After that intense ending to the last episode, this week's Toradora! was pretty much going to have to hit the ground running, and that's exactly what it did, with Minori and Ryuuji both chasing after Taiga, Minori confessing her own feeling towards Ryuuji in the process. They don't manage to catch Taiga before she leaves the school grounds however, which leaves Ryuuji having to patch up Minori after a hallway fall - A perfect opporunity as it turns out for Minori both to explain her motivations and say a goodbye of sorts to the guy she loves.
This leaves Ryuuji to continue the hunt for Taiga, which turns out to be a simple enough affair, but this is when things start to get a little crazy - Not only does Taiga's mother appear on the scene telling her to come and live with her new family, but Yasuko tags along, furious as Ryuuji for working on her behalf over concentrating on his studying. This in turn causes Ryuuji to blow up with some rather harsh words for Yasuko, and before we know it our new couple (of sorts) are both on the run from their respective parents.
Normally, such behaviour would involve a brief period in hiding before returning home with tails between legs, but Ryuuji seems to have taken the entire thing far more seriously, suggesting running away with Taiga until he's eighteen, then marrying her so that they can be together for ever - The phrase "sudden" doesn't even begin to describe this plan.
Luckily for the pair of them, they still have their friends to rally around them, so Ami, Kitamura and Minori (perhaps most importantly, donating her entire life savings to the couple) all do their bit to try and help with Ryuuji's plan, no matter what their true thoughts on the matter are - That is, after all, what friends are for. Even Yasuko seems to understand what is required to some extent, leaving Ryuuji with the opportunity to meet and stay with his grandparents for a while.
To be quite honest, I'm not sure what to make of these major plot developments at all - I know love can make you crazy, but this episode has turned Ryuuji from an eminently sensible and logical young man into a somewhat deranged one who verbally abuses his own Mum before deciding to run away and marry a girl he hasn't even properly declared his love for yet. To my mind, this is just a little too out of character for him, and I'm finding that a tough issue to resolve internally.
That aside (although I'm not sure you can just put such a major plot point to one side like that) this episode once again offers up some beautifully emotional moments, mostly courtesy of Minori - From her hurried explanation of her feeling for Ryuuji through to her selfless giving up of entire life savings, she puts everything on the line for the two people she cares about, and watching her break down when left along with Ami after Ryuuji and Taiga leaves was honestly heart-rending. Ami's brief flicker of sadness when forcing Ryuuji to admit that he loves Taiga was another masterful little moment, a brief slip of her mask that spoke volumes with little more than a slight change in expression.
So, I'm really not too sure what to make of this episode, which has me a little worried after loving this series from beginning to end thus far - In Toradora! I trust though when it comes to bringing us an ending worthy of this marvellous series, and even when I can't feel comfortable about some of the plot development I can't help but absolutely adore the way this series portrays love and friendship in general, with the subtlety and importance it duly deserves.