"The Hollow", known as the "The Other Lost Incident" in the Japanese version, is the thirty-fifth episode of the Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS anime. It first aired in Japan on January 17, 2018 and aired on Teletoon on December 29, 2018. It became available with official subtitles via Crunchyroll on the same day.
In order to save LINK VRAINS from destruction, Playmaker heads to the Tower of Hanoi. However, standing in his way is Specter! Playmaker tries to deal big damage to Specter, but Specter's Sunavalon combo prevents him from doing that. In this Duel, Playmaker learns about Specter's shocking past...
At Café Nom, Kolter watches the LINK VRAINS feed and sees the fallen Blue Angel. Akira Zaizen has returned home, brushing his housebot aside, and finds Skye sat on the living room sofa unconscious. He decides to enter LINK VRAINS. The Tower of Hanoi's first ring materializes, and data moves up to be stored in the second ring. Specter towers over Blue Angel, proud of his sadism, and declares that Blue Angel shall be no more, in three... though he disappears without counting down. Frog and Pigeon see this happening, and Pigeon is shocked that they're letting Specter get away. Frog says Blue Angel is their priority. Pigeon protests about the scoop; Frog responds that lives are more important. They hear someone call out to Blue Angel by her real name, and decide to leave anyway. Just before Akira can get close to Blue Angel, the ground he steps on gives way. Within moments, Akira is trapped in a cage made out of roots. Then, someone warns Akira not to touch the cage. That someone materializes in front of the cage, and Akira is shocked that Dr. Kogami did it. Kogami says that the cage will infect anyone who comes into contact with it, and turn them into data. Akira was sure Kogami was gone forever. Kogami says he's here because of SOL Technologies' failure.
Meanwhile, Playmaker is still running towards the tower. Ai sees that the tower's second level is now fragmenting the streets of LINK VRAINS, and warns Playmaker to watch his step. Playmaker narrowly dodges a fall before crossing an alleyway. He finds himself before a bridge, with the tower on the other side of it. Ai notes that the bridge is also dissolving, but Playmaker says he has no choice. He runs onto the disintegrating bridge, only to be stopped by the materializing Specter on the middle of said bridge. Ai recognizes Specter as the guy who knocked out Kitamura. Playmaker demands that Specter move out of the way. Specter refuses, because he dares to stand in Playmaker's way. He'll enjoy doing to Playmaker what he did to Blue Angel, with far less effort than before.
At Café Nom, Kolter wonders why Yusaku stopped on the middle of a bridge. He notices another feed over another part of LINK VRAINS. Inside LINK VRAINS, Pigeon starts to tire flying Frog. Frog agrees to look at one of Pigeon's e-mails, which appears to be a map pointing to a specific location. They start to move towards it. Meanwhile, Akira asks what Kogami has against SOL Technologies, saying that he was told he quit. Kogami insists he was fired because he refused to give up control of what is rightfully his - the Ignis - and says that he would never. Then, when the Lost Incident happened, SOL covered it up, silencing all whistleblowers and absolving themselves of all culpability. Kogami blames SOL Technologies for putting him in a coma as part of this cover-up. But his son never gave up hope, and let him continue his life in the virtual realm. Akira realizes that Kogami formed the Knights of Hanoi as an army of retribution against SOL. Kogami denies it, saying he formed his army to destroy the Ignis. When asked why, he expresses his guilt at creating self-aware artificial intelligence, and thus, the ultimate destiny of humanity.
Akira points at Blue Angel, asking what lengths does Kogami take in order to correct his mistake? Kogami simply states that Akira's sister knew the consequences of interfering. Akira curses the "mad man" Kogami for taking his sister and feeding her data to the tower. Kogami responds that it does take a mad man to correct a mad action and protect the world. With that, Kogami makes his leave, and just afterwards, Blue Angel disappears into data. Akira can do nothing but watch and cry out helplessly.
Playmaker demands to know what happened to Blue Angel. Specter makes an inference to her current state, then beckons Playmaker to the shower of data falling from behind him. The falling data bounces off Specter's hand, and Playmaker realizes that Blue Angel has been fragmented. Specter is simply proud of his sadism, and Playmaker wastes no time challenging him to a duel.
At the end of Specter's turn, Playmaker notes that his opponent's strategy, though appearing cowardly, was able to defeat Blue Angel. Ai notes an irrelevant observation about Specter - that he doesn't blink. Specter sees Playmaker and Ai appear to argue with each other, and kindly asks them to get along. Playmaker retorts that he will be fine without help, saying he didn't come here to be lectured. Specter thinks otherwise and continues to lecture Playmaker - noting his differences with Ai and contrasting them with his subservience to Varis. Playmaker grits his teeth, saying Specter must be unaware of what Varis is doing. Specter states that he is aware of Varis' every move. Playmaker responds that it's always those who have never suffered that claim to enjoy inflict suffering on others. Except that Playmaker's incorrect, says Specter.
