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Episode 16: Massive Illusion

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

June 26, 2007

 

Summary

 

Sometime after their escape, the James and company come across a water intake plant, where they cool off in one of the water tanks. Dolores asks James if he thinks Rebecca returned to BAHRAM alright, to which James replies he hopes not to see her again. This confuses Dolores since they had become friends, but James says he’s afraid she will become unhappy from afar. Meanwhile at an unknown facility, Rebecca and her wingmates report to Napth, who is displeased at Sobek’s performance. He claims the AlterNeith is the most powerful Type C orbital frame available, and yet the team has let Isis escape twice in battle. He asks Rebecca to explain to him why, but Axel speaks up first in Rebecca’s defense. Napth immediately stops him, and threatens to throw Axel out of Sobek. At this, Rebecca finally speaks up and admits her own fault, but Napth says he doesn’t care if they cover up for each other, he just wants results. He asks Rully for the explanation. Rully reports that from data recorded, Isis’ battle programming has awakened to thirty percent, which aggravates Napth further since the team lost to it at that level. However, Rully puts a disc into a projector to show footage of the previous battles, and continues that Isis’ movements and power are far different from what was recorded in simulation, and that James Links has shown to be more cunning than expected. Rully concludes that going by Rebecca’s story, there is a strong connection between Isis and James Links. Napth asks about Rebecca’s story, and Rully explains Rebecca was their prisoner for several days. This intrigues Napth, who immediately dismisses Axel and Rully. Axel starts to protest, but Napth grabs Axel and lifts him up with his Metatron arm and tells him to leave. Outside, Axel shoves Rully against the wall for telling Napth about Rebecca’s captivity, but Rully states he was just telling the truth. Axel how could he do that to a sibling, but Rully again states they’re only legally siblings and that he’s indebted to Napth, not him. Angered, Axel raises his fists and the two begin to fight. Back in Napth’s office, Napth confronts Rebecca and demands to know why she’s come back if she was a prisoner, since it meant an Earthling let her go. Rebecca claims James Links was different from what she had imagined, and that his only concern was his family and protecting them. Rebecca asks where Rachel Links is now, which Napth answers Nokuteisu. He then inquires if Rebecca is thinking about rescuing Rachel and taking her back to her family, which Rebecca denies. Napth then states that Rebecca is seeing an illusion, thinking the Links family would take her in like that. This illusion is called “hope,” which Napth says it has turned Mars into a miserable place, and Sobek exists to free the planet from it. He reaches to Rebecca’s shoulder and says if kindness is the Links’ power, then heartlessness is theirs, then asking if she understands. Rebecca faces away from Napth at that, as she doesn’t know what to think. All of a sudden, an alarm sounds throughout the plant, and an official reports to Napth that an unidentified object is closing in on their base. The base immediately goes to full alert and Rebecca leaves the office to get her team together. He asks Axel what happened to his face, to which Axel replies it’s nothing. Outside, the object, an orbital frame, flies down toward the facility at high speed, and easily breaks through a closed gate to enter inside. It continues to punch through barriers until it enters the AlterNeith hangar, just as Rebecca, Axel and Rully make it there. They stare up in awe as the orbital frame stares back at them. Coming up from behind, Napth asks that Colonel Nohman stop with the bad jokes, and the group immediately recognizes the frame as Anubis. Coming out of Anubis’ cockpit, Nohman greets Napth, although it’s clear Napth doesn’t like Nohman. He demands the reason for the forced entry, and Nohman shrugs it off, explaining that he only brought Anubis’ data to Napth since NUT wanted it that badly, meanwhile walking to a nearby table and sitting down on it after sweeping the papers off. Napth also asks why Nohman wasn’t present at the Parade of Triumphant Returns, and Nohman states he didn’t support Rutger to begin with and doesn’t care what he does. Nohman then takes a sip of coffee from a nearby mug, but spits it out, claiming that again the coffee is just for the smell. Further antagonizing Napth, he pours the coffee out onto the papers he had thrown off. Becoming serious, Nohman tells Napth that Antilia was a crushing defeat, since they failed to recover Jehuty and Viola, who was supposed to capture Jehuty, died as well. However, he says Anubis is wonderful, that if Metatron is magic like Napth says, then Anubis is the ultimate magician, and that he plans to use it for Project Aumaan. Napth asks if he plans to change the future of Mars with Aumaan, to which Nohman flatly replies that kind of thing is trivial. He looks at his watch and notes in one hour the facility will be in the UNSF’s surveillance blind spot, and suggests that they hold a mock battle to record Anubis’ power. Napth agrees, and orders Rebecca to be Nohman’s opponent. Nohman looks at Rebecca and tells her not to hold back, which Rebecca retorts he does the same. Later on, Rebecca goes over the controls of her new Selkis. Napth tells her not to hold back anything from the base’s control room and to think of Anubis as Isis. Behind him, Axel asks if Anubis is truly that powerful, and Napth explains that Anubis was created from Rikoah Hardimaan’s own data and research. Rully notes that Dr. Hardimaan died mysteriously during the original orbital frame’s design and Napth adds that Nohman is Hardimaan’s son, so his attachment to Anubis is natural. Anubis and Selkis soon take off with a squad of camera drones, both frames heading for a nearby canyon. Rully observes the wing generators on Anubis’ back, but Axel dismisses them as too much power for anyone to control. Napth in the midst of this grins, as he wants to see the Colonel’s skill in battle.

