“Vestiges” is an episode that shouldn’t work as well as it does and structurally it’s kind of a mess. The episode is largely stuck in the past and consumed by major passages of exposition that aren’t the most elegant way to explore this material. It’s a very dense installment that bombards the audience with important information, yet the revelations are satisfying enough and are surrounded with gorgeous visuals so that “Vestiges” is still a successful episode, almost despite itself.
The title “Vestiges” explicitly refers to the former One For All relics that visit Midoriya, but it’s a term that’s applicable to all of this episode’s major characters. This is an episode that’s about the future, but it depends upon the past. Midoriya and Endeavor are completely separated throughout this episode, but “Vestiges” unifies them over how they both just want to do All Might justice, whether it’s as the new Number One Hero or the current bearer of One For All. Endeavor and Midoriya experience the same anxiety, but in totally different ways.
This episode also draws exciting parallels between Midoriya and Hawks. The first half of “Vestiges” could just as easily be called “Keigo Takami: Origins” and it’s kind of beautiful to see how Hawks’ admiration towards Endeavor mirrors Midoriya’s own obsession towards All Might. It’s honestly comforting to see that Hawks is not in fact a traitor and is just playing the long game with his infiltration of the League of Villains. It’s great to see that the Number Two Hero isn’t actually a Number One Asshole, but it also seems unlikely that this scenario is as clear cut as it seems.
It’s possible that Hawks is actually aligned with the League of Villains and there’s an extra level of double crossing that’s afoot, but what seems like the more likely development is that Hawks has now opened himself up to some very big dangers in this new, vulnerable position. This is bound to intensify in some big ways and hopefully this injection of The Departed into My Hero Academia blurs the lines between heroes and villains. Hawks might not actually be a traitor, but that doesn’t mean that every other hero is still on the level.
Hawks sees the good in Endeavor and he’s one of the few people that’s actively excited for the “Age of Endeavor”to begin. The end of My Hero Academia season 4 worked hard to begin Endeavor’s redemption arc and it’s encouraging that this is still a slow work in progress for the hero. “Vestiges” really leans into the Todoroki family and they’re far from reaching a healthy place, but it’s a valuable change of pace to spend so much time with a hero’s family.
The campus nature of My Hero Academia often segregates the students and so this brief moment where the Todorokis attempt normalcy really stands out. Endeavor’s family still has put up a lot of barriers, but Shoto genuinely wants to give his father the benefit of the doubt, which exhibits tremendous growth from where he was at during the first two seasons. “Vestiges” chronicles the emotional connection between Shoto and his father, but it also actively creates more physical similarities between them now that Endeavor has a scar on his face that matches his son’s. Shoto’s matter-of-factly, “That’s a bad scar” is a subtle and perfect response for the situation. This relationship is one of My Hero Academia’s longest running arcs and it makes the payoff here all the greater.