After slowing down and very nearly appearing to lose its way (an ironic turn of phrase for this story arc, I know) last time around, episode five of Bakemonogatari brings us back to this series at its sparkling best to finish off Mayoi Hachikuji's story. Well, more or less anyhow.
While episode four felt a little plodding at times, this fifth instalment remains almost entirely dialogue-centric yet manages to hit the nail squarely on the head - Araragi's conversations with Mayoi are absolutely fabulous to watch, shifting from the ridiculously perverse (which kicks off yet another fight between these two) to the hilarious and on to the poignant or sad without a second thought to build up into an entertaining and character-building state of affairs.
While I could probably have watched those two sit and chat on the bench for the entire episode, then comes the return of Senjougahara from her visit to Oshino, upon which point she delivers a pair of bombshells, both of which left me sporting a combination of a big grin and an open-mouthed gape. These revelations are the kind of things which may seem trite or clumsy in the wrong hands, yet in Bakemonogatari's case (and the expectations this series already brings) they simply work to perfection - A brilliant shift in the story arc's perception and progression, carried along on the back of clear yet complex dialogue.
So, Mayoi's problem is solved, if you can call it "her problem" at all, while we're also dealt a seismic change in the relationship between Arararagi (sorry, I stuttered) and Senjougahara - The kind of move which should have been so painfully obvious from the past couple of episodes, yet the latter's character is so masterfully built up in terms of personality that nobody would have dared put any money on it in a month of Sundays. If episode four left me a little disappointed, then episode five has delighted me absolutely, and I really can't wait to see what bizarre goings-on another new story arc will be able top throw our way.