 

In space, a fleet of UNSF cruisers approaches Deimos, with their squadrons of new Phantoma II LEVs taking off. The Phantoma IIs enter Deimos and situate themselves around it while Space Force troops come into the control room, fully occupying the station. Back on the planet, Nohman reflects on Selkis, noting its firepower. Rebecca tells him it’s about time, but Nohman asks her age. Rebecca says she’s fifteen, and Nohman thinks that’s the same age as Leo Stenbuck, the boy who took Jehuty. He then asks why Rebecca is fighting, and Rebecca says to free Mars with the strength her father Napth gave her. This puts Nohman off, thinking Rebecca is going to wallow in power as well. Rebecca asks him if he thinks she’s mistaken, but Nohman replies that there are no mistakes in life, then putting Anubis into a dash while generating its staff. Rebecca tracks Anubis and fires a barrage of homing missiles, but Nohman evades them and the missiles slam into the side of the canyon, causing rocks to fall. Anubis uses its staff to slice through the falling rocks, but one of the camera drones are destroyed. Rebecca takes the opportunity to attack Anubis from overhead, firing more missiles. Nohman smiles at her attack and expands Anubis’ vector trap to absorb the missiles and reflect them back at Selkis, with one hitting the opposing frame. He then flies upward and has Anubis zero shift beside Selkis. Rebecca begins to transform Selkis for close combat, but she knows she won’t make it, and Anubis slashes at her with its staff. Axel realizes the staff isn’t for mock battles, but Napth smiles deeply, impressed by Anubis’ zero shifting. Nohman prepares to finish the damaged Selkis off with a burst attack, but before he does, he looks up into the sky and immediately has Anubis fly away as Selkis falls to the ground. Napth demands why Nohman has stopped, and Nohman replies that something else has come up, and that they’ll have to suspend the battle for now, then saying farewell as Anubis shoots into space. In the control room, an operator reports to Napth that Deimos Station has been taken over by the UNSF, while up in the sky, shuttles and Phantoma IIs descend toward the facility. Napth exclaims that it’s a day with a lot of visitors, before ordering Rebecca to return. However, Rebecca replies that she will fly to Nokuteisu instead, as the UN forces are too close for a safe return. As his shuttle finishes landing, a scarred Baan exits and holds a handkerchief to his nose, dismayed by the Martian air. In Napth’s office, Baan lounges at Napth’s desk while complaining about the air smelling like Martian rats. Napth asks what WIRED would want with his facility, and Baan replies that WIRED is investigating the Antilia Raid, so that they can smash rats before the germs spread. He then explains that they are still searching for John Carter, which Sameggi clarifies as James Links, for a list of crimes against the Earth that would all cumulate to over two thousand years in prison. Baan states that James has fled to Mars, but Napth is not sure what that has to do with him. Angered, Baan throws a knife at Napth which he deflects with his Metatron arm, and then grabs him, claiming that the orbital frame with James was manufactured on Mars, so Napth has something to do with it. Napth doesn’t reply to this, merely grabbing Baan’s arm and crushing it with his Metatron one. Baan recoils back, and seeing that he’s not getting anywhere, backs out while stating next time he won’t hold anything back against Napth. The Earth forces soon depart, and as they fly away, Sameggi asks Baan if he believes that Napth, Rutger and Vascilia are planning something, to which Baan says it’s obvious Nereidum is manufacturing orbital frames, but that alone isn’t enough evidence for the UN to act. Baan clarifies that if they were in league with BAHRAM, then that would be different. Baan laughs at the thought of ruining Mars and James Links along with it. En route to Nokuteisu, Rebecca remembers James and Dolores, wondering why she feels agitated at the memories. She soon sets Selkis down into an underground landing strip and departs into the base. Inside a living area, Rebecca finds Rachel Links attending to a rose garden. After identifying her, Rebecca demands why Rachel married an Earthling, claiming that Martians and Earthlings can never understand each other. Rachel says that’s not true, but Rebecca claims that understanding between her and James is an illusion, and that only war exists between the planets. Rachel tells her she’s wrong, and that it’s not something one can separate like black and white, and that peoples’ relationships mingle together more easily. Rebecca claims that is too troublesome, but Rachel retorts that difficulty is the feeling of being alive, and that James taught her experiences make people better. In anger, Rebecca crushes a rose, but Rachel continues that the real value of life can’t be found by avoiding problems. Rebecca says she understands now which is why she has irritated when she sees them. Rachel realizes that she’s seen James, and Rebecca admits it, explaining that they came to Mars to save her. She then claims that she killed them herself, and that they won’t be coming anymore. Rachel becomes feint at the news, and Rebecca walks away, thinking that if she kills the Links family with her hands, it won’t be a lie. Meanwhile, the Links’ trailer continues its trek through the Martian desert toward Vascilia. Dolores claims that she’s tired, which confuses the family until Leon explains it’s the AI’s periodic self-maintenance. Rachel wonders what kind of dreams Dolores has, when suddenly the truck stops and loses power. As the group try to figure out what’s going on, Nikolai pulls up with his own truck to lend them a hand.

