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Heart of the Matter
Episode written by Martha Moran

     At the Dragon Dojo, Michael (the junior Dragon) secretly watches Jimmy practicing.  He is particularly impressed by a move which resembles the cyclone kick.  As Michael walks off, he notices two members of the Scorpion Dojo beating up a little kid.  Michael rushes up and takes them both down using the kick.  Unbeknownst to Michael, an armored figure has been looking on.
     Billy arrives, unimpressed with Michael's actions.  He tells Michael that sometimes, what seems to be victory is actually defeat.  Jimmy walks up and argues that Michael probably saved the kid from brain damage.  Billy replies that Michael was using one of Jimmy's “dangerous Shadow moves,” advising Michael that he's too young and too reckless.
     As Billy and Jimmy leave, the Scorpions return with more Scorpions.  Michael is getting thoroughly beaten up when the armored figure emerges and thrashes the Scorpions.
     The warrior reveals herself to be Kami, master of the way of the Komodo.  She invites Michael to join her dojo, saying that the way of the Komodo is quite different to that of the Dragon; the Komodo fights to win, no matter what it takes.  “Anything is fair,” Kami says, “as long as you beat your enemy.”
     Kami tells Michael her backstory:  When she was eight, her father was master of the Komodo Dojo.  He invented the Komodo armor and was certain he could defeat the Shadow Master with it.  But the Shadow Master kidnapped Kami's mother and sister.  Her father offered himself in their place and Kami has not seen him since.  Kami says she vowed then and there to destroy the Shadow Master, no matter what the means or cost.  “No mercy, no fear, only victory.”
     Kami tells Michael she has chosen him to wear her father's armor and join her in destroying the Shadow Master.  He is unsure at first, but eventually is convinced.  Kami begins training Michael in the way of the Komodo, encouraging him to use his anger.
     Meanwhile, Jimmy goes to the Scorpion Dojo looking for answers.  The Scorpions attack him and he takes them all down.  Only then is their leader willing to talk.  Jimmy asks what happened to Michael, and the Scorpion tells him that he went off with “a dude in black armor.”  Jimmy assumes that he means a Shadow Warrior, but the Scorpion tells him that it was not one of them, but “some sort of Dragon.  A Komodo Dragon.”
     Back at Kami's Dojo, Kami has decided that Michael is ready to wear the armor.  She reveals its secret to him: it was forged with the power of the Black Flame.  Michael is instantly concerned, but Kami reminds him that the way of the Komodo is to fight evil with might.
     Kami and Michael, both armored, walk right into the Shadow Dojo and defeat Trigger Happy and Jawbreaker.  Michael then fights Sickle and Ice Pick as Kami challenges the Shadow Master.  The Shadow Master refers to the Komodo armor as “his armor” and grips Kami's energy whip, forcing her towards the Black Flame.  Michael breaks the Shadow Master's hold, sending both the Shadow Master and Kami flying.  Unfortunately, Kami goes straight through the exit portal, leaving Michael alone.
     The Shadow Master repeats that the Komodo armor is his and tells Michael to give it to him.  Michael tries to flee, but a blast from the Shadow Master's scythe stops him.  Michael surrenders and tries to remove the armor, but finds it won't work without Kami.  The Shadow Master decides that the armor will have to be burned off and picks Michael up, carrying him toward the Black Flame.  Michael tells him that the Double Dragons will get him for this.  Realizing that Michael is a Junior Dragon, the Shadow Master puts him down.  He states his intention: to use Michael as bait, then throw him and his would-be rescuers into the Black Flame.
     Back at the Dragon Dojo, Billy is worried about Michael.  Jimmy says he's asked everyone, but no one knows anything about the mysterious Komodo.  Jimmy then calls upon his Double Dragon mark on his chest to lead him to the Komodo.  He follows it to a teary-eyed Kami.  Jimmy tries to talk, but she tells him that it's none of his concern as Michael chose to go to the Shadow Dojo of his own free will.  Jimmy is shocked that the Shadow Master has Michael, but Kami is sure that the Shadow Master won't hurt him.  The Shadow Master wants the Komodo armor, and only Kami can remove it from Michael.  Jimmy replies that the Shadow Master could throw Michael into the Black Flame.  Kami doesn't think the Shadow Master would do that, but Jimmy says that he lived with the Shadow Master for twenty years and saw worse.
     Jimmy takes Kami's hand, telling her that she got Michael into this, and she's going to help get him out.  Kami then attacks Jimmy.  Jimmy blocks and dodges her strikes, but does not hit back.  He tells her that her life would be a lot easier if she didn't treat everyone like the enemy.  He then asks her whether she cares about Michael, and she nods.  With Kami's aggression over, Jimmy tells her that they'll sneak in and free Michael.
     In a lower level of the Shadow Dojo, Kami tells Jimmy that they should have waited for Billy.  However, Jimmy is sure that no one will be down there.  They walk straight into a trap and get imprisoned by titanium bars charged with Black Flame energy.  The Shadow Master greets them, regretting that there are only two of them when he was hoping for three.  Nonetheless, he states that he's looking forward to trying out Kami's armor.  Jimmy says that they'll trade it for Michael, but Kami refuses.  The Shadow Master laughs, telling Kami that she's addicted.  Kami replies that she doesn't know what he's talking about, so the Shadow Master explains:  The power of the Shadow.  He knew all along that her armor was created in the Black Flame.
     This news stuns Jimmy.  The Shadow Master tells Kami that while she says she wants to destroy him, in reality, she wants to be him, just like her father.  Kami screams that this is a lie.  She continues that she despises the Shadow Master and hates everything about him.  He responds simply, “Like father, like daughter.  All fall to the Black Flame's lure.”
     Ice Pick pushes a button, opening the floor beneath Jimmy and Kami.  The Shadow Master instructs a dark-haired Shadow Warrior to guard their cell.
     As Jimmy and Kami land in the prison cell, he asks her if she really doesn't care about Michael.  She replies that for ten years, all she's lived for is to avenge her family.  She says that destroying the Shadow Master is all that matters.  Jimmy questions if this is true, even if it means abandoning her friends.  He tells her that he served the Shadow Master for a long time, and one thing he learned was that “If you combat evil with evil, you just come up with more evil.”
     The dark-haired Shadow Warrior emerges, wearing a Dragon Sword on his back.  He turns the power to the cell bars off, then cuts the bars with his sword.  Jimmy recognizes that it's Billy.  Billy asks Kami whose side she's on.  She replies that she got Michael into this, and wants to help get him out.  Kami activates her armour, and Billy and Jimmy transform into the Double Dragons.
     Meanwhile, the Shadow Master is having Michael lowered into the Black Flame.  The Double Dragons arrive but are busied fighting the Shadow Warriors and Shadow Master.  Kami has a chance to use her energy whip on the Shadow Master as he fights Jimmy, but instead uses it to save Michael from falling into the Black Flame.
     The Shadow Master kicks Jimmy's sword out of his hand and gives him an energy blast to the chest.  This hurts both Double Dragons, and transforms them back into the Lee brothers.  With Jimmy defenseless at the Shadow Master's feet, the battle seems lost.
     Kami removes Michael's Komodo armor and tells the Shadow Master to let Jimmy go.  The Shadow Master agrees to trade and stands back from Jimmy.  Kami throws the armour to the Shadow Master, who then adds that he will also be keeping Jimmy's sword.  As the Shadow Master dons the armor, Kami uses her energy whip, grabbing the sword.  This doesn't bother the Shadow Master, as the armor will double his powers.
     Kami tells the Lees that if they blast the armor before the Shadow Master activates it, the Black Flame will destroy it.  She gives Jimmy his sword, and he and Billy transform again.  They fire energy blasts from their swords, hitting the Shadow Master's armor and sending him falling into the Black Flame.  The armor melts on the Shadow Master's chest, and he disappears as an explosion of dark energy occurs inside the Black Flame.
     Back at the Dragon Dojo, Michael apologizes to Kami.  She had her chance to destroy the Shadow Master but lost it to save him.  She replies that it doesn't matter now as she has something better: her first real friend.
     Epilogue-Message:  Jimmy is addressing a class of Junior Dragons.  He tells them that being a teenager isn't easy.  True self-esteem comes from within, and knowing your true self is the first step to feeling good about yourself.

