It's the final lap of a dangerous Mute City race and Bio Rex is leading the way, followed closely by Octoman and Ryu Suzaku. Jody kindly reminds her subordinate they're in this business to win races, so he might want to think about overtaking sometime soon. Ryu begins speeding up...
... but gets boxed in by the Deep Claw, keeping him off the Big Fang's tail. The two villains thank each other while Octoman moves in for the kill, pressing the Dragon Bird against the wall and preparing to ram him.
Ryu brakes at the last second, leaving the Deep Claw to fall right off the side of the track. Bio Rex is in it alone now, and tries to block the Dragon Bird from passing. They approach the final corner...
... and that gives Ryu the chance to boost while on the inside, leaving the Big Fang in the dust. Ryu makes first place, Jack Levin sneaks in second place while Bio Rex manages only third.
While on the podium, Ryu remembers back to his Formula One days and the similar thrill of victory... but more importantly, he reminisces on his old love, Haruka.
Back at HQ, Jack is jealous of Ryu's victory - he wins twice in a row and now his image adorns the cover of magazines! He tries to vent to the man himself, telling him not to get comfortable while he's on top, but Ryu says even he isn't happy with the publicity - it certainly wasn't his idea - and he walks out, other things on his mind.
Mysterious Woman: Miss Killer
Jody is in Tanaka's office, and he's most pleased with Ryu's winning streak; the prize money's what's keeping them in their jobs, after all!
Jody expresses a concern to the director: there might be another organisation gunning for the prize money to compete with. There's nothing solid, but there's rumours that Black Shadow has racers working for him, and if Ryu keeps winning, they're going to retaliate. Tanaka deems it wise to keep a sharp eye out... but in the meantime, he's got all these trophies to admire!
Meanwhile, Zoda boards the flying battle station that serves as his base of operations, and leaves his Death Anchor in the hangar for the robots to attend to. Miffed that their focus lies on a brand new machine, he gives them a thump on the backside before demanding they fetch him some snacks.
His request is interrupted by Black Shadow tuning in - he's most displeased with their race results, and doesn't want to hear any of Zoda's excuses. It should be easy: if they can't beat Ryu on the race track, then they should eliminate him off the race track. And he has just the man for it...
The Skull! This undead racer will plant a curse that'll sap Ryu of all his racing skills. Black Shadow signs out, ordering Zoda to fix up their machines in the meantime. A hooded figure smiles ominously from behind him.
While driving home, Ryu reminisces once more on his old racing days. In one race he narrowly passed his competitors just in time to reach the finish line, but he didn't care about the crowd of supporters...
... he cared about Haruka, and hopped out of his car in an instant to embrace her. Sharing a drink by the lakeside, Ryu was excited to hear he was one victory away from becoming champion - his lifelong dream. He thanked Haruka for being there for him: she gave him the strength and support he needed to have gotten this far.
Back in the present, Ryu finds himself sitting by that very lakeside... feeling a little lost without his love. He drives down to Falcon House (failing to notice the hooded figure watching him enter) and orders a coffee from Burt, who feels he's got something preying on his mind. Burt closes shop early so he can listen personally to Ryu's troubles.
Ryu reveals he planned to propose to Haruka the day he won the championship... but that was also the night Zoda escaped from prison, and Ryu was killed in the pursuit. His unfulfilled promise has haunted him for the past 150 years - he still wonders what their life could have been like had the accident never happened. Haruka is gone, and all he has left is the ring he never got to give her.
While returning to his car, Ryu is approached by the mysterious figure: The Skull. He tells Ryu he is haunted by spirits of the dead, of memories he can't forget, of promises forever broken. He clutches his head, but Ryu shakes him off and drives away, thinking he's just a weirdo. The Skull has gotten what he came for: a strand of Ryu's hair!
At his apartment, Ryu is awoken in the middle of the night by a call from Jody: a woman has defected from Dark Million and is seeking asylum. Ryu drives out to the contact point, and is shocked when he sees her: she's the spitting image of Haruka! He gains his composure and introduces himself as part of the Galaxy Mobile Platoon...
... only for a shot to ring out! He grabs her hand and they pile into the Dragon Bird and peel out. Unbeknownst to them, the gunfire was The Skull's handiwork!
Taking her to his apartment, he sets her up with a hot drink and she introduces herself. She claims her name is Sophia, and her family travelled the universe in their trade ship... until Black Shadow attacked and captured them, working her family to death, leaving her the only survivor.
Ryu can't shake the stunning resemblance to his long-gone girlfriend and admits it to her awkwardly, before darting away to get in touch with the rest of the Platoon. Sophia follows after, smiling a curious smile, and asks what his girlfriend's name was.
This is all going as The Skull has planned: tying Ryu's hair around a card and setting it alight, the curse has been set: all Ryu needs to do is say his true love's name, and the curse will be activated!
He answers her question, and suddenly feels tremendously weak: he can barely stand up! Holding onto his dead love has left him weak, Sophia laughs, before revealing her true guise: she's an assassin from Dark Million! She draws and knife and lunges for him, but he has just enough strength to scramble away.
In the midst of fleeing he knocks his bedside dresser over, and Haruka's proposal ring spills out of it. The assassin grabs him by the collar and raises her dagger, ready to plunge it into his heart...
... only for the light of the moon to fall on Haruka's ring, illuminating it. This distracts her just long enough for Ryu to shove her aside. The assassin makes her getaway by leaping through the window, riding away on an F-Zero machine. Ryu lifts Haruka's ring: was this what saved him?
Black Shadow is very upset with this affair: how could Miss Killer and The Skull fail? They clearly weren't trying hard enough, and he will tolerate no failure from them in future. Zoda cackles to himself. That's what they deserve for getting in his way.
The Galaxy Mobile Platoon and the police visit Ryu's apartment to investigate and patch up his injuries. Obviously the woman is still among Dark Million's ranks, and Jody reminds her crew that they may face further attacks in future: they had best be on their guard. Ryu, meanwhile, ponders about the woman who attacked him. Could she really be Haruka...?
Burt's F-Zero Classroom: Burt answers a question from a viewer: why are criminals allowed to be F-Zero pilots? The only requirement is a valid ID, and as long as the audience have a good time, there's no complaint... though once the race is over an attempt will be made to bring them to the proper authorities. Burt also invites viewers to send in their own letters to the Falcon House mailbox!
4Kids broadcast: This episode is renamed The Secret Within and remains mostly unchanged from the source, bar the addition of a few "bonehead" jokes regarding The Skull.
The cover of the F-Zero magazine is stripped of all text except for the "vol. 9" part, for some reason. Sometimes there isn't even any point asking "why?"
This is the first episode to have two full lines of dialogue from Octoman... and like Cosmos from Transformers, he's probably intended to sound like a slimy Peter Lorre impression, but ends up sounding like a bad Hispanic accent.
Falcon House's has cute little mugshots of Burt and Captain Falcon on its open and closed sign.
During the opening race, the Wild Boar fails a jump and explodes, though the pilot parachutes out. I mention this only because I'll gripe about it in two episodes time.