At Granada, Killing receives a report that Operation Rubicon failed, the Gundam Alex is still active in Side 6 and the Cyclops team’s status is unknown. Killing is driven to a hangar and starts arguing with base commander Maj. Gen. Rugens, who states that he never gave Killing permission to use nuclear warheads. Killing responds that he never asked for it, and Rugens demands to know if he intends to violate the treaty. Killing states that Side 6 is not a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, and also that his actions are outside Rugens’ jurisdiction. Rugens continues to object, and Killing responds by fatally shooting him. Two of Rugens’ men are then immediately killed by a soldier loyal to Killing. Killing declares that he’s now the commander of Granada and orders the loading of the nuclear warhead to resume. At the Libot Colony, Lumumba tells Chris that the local police want to talk to her about the battle. Chris asks where the police are, and Lumumba mentions that they specifically wanted to meet her by the wreckage of the Kampfer. Chris goes outside to speak with the police detective, who makes a comment about a cute girl like her being a mobile suit pilot. He mentions that two Zeon soldiers fled into the residential area after the battle and asks if Chris knows anything that might help the investigation. Chris answers that she doesn’t know anything, and the detective then asks about the allegation that the attack was carried out with inside help. Chris answers that she doesn’t know what he means and asks if they’re done. The detective says it isn’t done and asks what happens if the Zeon make another move. He finds it suspicious that the Zeon are so openly attacking a neutral colony, and he thinks that the EFF is secretly developing mobile suits on Libot. He asks Chris if this is the reason the Zeon attacked, but she declines to comment. The detective angrily notes that 246 people were killed and 572 wounded, so he doesn’t want to see more people get hurt. Chris counters that more people would’ve been killed if she hadn’t fought, so it couldn’t be helped. The detective says he understands the point that she’s trying to make, but he doesn’t think anyone should ever die because it couldn’t be helped, and the number of victims isn’t the point. Al buys a burger at a fast food joint and walks through a neighborhood that suffered heavy damage during the battle. He stands in a crowd and has an emotional reaction when he sees a dead child pulled from the rubble of a destroyed building. Bernie, now camped out in the forest next to his Zaku, looks over at the grave he dug for Steiner and thinks about his dying words, asking if the Gundam Alex was destroyed. Bernie told him that it was, and Steiner’s final words were to comment on how Bernie was a terrible liar. Bernie also recalls going to the Pink Elephant to tell Charlie that the rest of the team was dead. Charlie urged Bernie to escape immediately using his fake passport, but Bernie wanted to wait for the heat to die down. Charlie then revealed that if the Gundam Alex wasn’t destroyed by Christmas night, a fleet from Granada had orders to destroy Libot with a nuclear missile. Bernie hides behind a tree and pulls out a gun when his tripwire is set off, but it’s just Al with their food. Bernie asks if the police are looking for him, but Al says no. Al gets quiet and comments that people seem to die easily, and Bernie yells at him to stop thinking about it. Bernie angrily says that people die because they run out of luck, whether they’re a captain or a nobody. He says that this is how war is and unwraps a burger to hand to Al. He then reveals that he’s leaving the colony today, and Al asks if he’s giving up and running away from the Gundam Alex. Al thinks they can still pull it off and talks about everyone who died on the mission. Bernie then reveals that if the Gundam Alex isn’t destroyed in three days, the entire colony will be nuked. Bernie says that no one can stop this now, and he asks Al if he and Michiko can take a trip somewhere. Al thinks they can take down the Gundam Alex by fixing up the Zaku, and Bernie reveals that he’s never shot down a single mobile suit. He explains that he’s just a rookie and was extra baggage for the team. Al thinks that Bernie is lying because he’s scared, and Bernie responds that he’d be crazy to not be scared. Al grabs Bernie around the waist and tells him he’s a good pilot and can do it. Bernie then removes Al’s rank patch and rips it open, revealing the bug inside. He explains that they eavesdropped on Al because they were afraid he’d tell someone about them. Bernie reiterates that if Al wants to live, he has to get off the colony. Al asks about everyone else on the colony and says once again that they can beat the Gundam Alex. Bernie repeats that he’s still leaving, and Al calls him an idiot and tosses the other patch back at Bernie. He threatens to tell the police, but Bernie notes that Al would be executed as an accomplice. Al goes back to town, and seeing a mecha game in an arcade makes him think about Libot getting nuked. A police officer asks Al why he isn’t in school, and he runs away.
