Bernie and Al use radios to communicate while repairing the Zaku, with Al monitoring systems from inside the cockpit. As they walk back to town, Bernie outlines what they need to fight the Gundam Alex: tools, parts and weapons. The first they can buy, the second can be salvaged from the wrecked GM Commands across the colony and the third is in two weapons trailers left behind by Misha. Al and Bernie head to the first location and find one of the trailers being towed away by the EFF. They then drive to the parking lot for the second trailer and reach it just as the EFF does. Bernie pulls into a spot and watches the EFF soldiers investigate the truck, and Al says he has an idea. Al grabs a pipe and starts vandalizing the EFF jeep, shouting that the soldiers should leave the colony. The two soldiers run over when Al smashes the jeep’s windshield, which provides a distraction for Bernie to get to the truck. Al says that he wants his father back and accuses the EFF of killing him by having a base in the colony. He then starts crying and repeats that he wants his father back, and one of the soldiers explains that it’s all the fault of the Zeon. After telling Al not to do this again, the soldiers turn around and are shocked to see the truck gone. Back in the forest, Bernie unloads the truck’s cache of weapons, which includes a heat hawk and 12 hand grenades. Back in town, they eat burgers in the car and Bernie admits that he doesn’t have enough weapons and will get shot up without a rifle. Al asks if they can steal one, but Bernie answers that it would be too hard. He then sees a large Santa Claus balloon in the distance and gets an idea. Later that night, they head over to Denis Co. and knock out a security guard to break into the warehouse and steal crates of balloons and smoke dischargers. Using these, Bernie plans to set traps in the forest near the EFF base to avoid dragging civilians into the fight. His plan is to draw the Gundam Alex out into the forest, and he believes he can beat it with just the heat hawk. Al goes to a hardware store to get the tools that Bernie needs. They then set up the smoke dischargers and balloons in the forest and camouflage them. They also scour the colony to salvage parts from the wrecked GMs. Using these parts, Bernie is able to repair the Zaku and make it fully operational. On Christmas Eve, Al and Bernie watch a parade in town, and Bernie tells Al not to be sad because his father is coming back home. Al is annoyed that he can’t do anything else to help Bernie fight, but Bernie says he can handle the fighting by himself. Instead, Bernie wants Al to deliver a package in the event that he fails tomorrow and dies. He tells Al to play the disk and follow its instructions. Bernie drops Al off at home and wishes him a Merry Christmas. Al asks Bernie if he’s going to win and not die, and Bernie answers that he’ll win. Bernie looks over at Chris’ house, where inside she is enjoying the evening with her family and opening Christmas presents. Before going to bed, Al prays to God and says he won’t be bad anymore if God protects Bernie and the colony.
As Bernie heads off in the Zaku, Al and Michiko go to the spaceport to meet Ems. While riding in public transit down from the spaceport, Ems explains how there was a battle near his shuttle and he saw a Zeon ship get destroyed. He also mentions that one of the Zeon ships surrendered and was carrying a nuclear missile, on course for a colony in Riah. Al is shocked and realizes this is the missile that was meant to destroy Libot. The transport reaches a station, and Al runs away to head for the forest. He realizes he has to stop Bernie because there’s no need to fight now, but Bernie has already launched. Stuart is informed that the Zaku is approaching the EFF base, so he orders Chris to launch in the Gundam Alex and engage. Timed smoke dischargers go off as the Gundam Alex intercepts the Zaku and fires its Gatling cannon. Bernie turns and heads for the forest, and Chris ignores Stuart’s order to fall back because she says the forest has no civilians. Chris lands at the base of the hills and fires her Gatling cannon at Bernie. Al reaches the forest and calls out to Bernie, but Bernie doesn’t hear him. Bernie pulls the trigger to inflate a large Santa Claus balloon, and Chris opens fire on it. She turns and also fires at a large snowman balloon, and Bernie uses the distraction to get in close. She manages to fire a round into the