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Episode 4: The Final Countdown

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

May 10, 2005

 

Summary

As Dolores skims through the Florida Everglades, using an uprooted tree as camouflage, James and Noel watch a news report on the Orbital Elevator base. WIRED LEVs are flown to the island, via lifter aircraft, as workers continue to repair damage left over from Dolores’ impact. Noel likens the event to a festival, and grimaces when she sees Baan in the back corner, beating up a confused Sameggi. James watches the report, and tells Noel if it weren’t for the stealth system on Dolores, they would’ve been found out a long time ago. While continuing to skim over the swamp, Dolores asks James where they will be staying for that night. She then complains about the muddy water, and James tells her to hang in there a little longer. Seated in Dolores’ left hand, Leon asks James what he’s going to do for now on, and James explains that after they return to space, they’ll take back the Ender and head for Mars. Leon demands how he’s going to accomplish that with all the security around the Orbital Elevator, and that their mugs are on wanted posters all over Central Station. Noel laughs at how Leon refers to human faces as mugs, and Leon informs her for now on, he’s going to be a wild person. Noel laughs more at the thought of her brother being ‘wild’, and sarcastically tells Pete to teach him how. Leon groans at his sister’s sarcasm, but straightens out and asks James what he’s going to do. That’s when James boots up a Florida Times news paper article about Cape Canaveral Space Museum Director Mitchum Cervantes’ arrest for attempting to launch an exhibit rocket into space. Noel’s confused, but James finds it "interesting." Leon wonders what James is talking about, when James tells him they’re almost there. Moving out of the swamp, a run down building comes into view. After landing there, James, Leon and Noel walk around the area, until they find the museum’s central lobby. Noel notices in the back corner a wanted poster on her, James and Leon, and gripes when she sees that WIRED used her driver’s license photo for her mug shot. James wonders if anyone’s inside the building, so he wanders deeper, with Leon and Noel following him. Then they come across the object of James’ search: the shuttle pod that Mitchum tried to launch. Noel recognizes it as a ninth generation shuttle/rocket-type, and Leon double takes at James’ plan to use it to get into outer space. As he gripes to James about flying in an antique, a man wearing an spacesuit headpiece sneaks up from behind and smacks him with a large wrench, knocking him cold. He calls Leon a spoiled brat for insulting his rocket, and then points the wrench at James and Noel for trying to steal it. James tries to explain they aren’t suspicious, when the man plasters a wanted poster over James’ face, saying suspicious people always say that. He then calls out a battlecry and twirls the wrench like a spear, causing James and Noel to attempt to run. A moment later, James and Leon are both tied up on the ground, while Noel is seated on a bench next to their attacker, revealed to be Mitchum Cervantes himself. He sniffs around Noel, much to her dismay, and says that the smell of a youthful woman is refreshing to him. Naturally, this angers James who calls the guy a perverted geezer and demands him to leave Noel alone. Mitchum puts the wrench around James’ neck, choking him, and tells James that he doesn’t realize the situation he’s in. James tries to plea with him, but Mitchum tells him he doesn’t listen to villains. Noel tells Mitchum to stop, otherwise James will die, and Mitchum reluctantly releases James from the wrench’s hold. As Noel checks to see if James is okay, Mitchum gets up off the bench and sees a black car pull in front of the museum. Leon thinks Mitchum turned them in, and demands to know why, but the old man just kicks him as he walks over toward the door. Mitchum continues to ignore James’ pleas and just goes outside, where two lawyers in black suits wait for him. He asks the lawyers what they want, and one of them pulls out a portfolio, informing Mitchum that the demolitions have been approved by the Florida state congress. The lawyers tell Mitchum to forget about the junk in the museum and to just live with his grandchildren, and Mitchum yells at them, telling them he won’t hand over the Future. This confuses the lawyers, who claim that the Future was property of the state from the beginning. Naturally, Mitchum ignores their claim and swipes at them with the wrench, telling them to leave before he beats them up. The lawyers rush back to their car, and threaten to use force if Mitchum doesn’t comply. Mitchum rushes at them to attack, frightening the two off. Laughing at his victory, Mitchum returns to the lobby, as Leon wonders why he chased the two officials away. Ignoring him, Mitchum goes over to a picture of the space shuttle Endeavor, and beats on it with his wrench. James, seeing an opportunity, asks if ‘Future’ is the name of the rocket, to which Mitchum tells him not to speak its name, since he’s a villain. James then points out that the rocket will be demolished with the museum, and that he wants to fly it out just like Mitchum. Noel chimes in and tells the old man that they’re going to Mars to prove their innocence, and James