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Episode 18: Showdown at Noon

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

June 26, 2007

 

Summary

 

Baan holds a broadcast that spans all over Mars, warning people that if nobody turns over John Carter (Sameggi moves out of the background and clarifies “James Links”) then Mars will suffer repercussions from the UNSF. While the broadcast proceeds, James has told Cindy their story up to this point and tries to convince her he and his family aren’t criminals. However, she and Nikolai have their doubts. Leon tries to bring up a picture of the man that tortured him at the Orbital Elevator on his mobile computer, but he accidentally shows Rachel’s picture at first. After a moment, he changes the image to that of a Yan, and James immediately recognizes it as also the man that killed the UN inspector and framed him for it. Nikolai as well is somewhat transfixed by the image. Seeing a chance, Leon asks Dolores if she can locate him, but Dolores says that’s impossible even for her. With no apparent alternatives, James says that all they can do is find Rachel, and their questions will be answered. Later, Nikolai departs in his own truck with Noel, who is disguised as a dome repairwoman. As he watches them leave, Leon asks if it’s alright for Noel to go with Nikolai, but James says they can’t all go out for supplies, and that Nikolai seems to be a good guy. After driving down a road, Nikolai and Noel soon reach a nearby sphere. They begin wandering around the sphere, and Noel comes across holographic images of James, Leon and herself, which are modified to make them look like criminal types, much to her dismay. Back at the Links’ truck, James begins to regret his decision at sending Nikolai and his daughter out alone, to the amusement of Cindy and Leon. Their teasing makes James fear the worst and he to leaves with Dolores. Neither Leon nor Cindy can believe James is reacting that way because of a man and a woman being alone, and after a moment in dawns on them that they’re also alone now. Defensive, Cindy backs away and tells Pete if Leon comes near her, he’s to scratch and bite him. Meanwhile, while en route, James and Dolores come across a group of statues of science fiction Martians. James explains to Dolores that a long time ago, humans used to imagine Martians looking like that, and that the statues are probably from an abandoned amusement park. Thinking the statues are cute, Dolores compares one to a baby octopus. Breaking the moment, Dolores detects a trailer driving toward them, and James sees a way into the sphere. After getting out of Dolores, James pretends to stumble from exhaustion, landing right in front of the truck. The truck immediately stops and the driver gets out to check on James. From his voice, James recognizes the man as Raiah, and jumps him. In his truck, Raiah explains to James that he had come down to Mars for a job, but when the UNSF occupied Deimos, he found himself stranded. James points out that everything has happened all because of the job Raiah gave him, but Raiah claims there was no way he knew about Dolores. However, Raiah shoots back that murder isn’t a good thing, but James says it was all an unbelievable setup, and when Raiah asks him about the Orbital Elevator, James says that was an “Act of God.” James then asks Raiah where the container that held Dolores was taken, but Raiah can’t remember, and all of his data was left on Deimos. Back at the sphere, Noel and Nikolai continue to shop for supplies. Seeing Nikolai holding bags, Noel remembers the first time they met and shopped together and laughs at the memory. She thinks that she’s been using Nikolai all this time, but Nikolai laughs at that thought. After a minute, Noel shyly stops and asks Nikolai if he has a girlfriend, but Nikolai says he doesn’t since he’s been focusing on work up until now. Noel smiles, since that’s how it was for her to. Back in Nikolai’s truck, both he and Noel settle down before their drive back. Nikolai says Noel’s name, then suddenly he moves forward and kisses her. The kiss is really a distraction so that Nikolai can inject a tranquilizer into Noel’s neck, which knocks her out. Back at the Links’ truck, Leon tries to contact Noel to tell them that thanks to Raiah they have food and supplies now, but his signals aren’t getting through. James himself is getting worried, and Raiah is frustrated that James is taking all of his merchandise. Cindy then starts taking pictures of Raiah, claiming that she’s doing a story on people who have ill luck through the Links family. Raiah can’t believe how miserable he is, and James reminds him he was the one that started all their misfortune. At long last, Leon manages to contact Nikolai, who he asks what’s taken so long. However, Nikolai only replies that he’s keeping Noel in his custody, and has his video shift to the image of her knocked out. Immediately James demands to know what he did to her, but Nikolai says she’s only asleep. James inquires if he’s going to sell them to the police, but Nikolai says he’s not doing that, and he uploads a picture into the screen. Everyone recognizes the profile as that of a Yan, and Nikolai says that used to be his face. Realizing Nikolai was his enemy all along, James grudgingly asks what his demands are. Nikolai replies that he wants a duel with Dolores.

 

