While it wasn’t the most surprising development given the loss of one of Madara’s Sharingan in his fight against Konan, there was still a fair bit of oomph to the revelation that he did transplant one of Nagato’s Rinnegan to replace it. On some subconscious level, I’m admittedly happy to see that play out like I was anticipating, even if Kishimoto makes the foreshadowing fairly obvious for younger manga readers. On the other hand, the battle between the resurrected Deidara and Oonoki and crew was much harder to predict, given how it could have gone any which way. In the latter case, I was actually pleasantly surprised to find out that there were no casualties this time around and that very little came from the battles themselves. More specifically, no village leaders bit the dust and Deidara will likely show up again later on to fight again. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong, because I really didn’t want another quick introduction and death pattern to happen again.
Instead, the story rapidly progressed down a path that I don’t think anyone could have really foreseen — Yamato falling into Madara’s hands. As the sole wood element user in the village thanks to Orochimaru successfully integrating Hirashima’s genes into him, it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Yamato in the upcoming chapters. The likely possibility of course is that Madara is going to suck him dry to make more Zetsu clonese. Seeing as Yamato was only introduced after the three-year time skip (i.e. in Shippuuden), I find it kind of amazing how he’s already established himself as an integral character in the series and someone who I don’t want to see killed off. Granted, as Naruto’s captain and guardian of sorts, he does get a lot more screen time than the other jounin, which definitely helps make his potential death much more dramatic than Asuma’s. Whatever the case, I don’t think everyone’s going to keep this whole “being targeted by Madara” bit under wraps from Naruto any longer, as it’s about time our stupid yet earnest hero gets back in the thick of things. Kabuto looks pretty nasty too, now all those Orochimaru snake-like cells have taken over his body, so someone like Naruto has to kill him off becoming the physical embodiment of evil.