continues to point out that they need a ride into a space, and the old man wants to fly the rocket. He asks if Mitchum will help them, and Mitchum turns to look at them, obviously interested. Later, he takes the Links into the Future’s hangar bay, and shows them that the state government had the shuttle bound up with in a metal crate. In order to launch it, they need to get that sheet off and use the crawler to move the Future outside. James asks about fuel, and Director tells him that he borrowed from his retirement money and purchased some. Out of nowhere, Dolores offers to help them, and the old man is astonished by the appearance of the pink mech. Dolores introduces herself in formal fashion, as usual. Mitchum just gripes that robots are getting weirder and weirder these days, and Dolores tells him she’s the newest model. However, Mitchum tells Dolores he can’t let her in, because it would alert the police. Mitchum then tells James and his children that work will begin tomorrow, and that there’s an old church nearby where they can rest. Leon naturally objects, much to Mitchum’s confusion, as Noel carts him away, and James tells Mitchum to not worry about him. Before Mitchum walks off, he asks that Noel stay with him and help him with the late night work, very much to James’ horror. At the church ruins, James sets up a campfire and paces around the sanctuary while Leon sets a bed up in a bundle of hay. He asks James again if they’re really going to go into outer space in an old rocket, and James tells him there’s no other way. Leon also asks James why the old man wants to fly it, and James says he doesn’t know. Frustrated with Mitchum’s liking towards Noel, James kicks a nearby pew, splitting it in half, and then bashing at the rubble with a wooden plank. Leon tells James to calm down, but James explains he’s so worried, he can’t calm down. Leon asks about what, and James looks at him like an idiot and tells him Noel. Seeing an opportunity to antagonize his father, Leon hints that the geezer was strangely excited about having Noel stay with him, and that something bad could be happening. This causes James to amusingly run out in a fit of rage, leaving Dolores confused and Leon sighing. Running as fast as he can, James returns to the lobby and sees shadows of Noel and Mitchum, close together. Hearing the old man enthusiastically order Noel to ‘hold it tight’ and ‘rub it harder’, James flips out and charges in to kill. When he arrives at the scene however, he sees that the old man and Noel are just cleaning metal pipes for the Future. Noel asks James if something’s wrong, and James left eye twitches while his mouth hangs open in shock. He wanders back to the Church, wondering why he always gets the runaround. In the lobby, Mitchum tells Noel they should quit for the night, then cracking his neck bones and pulling out a flask. He asks why Noel and the rest are going to Mars, and Noel explains that they’re going there to find their mother and clear their names. Mitchum wonders why Noel’s mother would be on Mars of all places, and Noel explains to him that she was involved in weapons development for Mars, and that she left for the sake of her research. Noel asks if Rachel is a bad mother, and Mitchum tells her he’s not in a position to talk either. He then tosses her the flask and suggests that they let Rachel be that kind of mom. Noel smirks and says she can’t do that, that they’re in such a bad situation that she needs to talk to her. Mitchum sighs and says he never got such an opportunity, so Future is the only thing he has now. He walks off and tells Noel when she gets to Mars, to tell her mother good. The next day, James and Leon use blowtorches to burn off some of the metal railing around Future while Noel lifts the rails off with a crane. Leon gripes at how foolish his family is, trying to go into outer space in a piece of junk. As Noel continues to lift another beam, she accidentally hits the Future. Mitchum rushes out of the cockpit and threatens her if she scratches the Future, thus prompting Leon to take a short break. He enters the lobby and pulls out his pocket PC, scrolling over information in regards to the Museum. Back in the cockpit, James activates a control circuit, but it sparks. Mitchum goes in and demands what he did, and James explains he just put the control switch in. Mitchum reminds him that the ship’s computer checks it when the block is released, when Dolores beams over the ship’s comm. circuit, informing James that she has finished with the orbital data for take off. James compliments her speed and tells her to transfer the data to him. Mitchum also comments that the new types are so bad, and Dolores thanks him, referring to him as "Grandfather." Mitchum gives a slight smirk and then heads to the cockpit hatch to get a control board, while telling James not touch anything. As he climbs out, he notices Leon walk back from the lobby, and berates him for being lazy. Leon looks up at him, knowing something. Meanwhile, back at WIRED HQ, Baan paces back and forth in the operations room as his men monitor the Florida area. He asks Sameggi for his report, and Sameggi tells him that this new model could be equipped with stealth capabilities, so they still can’t find it. Baan then notices a shadow underneath a tree that looks similar to Dolores’ profile, but one of the operators tells him it’s a computer error, and corrects it.

