Again, it took me awhile to get to commenting on this episode.
But I really like the whole Snake aging thing. Not only does it bring a hint of severity to the plot, as I mentioned before, but Julian is pulling it off really well. And it balances nicely with Mario's comedic tendencies. (Looking for a coupon, pulling out an eye-patch, etc.)
Luigi coming out from behind the sofa! He looks so adorably frightened, like a child. In fact, I really am enjoying the playing-up of Luigi's innocence in this season. He claims he's good at poker and heads off with Wario to be involved in the game, but he doesn't do anything but fold. It's like he wants to be rough n' tough but it's just not in his nature.
Not to mention I also really like what you're doing with Wario's character. He's maturing. Being willing to give up the winnings for Mario and acting sort of like another big brother figure for Luigi. But he's still Wario. Still goofy lovable Wario who still has enough gritty world experience to win a poke tournament.
As for the big poker tournament. I admit that I am fully ignorant as to the rules of poker so the tension that was obviously supposed to be there was lost on me. Instead of trying to figure out if Wario could win or not I was just sitting wait to be informed. Though, I was kinda expecting Wario to cheat.
The extra players were fun caricatures, especially the cowboy. Very exaggerate, not very realistic, but that's the point. If they were
well constructed/acted characters with no sense of comedy, the whole scene would have been immensely boring for me. (Since I couldn't follow the game I was relying on enjoying the extremes of the characters.) The exchange, "Do I look like I've lost my mind?" ... "Yes." had me laughing out loud.
Doug as the dealer was really fun to watch. His quality of movement was really interesting, a real contrast to Waluigi. Heh heh heh, but he was still wearing purple!
Then him bolting at the end was another laugh out loud moment.
As for the very last scene, if I was Mario I SO would not have answered the door. And I really liked the touch of Snake shaking off his hand after decking Mario.
Overall another amazing episode. They keep getting better and better! And I'm really on the edge of my seat concerning the plot! I'm worried about Snake! I hate having to wait an entire week! Aaaaa!