WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 45 of Digimon Adventure 2020, "Activate, MetalGarurumon!," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
After introducing two Mega forms for Agumon -- WarGreymon and BlitzGreymon -- as well as the iconic Omnimon, it was only a matter of time until the Digimon reboot series gave Gabumon the same treatment. Episode 45 telegraphs the overdue upgrade to Matt's Digimon in its title, "Activate, MetalGarurumon!", reintroducing the Mega form to the anime's canon in a high-stakes race of life and death while perfectly encapsulating the power of the Chosen One's crest of Friendship.
Digivolutions are unlocked by a Digimon pushing itself beyond its limits, a process that can be sped up and enhanced through a connection to a human partner. In Gabumon's case, the opportunity to achieve Mega evolution presents itself in the latest episode of Digimon Adventure 2020 when the traveling Digi-Destined come across an old race track. Long abandoned, the course's last remaining competitor is Machmon, a Greymon-esque cyborg stylized as a sentient motorbike. Gabumon is immediately thrilled at the idea of showing off the speed of his Champion form, Garurumon. Similarly, the lone Machmon -- the course's unbeaten winner -- relishes some more competition, agreeing to give Gabumon (as Garurumon) a chance to prove himself as a racer.
Unfortunately for Matt and Garurumon, Machmon doesn't disclose that they've signed up to a death race, which isn't made apparent until the revved-up victor starts assaulting them in the middle of the track. Historically, this violent component was born from the competitors' neck-and-neck stats, as well as the reason for Machmon, the reigning champion, being left on its own -- not only as the fastest of the pack overall but also as the only survivor. The DigiDestined are quick to protest the unfairness of this unwritten rule, and while Machmon eventually agrees to not engage with Garurumon physically for an honest test of their comparable speed, in practice, it can't help returning to its old ways once they restart their race.
At this point, another twist presents itself in the form of Machmon's own body, which Izzy's analysis uncovers to be compromised by another Digimon -- Parasimon, a parasitic creature that amplifies its host's natural abilities at the expense of their life force. Once the truth is out, it becomes clear that Machmon is even more tragic being than it first appeared to be: having willingly given itself over to Parasimon in order to remain undefeated in the death race, while also hating what it has reduced itself to in the process. Now, Machmon's only after one thing -- to go out in a blaze of glory against a worthy opponent.
It's the perfect antagonist to bring out Matt's own best, hidden quality and, in turn, give Gabumon the impetus he needs to cross into Mega evolution territory. Matt's 'lone wolf' attitude is embodied by the animal his Digimon partner takes the most inspiration from, and he can't resist saving Machmon -- a fellow loner -- from himself. Their newly forged bond enables the flight-ready MetalGarurmon to emerge, just in time to rescue Machmon from spinning out of control on the track's highest turn and diving off the cliff edge on the other side. In the end, the three of them cross the finish line together, imbued with a different, and perhaps more important, kind of strength.