This episode has a strong focus on Haru and the others trying to find Ikuya so they can talk to hinm. Not surprisingly, they are thwarted at their attempts by Hiyori. I understand that Ikuya’s brother entrusted Hiyori to look after Ikuya, but I think that Hiyori is going overboard when it comes to this. Especially when we see that Ikuya is wrestling with his past and that it’s affecting his swimming. Honestly, it would probably be in Ikuya’s best interest to talk to them and see if they can reconcile the past. I think the moral of this, when all is said and done, is that Hiyori’s efforts to protect Ikuya will do more harm than good. It’s especially infuriating near the end of the episode, when Hiyori doesn’t follow through on a promise he made to Haruka and the others. And on top of that, he throws some shade at Haruka that I thought was a rather low blow.
I think it’s safe to say that Hiyori is truly the first “villain” in the Free! franchise. While Rin was kind of a “villain” in the first season, he redeemed himself at the end of that season. It’ll be interesting to see how Hiyori evolves as a character, and whether or not he will gain redemption at the end of this season.
We also see Sosuke visiting with his doctor, and being told that he can start swimming again, as long as he takes it easy. The worst that will happen if he overdoes it is that he’ll have to go back to rehab. However, I’m afraid that Sosuke will somehow end up overdoing things and will be out of competitive swimming again. Hopefully I’m wrong about that, though.
We also see a reference that Samezuka and Iwatobi High Schools will be in a swimming training camp with a third school. From the preview for Episode 5, it looks like this will be the focus of it. After being on the backburner for four episodes, it looks like the high school characters will be front and center. Of course, this will likely mean that the drama involving Ikuya, Hiyori, Haruka, and the others will take a backseat. Hopefully, the next episode will really let the audience get to know the new high school characters. Right now, we see them so infrequently that I can’t remember their names or really know much of anything about their personalities. To me, this has been the weak point of the season at this point, and hopefully the next episode will help to rectify this problem.