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Episode 4: At the Bottom of the Gravity Well

 

Review by Chris Guanche

December 8, 2011

 

Summary

 

From his bed, Syam thinks about Operation British and watches a news report about Zeon remnants attacking the Federation's capital at Dakar. Two Nemos destroy a Capule from above, they're both destroyed while attacking a Juaggu. A GM III then attacks the Juaggu with a beam javelin and falls back as several GM IIs fire their bazookas, destroying the Juaggu. A massive beam blast from the amphibious mobile armor Shamblo then destroys the street. Nearby, the Londo Bell flagship Ra Cailum prepares to launch its mobile suits, and Captain Bright Noa can't believe that the Zeon are attacking Dakar. The Ra Cailum launches the Jestas from its Black Tri-Stars team, and the Shamblo fires its beam cannon at the Federation assembly building, a moment that pilot Loni Garvey says she's been waiting for a long time. Yonem Kirks calls Loni and tells her that their diversion worked, but they have to fall back because EFF reinforcements are coming. Syam tells Gael that they have to resolve situation quickly, but Gael notes that the Unicorn Gundam disappeared in the battle that destroyed the remains of the Laplace Colony. Gael thinks that there must be a reason why Cardeas chose Banagher, and Syam comments that God is toying with them. Later, Bright rides a car out to Ronan's house and wonders why he's being called out at a time like this. Ronan argues with Martha over the phone, and Martha asks Ronan to hand over the "VIP" he has, but he plays dumb about it. He asks what she stands to gain from that, and she says she'll leave that to his imagination. Ronan asks Riddhe if he's fallen for Mineva, adding that must be why he deserted the military and ran home with her. Ronan comments that he never expected Riddhe would get mixed up with the Box, but he needs to learn the truth about the family. Afterward, Riddhe goes to Mineva's room and apologizes for bringing her to his home because his family is determined to prevent the opening of the Box. He hugs Mineva and tells her he brought her to the worst possible place, but he vows to protect her. Later, he rides a horse out into the countryside and thinks about the marriage proposal he made to Mineva so she could get away from the Zeon and the Federation. A handcuffed Marida is brought in to meet with Martha, who addresses her as Ple Twelve. Martha says that Ple has to obey her master, but Marida counters that Martha will have to torture or recondition her if she wants obedience. Martha comments that reconditioning Marida will be difficult and activates spotlights that shine a light on a damaged Mass-Production Type Qubeley from the First Neo Zeon War. Martha says that Marida's soul is still held prisoner inside that suit, and that she's going to free Marida from it. Marida sees a faceless version of her younger self and has a panic attack. Bright meets with Ronan, who briefs him about the situation with the Garencieres, which landed on Earth 10 days ago. Ronan wants Bright to find the ship, and Bright accuses him of wanting to use the ship for personal reasons. Ronan says that the Garencieres was involved in the incidents at Industrial 7 and Palau, and he adds that Bright should be concerned about the Nahel Argama, which is being detained in orbit on the orders of the Vist Foundation. Ronan says that the Foundation is also after the Garencieres, so it's to their benefit if they find it first. The ship is carrying something related to the Box, and Ronan wants him to get it or destroy it. He also wants Bright to take Riddhe with him, and a servant informs Ronan that Mineva has vanished. In the African desert, Flaste tells Zinnerman that the only way to get the mobile suits out of the crashed Garencieres is to crack the hull. Zinnerman doesn't want to do that because it would ruin the ship, but Flaste comments that they have to join up soon with friendly forces before the EFF finds them. Zinnerman can't believe that remnants hit Dakar as a diversion, but Flaste says he understands how the Earth-based Zeon feel, having missed out on the two Neo Zeon wars in space. Flaste says there's an oasis 60 km to the east where they can get help, and Zinnerman decides to bring Banagher with him. Flaste grumbles about the decision and throws Banagher to the floor. Banagher apologizes for killing Gilboa, and Flaste says that if Gilboa were alive, they could've landed properly.

