipe, creating enough heat to cauterize his wound. Giorno slowly begins to piece together that a Stand is messing with Narancia’s ability to tell the truth, but unfortunately for them, the pipe leaks a puddle out onto the floor, allowing Clash to get through and bite a massive chunk out of Giorno’s neck.
The hunt for the boss now begins, and with it comes a couple of new additions to the anime adaptation, not the least of which are brand new opening and ending sequences to reflect where the story’s taken us so far. The new opening theme, “Uragirimono no Requiem” (performed by Daisuke Hasegawa), may not have the viscerally intense fist-pumping vibe of “Fighting Gold”, but the song is appropriately epic in its own right, feeling like a lost recording straight out of the ‘70s prog rock canon with its lush organs/strings and wailing vocals. In fact, the song sounds like a mash-up of “21st Century Schizoid Man” and “The Court of the Crimson King”, the opening and closing tracks from King Crimson’s debut album In the Court of the Crimson King, adding a nice touch to the montages of conflicts passed, as well as depictions of both Risotto Nero and a scared-looking purple lad who I’m sure will not be important later. On the flipside, the ending sequence switches from the sexy R&B of Jodeci to the experimental new-age ambiance of Enigma with the song “Modern Crusaders.” It’s certainly a more fitting choice for the proceedings, especially considering the song’s unnerving swelling synth-laden atmosphere, shredding guitar solos, and heavy sampling of composer Carl Orff’s arrangement of “O Fortuna.” It works well with the imagery climbing up through all the Stands encountered so far, both heroic and evil, although it may not be as memorably out-of-left-field as “Freek’n You.”
Anyway, back the main episode. Part of the fun of this week’s proceedings is that for the first time that the entire gang is properly included in the action. Throughout the first cour of the arc and including the past several episodes, the group has been split up into various solo and combo encounters against their enemies, but now the gang is all here to pool their unique skills together against these new threats. It’s fun to see the camaraderie of our heroes when they get some breathing room, such as their ridiculous Kevin Smith-styled conversation about the nuances of a vegetarian diet or the brilliant comedic timing of them violently beating a random restaurant patron. To go along with this, our enemies for this battle are another team bouncing their unique skills off of each other. The notion of a Stand like Clash which transports between sources of water is made immediately more terrifying upon the realization that our heroes are still in Venice, a city that is surrounded by rivers at every conceivable angle. The episode constantly keeps up its momentum and rarely lets off the brakes mainly through this mechanic, as Clash appears everywhere from the river to wine bottles and even the tears flowing from Narancia’s face.
Similarly, the way Talking Head is used creates yet another difficult hurdle to overcome: preventing Narancia from being able to properly warn everyone about both it and Clash. The pain and stress that it causes for him is shown off on full display, as David Production worked hard to make sure that his reaction face game (as well as the reaction game of everyone else) is on point. The tears, the blood, the extremely uncomfortable physical contortions is all extremely palpable while watching. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a logic hiccup with this episode in regards to Talking Head, and it’s not necessarily its powers. For a group of characters who have encountered assassins and battles up to this point, it’s undeniably odd that only Giorno seems to recognize that Narancia is under the influence of an enemy Stand, and that only comes up near the end of the episode. Everyone else just seems blissfully unaware of this fact and assumes that Narancia is just lying and is full of shit, which feels more than a bit contrived here. With that said, the knuckle-biting tension on display keeps things from getting dull or insufferable, and I’m looking forward to how things continue next week.
New episodes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind premiere every Friday and can be streamed exclusively on Crunchyroll.