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Episode 21: Set Course North Northwest

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

February 25, 2009

 

Summary

 

After the BAHRAM coup and Radium’s attack with Hathor, the UNSF responds by launching an all out invasion of Mars, deploying Phantoma IIs against BAHRAM occupied spheres and defenses. As the attack progresses, Rutger watches from his bunker, thinking that the UNSF doesn’t stand a chance. Meanwhile, Radium has Hathor land on a nearby cliff and looks over his Metatron arm, which is resonating from Hathor’s control orb. Rebecca, Axel and Rully meet up with him, and Rebecca sees that their war against the Earth has officially begun. Radium tells her not to get excited because it has not appeared yet, and when Rebecca asks if he’s referring to Isis he closes the communication. He then thinks allowed that James should not be allowed to eat the bait and run. Elsewhere on Mars, James drives the Links’ truck through the desert and everyone watches as a battle between the UNSF and BAHRAM is being fought on the horizon. In the truck’s trailer, Rachel is going over data on Dolores. As she completes her work, Dolores wakes up from her nap and Rachel asks how she feels. When Dolores says she feels lighter and refreshed, Rachel explains that she stabilized the link between her and Isis, and that Dolores will now be able to control herself safely. This makes Dolores excited, and she proclaims that she can’t act like that in front of her younger sister, which Rachel realizes is Hathor. Rachel asks her if she wants to meet her, to which Dolores replies yes, but she’s disappointed that she has to fight her. With her work completed, Rachel goes back to the truck’s cabin to find Leon looking over the data that Nikolai had left behind, which turns out to be the plan for BAHRAM’s operation. Leon explains that they plan on launching over a hundred Raptors from a shuttle to an unknown target, along with Hathor and something named Abu Simbel. Raiah wonders what the target is, and James believes it’s Earth, which they’ll get to by using Deimos’ Urenbeck Catapult, and that the current battle over Mars is simply a cover for it. James sees that they don’t care about their methods as long as they achieve the goal in the end. He then asks Leon where the launch is going to take place, and after looking over the data once more, Leon answers in the Solis Planum, which is north northwest from the Links group’s current position. James plans on informing the UNSF about the launch, but Noel says that they’ll come after them too if that happens, but James doesn’t care. Back at Vascilia, the battle continues as BAHRAM’s Raptors hold back the UNSF Phantoma from the main sphere while Tempest orbital frames attack the UNSF’s frontline base. The base commander orders more Phantomas on the offensive against Vascilia’s central sphere, but before the order is carried out the base receives James’ message. On Deimos itself, Baan is angered that the UNSF is using the shuttles and Phantomas to attack BAHRAM instead of tracking down John Carter, to the point that he kicks a control panel and ends up injuring his leg. Sameggi soon comes in and informs him about James’ message, which Baan watches as James reveals that BAHRAM is planning to attack the Orbital Elevator on Earth. The Space Force commander demands to know James’ identification number and if he’s a civilian or Space Force soldier, but James tells him not to worry about that now and stop the launch. Not convinced, the UNSF commander cuts the communication. Angered but still determined, James sees that they’ll have to do it themselves and he apologizes to everyone for dragging them into this. Seeing that nobody objects, James turns the trailer sharply, which ends up making Mr. Raptor fall into Dolores lap in the trailer; this causes an awkward scene between them and Dolores tells the Raptor that they’ll keep this a secret from James. Up on Deimos again, Baan asks Sameggi if they can trace the communication, and when Sameggi answers yes, Baan states they’ll steal a shuttle and go down to Mars themselves. Sameggi asks that if the message was true, then they should prioritize it, but Baan tells him to prioritize catching John Carter and that he’ll throw Sameggi into space if he says anything else. At the battle, reinforcements from Deimos arrive on the scene and start to gun down the Raptors, and soon the battle enters the sphere they were defending.

 

