Great Pretender – 08 – Tinker, Gambler, Soldier, Fly

The plan is to get Sam to join an underground casino the gang controls and squeeze him for all he’s worth. When Cynthia’s honeypot angle fails (Sam likes ’em young), and Abby refuses to be her replacement, Laurent is ready with a backup: Makoto. Specifically, his skills as a mechanic. In order to sell him, he brings in Luis Muller (Clark’s rival in the air who was nearly killed in an accident) and his attractive, patient wife Isabelle.

Thing is, Luis is only interested in one thing: revenge. He wants Sam and Clark dead and their entire race burned to the ground, but isn’t willing to stoop to a con to accomplish that. He’s also a bit…unbalanced since the accident. Fortunately Isabelle is steady as a rock and comports herself well in selling Makoto as a desirable mechanic, even though it’s her very first time participating in a con.

Clark is eventually sold by Makoto’s mechanical know-how, but Sam is on the fence. Clark thinks he’s a cheeky but otherwise “nice guy” but Sam, being a self-professed “bad guy” can sense that Makoto is more like him than he lets on. That belief is confirmed thanks to Laurent’s use of Mrs. Kim and some goons to pose as Muller’s “patroness” who are looking to hang Makoto out to dry for double-crossing her pilot.

Sam eats right into their hands, claiming Makoto as his “property” and “buying” him off of Mrs. Kim. The kicker is when he hears about the underground casino to which Makoto has connections. Sam may not fall for pretty faces like Abby’s or Cynthia’s, but he certainly falls for the prospect of betting on pilots and making more money on the side, especially as it caters to his bad-guy image.

One thing I like about Sam (who is otherwise a scumbag) is that you’re never 100% sure whether he’s buying what the con artists are selling, or simply going along for the ride to see where it goes. As for Abby, she’s interested in learning whether Luis was really a soldier, and when and where he operated, as he may have played a role in her own dark, traumatic militant past. That said, you can only have so many shots of Abby staring stoically out of windows!

Cardcaptor Sakura – 13 – No One Card Should Have All That Power

This week is I believe our second look at the Tomoeda summer uniforms, and Sakura is feeling good about the day. Her class is going on a field trip to the zoo, she wakes up without anyone calling her, her dad makes her a huge and sumptuous lunch, and she even encounters Yukito—on his own for once—on her way to school!

The only potential fly in the ointment is a morning news report of how a giant (and very heavy) “King Penguin” slide at the local park was completely inverted by some unknown force. When similar loud noises, shaking, and destruction of animal enclosures occur at the zoo, Sakura (and Kero-chan, who stowed away in her bag) assume it to be a Clow Card.

Not just any card, but Power, a deceptively tiny and weak-looking card who never the less packs a punch, even lifting an elephant high into the air (Sakura rescues the beast with Windy). Power then turns on Sakura and won’t stop chasing her until she decides on a test of strength, and Sakura picks the first thing to pop into her head: a tug-of-war.

Even with the grateful elephant helping out, Sakura is losing the battle until Syaoran shows up and uses Time to freeze everyone but himself and remove the rope from Power’s clutches. When he restores time to normal, Sakura has won the challenge, and Power allows herself to be secured quietly. She’s a powerful and showy card, but also an honorable one!

Tomoyo puts Sakura to work immediately restoring the penguin slide to its proper orientation, and snaps a picture for her own amusement. When a gust snatches it away and Yukito catches and sees it, Tomoyo explains that it’s a “composite photo”, so no harm, no foul.

Knowing what I know about Yukito from Clear Card, its interesting to see him outside the “circle of trust” that currently consists of Sakura, Kero, Tomoyo, and Syaoran—not to mention his role as Sakura’s primary crush!