Early on in this episode, it seemed like Hibiki was inching a bit closer towards the position of “win by default” protagonist – one whose ideals are upheld because he happens to be the one not to die off. Systematically killing off the supporting cast (even more of them this week) has served to increase his chances of winning without him doing anything. Kind of like how Russel Westbrook’s season-ending injury cleared the Western Conference field for the Spurs this year. However, it’d be a lie to say that Hibiki’s done nothing, and that’s not the only narrative surrounding him heading into the finale.
Yamato and Alcor’s clash has been foreshadowed for a while, so it happening now isn’t a particular surprise. I would have liked to see a little more banter between Alcor and Hibiki, if only of the comic/witty variety, because the motivations for Alcor’s support first seemed seemed relatively weak. The one line about choices midway through the fight made that aspect click, though; Alcor’s somehow amused by/attached to the choices humans are making, and he’s fighting to preserve that amusement. Much better than the backstory-but-no-personality moment with Makoto.
Without personality, a death has no impact
Nonetheless, what’s interesting about the fight itself was the outcome, and the effect that outcome will have on how the show ends. Polaris up to this point has been a vague entity, on one hand destroying the world, but on the other hand, sending minions out to do it has been his only action. Yamato is the series’ most convincing final boss candidate, so I’m really glad he survived the battle with Alcor. That, along with Hibiki’s having experienced all possible character deaths at this point, keeps the final battle decently compelling.