At the end of the last episode and after a tough spell in prison, Kuniko was faced with a terrible fate - She has to star in the remainder of Shangri-la. Of course not.. well, she does, but that wasn't the fate delivered to her. Instead, she finds herself sentenced to death, with seemingly no means of escape apart from the Metal Age guys digging some ridiculously long tunnel with a few shovels - I wouldn't want to hold my breath waiting for them to arrive.
Thank goodness then that the prison where Kuniko is held contains the most incompetent prison guards and security known to Man - Guards more than willing to give inmates dynamite in return for a quick grope, guards who allow inmates to run off into the woods with kettles and mirrors, and perhaps most incredibly of all guards who let inmates sew together and bury a huge frickin' patchwork hot air balloon under the prison's exercise yard! I have a feeling these generic guards would struggle to get a job even working for Dr. Evil as predictable henchmen, but obviously "no qualifications required" is a staple part of the job application process for this particular prison.
Given this kind of lackadaisical security, it's hardly surprising that Momoko and Kuniko's grandmother really didn't give a monkeys about her forthcoming execution, easily slipping her some lipstick containing nanowire to aid with her escape from the firing squad - I guess it's a bit more innovative than a hacksaw in a cake, at least. All they were really missing was a CD of Yakety Sax for her to play while the guards were fumbling around and being generally useless.
Of course, at this point you'll probably be pointing out that it appears that Ryoko and company wanted Kuniko to escape and show her ingenuity, and you might have a point, but that still didn't make the whole thing feel any less laughably weak to me - If you want to give Kuniko a challenge, at least present to be vaguely competent.
Come to thing of it, laughably weak seems to sum up this episode pretty well, it's the kind of thing that would have even MacGuyver shaking his head in shame. Not only that, but this episode didn't even bother trying to ramp up the obvious tension that should have surrounded Kuniko's death row status - The blase attitude of those closest to her might as well have been a printed message on the screen saying "SPOILER: SHE ESCAPES", which made the entire farcical build-up to said escape a complete waste of time. Now that the balloon has been dug up, I wonder if there's space to bury the rest of this series in the prison yard wherenobody will find it?