 

Elsewhere, Mineva eats in a diner and talks to the old man who owns it. He says there's not much to see in the area, but Mineva counters that as a Spacenoid, it's nice to walk on real ground. The old man wonders if his back would hurt less in space, but says he's too old to leave Earth now. He remembers hearing stories from his grandparents about troubled times, which led to the space colonization program. He says it's a misconception that only the poor were forced into space, because many left of their own accord to let Earth heal. But he adds that the One Year War undid all the progress that had been accomplished. Mineva wonders if people are hopeless, and the old man says that all their problems started out with good intentions because the Federation wanted to help humanity. The old man comments that some people claim to work for the greater good at their own expense, but he thinks that's shady. He notes that Char claimed to be fighting for everyone's good while dropping asteroids on Earth, and he wonders if Char never learned to love humanity. Mineva wonders what they can do, but the old man says he doesn't have the answer. Several helicopters and cars surround the diner, and government agents ask Mineva to come with them. She leaves a large tip for the old man and declares that she's not running or hiding. In space, Martha tells Alberto that she intends to use Mineva as bait to draw out the Unicorn Gundam. She then hands Alberto a computer pad with the specs for the new Unicorn Gundam "Banshee." Banagher and Zinnerman march through the desert at night, and Banagher collapses from dehydration. Banagher wants Zinnerman to leave him alone, but Zinnerman tells him to stop sulking and acting like a victim. Banagher shouts out that he tried the best he could, and for that he killed people and is now stranded in the desert. Banagher recalls Flaste telling him that after the war, EFF troops destroyed a Zeon town in Africa as a way to blow off steam, and in the process they killed Flaste and Zinnerman's families. Flaste said he didn't care about the Box, but for Neo Zeon, their only choices were cursing the world in vain or endless war. At camp, Banagher cries and comments that the Earth is beautiful, but Zinnerman counters that the world is even more polluted than it used to be. He says that ancient people were at one with nature, but as societies developed, things became too complicated. Then those who went out into space created a new system, which was incompatible with the system of people who live on Earth. Banagher wonders if people could surpass that, but Zinnerman says hate isn't easily forgotten and that people spend their lives running from sadness. Banagher continues to cry and asks if Zinnerman is going to tell him to stop, but Zinnerman says crying because you care is different, and that he wouldn't trust a man who never cries. After contacting help, they return to the Garencieres, where a Zaku Tank "Green Macaque" and Zaku Desert Type help pull the ship out of the sand. Zinnerman thanks Banagher and says that if not for Banagher, he might've given up along the way too. Banagher asks Zinnerman what the next set of coordinates are from the La+ program. Zinnerman calls Full Frontal and reports that the next set of coordinates are in Torrington, and Full Frontal wonders if Cardeas is playing them for fools. He then congratulates Kirks on a job well done in Dakar, and Kirks thanks Full Frontal for supplying them with Zee Zulus. Full Frontal then addresses Loni and says he's familiar with her father, who perfected Haman's legacy. Loni asks Full Frontal to assign them to the Torrington mission, and he answers that as the commander of Neo Zeon in space, he has no place issuing orders to the Earth-based Zeon. After she leaves, Zinnerman asks if this is a good idea, but Full Frontal says these people have been waiting a long time as the world changed around them. Loni passes Banagher and tells him she expects good things from him.

 

