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Episode 12: Progress

 

Review by Joel Jankiewicz

May 8, 2007

 

Summary

 

In space, Second Earth consists of several sections, including the Military station, Education station, Medical Station and Resource station. On the Medical station, Yuji’s now being wheeled away in a cart, somewhat conscious, in pain from his injuries. Marlene is running to keep up, telling him to hold on, but a doctor stops her from following him up to a certain point, and she’s left to stare at the closed door he entered. Back on the Military station, Marlene reports to station director Doug Vreiss for a debriefing, and he refers to her as number ‘2805.' He recaps what happened on Earth, going as far as Yuji’s awakening, the loss of her original squad, the loss of Baikonur, and Yuji being the only Sleeper recovered. He asks her if there are any amendments that need to be done to the report, and when Marlene tells him there isn’t any, he goes on to say her inquiry will begin and that she needs to answer her questions truthfully. Council head Victor appears on a monitor behind Doug, and he commends Marlene for her efforts and all she’s done. But three more monitors come up, with the other three saying her efforts were inexcusable, even with the slowdowns. She’s asked why she didn’t establish communications at the first sign of trouble, and Marlene says her communications were cut off and things were down to platoon decisions. When asked about platoon leader Robert being in charge, she explains that he was injured, saying he gave command of squad orders and decisions to her. A fourth council member, Lu, wants to be sure that Marlene understood the orders given to her, not the advancement of her own career. Marlene answers yes, and Lu asks her why she allowed a sample to engage in fighting. She pauses, and Victor tells her to answer the question. Marlene says they were short a pilot, and needed one to pilot the second A.S., otherwise they wouldn’t have survived. A councilman disagrees, telling her she’s trained for impossible odds. Lu changes her question and asks Marlene if she ordered Yuji to fight, but she says it was Yuji’s own choice. The majority of the council doesn’t believe her, going as far to say that his behavior was erratic and that the current samples they have from the field should be discarded. The council starts to argue with each other, saying they can’t discard the current samples since their estimated gathering was lower than expected, but another says they don’t want any accidents to happen. The council agrees that it’s time to move to the next ‘phase’ with the samples they have now, regardless of their condition, even Yuji’s. When Marlene asks if Yuji is fine, everyone is shocked, and Victor asks who Yuji is, referring to him only as the newest sample. She says it was her fault he was hurt and wants to know if he is fine, but Victor says that information is classified, and Marlene is surprised. Doug pulls a card and walks up to her, saying it’s the council’s decision that Marlene is unfit for squad duty, and that by tomorrow, she’s to return to the training facility for ‘re-education,’ and Marlene looks at him with disgust. Later, in the station’s hangar, Marlene can’t believe she ended up the way she has now, and wonders about Yuji. With the council, they confer with Doug, surprised that Marlene referred to Yuji by his name. They tell Doug to keep and eye on 2805 and Doug accepts the orders. The transport Marlene is on leaves, and its first destination is the Medical station. Marlene remembers what Yuji told her before they left for space, and what Victor said, then realizes she’s almost at the station. As the shuttle docks and passengers leave, Marlene is the last, but the door closes on her. The shuttle pilot tells her the Medical station is not her destination and tells her to take her seat, but Marlene tells him that she is allowed to have one check up before drills instruction, since they don’t start until tomorrow. The pilot gives up, and opens the door for her. The shuttle leaves the station, and the pilot contacts someone on his headset. Marlene runs around and comes to the same door she left Yuji originally. When she enters, the room is empty, and she keeps looking around for him. After what seems like a long search, she comes to a rather quiet part of the station, with very little lights. She walks down the hall in front of a glass panel, which is part of a larger room, and there she finds Yuji unconscious, strapped onto a medical chair with equipment attached to him and several doctors/scientists observing him. She’s happy to see that he’s all right, but her attention is drawn to another man in the room, who isn’t a doctor. She wonders who the man is, but then remembers the inquiry from earlier. She tells herself that even though her credibility as a soldier is damaged, she can still prove she wasn’t wrong, and neither was Yuji for what he did. With that, she leaves, knowing she can’t do anything right now.