 

Back at the Museum, James, Noel, Leon and Mitchum drink beer around a campfire while Dolores sits with them, still using a tree to block surveillance. James exclaims there’s nothing like beer after a hard day’s labor, and Noel is excited that they will be launching the Future the following day. Leon says he wonders about that, and James wants him to clarify. He tells everyone he looked over the rocket’s performance history, and explains that neither the Future or the museum Director have flown once. James looks at Mitchum shocked, but Mitchum explains that it’s true. No matter how perfect the adjustments were, the Future always caused trouble before take off, and that after the Orbital Elevator was completed, the state cancelled all plans regarding the Future Project. Leon demands to know why he didn’t tell them that until now, and thinks the geezer just wanted company. Mitchum berates him and says the Future will fly. He explains that there were defects, but he spent his life fixing them, and Leon counters that rockets do not fly on willpower. He snaps that Mitchum has been abandoned by the current era and by luck, and he will not accompany him with his delusions. Angered, Noel throws her beer can and strikes Leon in the back of the head. Leon demands to know why she did that, and Noel walks over to him, grabbing him by the shirt collar. She tells him that sure, he was abandoned, but he can’t do anything throwing it all away before trying. Leon reminds her if they miss up, they die, and Noel shakes him, telling him how "wild" is it to not take risks? Leon tells her that has nothing to do with this and smacks her hand away. He tells her that people who gamble on things that they have no chance of winning on are called idiots, and claims that the rocket won’t fly this time either. Noel berates him and states that if she says it will fly, then it will fly. She then tells Leon to not make fun of a person who’s tried to pursue a dream all his life. The to continue to argue and start to physically fight each other, much to James and Mitchum’s amusement. James asks if the Future will fly this time. Mitchum tells him he’ll make it fly. James tells Mitchum that he’s counting on him, before rushing over to stop Noel from beating Leon. However, he soon gets caught up in the fight to, as Dolores tries to stop the brawl. Back at WIRED headquarters, Baan paces up and down the control room again, thinking over Dolores’ stealth capabilities. He then realizes that Dolores is using decoys of herself to project images and shadows around trees to distract surveillance. He orders his staff to save all documented data on the shadows and to compare satellite photos until the current date at 90 minute intervals to determine which areas don’t match. The next day, the Future’s storage bay opens up to reveal the refurbished rocket. Leon, Noel, Pete and Mitchum are in the Future’s cockpit reviewing pre-flight data. Mitchum tells James to move the crawler, and James starts it up. Unfortunately, the engine dies before he can move it, and James tries to turn it on again. The same thing happens, and James says it’s no good. Leon wonders what Mitchum is going to do, when Dolores offers her assistance. She picks up a wire attached to the crawler and starts to drag it out, activating her thrusters for added boost. At WIRED HQ, one of the operators picks up three of Dolores’ decoy trees at Cape Canaveral, and Baan asks if there’s anything ahead of them. That’s when the operator finds the Space Museum, and Baan recognizes that specific museum. He orders the UN troops around Florida into the area. After much effort, Dolores finally gets the rocket in the middle of the launch pad and Mitchum begins the count down (10 minutes). As well, James hops into Dolores cockpit to get her into the rocket’s storage bay, just as Dolores detects four LEV transport planes. Thus, she and James set off to destroy the interlopers before launch, but this brings Dolores back into the Everglades. She stops her flight and complains about the mud, and James tells her to leave the piloting to him. Taking this to note, Dolores switches over to full manual, and display screens pop up around the cockpit. Nervous at the site of so many displays and controls, James asks Dolores to help him a little. Dolores switches back to her AI assisted and the display screens disappear, relieving James, but too little too late as the Phantomas drop from their transport planes. Landing in the swamp, the Phantomas open fire at Dolores with their machineguns, but James has her dodge to the right and activates her right arm sword. Meanwhile, the connection cables on the crawler begin to release one after another from the Future, but the last one fails to release. Mitchum gets out of his seat, saying he’ll go release it, but Noel points out there’s only 3 minutes left before launch and he won’t make it back in time. Mitchum just smiles and explains if they don’t fly, then Noel won’t be able to talk to her Mother. Back at the swamp, Dolores proceeds to disable the Phantomas with her arm sword, cutting off arms, legs and heads so that the pilots survive. With little time left, she forms her arm sword into a shot cannon and fires beam shots into the remaining Phantomas, also disabling them. Seeing no more Phantomas, James has Dolores pull back. At last, Mitchum makes it to a control panel at the side of the crawler, smiling and commenting to the end, it seemed Future didn’t like him. He twists a knob and the last connection cable breaks off the Future. Leon is excited to see the last cable break, but Noel feels disappointed that Mitchum couldn’t go with them. The rocket ignites and Dolores makes her way into the cargo hold, James letting out a breath as he barely made it. As Noel informs him about Mitchum, Future blasts off and begins its flight into space. On the launch pad, Mitchum comes out of his shelter and is overjoyed to see the Future fly at last. Two police officers come to arrest him for assisting James Links and appropriating state property, but Mitchum simply waves at the Future. Even the police are amazed to see the rocket fly as Mitchum laughs at his triumph. At WIRED HQ, Baan, Sameggi and the rest of the staff watch the Future climb into space, its destination Central Station on the Orbital Elevator. Baan snarls and swears he’ll bring "John Carter" down, then orders a squadron of Phantomas to intercept it. As the Future continues to fly, James thinks of Mitchum’s misfortune, but at least he got to see his rocket fly. However, Leon soon detects a squadron of UNSF Phantomas line up to intercept the Future. As it seems the Links have finally been caught, one of the Phantomas explodes. The rest look up to see a mysterious mecha fly at them, ready for combat…

