As the mysterious girl responsible for "powering up" the Alone over previous weeks, it's about time that this villain of the piece got some time in the limelight - enter Rei Kuroki, who also just so happens to be a classmate of Akane's.
Of course, there's more to this story than simply Rei serving as a force of evil - indeed, the first half of this episode might as well have simply consisted of a neon flashing sign saying "REI IS A GOOD GIRL REALLY", given how we follow her admiring birds, smiling at the thought of a camping trip and carefully tending to the parrot in her care at home. In spite of this, Kuroki is a cold character when it comes to dealing with others, pushing Akane's advances of friendship away while keeping her distance from all and sundry.
So what is the story of Kuroki's involvement with the Alone? While we don't learn everything about the source of her troubles, it's clear that she's being blackmailed in the promise of her parents returning to life if she only helps the Alone to complete their mission, that being the destruction of the Manifestor Engine. Such is her desperation to succeed in this task that she's even willing to go it alone (Alone... geddit?), risking life and limb with dangerous consequences that also leads to the loss of the key which connect Rei to her family - an implement which quite literallt proves to be a possible key to a budding friendship with Akane and the gang.
As I've alluded to already, the first half of this week's Vividred Operation isn't exactly subtle as it goes about laying out Kuroki's character, to the point where it becomes unintentionally hilarious at times - I'm surprised they didn't show her cuddling an injured kitten and kissing a baby just to hammer the point home. Beyond that, the episode was fairly decent in getting to the crux of what drives Rei's actions, in an instalment that was largely free of action but has set up another major aspect of the show's plot. Perhaps we can drive forward towards something that breaks free of the show's current formula and really kicks things up a notch as a result.