What They Say:
Episode #4: “Fire the Smoke Signal”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s just gunpowder… it’s like like it’ll blow up or anything.
It’s a race against the clock as Senku rushes to develop gunpowder to use as a deterrent against Tsukasa, who realized almost right away what Senku was out to do. It’s an arms race which causes Senku to be a bit rash in his rush to achieve his goals.
So rash that he doesn’t consider exactly how dangerous his experimentations are. He understands, he just doesn’t care. It’s Yuzu who has to point out that Taiju using a bolder to pack the gunpowder might result in a spark and an explosion. Senku brushes off her concerns until he realizes she was right moments too late to stop an explosion which alerts all life for miles around that something was up.
Including a person or persons that the small group was not aware of. Someone sends up a smoke signal in response to their explosion. The shocked teens suddenly realize that they aren’t alone, but that leaves a conundrum. Do they continue to signal to the unknown group or put out the fire to not attract Tsukasa? They go with the former choice, which considering Tsukasa’s abilities it was probably only a matter of time before he hunted them down anyway.
Tsukasa’s superman abilities are still rubbing me the wrong way. He shouldn’t be that intuitive, or lucky. He is stronger than anyone and nearly as smart as Senku. It’s ridiculous. He wastes no time in taking Yuzu hostage (who happened to be gathering by herself when they know there are dangerous animals/potentially other people around). They were days south of where they had left him, and yet he tracked them and easily caught up.
The best part of this episode is a flashback to Senku and the other’s childhoods. We see how Senku became obsessed with going to space as a child and rather than discourage his son, his father sold his car to make sure his kid had the tools to explore science. Young Senku starts building rockets and exploring circuitry, while Taiju joins in as best he can. There are many mishaps, false starts, explosions, and eventually, Yuzu becomes involved in the trio. Senku succeeds in building a rocket which makes it into the upper atmosphere but explodes, but not before leaving a reminder of the trio hovering in space. The trio have the determination to survive and thrive, but time they don’t have.
Tsukasa calls Senku’s bluff, and Yuzu shows great courage in the face of death. Yet Tsukasa remains with the upper hand and Senku is a terrible liar. Senku gives Tsukasa the unpetrification formula and in return, Tsukasa tries to take Senku’s life.
There are a few major, important developments in this episode of Dr. Stone. Some are expected, some are good, some are bad. Tsukasa being the unshakeable thorn in Senku’s side requires a large ask of the audience. The actions of Tsukasa and the others are still largely falling in the realm of plot convenience nonsense, but I’m honestly glad that the confrontation has occurred sooner rather than later. The fact that there are other humans, alive and out in the world is a massive discovery. Have others accidentally been awakened? The cliffhanger ending to this episode is more nonsense, as Senku clearly survives his encounter with Tsukasa, so we’re left wondering how rather than if.
Episode Grade: B
Streamed by: Crunchyroll, Funimation