Chris stands in the rubble of a destroyed house and holds back tears when she finds a small jewelry box. She sees Al walking down the street and joins him, asking if he’s OK. She then asks about Bernie, and he answers that he doesn’t know or care. She asks what’s wrong, and he asks her what she would do if she knew a fleet was coming to destroy the colony. Chris answers that she thinks she would fight, and Al asks if she’d be scared. Chris explains that she can handle being scared, but not being left alone if something happened to her parents or friends. She says she couldn’t live with herself if she ran away and left everyone to die. Al asks if only cowards run away, and she answers that she’d fight for her own sake, and someone else might want to run. She says that everyone has to make that decision, and that people might die if you stay and fight, but they also might die if you don’t. Chris says that there’s no right or wrong choice, and you have to do what you think is right. As Al leaves, Chris asks him to say hello to Bernie for her. At the spaceport, Bernie purchases a ticket to Francheska Colony because of a video ad on a nearby monitor. Al runs into his damaged school’s property, but a construction worker kicks him out. The construction worker then spots Telcott and Chay and also kicks them off the property. Al confusingly asks if anyone was injured during the Zeon attack, and Chay tells him the attack happened at night. Chay then shows off some bullet casings they found, including a large one from the Kampfer’s shotgun. Al holds back tears when Chay offers to give him some bullets. In space, a Pazock transport ship transfers the nuclear missile to the battleship Graf Zeppelin commanded by Von Helsing. Killing calls Von Helsing and orders him to launch the missile at midnight on Christmas. Von Helsing asks Killing if he’s really serious about using a nuke, and Killing asks if he’s questioning orders. Al goes to the police station and attempts to warn them about the Zeon fleet, but the officer doesn’t believe him because he remembers that Al led them on a wild goose chase a few days earlier. Al insists that he’s telling the truth this time and that the officer will feel sorry when he’s dead. Bernie sees a redheaded woman at a bar who from behind looks like Chris, but isn’t. He has a drink and hears the redhead making a phone call to an ex, saying she’s leaving for Francheska and that he’ll be glad that she’s gone. As the call goes on, the woman starts crying and says she doesn’t want to go to Francheska because it’s a horrible colony. She accuses her ex of stringing her along with lies, and Bernie thinks about Al calling him a liar. At dinner, Michiko tells Al that she and Ems have reconciled, and he’ll be coming home permanently on Christmas. She asks Al if he’s upset about the news, but he answers that he isn’t. Later, Al sits on his bed and thinks about how Ems is coming home to die. Having left the spaceport, Bernie burns his ticket and calls Al. Al apologizes for what he said and asks Bernie for help, and Bernie responds that he’s decided to stay and make another attempt to fight. Bernie asks Al for help, and Al says he’s sure they can do it. Al tells Bernie that he loves him.
The fallout from Chris’ battle with Misha affects everyone in different ways. Al, having seen a battle and its carnage firsthand, is starting to see how terrible war is. He’s on a different trajectory than Chay and Telcott and can’t see war as fun and games anymore the way that they do. He’s having trouble processing death, and unfortunately Bernie isn’t able to help much given his own grief and inexperience. The most levelheaded person here is Chris, whether it’s dealing with the police detective or answering Al’s hypothetical. It’s a good thing that Bernie accidentally hears a woman’s drunk dial with her ex, as it makes him think about things and convinces him to stay behind. Back at Granada, Killing makes his move like the one-dimensional villain that you expect him to be (let’s not kid ourselves – the guy’s freaking name is Killing, after all). Killing clearly has no compunction about using a nuclear missile and slaughtering countless civilians just to destroy one Gundam. It definitely demonstrates his immorality, but it also speaks to Zeon’s desperation in these final days of the war, which we know is just about over.
Original Review: June 4, 2000