Specter claims to be one of the Lost Incident victims, just like Playmaker was. But unlike Playmaker, Specter sees his experience of the Lost Incident differently. Playmaker concludes that it must be why Specter joined the Knights of Hanoi instead of opposing them. Ai says none of it matters, but Playmaker says it does, because the Lost Incident was pain and suffering to him. Specter claims he felt none of it. The ways people go through the same event clearly differs, and from Specter's point of view, it is because of his upbringing in an orphanage. He felt left out and alone. So when he was one of the six chosen ones, he felt happy to be locked in a VR set. Playmaker is aghast that his opponent enjoyed being tortured like he had been. Specter notes that this is where he and Playmaker start to disagree. He claims he never felt tortured. He lapped up the attention given to him by the VR, and was okay with losing the odd duel, because it steeled up his dueling. Specter is aware that Playmaker may never understand how or why someone could enjoy being hurt, because his whole life since the Lost Incident was all about finding the answers to questions Specter never needed to ask.
And hence, Specter actually felt disappointed and hurt when he was "rescued" from the Lost Incident and taken back to the orphanage. But, Specter chose to see it in a different way. Instead of being scared and lonely because no one wanted to talk to him, he felt proud and satisfied because no one dared to talk to him. Proud enough to finally run away from the orphanage by himself and go back to the only home he ever knew, only for it to be locked away. So he waited at that spot for the people of that home to come back. But they never came back, save for one kid, the one Specter remembers smiling back at him. And so, their alliance formed.
Playmaker and Ai agree that Specter's story is bogus, and only a means of kowtowing to Varis. Specter says Playmaker wasn't listening - he serves Varis by choice, not by force. The same Varis that told him to work for his keep, not expect it to be fed to his mouth. At this point, Ai informs Playmaker that they're wasting time watching the tower absorb data. Playmaker doesn't say whether he agrees with Ai, and returns to the duel.
When Playmaker summons "Cyberse Gadget" and uses its effect, Specter notes that his opponent has swarmed his board. Playmaker simply agrees with that statement, and continues with the duel. Playmaker goes into battle after his fifth Link Summon, and Specter "happily" has his "Sunavalon Dryas'" effect let an attack go through it and onto himself, as noted by Ai. "Dryas" other effect restores Specter by the damage he took. Specter claims it is due to his association with trees, going back to when he was born in the hollow of a trunk, and abandoned there. He survived because the tree guarded him, not only from elements, but also from predators, and let him enjoy seeing the beauty of nature. Until the day he was found and brought to the orphanage. He would go back and visit that tree every day, until the Lost Incident. Not being able to visit the tree was the Lost Incident's only downside. Upon being freed, Specter returned to the tree only to see that it had been cut down. And that is why he went back to where the Lost Incident happened, and waited until Varis came. Specter swears that he will repay Varis by ensuring Playmaker goes nowhere near him.
Featured Duel: Playmaker vs. Specter
The Duel is conducted as a Master Duel.
Turn 2: Playmaker
Playmaker activates the effect of "Bitrooper" in his hand, sending a Level 2 or lower monster from his hand to the GY to Special Summon it. He sends the Level 1 "Latency" from his hand to the GY and Special Summons "Bitlooper" (1500/2000) in Attack Position. Playmaker uses "Bitrooper" to Link Summon "Link Disciple" (500/LINK-1/↓) to the Extra Monster Zone. He then Special Summons "Link Infra-Flier" (0/1800) in Attack Position to the zone "Link Disciple" points to, by its own effect. Playmaker uses "Link Infra-Flier" to Link Summon "Link Devotee" (500/LINK-1/↑) to the bottom Link Point of "Link Disciple", but since it was Special Summoned, Playmaker cannot Link Summon Link-3 or higher Link monsters for the rest of the turn. He then activates the effect of "Link Disciple", allowing him to Tribute a monster "Link Disciple" points to to draw a card, then place a card in his hand to the bottom of his Deck once per turn. As "Link Devotee" was Tributed, Playmaker activates its effect, letting him Special Summon two "Link Tokens" (0/0 each) in Defense Position. Playmaker Normal Summons "Cyberse Gadget" (1400/300). As "Gadget" was Normal Summoned, Playmaker activates its effect, allowing him to Special Summon a Level 2 or lower monster from his GY in Defense Position with its effects negated. He Special Summons "Latency" (0/0) in Defense Position. Playmaker uses "Latency" and "Cyberse Gadget" to Link Summon "Binary Sorceress" (1600/LINK-2/←→) to the bottom Link Point of "Link Disciple". As it was sent from the field to the GY, Playmaker activates the effect of "Cyberse Gadget", Special Summoning a "Gadget Token" (0/0) to his field in Defense Position. He then uses "Gadget Token" and "Link Disciple" to Link Summon "Multi Sledgehammer" (1000/LINK-2/↓→) to the left Link Point of "Binary Sorceress". He then uses two "Link Tokens" to Link Summon "Binary Blader" (1800/LINK-2/←→) to the right Link Point of "Binary Sorceress".
"Binary Sorceress" attacks "Sunavalon Dryas". Its effect prevents it from being attacked, but does not prevent direct attacks, so "Binary Sorceress" attacks Specter directly (Specter: 4000 → 2400 LP). As he took damage, Specter activates the effect of "Sunavalon Dryas", letting him Special Summon a "Sunvine" Link monster from his Extra Deck to a zone "Sunavalon Dryas" points to and gain LP equal to the damage he took. Specter Special Summons "Sunvine Gardna" (600/LINK-1/↑) (Specter: 2400 → 4000 LP).
- In the Japanese version, upon seeing that Specter regains LP, the cards in Playmaker's hand have the old card back.
The following cards appeared in this episode. Cards in italics debuted here.