 

Commentary

 

To say the least, this episode makes up for the lag in the last two; more things have happened here than in any of the previous episodes, which is funny since the main cast barely appear in this one. I’m not even sure where to start, but here goes. First, we see Napth again, and we also see a glimpse of just how twisted a man he is, from adopting kids and using them as soldiers to his unhealthy fascination with Metatron. His conversation with Rebecca was pretty disturbing, and it’s too bad that she looks up to him, since her admiration conflicts with her experiences with James and Dolores. So much for her not being a brainless Earth-hating soldier girl. Second, and probably the most notable, we have a cameo from the primary antagonists in the ZOE universe, Nohman and the orbital frame Anubis. Instead of the crazed psychopath in 2nd Runner, Nohman actually passes as human here, being far less fanatical and more of an arrogant-yet-appealing kind of character. In fact, his design and personality kind of resemble Treize Khushrenada from New Mobile Report Gundam W, and I admit that I like this Nohman more than the albino zealot. Anubis as well appears closer to its original configuration than its 2nd Runner form, as it still has an orange-ish texture and its wing binders are still attached to its body, so I imagine somewhere down the line both frame and runner transformed into their more infamous forms. And speaking of orbital frames, we also see the scorpion-like Selkis, the frame Nohman used before Anubis, only now Rebecca is using one to replace her AlterNeith. Of course even with its heavy firepower, there was no way Rebecca could have defeated Anubis, and I have no doubt Nohman would have killed her if it wasn’t for the WIRED forces descending. That being said, we see Baan and Sameggi again after a long absence, and Baan is still obsessed over catching “John Carter,” probably more than he is with dealing with BAHRAM; all in all nice to see he’s still a fanatic. And finally, Rachel Links at long last makes her first appearance into the series outside of a flashback. She seems well off for being in captivity, but I found it strange that she took Rebecca’s aggression in stride since Rebecca literally came from nowhere, as well as her claim at killing James. It should have been clear that Rebecca was just trying to one-up Rachel for going against her conviction, but then Rachel has been kept in the dark all this time, so she has no reason not to believe her. Overall this is the best episode in the series so far, and I hope the next episodes are just as good if not better.

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4.5 out of 5 stars
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ZOE Dolores, i Episode 16 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 16

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