Across the world, Zeon remnants receive coded messages from Kirks on old Principality frequencies about an upcoming attack on the Federation. The remnants launch from across Earth, including small villages and the wreckage of the crashed Gray Phantom. Elsewhere, the EFF submarine Bonefish comes under attack from several Zee Zulus and is destroyed by the Shamblo before it can deploy all of its Aqua GMs. As the Garencieres heads for Australia, mechanic Tomura tells Banagher that the plan is to deploy the Unicorn Gundam after capturing the base to see what new information pops up. Banagher comments that it's strange for a Federation mobile suit to use Zeon weapons, and Tomura explains that it's a universal standard. Riddhe's Delta Plus lands inside the Ra Cailum, and he reports to Bright for briefing. Bright says that their top priority is to capture the Box, and Riddhe asks Bright to stop giving him special treatment. Bright tells him that's nonsense and that he's the only one giving himself special treatment. He tells Riddhe that if he goes out and can return safely, then he'll treat him like a regular pilot. As Riddhe leaves, he stops to look at a picture of Amuro Ray, and Bright gets a call. Flaste wonders why the coordinates are in Torrington, and Zinnerman says it's near where the colony fell, so he wonders if Cardeas is making them retrace the path of humanity's downfall. The Zeon forces begin their attack on Torrington from the water, and some GM IIs and an Aqua GM are destroyed by a Capule, Zee Zulu and Zogok. A battleship is attacked from below by the Shamblo, and its claw arm destroys the Aqua GMs trying to grapple onto it. A Guncannon Detector opens fire on units approaching from the air and destroys a Dodai II that an Efreet Schneid is riding on, forcing it to switch to ground combat. More mobile suits attack from the ground, including a Zaku Cannon, Galluss-K and Zaku II Kai. Circling above in a Fat Uncle Custom with his Zaku I Sniper Type, Kirks tells Loni to avoid the city. She reminds him what the Federation did to them, and he tells her to keep her cool. The Shamblo's psycommu system then creates a strange reaction, and the reflector bits launch and spread beam cannon fire across the city. Kirks calls it a psycommu runaway and wonders if it's thirsty for blood. Bright asks for an update and wonders if one of the ships approaching Torrington is the Garencieres. Bright orders the ship's mobile suits to launch, and Jesta pilot Daryl McGuinness jokes that he'll shoot Riddhe in the back if he slows them down. Riddhe answers that he wishes he can join their team, and Nigel Garrett says he can do that by shooting one of them in the back. A Dwadge, Desert Zaku and Dom Tropen speed across the ground destroy a defending Nemo and Guncannon Detector. Several ground troops prepare a counterattack, but they're sniped from above by Kirks, who also destroys several Saberfish fighters. Banagher comes to the bridge and tells Zinnerman that if he can break the next seal on the La+ program the fighting can stop, but Zinnerman tells Banagher he'll be a target for flak guns. He wants Banagher to wait until they're done mopping up, and when Banagher asks Zinnerman if he's ok with innocent people dying, Zinnerman answers that what he thinks doesn't matter in an operation. Banagher tries to leave, but Zinnerman pulls a gun and tells Banagher he's naive if he didn't expect something like this would happen. He says this is what happens when seizing enemy territory, and Banagher counters that killing fleeing civilians is just revenge. Banagher points out that Zinnerman didn't shoot him at Industrial 7 and saved Marida from her bad life, but Zinnerman tells him to shut up and tosses him aside. Zinnerman says he was only worried about Banagher because he's the key to the Box, and he thought winning over Banagher would make his job easier. Zinnerman pulls up a monitor with video from the battle and says these things happen in war - some people kill and others are killed. He asks what's wrong with vengeance because their war isn't over yet, and Banagher counters that's how the EFF soldiers justified burning the Zeon town. On the ground, a Zaku Mariner, Capule and Z'Gok are destroyed when the Byarlant Custom launches. Banagher reminds Zinnerman about what he said about people running away from sadness, and he knocks Zinnerman to the floor, punching him repeatedly. He says this fighting won't accomplish anything, but Zinnerman calls him an idiotic kid and pushes him away. Zinnerman says he's been waiting for this moment a long time, and Banagher says seeing hell with his own eyes is no excuse for forcing it on others. Zinnerman picks up Banagher, but Banagher kicks him in the crotch and knocks him down again. He repeatedly kicks Zinnerman in the face, and when Zinnerman asks Alec and Flaste for help, they ignore him. Banagher says it's wrong to close your heart off because there are sad and painful things. He says people can feel sadness because they have hearts, and he wants to become a man who can live with that, like Zimmerman. On the ground, the Byarlant Custom destroys the Zogok and two Zee Zulus before taking off.

 