     Eddie MountainGoat's review:  The way of the Komodo is an interesting idea.  It's not the in-your-face evil of the way of the Shadow, nor is it the moralistic way of the Dragon.  While Billy and Jimmy say “For might, for right…,” Kami tells Michael to fight “…with might” - without any mention of ethics.  The difference between the Dragon and the Komodo is at first subtle (which is why it was a good idea to call Kami's style Komodo), yet leads to a vastly different outcome, as evidenced by their respective mottos: “By the power of the Dragon!” as opposed to “Till the Shadow Master is destroyed!”
     It's not a new theme, but it's always a good one.  The ends do not justify the means, and using evil, even if only to destroy evil, will damage one's own self.  As Billy said at the very beginning, sometimes what seems to be victory is actually defeat.  It's a bit of a pity that the epilogue was wasted on a side-issue (Michael's anger that Billy treated him like a kid).
     But I like that this episode does not paint the issue in black and white.  Jimmy still uses techniques he learned as a Shadow Warrior.  I thought that Kami would throw her armor into the flame, and then be dubbed a Dragon Warrior.  Instead she keeps it, because she, like Jimmy, is supposedly capable of properly handling such things without being corrupted.
     This episode has shades of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Karate Kid, and I'm not complaining.  Perhaps the best-written episode of the first season, in my opinion.

Rating: A+