After the exchange with Nikolai, the duel is set around the Face of Mars. While everyone looks over the map of the area, Raiah explains that the Face of Mars is actually a tourist trap that was built where the supposed Martian human face rock was discovered in the 20th century. However, the financing of the project had been strained and the Face was abandoned not long after, thus making it a good place for the duel. Leon tells James it’s a trap, and that if James goes then he’ll more than likely be ambushed. But James says even if it is a trap, he won’t abandon Noel. Cindy also adds that he’ll have a chance to catch the real criminal in all this, but James says it won’t be that easy. James then starts to walk to the trailer so that he can launch in Dolores. Before he goes, he starts to tell Leon something, but stops and says it’s nothing. Before Dolores takes off, she notices that James isn’t looking well, but James denies that. She then asks why he thinks Nikolai wanted a duel, but James doesn’t know, and just says he must have his reasons. Dolores then flies away and leaves the Links truck behind. At the Face, as Nikolai makes preparations for the duel, he looks over a picture of something, but then puts it away. He goes back into the truck, where Noel is tied up, and tells her in one hour a signal will be transmitted from the truck and that someone will find her. Noel calls him a liar, but Nikolai claims it’s all for the sake of Mars. He tells her that he had been given orders to recover Dolores, but he had failed and was taken off the assignment. Noel thinks he’s just putting the blame on them, and Nikolai says thanks to her he has managed to get this far. He then leaves, saying it was fun observing her family all this time. Dolores soon arrives at the face, and James calls him out. Dolores informs James that there is a jamming zone in a 10 kilometer radius around the area, and that her sensors are down to sixty percent efficiency. James takes this as a sign that the duel has begun and has Dolores descend further into the Face. As she does, she’s overtaken by a shadow and energy blasts rain down from above. From the Links’ truck, Cindy begins snapping pictures of the battle and Leon tries to contact James, but isn’t getting through due to the jamming. Fortunately, James has managed avoid the blasts, and has Dolores return fire at the orbital frame Nebula, Nikolai’s frame. James attempts to fly up further, but the Nebula continues to fire at him and Dolores, forcing them into cover. James knows Dolores can’t compare with the Nebula’s firepower, so he tries to fly away and evade the shots. However, Nikolai keeps up with them and continues his barrage, forcing Dolores into one spot, while also kicking up a dust cloud. Dolores attempts to deflect the fire with her shield, but Nikolai sees the shield through the cloud and concentrates his fire. Just as James has Dolores drop the shield, Nikolai has the Nebula deploy its tentacle claws and grabs hold of Dolores’ legs. He continuously slams Dolores into the ground, all the while Dolores begins to fade from the battle. James as well is knocked out. Seeing that his opponent is finished, Nikolai pulls Dolores up close to his Nebula and prepares to fire the finishing shot. With the last of his energy, James mutters Noel’s name and reaches back onto the control orb, disengaging Dolores’ vector trap and launching one of the Martian statues they came across earlier into the Nebula’s cannon barrel. As the explosion clears, Isis flies through the fire and up to the Nebula, where she grabs it and begins to push it away. She then transforms her arm into an arm blade and slices into the Nebula, before flipping over it and firing beam shots into the back of the frame. The Nebula eventually crashes from the assault, and Isis lands on top of it, where she stabs it constantly with her arm blades. Eventually James reawakens and calls out to Isis to stop. His voice is enough for Dolores to return to her original form, but the damage has been done and the Nebula is all but destroyed. Dolores is taken back by what she had done, but James says nothing about it, just asking if she can contact Nikolai, which she can and does. After the channel is established, James demands to know where Noel is, but Nikolai tells him to find her himself, but she’s safe for now. James also asks why he Nikolai wanted the duel, and Nikolai tells him that he once had a younger brother that followed him around everywhere, even going so far as to join BAHRAM because he was in it. Nikolai then tells James that his brother died at Kudoshu, and James immediately remembers that battle. Nikolai admits he was the one that killed his brother, but it wasn’t something he could accept, so he tried to take revenge on James for it. With no alternative, Nikolai activates his frame’s self-destruct. Fortunately, James sees what’s happening and has Dolores back away as the Nebula explodes. Everyone is taken back as Dolores flies out of the smoke, having deflected the explosion with her shield. Later, Noel looks absently at the pendant Nikolai gave her while Leon looks through some data they found in Nikolai’s truck. He then calls out to James that he’s found that Rachel is in Nokuteisu, and that the data even has details on the security force there. As Cindy and Raiah wonder why Nikolai left so much data out in the open, James flips through a book and finds a picture of Nikolai and his brother before they became Yans. James then steps outside to see that Dolores has made graves out of the debris. As James buries the picture in front of Nikolai’s grave, Dolores sings Rachel’s lullaby in honor of the passing.

 

Commentary

 

What an emotional episode this was. After playing the nice guy around the Links family for so long, Nikolai finally comes out into the open and has his battle with James and Dolores. In a twist, it turns out he was the surviving Yan from Kudoshu, and that the reason he had been tracking the Links family all this time was for revenge for his brother’s death. But if the ending is any indication, it seems he knew what he was up against and so he settled for joining his brother in the afterlife. Kind of sad really, especially when there was a potential romance between him and Noel. On the other hand, he did redeem himself a little in the end by leaving data on Rachel’s location for the James and company to find, so I guess he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Meanwhile, Mars’ self-proclaimed number one broker Raiah appears again, and it looks like he’ll be traveling with the Links as well, adding to the comedy. It was pretty funny how James stopped Raiah’s truck, and even funnier when he cornered him; I really thought James was going to beat the guy up for all that’s happened, but it looks like it didn’t happen. And for more fun with orbital frames, this episode features the Nebula, one of the three major bosses in the first ZOE game. It certainly had some impressive firepower to it, and Nikolai actually came closer to killing James and Dolores than any of his predecessors. Unfortunately, James managed to pull a fast one to avoid certain death, and Isis appeared again after a long absence (the last time we saw her was at Zalgas) to turn the tables and total the Nebula. In fact, Isis is portrayed as even more brutal in this episode with shots of her beast-like silhouette ripping the Nebula apart; she reminded me of a berserk Evangelion to some degree. Overall it’s certainly nice to see Isis again, especially since James will more than likely need her to fight against even more powerful enemies.

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

4 out of 5 stars
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ZOE Dolores, i Episode 18 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 18

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