Madara makes it clear exactly what he's after, with some caveats, as he lays it all out for a the bulk of the episode.
What They Say:
Declaration of War
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Madara's involvement in things has been an interesting angle on everything as he's now made his way to the Five Kage meeting and actually provides some explanations. There's a sense that nothing good can come from what he's planning with his 'Project Tsuki no Me,', which is a given when it comes to the Akatsuki, but what's confusing the more elder members among the group is why he's taking such a roundabout method for his plans since it's very unlike him to use others in the way that he has. Even more surprising is that he actually reveals that he's something of a shell of his former self, a strange admittance, and that's why he's on the path he's on. Madara essentially reveals the plans he has and the goal, though you know there is likely to be more to it and that he's manipulating the Kage here and those that obey them.
But what makes him persuasive is the kernels of truth he puts in there about how he needs Sasuke to master the various levels of the sharingan in order to open the path of the Six Sages that he needs. By listing out certain key parts of those in front of him, particularly with Gaara, he strikes that chord of believability that makes it hard to discount what he's saying, even if you want to. It's a great moment as Gaara has that realization and isn't sure how he should be proceeding from there. Madara is surprisingly dense in the amount of exposition he pulls out here, talking about how the various Tailed Beasts can all be thrust together to create a demonic ten tailed beast, which he in turn intends to use as the basis of power needed to achieve his further goal and unleashing a jutsu that will give him even more power. There's such disbelief over what he's saying, but again, those kernels of truth are in there to make them uncertain. With Madara's mindset that he can do this in order to force the world to go through pain and then bring peace to it, he's offering a way that they haven't been able to take in his view, but it's one that's very necessary.
Madara's revelations end up forcing the Kage to all come together in a more realistic way after all that has happened, though it's not exactly a way that's filled with utmost confidence and trust. There's so much riding on what they do now, but the revelation that one of the key things they need is Raikage's brother, Killer Bee, sets them to make him one of their first priorities in locating, as well as getting on track with Naruto. There's a good sense of the group really coming together with a plan, though there's also some distrust since Danzo managed to get himself away completely during the start of the fight and he's missed all that's happened here. There's definitely a stronger sense that they need to work together at this point, and the allied shinobi forces has a much more significant feeling now that they have a glimmer of the real truth. Seeing them take things more seriously in a different way is really very engaging here.
Naruto has some small character moments with a few of the characters that we haven't seen too much of, such as Naruto along with Kakashi and Yamato as well as Sakura and her group making their way to the Land of Iron to get him. The bulk of it is focused on Madara and his large amount of exposition and the reactions of everyone else before they decide on their course of action. It's a solid episode, even if it does slow things down considerably, but it's a necessary piece that puts a lot of the characters facing new directions and reinforcing the alliance that was somewhat tentative to begin with. There's a lot to like here if you want the series to have some strong back story to it and a clear idea of what the focus, at least at the moment, is all about. It may be weak on the action, but you know that will have payoff in spades at some point again.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.