Banagher gets into the Unicorn Gundam's cockpit and asks Tomura to begin the launch sequence. A Desert Gelgoog and Galluss-J jump into the air to attack the Byarlant Custom, but both are destroyed. Nearby, Loni continues to move through the city, carving out a path of destruction and ignoring Kirks' orders. Banagher thanks Zinnerman and everyone on the Garencieres for taking care of him, and Tomura launches the Unicorn Gundam. As he descends, he fires the beam magnum several times on the road to block Loni's path. Loni wonders if Banagher's betrayed them, and he tells her to fall back because he's going to break the La+ seal. A Marasai attacks the Byarlant Custom in midair and is also destroyed. Loni tells Kirks that Banagher opened fire on her, and he tells Loni to fall back, but she ignores him. The Black Tri-Stars and Riddhe enter the battlefield, and Riddhe hears Banagher's voice on the radio. Loni thanks Banagher and says that because of him, she's able to take revenge on her parents. Banagher tells Loni that the deaths she's caused will only make people hate the Zeon even more. The Jestas destroy several Zaku Cannons, and Loni opens fire on Banagher. He tells that if she keeps going, her heart will break and she'll lose her humanity. Loni tells Banagher that her parents were butchered during the hunt for Zeon remnants, so she's come to finish what her father started. She says she doesn't care about the box and that her hatred runs too deeply to be dispelled by anything. She then grabs the Unicorn Gundam with one of the Shamblo's claws, but Riddhe blasts it free and gives Banagher a lift. Riddhe says they have to destroy the Shamblo, but Banagher counters that force won't solve anything. He says that Loni has been enslaved and that it's not the real her doing this, and Riddhe comments that she's enslaved by an unbreakable blood curse. Banagher breaks away and lands in front of Loni, asking if this is what she really wants. She says this is all she has to live for, and he says it's too sad to live for nothing but anger. Banagher then exits his cockpit, and Loni does the same. As the tide begins to turn against the Zeon, Kirks jumps out of the damaged Fat Uncle and attacks the Black Tri-Stars, damaging Watts Stepney's Base Jabber. Kirk lands next to some colony wreckage, and with one shot left, he impales himself with his rifle and tries to set off his own reactor, but the Black Tri-Stars kill him before he gets the chance. Loni feels pain from Kirk's death and says she's lost the last of her family. Riddhe opens fire on Loni, the the reflector bits absorb the shot and reflect it. Banagher transforms the Unicorn Gundam into Destroy Mode, and both it and the Shamblo attack each other with waves of psycoframe energy. Riddhe tells Banagher to shoot Loni, and she continues to attack. She sees the image of Banagher, and a pair of dark hands pushing him away. She tells Banagher that children are bound to the wishes for their parents and that he shouldn't talk since his power comes from his parents. Banagher dodges her attack and hops onto the Delta Plus. Riddhe says they have to exceed the reaction speed of the reflectors, and Banagher tells him he only has one shot left in the beam magnum. Riddhe flies around to avoid the Shamblo's attacks and charges in from the front. The image of Kirks tells Loni that their war is over, and she stops shooting. Riddhe tells Banagher to hurry up and shoot her, and Loni tells Banagher it's sad. Banagher says he can't shoot, and at the last second Loni turns the reflector bits back on herself. Riddhe grabs the beam magnum and shoots the Shamblo's cockpit, killing Loni. Bright calls Riddhe, and Zinnerman tells Flaste to get them out of there. Riddhe points his beam rifle at the Unicorn Gundam and orders Banagher to get out. Their sensors pick up something, and when they look up they see the Unicorn Gundam "Banshee" descending and transforming into Destroy Mode.

 

Commentary

 

For all the action and mobile suit porn in this episode, in the end it's a bit of a disappointment compared to the previous episodes. It feels like it's trying to cram too much into just one hour, and I've been worried from the start that this would eventually happen. And for all the events that do happen in this episode, the plot hasn't really advanced. The whole point is to break the next seal on the La+ program, but that doesn't even happen. There are some good scenes here, including Mineva's conversation with the old man and Banagher's conversation with Zinnerman in the desert. In the original novel, the main action of this part of the story is in Dakar, but the anime shifts it to Torrington. It also retcons in an entire city, as there was no such thing next to Torrington in Gundam 0083. I think Dakar would've been a better choice for the story to stay at, not only because of its importance in Gundam, but also because Banagher was already in Africa. There were apparently some changes to Loni's character, and the way she's presented in the anime is almost completely vile and unsympathetic. Regardless of the Shamblo's psycommu oddities, she's completely bloodthirsty. Her nonsense about children being bound to the wishes of their parents is nothing more than a cheap justification for mass murder. I'm also perplexed by Banagher's actions in this episode. He takes Gundam protagonist babbling to a whole new level. He has no problem beating the hell out of Zinnerman to stop the fighting, but he can't bring himself to attack the person actually responsible for the massacre. He also lectures Riddhe that force doesn't solve anything, which I find amusing coming from someone in a mobile suit who has already killed multiple people and actively chosen to fight. Loni absolutely deserved to die, and it makes no sense that Banagher wasn't able to make the critical decision to stop her and save people. On another note, it's nice to have Bright Noa finally appear and see the Ra Cailum in action again. The battles here represent a grab bag of mobile suits from every previous UC anime, along with some MSV cameos by the hideous Juaggu and slightly less hideous Zogok. It's nice to see the Efreet actually be animated, but I wish it could've been in a color other than pink. As for the battles, they're pretty uneven. I can understand the Zeon having the element of surprise, but they completely steamroll everything at Torrington until the Byarlant Custom launches. And after the previous attack at Dakar, wouldn't all EFF bases around the world be on high alert? Yes, the battle is nicely animated and it's good to see all these old suits, but I would've preferred if the EFF had shown a bit more competence. With the cliffhanger ending of the Banshee's appearance, I wonder where the story will go next. Hopefully it'll be an improvement over this episode.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3 out of 5 stars
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