"The Murdering Marionette"
Synopsis: A man named Greco holds a cultlike control of masses at his church, promising them justice by pronouncing the deaths of criminals who subsequently all end up dead. This time he says a final reckoning has come for the Lupin gang! The fearless foursome intend to take it to the pernicious priest, but they get caught in his trap and told that one of them is unknowingly his agent against the others. In the underground labyrinth, will Lupin's crew succumb to paranoia? Who is the backstabber (boobstabber, really) in the gang? With the odds against them, they'll need a bit of monkey business to win through!
The scenario is simple enough: Lupin and the gang are trapped underground in a labyrinth, and told that one of them has, unbeknowngst to them, been hypnotized to kill the others. The villain just sits back and watches as the four predictably get on each other's nerves and act paranoid until they all will eventually kill each other or at least put their guard down to be killed by the unknowing agent. But his hubris is his undoing as the Lupin gang, while occassionally contentious, isn't about to be tricked so easily, and Lupin pulls off a great switcharoo that puts the four ahead of the game.
It's a basic set-up, probably predictable to people who've seen as much Lupin as I have. But there are some interesting added elements which keep this episode, while mostly just decent, from being a slough. For one, the twist about the people betting on (or really, against) the crew from the safety of their gambling den. This eventually sees the group's sweet victory at the end as Lupin bet on them and intentionally fell into the trap to get the money. It's nice to see Lupin get a payoff now and then instead of suffering a last moment setback or fumble.
Another thing I enjoy about this episode is the nods to the dizzy drug cult in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and the owl drug that struck Jigen and Goemon in the finale of that show that had them pitted against each other. Here we have this cult leader, like the guy in the first episode of that show, who has many people in his thrall, and just arrogantly assumes he's more clever than Lupin. We even get a Jigen/Goemon duel, which while ultimately faked for show, is much how I would assume such a confrontation might go (though I think Goemon probably has a higher chance of success than Jigen overall), and is the highlight of the episode.
But while the episode is pretty straight-forward and there's not much to chew on, either thematically or even plotwise, I find Lupin's reversal of the situation both believable and clever, with Lupin's usual snarky dismissal of the antagonist as he completely shatters his self-delusion with the usual style while earning huge piles of cash. There's nothing particularly stand out about the episode overall, just a standard, but enjoyable Lupin caper.
Oh, also, Fujiko's tits are so big the cleavage easily holds large knives.
3.5 out of 5