Before the meat and potatoes portion of this week’s chapter begins, Robin’s gleeful reunion with her revolutionary friends Koala, Sabo, and Hack delivers a surprising amount of insight into the growth that Robin has gone through since the time skip. Her eagerness in asking if they’ve yet met Luffy and introducing the barely-conscious Usopp goes a long way to illustrate the level of pride and fondness she’s developed for the people in her life, a far cry from where she began in One Piece.
As it turns out, Doflamingo has not actually been decapitated, to no great surprise, and nearly returns the favor with nothing but his foot. Despite the relatively small nature of this action compared with the other things Doflamingo has pulled off, the resulting destruction of the three towers atop the royal palace, and his subsequent effortless takedown of Luffy, prove further still that Doflamingo is above and beyond anything the Straw Hats have encountered. The way he uses his “marionette” power in battle fits his personality and penchant for traps and set-ups. This power can only become more troublesome as the plot moves forward, and the way Luffy ultimately deals with taking on two, or more, Doflamingos at once will be interesting.
Law’s reaction to the start of Doflamingo’s “Bird Cage” says more about it that nearly anything else. First mentioned in the previous chapter, Bird Cage initially appeared to be something that the crew would deal with at a later time, possibly some grand scheme which might take place after the events of Dressrosa. The truth, as usual, is much more sinister.
Bird Cage appears to be Doflamingo’s end game. He had the means and opportunity to escape, as evidenced by his control over the royal palace and Smile factory combined with Pica’s ability to keep everyone else at bay, but in keeping with his twisted need to amuse himself, Bird Cage has turned Dressrosa into a survival of the fittest, “king of the hill” game which will surely toy with the allegiances of all the characters Oda has introduced in this arc. This scenario couldn’t possibly work well with only a few characters, so Oda may well have introduced the sizable cast of Dressrosa primarily for this outcome. What promises to be most interesting is determining which pirates from the tournament will support Luffy and the other targets Doflamingo will name, and who will turn on him. Fujitora’s angle in all of this should also prove to be intriguing, having shown himself to be a bit of a conflicted character.
Final Flash: A strong entry in a string of excellent One Piece chapters where Doflamingo lays all his cards on the table with the Bird Cage, ushering in what could be the last major portion of the Dressrosa story arc.