With the battle now within the sphere, BAHRAM deploys three Nebula orbital frames to reinforce their defenses. The Nebulas make short work of several Space Force LEVs, but one of them ends up getting overwhelmed by a coordinated attack and ends up crashing into the sphere’s protective dome, breaching it. Meanwhile, the Links’ family continues toward the aforementioned sphere. Knowing what his father is thinking, Leon tells James they don’t have time to loiter, but Noel grabs him by the cheek and tells him not to say irrelevant things. James himself knows they don’t have time to help, but he still feels they should, and Dolores herself asks that they do. Leon tells Dolores not to get James fired up, but James says it’s not in his personality to leave things be, and so he leaves the truck to Leon to drive while he goes out in Dolores with Mr. Raptor accompanying them. They soon come to the sphere and Dolores observes the damage done to it. As James watches the battle too, he realizes that the civilians weren’t able to evacuate in time, yet the Phantomas and BAHRAM orbital frames totally disregard them, firing upon buildings and bridges. After one of the Nebulas crashes into a building from damage, James puts Dolores in front of it to keep the Phantomas from firing on it more, ordering them to stop getting the civilians involved. However, one of the Phantoma pilots claims that it was the Martians that started the battle in the first place and so they attack Dolores. In response, Dolores deflects the bullets and flies at them, destroying their machine guns with her arm blade. James thinks this would stop them from attacking, but soon the Nebula picks itself out of the building and destroys the Phantomas, only for the Nebula to be destroyed by additional beam cannon equipped Phantomas. Seeing the UNSF’s reinforcements, James has Dolores fly after them to stop the fighting. At ground level, the Links’ truck drives up to a street and stops, and Rachel climbs out to look at the damage. She sees that the hole in the sphere’s dome is too big to repair and that soon the sphere would be without oxygen. Seeing the crowd of people near them, Rachel orders everyone to help lead them to the underground shelters, but Cindy stays and buys a camera from a nearby civilian to take pictures of the battle. She takes a picture of Dolores to see if the picture will show up this time, and gets excited when she sees Dolores in the shot. She continues taking shots of Dolores’ battle and the Links family and Raiah as they lead everyone to the shelters. However, Cindy stops when she sees a kid on a bridge over the body of her mother, conveniently situated in the crossfire between a Nebula and a group of Phantomas, instead waving Dolores toward the bridge. James has Dolores dive down to the bridge and disable the Phantomas with her arm blade, but the Nebula turns into its fighter mode and flies at her with the bridge in front. To everyone’s surprise, Mr. Raptor grabs onto the Nebula and stops it short, only to then be shot at point blank by the Nebula’s beam cannon. Dolores manages to grab the child and the mother’s body just as Mr. Raptor falls onto the bridge, and the Nebula escapes in the confusion. Infuriated, Dolores prepares to chase it, but James stops her and tells her not to be like them. As James helps the girl into Dolores’, Dolores bends over and sees that Mr. Raptor is still barely active. The Raptor reaches out to Dolores one last time, to which she grabs hold of his arm, before his AI shuts down permanently; Dolores calls out to him to no avail while the girl cries in James’ arms. Kneeling over Mr. Raptor’s remains, Dolores swears she will not forgive the people that caused this conflict. James feels uneasy for Dolores, but Leon tells him that they should evacuate the people to the next sphere quickly, when Raiah runs up calling to them while pointing to a nearby tunnel. Much later on, Baan and the rest of WIRED survey the scene while questioning the remaining civilians. The civilians all claim not to have seen Dolores, but Baan doesn’t believe them. The girl that Dolores saved before is among them, watching as a UNSF transport lifts away Mr. Raptor’s remains. As she cries to herself, Baan goes over to one of the cut barrels of a Phantoma machine gun, and looking it over, demands that the citizenry stop lying and give up John Carter. He walks over to the girl and grabs her, demanding the answer from her to, but she states she won’t tell. Realizing that she knows, Baan rips her oxygen mask off, to the horror of both Sameggi and the citizens. Baan tells them it’s the girl’s fault for knowing but not telling, but Sameggi tackles him and grabs the oxygen mask, placing it back on the girl anyway. Baan berates Sameggi for standing against him, but Sameggi asks what he was doing with the girl, to which Baan replies he doesn’t care how many Martians die as long as he can catch John Carter. As soon as he says this, he points his gun at the crowd and open fires, wounding several civilians. He looks back at the girl and tells her that if she doesn’t say anything he might kill someone this time. Seeing no choice, the girl tells Baan that the Links family and their friends took a car underground, and Baan orders his soldiers to search the underground tunnels as the Links family continues toward the destination.

 

Commentary

 

So now between the UNSF and BAHRAM officially begins after all the tension that has been building since Idolo. I know I’ve been using a lot of Gundam comparisons for this series, but this episode seriously reminded me of the major battles of that franchise with the UNSF dropping Phantomas down to Mars to directly invade and occupy the spheres while BAHRAM defends them with anti-air fire. While BAHRAM obviously has the technological advantage with their orbital frames, the Space Force has superior numbers and those new Phantoma IIs are pretty powerful; I wonder why they never made it into 2nd Runner despite that game indirectly referencing the events in Dolores, i. During the battle we’re also treated to a cameo with the orbital frame Tempest, which was one of the boss units from the first ZOE game. It’s barely on for a minute or two, but the two units shown still seem to be as powerful as the one from the game. Anyway, now that the war has started the Links family is of course caught in between, and everyone sees just how ugly the strife between Earth and Mars is. I get the feeling that James is going to make it his goal to stop the fighting on Mars along with stopping Radium from carrying out his plan (which to my surprise James caught onto quickly), but knowing how racially driven both sides are it’s not going to be easy. On that note, despite only appearing for three episodes, Mr. Raptor’s “death” (if you can call it that) was fairly tragic, especially when he had developed a likeable personality; as well, I wish the writers brought more details on how what was once little more than a Metatron constructed drone developed its own consciousness and set of morals, because it was an interesting development. I also think this is the first time Dolores has ever been deeply angered in a non-comical way (if at all), and it’s a pretty disturbing switch from the usual bubbly and naive Dolores; I get the feeling she’ll be fighting seriously from now on because of this. Despite the circumstances, this is a good thing for her, because she’s going to be going up against her evil and seemingly more powerful twin Hathor, which has the infamous Radium Lavans at its controls. And on the side, Baan comes back to the spotlight once again, but rather than the usual slapstick and fits of anger toward John Carter and co., we’re reminded how much of a bastard he truly is when he rips off the oxygen mask on a little girl. I don’t know what his own men think of him now, but I doubt Sameggi is going to standby loyally after that stint, no sane morally driven human being (just like him) would. That said, it’s only a matter of time…

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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 21 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 21

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