WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the 890th episode of One Piece, "Marco! The Keeper of Whitebeard's Last Memento."
One Piece, one of the longest-running anime franchises of all time, is back for its 20th season. But while the 890th episode -- yes, 890! -- may seem like an odd place to jump onboard with the Straw Hat Pirates, it provides important information for new and returning fans about the history and legacy of one of its most iconic characters: Whitebeard.
In its season premiere, One Piece takes a breather from the Straw Hat Crew's adventures to follow the big, furry Cat Viper in his efforts to reconnect with one of the most powerful pirates around, Marco.
Where Has Marco Been Since the Grudge War?
The episode opens by reintroducing audiences to the character, former first commander of Whitebeard's pirates. For those who forgot, Marco ate the Tori Tori Devil Fruit, which grants him the ability to transform into a phoenix and harness the healing abilities of the Flames of Restoration. The Flames can heal others for a limited time.
Cat Viper, one of the Nine Red Scabbards and a former member of the Whitebeard Pirates, goes to the island where Marco resides as a doctor. In this role, he serves this small village quite well, healing any injuries brought before him. When Cat Viper sits down to talk to Marco, they reflect on their former "father" Whitebeard, his legacy, and why Marco chose this island.
Whitebeard grew up on a small island abandoned by the government. On this lawless, chaotic place, people fought over scraps to survive. In doing so, he set off to become something great, becoming a pirate to make a name and life for himself.
However, he never forgot his home. Even with his family dead and his old friends long gone, Whitebeard anonymously gave every coin of his share back to the island, transforming it into a paradise.
Following the Paramont War, in which Whitebeard was slain by the treacherous Blackbeard, Marco and the remainder of the Whitebeard Pirates waged the Grudge War to avenge their former captain. But they couldn't stand up against Blackbeard, who, after robbing Whitebeard of his Devil Fruit abilities, became an unstoppable force.
In failing to avenge Whitebeard, Marco instead returned to Whitebeard's home island. As the last memento of his beloved Whitebeard, Marco hoped to protect and foster the island in any way he could. In this case, if he could protect some trace of Whitebeard's legacy, Marco could keep alive some of the good Whitebeard served.
But he also refuses to leave the island because, sooner or later, he will need to protect it from mother-and-son duo Buckin and Weevil. Buckin claims Weevil is Whitebeard's child, and intends on using the ties to the pirate to steal whatever trace of fortune Whitebeard left behind.
Without Marco's help, Cat Viper sets off to help Luffy and the Straw Hats travel to the Land of Wano, to confront the Emperor of the Sea, Kaido.