cockpit and injure Bernie, but he uses the heat hawk to slice off the Gatling cannon. He then slices into the Gundam Alex’s torso and injures Chris. Chris draws her beam saber to repel the next heat hawk attack, and Bernie performs a thrust charge to knock the Gundam Alex over and push it down the hill. Al trips while chasing after Bernie and tumbles down the hill, while the Gundam Alex and the Zaku hit a tripwire that sets off explosives. Chris is able to break free and stand up, and Bernie pursues even though the Zaku has lost an arm. Al runs over just as the two charge toward each other and Chris stabs the Zaku through the cockpit, setting off an explosion that kills Bernie. EFF soldiers rush to the scene and find Al catatonic on the ground. Al watches as the Gundam Alex’s cockpit is opened, and he’s shocked to see that Chris is the pilot. Later, Al plays Bernie’s disk, and he explains that the package includes his taped confession and evidence that explains why the colony is being targeted with a nuke. He asks Al to take it to the police in the event that he dies, and he hopes an adult will listen to Al and save the colony. Bernie explains that he could’ve taken the evidence to the police himself, but he thinks that would’ve felt like running away. He’s not doing this out of hatred for the EFF or a desire to avenge his teammates, but he feels that he wants to fight the Gundam. He says that he’s probably going to die and asks Al not to hate the Gundam pilot or other EFF soldiers because they’re just people like him, doing what they think is right. He also asks Al not to blame himself for what happens. Bernie comments that if he survives, he’ll come back to the colony after the war to visit. Wrapping up the video, he tells Al to take care of himself and say hello to Chris. On Jan. 14, UC 0080, Michiko wakes Al up and tells him that he was yelling in his sleep. Al sits down for breakfast with his parents on his first day back to school, and Ems reads a newspaper article about the Earth Federation and Zeon agreeing to peace. After Al leaves for school, Ems wonders if Al has gotten more mature since he’s so quiet now. Chris calls out to Al and mentions that she’s being transferred back to Earth. She says she wanted to say goodbye to Bernie too and asks Al to do it for her, and he says that Bernie will be sorry to have missed her. Chris gives Al a kiss on the cheek and says goodbye. Outside the ruined school, the principal tells the assembled students that even though peace has been attained, the colony carries the scars of war. He says that he hopes they will never forget that peace was won at the cost of many lives. Al starts crying, so Dorothy runs off to get their teacher. Chay and Telcott tell Al not to cry because the next war will start soon and be even bigger and better.
Gundam 0080 ends on a tragic note, which is of course the only route it could have taken. Even with all the preparation he undertook, Bernie was never going to be able to beat the Gundam Alex, though to his credit, he damaged it far more than most Zeon pilots facing a Gundam ever did. There is definitely tragedy in that he was killed by Chris and Al had to find out about it, but also tragedy in that it was ultimately a futile battle. By chance, the Zeon fleet coming to destroy Libot was intercepted by the EFF, so the colony was saved without anyone needing to do anything. Still, Bernie took on the mission and fought sincerely to try and save the colony. There is no doubt that Al carries deep trauma from what happens here, and he likely has PTSD. Having seen the horrors of war and experienced loss, he’s completely moved beyond Telcott and Chay and their childish war glorification. Although this was the first Gundam production that didn’t involve Tomino, you can definitely feel the influence from his approach to doing a Gundam series. There is tragedy and loss, but also hope in that the colony was saved even though nearly all of the residents were never even aware they were in danger. The series portrays its Zeon characters mostly sympathetically, with Killing being an obvious exemption. As Bernie says in his video message to Al, the EFF and Zeon soldiers are all people just trying to do what they think it’s right. That’s definitely true at the lowest level and far less so at the highest level. In the end, Gundam 0080 doesn’t overstay its welcome and is a sterling example of the franchise’s themes.
Original Review: June 4, 2000