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Episode 3: The Labyrinth and the Dragon

 

Review by Arshad Adel Abdul-Aal

August 18, 2010

 

Summary

 

The TV show Chidori is watching gets interrupted by a news bulletin much to her annoyance. Sousuke notes the announcement of the kidnapping of a North Chinese ambassador to himself and gets a phone call with a new mission. He tells Chidori that he’ll be gone for two days and reminds her to go home immediately after school. In Nanking, the kidnappers’ Savage escorts shoot down pursuing helicopters. Yu Lan is sitting in the truck with the ambassador disguised as a hostage. Gates spots a police road block up ahead and fires at it with a rocket launcher. The Savages plow through the road block and Gates’ psychotic speech gets interrupted by discarded shell casings falling on his head. The group then disappears into a tunnel. On the Tuatha de Danaan, Kalinin and Tessa brief the SRT on the situation just as Sousuke reports in. The kidnappers call themselves the “Lost 500,000 People” and are now hiding in the tunnels under the Yangtze river. Kalinin explains the rescue mission with an outline of the labyrinth-like structure of the tunnels, which are big enough to accommodate arm slaves. Infantry will infiltrate the tunnels and secure routes for Mao, Weber and Sousuke in their arm slaves. Weber complains about the mission details being on paper instead of their computers, and Kalinin informs everyone that Captain Vincent Blueno from the intelligence division will participate in the mission to help secure communications. Tessa addresses the SRT and reminds them that this is a delicate operation so they must be prepared, after which Kalinin dismisses everyone. Elsewhere Vincent Blueno is riding a helicopter to Nanking and inserts a CD into his laptop with a malicious grin on his face.

 

As the preparations are underway, Sousuke asks Kalinin to let him sortie in an M9 but gets denied. Sousuke asks why he should pilot the Arbalest and Kalinin asks why he shouldn’t, since the Arbalest is an efficient machine. Sousuke drops the matter and shifts to the topic of Wraith. He complains that all Wraith ever does is observe Chidori from a distance and isn’t doing a good job of protecting her. Kalinin says that Wraith is from the intelligence division and does things his own way. He orders to leave that matter for later and focus on the mission. Tessa announces to the crew that they’ll be arriving at the target area soon. Weber asks Mao how long has it been since the war that divided China, and the latter responds that it’s been eight years since the war began and five year since the ceasefire agreement was signed. The conference that was attacked today was in fact a discussion to extend the ceasefire period. Sousuke adds while studying his history book that the attackers were not the usual terrorist groups. Mao says that the area they’re hiding in is a demilitarized zone between north and south China, which is a sensitive issue because one of the topics at the conference was who was going to lay claim to it. Mao surmises that parties interested in uniting the two sides, including the American and Soviet governments, must have a made a sizable donation to Mithril to aid in the resolution of the situation. Sousuke finishes by saying that the price of failure will be another civil war. Mao and the rest meet up with Vincent who explains that they need to set up relay points in the tunnels to allow communication. A squad of M6’s belonging to the Chinese government tries to infiltrate the tunnels but get thwarted by booby traps and machine gun fire. The commander orders the M6’s to abort when he sees Mithril’s helicopter arrive. Sousuke gets off in the cloaked Arbalest and heads inside the tunnel. He avoids tripping a laser wire thanks to the ECS then takes out a Savage. Mao infiltrates from an access point on the river and takes out another Savage. She installs a relay point and moves on. Weber takes out the legs on a third Savage. The infantry team start getting static on their communicators and nearly trip a laser wire. Sousuke takes out another Savage and asks Vincent if he can do anything about the static, but Vincent assures him that everything is fine. Everything is going smoothly but Tessa finds it suspicious. Kalinin agrees and adds that they musn’t let their guard down. Gates is monitoring the situation from the cockpit of a mass produced Venom and sees the Arbalest. He asks the twins if they’re ready and jokingly notes that Yu Lan can’t respond so she doesn’t blow her cover. The infantry teams surround the control room from both sides and wait for Mao’s signal. Mao feels paranoid, but gives the signal. The infantry charge in and find the hostages only with no sign of the kidnappers. Mao disembarks from her M9 and heads to the control room. Vincent shuts down the communication relays. Weber takes out another Savage and voices his suspicion about the ease of the operation, to which Mao and Sousuke agree. Upon inspecting the Savage, Weber is surprised to find it unmanned. A communication blackout occurs and Yu Fan in her Shadow attacks Weber. Yu Lan gets up and slits the throat of a soldier then throws the knife into the head of another. She headshots a third soldier then shoots Mao in the arm. Sousuke manages to get through to the Tuatha de Danaan and tells them that they’ve walked into a trap. He’s surrounded by Savages and Gates greets him.

 

Commentary

 

Here we see another major point of Full Metal Panic’s alternate history: China was divided into a north and south side and was plagued by a civil war for three years before a ceasefire treaty was signed, in a similar situation to Korea. The first season taught us that whenever a new Mithril agent gets introduced before a big mission, he will either be killed or turn traitor. Vincent is another in a line of people who get paid off to betray Mithril, and the result lands the SRT in quite a pickle. Yu Lan racks up some very gory kills here and gets ready to slice up Mao as well. With Gates piloting another Venom, he probably has a Lambda Driver and knows how to use it.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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