 

The next day Marlene, along with other soldiers, are in training gear in an Armor Shrike simulator room, standing at attention. The chief of the Education station, Amick Hendar, tells everyone that the simulations are to be treated like real combat, and that if a man falls, they’re to be left behind. Pilots start getting assigned to their seats, while Marlene thinks she can now show them who is unfit for duty. Amick tells them to saddle up, and everyone goes to their simulators. She tells herself she’ll pass their test, and she starts dropping simulated Blue left and right. She sees a Chopper with civilians passing, then one of them gets in her way, and she holds her fire. Once the civilian runs the Chopper ‘damages’ her A.S., but she still drops it. Amick asks her what’s wrong, and why she didn’t take the shot. She tells her that having an armor shrike damaged is a 15 point deduction, and asks her which is more important, the ‘groundlings’ or her armor shrike. Marlene can’t believe she got deducted 15 points for her action, and as the simulations go on, she sees a computerized civilian who looks very much like Yun, then remembers what Yuji told her before. She thinks back to his conversation about how the people on Earth aren’t considered dead or expendable, and how they should be helped. She remembers Yun’s last moments, before the battle and how she died, then a simulated Blue attacks her, and her screen goes black. Amick pulls her helmet off and calls her a fool, and even punches Marlene. Later on, Marlene and a few others are squad training, wearing VR helmets in an open room with boxes. Amick gives the nod, and starts spawning enemy Blue. Marlene sees young Blue and pushes a teammate back, but it starts attacking his leg, and a bracelet on his leg sends back electricity to simulate pain. Marlene shoots the young Blue, and another teammate warns them of a whole group of young Blue coming out of wall. They start to run, but Marlene refuses to leave, even helping the injured teammate onto his feet, even though Amick is ordering her to leave him behind since he lost his ‘capacity’ to fight. Amick’s helper asks her what she thinks, and as the simulation goes on, Marlene is actually holding her own, even though Amick is warning her that if she doesn’t achieve her goal within a time limit, she’ll be disqualified. Amick asks Marlene if she understands, and Marlene tells herself that it’s the High Council that doesn’t understand, since the reason she’s alive is because of Yuji’s help. As she continues the simulation, Amick’s helper tells her that at the rate she’s going she can actually achieve the objective. Amick tells him to ‘do it,’ but when he’s hesitant to carry out a particular order, she tells him that Marlene has to learn how to follow orders, and carry them out as quickly and thoroughly as possible. She tells him to carry out her order, and her helper finally starts punching in a code into the simulator. Marlene looks around, seeing all the Blue that she killed, looking from right to left. She hears a hiss, and turns to her right, and suddenly the Blue she killed have spawned back to life. Before she can react, she’s swarmed, and receives an electric shock that knocks her out. Amick tells her helper to attend to both Marlene and the other teammate, and she just walks away, cold and collected. She goes into her office, and makes a phone call, telling whoever she’s talking to that she’s collected 2805’s data and will submit it. Later at the Medical station, Marlene is in a bed and wakes up, realizing where she is. She tells herself it’s ironic she ended up back at the station, actually happy about it. She starts to look for the section she found Yuji in, and when she finds it and looks through the glass panel, she finds the room empty, with Yuji missing, and is in shock. But behind her in the hall she entered, a guard with a helmet is watching her from the shadows.

 

Commentary

 

With this episode, we see just how cold hearted and almost ‘machine’ like the High Council and the general military ranks of Second Earth are. Soldiers are treated as mere numbers, and if they don’t follow orders, are considered almost worthless. The High Council seems to be mostly composed of ‘heartless’ men who are only interested in the progress that seems to concern Yuji and other Sleepers, while characters such as Doug and Amick are REALLY unlikable already after just one episode. Doug and Amick both seem to follow orders to the letter, and seem to show little to no emotion. Amick’s a bit more despicable since she literally cheats to have Marlene fail her simulation, even though she was going to win. We also see that Marlene for a fact now has feelings for Yuji. She isn’t the cold woman we saw in the first few episodes anymore. The fact she’s trying everything she can to look for him is proof she cares for him. But the military doesn’t seem to like anyone except when they’re mindless drones, as she’s being watched. Another bit of a cliffhanger, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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