 

Commentary

 

As expected, the Links finally make into space, thus one step closer to Mars. Although this episode switched off the main plot, and can be likened to a standalone, it shows some details around the Earth. It seems even with the height of technology, the UNSF still used the ‘blast-off’ rocket/shuttles as Earth-Space transportation instead of space planes or mass drivers. I could swear this episode was inspired by Apollo 13, as it’s primarily focused on fixing a flawed spaceship design and Mitchum’s dream of going into space (which can be likened to Tom Hank’s portrayal of Jim Lovell). Even the music played during Future’s launch sounds like the theme song to Apollo 13. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s a fitting movie to model ‘space race’ episode off of. Aside from that, it’s too bad Mitchum doesn’t stay with the Links family, because he’s a pretty likable character, as far as one shots go. As with most old men characters, he’s like a stubborn mule that won’t give up his dream to the current era, but toward the end he gives up his desire to go into space (as well as his personal freedom) to help the Links family. Besides that, he’s in pretty good shape for an old man, especially if he can use a wrench designed to grip rocket bolts like a Japanese naginata. I wonder if he could take the much bulkier James in a straight fight. On the side, we also see more of Noel’s character in this episode, and she’s even more contrary to her brother than I thought. It seems that she blames Rachel for her decision to leave their family as much as Leon blames James for chasing her out, even though she can hold back her true feelings easier than Leon can (probably because she got to stay with the parent she took after). This makes sense, since in the last two episodes she had been more sympathetic to James than Leon, and I can imagine how she’ll react when (if) she ever meets up with her mother again. Meanwhile, Baan again tries to capture James and family, but this time he figures out James’ plan. Whereas in the last two episodes he’s been chasing James hopelessly like Inspector Zenigata from Lupin III, he stays back at HQ this time, and sees through Dolores’ decoys without any knowledge on her capabilities. This makes Baan much more a foil to James and family, and it’ll be interesting to see how far he gets in the series. And finally, I’m happy to see the comedy element from the last two episodes still present in this episode, with James flipping out over Mitchum’s liking to his daughter. It struck me as odd for James to worry, since Noel is a very tough woman and even if Mitchum is in shape, she’s still more than capable of defending herself. Still, it was quite funny to watch, especially his facial expressions. Poor guy just never gets a break : ).

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Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

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

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