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Episode 7: The Untouchables

 

Review by Dustin Corallo

August 7, 2005

 

Summary

Still under pursuit by three Phantomas, James is barely maneuvering the Ender past the barrage of laser shots. A hit sends the Ender rocking, and Melinda tells James to go out with Dolores and destroy the Phantomas. Basilisk agrees with that notion, since they’re WIRED agents, but James reminds him that he doesn’t work for the mafia. He then tells Dolores, whose playing tennis with the Phantoma’s shots an arm shield like a racket, not to lay a hand on them. Basilisk wonders if they can still get away when James enters into a debris field. Noel notices a large net laid across space, and James explains that it is a mass catcher, a net used to collector ore sent from the Moon, but now it’s just a garbage dump. James’ maneuvering causes one of the Phantomas to crash into an asteroid, and the remaining two are reluctant to enter into the field. Everyone’s overjoyed, but as they exit the field, they see a space colony just ahead of them. James wonders what a space colony would be doing out in a debris field like this, when he realizes what it is. Basilisk as well recognizes the colony as Zalgas, the headquarters for the crime group Red Harvest. He demands James turn around, but Melinda reminds him he’s a criminal too. Basilisk explains to her that this group is so horrible, even the UNSF is afraid to attack Zalgas. Despite this, James continues toward the colony. The pursuing Phantomas halt their advance, not wanting to get any closer to Zalgas, so James tells Dolores to get inside the Ender. Basilisk still can’t believe they’re doing this, but Noel replies whatever will happen will happen, and Basilisk tells her not to be so optimistic. James concurs with Basilisk in being afraid, and we see that his legs are trembling. Suddenly, several tow lines from Zalgas latch out and catch the Ender, taking it into the colony’s hold while a squad of purple Phantomas exit the colony with laser blades. Melinda demands to know what James is planning, and he gives a rousing speech on how he’ll protect his family to the end. He then tells Noel and Melinda to get weapons ready, then floats out of the bridge. Basilisk wonders why he’s acting like this when he sees James’ How to be a Daddy book floating over the floor. He picks it up and reads on the marked page “to become a trusted father, you must battle the villains completely.” Melinda tosses a fire extinguisher at Basilisk and tells him that he’s going to fight to. When Basilisk sees that their “weapons” of choice are an umbrella and a shovel, he loses all hope of survival. Now docked in Zalgas’s hold, the Phantomas continue to fly around the Ender, ready to cut it open on a moment’s notice. James tells Dolores that they’re fighting bad guys this time, so they can fight as much they have to, when an obnoxious voice cuts through the radio. A man speaking over the comm. thanks James for bringing gifts and then asks when James dies, that he deliver a message to the man’s Grandmother in Heaven. James recognizes that taunt from a satellite crash incident over Earth, and calls out for Romero Dickson. As it turns out, James and Romero are old friends from the UNSF. Later, Romero, James and everyone else are in a bar talking about the old days. Melinda serves them beer, but refuses to pour Basilisk any. James explains that Romero tells people he thinks are going to die the Grandma joke, and Romero replies out of the thirty-eight people he’s told that to, James is the only person he guessed wrong. After a good laugh, James cuts to business and asks Romero for a favor. Since Red Harvest’s main trade is smuggling, James believes that they have an Urenbeck Catapult stashed somewhere and he tells Romero he’d like to use it. Romero explains he doesn’t have that kind of authority, but he can at least introduce James to Red Harvest’s leader, Ron Pao. The utterance of the name makes Basilisk spit up his beer. In Zalgas’s hold, Dolores peaks out of the Ender’s cargo bay and is disappointed that she got left behind. She remembers James telling her she stands out too much when she spots a Phantoma nearby, and decides to steal its armor as a disguise. Elsewhere, Romero drives a car and takes the group further into the colony. They see that a good portion of the colony has been turned into a golf course, which makes Basilisk scowl at the waste. He asks James how he’s going to negotiate with Ron Pao, and James explains with money. Basilisk is confused at this, and James clarifies and asks Basilisk for some of his, which makes Romero laugh. The finally stop and see Ron Pao, who is playing golf when his latest swing lands the ball into a nearby stream. Mad, he blames his caddy for the water hazard and then lets the poor guy run a good distance before shooting him dead. Everyone is taken back by the scene, but Romero just says that’s Ron Pao, and goes over to him. A moment later, Romero calls James over, and Ron Pao seems eager for negotiations. James explains he wants to use the Urenbeck Catapult, but Ron Pao says he can’t, because he a nuisance that should be turned over to the police. He signals his bodyguards to take James in, and James calls for Romero’s help, but his one-time comrade runs away in his car. With that, James punches one of the thugs and he and the rest of his group run away. Several of Red Harvest’s Phantomas find them and start shooting with machineguns, when Dolores, clad in Phantoma armor, appears and kicks one of them and then takes down two more. One of Ron Pao’s thugs orders another Phantoma squad to attack, but Ron Pao stops him upon seeing Dolores and becomes more interested in James.

