Eve’s mafia entanglements are at an end, which means her estranged grandfather is willing to give her the best of everything to make her a pro as fast as possible. Eve refuses it all, preferring to forge her own path, which means returning home to her family.
I love how her hard edges fall away as soon as she’s reunited with Klein, Lily, and the kids, and she’s no longer a serial golf murderer, but an ordinary young woman who’s happy to be home. Ichina is also relieved to learn that Eve is associated with more “normal”, less scary people. They still mistake her for a kid. Let’s face it: the infantilizing overalls were a bad move!
Speaking of golf murderers, 20-year-old Shikihima Reika is Japanese golf’s current Prize Queen and “It” girl, currently holding the record for youngest to go pro. She’s enjoying the spoils of her pro dominance, including modeling and product endorsement, but there are murmurs of her days at the top being numbered due to the rise of Aoi.
In addition to being So Hot Right Now, Reika also happens to be Amane’s aunt. When Amane provides Reika with a USB drive with all the data on Aoi, it’s not meant to help her, but to show her just how good Aoi is, and that she’s coming for her.
This is also (I believe) the first time we’ve learned that Amane is basically being forced to be Aoi’s caddy in exchange for tuition and living expenses; after her father died, her family was penniless, and Reika’s was not any better off. So Amane made a deal with Seira to stay by Aoi’s side until she went pro.
Seira summoned Amane to Tokyo to pick up a new set of Athens clubs for Aoi. But these aren’t just any clubs: they’re the Shining Wings, painstakingly designed by Amuro Reiya for Aoi and only Aoi, to optimize her skills. When Amane presents the clubs to Aoi, she’s over the moon, taking in the new club smell.
From driver to wood to iron, Aoi can immediately sense these clubs are like an extension of her body, and they improve her stats on the course accordingly. However, tragedy strikes when, in the midst of watching Aoi with paternal pride admiration, noting that the Shining Wings are the “one and only gift” he and Seira will ever give her, Reiya collapses.
At the hospital, Reiya is in stable condition but unconsious. His diagnosis is a rare variant of tuberous sclerosis complex, but for the purposes of this show let’s call it what it is: golf cancer. Amane tells Aoi to leave Reiya in President Jinguuji’s care, but Aoi hesitates. She wants to stay with the man she now believes to be her real father.
Back in Nafrece, Ichina takes to her new life with Eve’s family like a fish to water. While training with Eve, she looks up the results so far of the Japan Women’s Open, in which Aoi is competing for a shot at the pros. Both Ichina and Eve are gobsmacked that Aoi is tied for 89th place with a +4 score. Reika presumes that the pressure crushed her. Amane knows better.
On her call with Seira, Amane notes that Aoi’s slump is directly tied to Reiya’s collapse, along with the searing uncertainty of her paternity, is leading to a lack of focus and one mental error after another. It’s news to Seira that Aoi suspects Reiya to be her father (which is a correct suspicion).
Seira offers to head to the open in Chiba immediately, but in perhaps the boldest display she’s ever made to Seira, Amane tells her stay away and not make Aoi suffer any more. Instead, Amane tells Aoi that Reiya designed her clubs, and that they’re filled with his love and his hope she’ll go pro. This motivates Aoi to go to be early, but Amane hates herself for “putting a chain around her heart to keep her from running away.”
The next day, all of the previous opponents Aoi has defeated (with Eve) are watching her crash and burn. She puts another ball into the rough, and starts to ask herself why she’s even playing golf. She (accurately) imagines how Eve would react to seeing her in this state. But bottom line, when her maybe-dad is still unconscious in the hospital, golf is simply not fun.
But then Amane sees someone in the gallery and beckons for Aoi to turn to look. There, in a wheelchair, is Reiya, conscious and smiling. Right then and there, Aoi resolves to win and become pro so she can ask him if he’s her real father, while Reiya is ready and willing to answer her truthfully. With this revelation, Aoi bears down, unfurls her Shining Wings, and blasts her ball from the rough to inches from the cup.
Amane admits that she once resented and even hated her lot in life: to be caddy, second fiddle to Aoi in order to make ends meet. But with Aoi’s first shot of conviction in the tournament, Amane revels in finally getting to see Aoi’s true golf. Yes, she was a servant, but now she’s a friend, a fan…even a sister of sorts. She’s happy Aoi is having fun again. She wants Aoi to go pro, but also learn the truth so her heart and golf can fly free.
When Reika hears that Aoi has begun an unprecedented rise in the rankings, she suspects the girl got over whatever it was that was holding her back, and credits some kind of Amane “magic” with the comeback. Aoi has a deep hole to climb out of, but on gossamer wings she’s well on her way, watched closely by the people who love her.