Officially set aside as a Blu-Ray only release to accompany its third volume, this bonus episode of Hyouka has nonetheless been able to enjoy a streaming airing well in advance of that release, made available via the kind of atrocious quality video stream that seems so uniquely Japanese these days. It's a wonder they don't still use RealPlayer....
Anyhow, as its name suggests this instalment sits exactly between episodes eleven and twelve of the series, and as a result we find young Houtarou in quite a funk after the goings-on surrounding the movie screening upon which his role was so pivotal, as his misjudgement in that particular "case" seems to be have made him even more reticent to take part in anything than usual. With his sister making a rare visit home however, he soon finds himself dragged into doing some work, albeit some work which (in some respects at least) seems to suit him perfectly - that being sitting upon high by a swimming pool while spending a day as a lifeguard.
Of course, once Satoshi gets wind of this opportunity to see something unique, he drags Chitanda and Ibara along to see for themselves, while also getting to enjoy a day by the pool. Even a spot of swimming has its mysteries however, as Eru concerns herself with a woman who appears to have lost an earring and implores Oreki to help in the search for it. Thus our protagonist is dragged into helping, only to find a far more mundane solution to the problem than any kind of missing accessory - perhaps more importantly however, Houtarou rediscovers his mojo as he realises that for all of the hassle, it's kind of nice to have somebody reliant upon you. Especially when she also looks good in a bikini.
As you'd pretty much expect of a bonus episode, this instalment is more about the fan service than resolving any deep-seated plot points and the like - or at least it would be if its low quality and bitrate didn't instantly rot your retina clean away. That said, it does also offer some more insight into the world of Houtarou - it seems that even a "sloth" can get depressed enough to do even less than usual, and seeing the normally intelligent Oreki in a childish and sullen sulk was actually kind of refreshing, and a decent precursor to whatever the series has planned next in episode twelve - something that I'll find out in... well, an hour or so I guess.