 

Later, James and everyone are following Ron Pao and his thugs when James sees one of Red Harvest’s courier ships being loaded with supplies. Melinda wonders if it’s being loaded with Metatron and starts dreaming about buying houses, purses, etc. when Basilisk tells her not to say such stupid things. He says the market price for Metatron has been high lately, and he wonders where it’s all going to. Leon remembers his encounter with Yans and that orbital frames are also made of Metatron. He wonders if Dolores and the gathering of so much Metatron are connected, when Noel waves in his face and snaps him back to reality. James watches this, but gets called over by one of Ron Pao’s bodyguards, who produces a handy PC from his jacket. James watches and sees an asteroid that hold Red Harvest’s Urenbeck Catapult. He asks Ron Pao what he has to do, Ron Pao explains that a new shipment is coming in, but Zalgas is under surveillance from a UNSF satellite. All James has to do is destroy the satellite and ensure the shipment comes in. However, he warns James not to fail, and James sees several thugs floating around the colony with assault rifles while the one that had the handy PC pulls out a handgun. James is a little intimidated by this, but Ron Pao gives him his luck. On a WIRED space HQ, Baan and Sameggi are running down a track. Sameggi is explaining that it would be hard to march into Zalgas due to their large force, and that they’ve been bribing the UNSF for a while. Baan tells him he never wanted to march in there, that they’ll just wait for "John Carter" and his cohorts to come out of the colony before attacking. Sameggi stops, out of breath, and Baan tells him to think it over while continuing his run down the track. Back at Zalgas, James floats over to Dolores, who is still disguised as a Phantoma, and tells her everyone’s depending on them today. Metatron lines start to pulsate behind Dolores’ visor, and one of the techs yells at James to hurry up. James floats down into Dolores’ cockpit and closes it while Dolores begins walking to a hangar airlock. James silently prays for Noel and Leon to wait for him, and Dolores comments that the breath from his nose is ticklish. James chuckles at that, when Leon and Noel contact him from Ron Pao’s castle. The Links siblings, Basilisk and Melinda are all drunk and they comment on how Ron Pao’s such a great guy. Leon also tells James he and Romero have become friends, and Romero wishes James his best. They all wave James farewell and sign off, leaving James a little more frustrated. Dolores then takes off and flies toward the satellite surveillance zone under stealth mode. James relaxes a little bit while Dolores continues flying, when Dolores picks up the main relay satellite and starts giggling feverishly. James asks why she’s giggling and she explains a 129 tracking lasers are focused on her and they’re all ticklish. James berates her for not telling him sooner, and several lasers bursts are fired at them. Back at Ron Pao’s castle, everyone is drunk from the wine. Melinda and Noel get into a fight when Melinda proclaims she’s going to marry James, Romero and Leon are reminiscing about James’ bad luck, and Pete is asleep on the table. Romero lets out that there aren’t just satellites out there but a Phantoma squadron too, and Leon comments that’s quite a reception. In space, Dolores is forced to jettison her Phantoma armor when the said UNSF squadron shoots at her. James complains about Ron Pao not telling him about the LEVs, and he tells Dolores to just destroy the satellite and get out. Dolores comments they’ll go out with a bang, and cuts into the satellite with her arm blade. The satellite explodes shortly after, and Dolores uses the shockwave to propel her back to Zalgas. On Zalgas, Romero blurts out that James is just a decoy for the UNSF so Ron Pao’s transaction would go without any problems, and that James probably wouldn’t survive but he gave him the Grandma message before. This upsets Leon, who asks him if he’s really James’ friend, and Romero explains business is business. Leon swings his arm cast at Romero, but misses and lands on the table, causing him a lot of pain. Romero comments he really is James’ son, and kicks Leon numerous times. When Noel stands up for her brother, Romero calls several hitmen with assault rifles in and explains that it was a setup from the start. After James’ death, Romero would receive the Ender as a reward, much to the group’s dismay. He then turns on a TV monitor and they all watch James and Dolores fight the UNSF group. At WIRED HQ, Baan finishes a round of 100 pushups in a sauna when Sameggi rushes in and delivers the news: the UNSF has engaged Red Harvest at Zalgas. Baan gets up and laughs that even the UNSF couldn’t wait it out, and now they have the force they need to attack. He gets so excited that his bath towel falls off his waist, very much to Sameggi’s embarrassment. Soon after, WIRED deploys its own Phantoma force toward Zalgas. Dolores and James continue to fight while everyone on the colony watch, just when a stray shot hits Dolores and causes a large explosion.

 

Commentary

 

Now that James and co. have escaped from the Orbital Elevator, they end up in a much more dangerous place, Zalgas. Just as episode four seemed to be based on Apollo 13, this episode was obviously inspired by the classic crime film The Untouchables, and borrows several elements from the film in a futuristic setting. You can tell just how bad the times are when a syndicate like Red Harvest has enough money to not only buy a colony, but maintain it, and possess a LEV army and Urenbeck Catapult on the side. The fact the mighty UNSF are hesitant to attack said colony makes it even more scary to think about. On Zalgas we see another one-shot character, this time James’ old comrade Romero Dickson, who has left his UNSF commission and joined Red Harvest as a smuggler. Despite his friendship with James, I knew he’d end up betraying his friend, because he was just too nice for his profession to allow. I probably should be disappointed, since this makes Romero a clichéd best-friend-turned-thug character you usually see in noir and crime dramas, but it’s too soon for judgments. Besides Romero, we also meet the Red Harvest leader Ron Pao, who makes an impression from the beginning when he shoots his own caddy. As with most crime leaders, Ron Pao is pretty cruel and sure of himself, and has a lot of thugs around him to keep it that way. He almost reminds me of the Van from Cowboy Bebop, except he’s one tall geezer instead of three small geezers. Even Basilisk seems to fear his power, and since this guy is transporting Metatron around Sol System, who can blame him? Much like episode five, this one ends in a cliffhanger with Dolores supposedly being destroyed (it even shows the white flash that envelopes James), the Links siblings up for execution with Basilisk and Melinda, and WIRED and the UNSF closing in on Zalgas. Once again, the tension is lowered a little because this is only the seventh episode, but it’s still pretty interesting to see how James and his group will get out of this one. As a side note, is it just me or do Zalgas and WIRED’s space headquarters follow the "pinwheel" colony design from New Mobile Report Gundam Wing? Up until now, I figured Dolores, i would have O’Neill Island-type colonies like Antilia, but it seems designs are varied.

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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 7 ZOE Dolores, i Episode 7

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