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Episode 3: Dance of the Orbital Ghosts

 

Review by Chris Guanche

February 17, 2006

 

Summary

 

On October 24, a Ball squad launches from a Salamis to attack a group of unescorted Papuas. As they close in to attack, they come under fire from three experimental Zudah mobile suits, forcing them to retreat. A Zeon propaganda video congratulates the Federation for creating its own mobile suits, but it notes that those suits will pale in comparison to the technological superiority of the Zudah. The video states that the Zudah is undergoing final testing under the supervision of Major Jean Luc Duvall, a test pilot for Zimmad Corporation. After fighting off the Balls, Duvall, Washiya and the other Zudah pilot land inside the Jotunheim. On the bridge Prochnow laughs and says that winning without a fight is a great tactic. He thinks the army may finally be recognizing their abilities, and he has the Jotunheim set course to Side 3 for re-supply. At headquarters Oliver reports to Schacht that the test of the Zudah was a success. He says he didn't expect such a big public announcement for the Zudah, but Schacht explains it's simply propaganda. Schacht shows Oliver a map of Earth and says that the Federation is planning a massive assault on Odessa. He says that if Zeon lose that battle, Earth will be lost and their forces will eventually crumble. Oliver says the Zudah should be sent to the front lines, but Schacht notes that when the suit was labeled EMS-04 it fell apart during a test flight and proved inferior to the Zaku I. Oliver says that it's been improved since then, and because now it's the EMS-10, it's pretty much a different suit. He then says headquarters shouldn't use it for propaganda, and Schacht asks Oliver if he thinks headquarters would waste money on propaganda if they had the ability to change the war situation. Schacht then shows Oliver a video of a Zaku II being attacked by the Gundam. Later, a Musai opens fire on the Zudahs as part of a combat test. Duvall says he will rush in while Washiya and the other pilot cover him. As Duvall closes in, the other pilot decides to rush in and passes Duvall. His engine overloads and Oliver tells Duvall to warn him to stop. The out of control Zudah clips the Musai and begins to fall apart before finally exploding. In the Jotunheim's hangar, Washiya cries on the floor and asks why that had to happen. Oliver approaches Duvall and asks to speak to him alone. He notes that the Zudah broke apart during flight in the exact same was the EMS-04 version did four years ago. Duvall says he doesn't want to insult the dead, but he insists that the accident was caused by a novice pilot who didn't follow orders. Oliver asks if by that line of argument all novice pilots of Zudahs are seeking death. He then says he conducted his own investigation of the data and found that the acceleration limits of the EMS-04 and EMS-10 were the same. He asks what the difference between the two is and begins to imply that they're the same. Duvall grabs Oliver by the collar, but he lets him go when Monique pages them to come to the bridge.

 

On the bridge the crew watches a Federation propaganda cartoon about the Zudah. The cartoon states that the EMS-04 lost to the Zaku I, and that the EMS-10 is just a renumbering of the original suit. The cartoon mocks the Zeon for marketing the EMS-10 as a new machine, and it concludes by stating that the battle at Odessa will end in a Federation victory. Just then the Jotunheim receives an emergency message from headquarters ordering all ships near Earth to enter orbit. Prochnow says that the Federation's announcement shows the truth about the Zudah, but now their priority is to rescue the soldiers escaping from Earth. Prochnow then tells Duvall that it's probably best to not use the Zudah anymore. Duvall wonders why the secret of the Zudah was leaked out because the propaganda war was highly classified. Now, he says, the Zudah will just become a ghost fighter. Monique calls him out for lying to them and then complaining about headquarters. Duvall then says that Zeonic Company must be behind it because they used dirty tricks four years ago when the Zudah went up against the Zaku. Duvall says the Zudah can't be defeated by a Zaku, and Monique says he's a fool. The Jotunheim then receives a distress call from the H.L.V.s stuck in Earth orbit. A squadron of Balls launch from a Salamis and begin to destroy the H.L.V.s. Several Zakus emerge from the H.L.V.s to fight back, but as ground use suits they can't maneuver properly in space and are easily destroyed by the Balls. Monique orders Duvall and Washiya to launch in their Zudahs. Oliver begins to criticize her decision, but she stops him when she says she'll go out in the spare Zudah. The three Zudahs launch and begin destroying the Balls. Duvall and Washiya take on the Balls while Monique helps a ground Zaku reach safety. At the same time a squad of GMs open fire on the Jotunheim. Duvall tells Monique and Washiya to continue the rescue efforts while he engages the GMs. Duvall surprises the GM squad and destroys two units. The four remaining pilots wonder what suit that is, but when they realize it's the Zudah, they start to laugh at Duvall. Duvall then flies around them and leads them away from the H.L.V.s. Oliver tells Monique to bring back Duvall and keep an eye on her engine, but she tells him she doesn't have time for that. Duvall pushes his engine to the limit, forcing the GMs to push themselves to the limit to keep up. One of the GMs falls back due to engine problems, but Monique destroys it. Duvall calls the Jotunheim and says that no matter how much he's yelled at, he won't feel disgraced. He says the Zudah is no longer a ghost fighter and was able to fight in a battle and prove it existed. Monique reaches her engine limit and shuts it down. The three remaining GMs overload and explode. Soon after, Duvall's Zudah breaks apart and explodes in the atmosphere. As the Jotunheim leaves orbit, the crew salutes Duvall. The next day, the Zeon formally announce the abandoning of Odessa. The Jotunheim receives orders to halt tests of the Zudah and keep the two remaining units for the ship's defenses. Prochnow thinks that they won't be able to escape the war now that they have suits of their own. As Oliver writes his report, he realizes that he doesn't know how he can express what he saw.

 

Commentary

 

Wow, if I were a test pilot, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with the 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit. So far, they have close to a 100% mortality rate with all the prototypes they test. This time, propaganda plays a major part on both sides of the war. The Zeon market the EMS-10 Zudah as a technological achievement that will crush the Federation's suits. In reality, it's still the same failed design that couldn't compete with the Zaku I four years ago. In the span of just three episodes, we've seen how the course of the war has drastically turned against Zeon. Oliver starts out as a naive, bright-eyed young engineer, but after all he's seen, I think he's come to realize the hopelessness of the situation the Zeon are in. In episode 2, he noted that the Zeon were throwing everything out onto the battlefield, and now that extends to propaganda campaigns featuring defective suits. Although Oliver and Monique have been at odds on past missions, this time they're on the same side thanks to Duvall's duplicity about the Zudah. We finally get to see Balls score some kills, even if they were against crippled ground suits and didn't require the skills of someone like Shiro Amada. I was surprised to see Monique pilot a Zudah and get some kills, as I didn't expect she even knew how to pilot a mobile suit. The Hidden One Year War portion of MS IGLOO is over, and the Apocalypse 0079 subtitle for the last half of the series suggests that things will go from bad to worse.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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