With this episode, Classroom of the Elite’s latest arc comes to a close. One thing has unfortunately become apparent in retrospect: Kushida is a really bad antagonist, especially when compared to the previous season’s main characters. Horikita and Ayanokoji both have exceptional physical and cerebral skills, but their shortcomings as people are made very evident. Horikita believes it’s her tendency to be a loner and the fact that she holds others to an unattainable level of perfection. It’s his ego for Ayanokoji.
Horikita’s vulnerabilities have frequently been exploited by Ryuen, the series’ primary antagonist thus far. He would have prevailed if Ayanokoji hadn’t been there in the background supporting her. On the other hand, Kushida has never seemed to pose a genuine threat to our heroes. The threat she used to extort Ayanokoji (by making him grope her) was rather ineffective, and he mostly disregarded it. Tossing away her strongest defence, plausible deniability, Kushida inadvertently exposed herself as a class traitor and told Ayanokoji and Horikita that she was after them both.
The history of Kusida did little to make her more scary, but it did assist to clarify her objectives and reasons. And, as we see in this episode, before she even began implementing her own strategy, she had already lost her bet with Horikita. Horikita just went to the instructor and used her influence as the class president to ensure that only she was permitted to turn in the exam questions. This wasn’t some cunning scheme on the part of Ayaonokoji either. As a result, Kushida would have nothing to exchange with Class-C, turning their study bet into a legitimate competition that Horikita comfortably won. Basically, Kushida never presented a threat to the two in the first place (and Ayaonokoji even had a backup plan in place if things didn’t work out).
People’s faith in Kushida and their willingness to provide her with information, which she may later use against them if necessary, are the foundation of her authority. The issue is that Ryuen, Ayanokoji, or Horikita have never placed any faith in her. She has zero influence over them.
Having said that, it’s crucial to remember that just because she is a weak villain now, doesn’t imply she always will be. When the rest of the class starts to believe in her, she may pose a far bigger threat (and she has a collection of their secrets to use). Even if she is unable to directly blackmail our heroes, she should be able to turn the other students against them. But for now, this arc has ensured that she will remain a C-tier antagonist in the eyes of our heroes for the foreseeable future.