Tensions between the SAU and Arbrau increase on the Balfour Plain after an SAU recon plane crashes due to the interference of Ahab reactors from Hloekk Graze mobile suits. Fighting breaks out when the SAU brings out its Mobile Workers and Gilda SAU suits, reinforced by Gjallarhorn while Arbrau is supported by Tekkadan. As the fighting stretches into two weeks of attrition warfare, Takaki senses that something isn’t right here as he leads Mobile Workers into battle. McGillis watches the battle and meets with his staff to discuss the situation. Makanai is still unconscious, and Gjallarhorn is stuck in the middle since the SAU asked for it to arbitrate matters. McGillis sees that someone is planning this and using Tekkadan as puppets. Aston and the other Landman Rodi pilots fall back, but an Arbrau Mobile Worker pilot rushes ahead and causes a Tekkadan pilot named Lux to be killed. McGillis figures that someone has manipulated the situation to create the perfect stalemate. Galan pays his respects as Takaki zips up Lux’s body bag. Galan comments that they’re heading into a crucial stretch and compliments Takaki and Aston for their efforts. The next morning, the two walk into a tent and are asked by other boys how long they’ll have to keep fighting, and for what purpose. Aston tells the boys not to think about that and just focus on eating and sleeping when they can. Takaki tells Aston that he feels the same, like they’ve been fighting for years. He asks Aston if something is different about this war and wonders what he’s doing. A message arrives with deployment orders from Galan, and Takaki flips out when Galan is called a Captain. On Rustal’s flagship, Julieta asks Vidar when the Gundam Vidar he’s been working on will be completed, and he explains that it has a unique system. In discussing the current situation on Earth, she asks Vidar if he knows McGillis, but he doesn’t give her a clear answer. Iok speaks with Rustal and laughs at McGillis’ impending misfortune. Takaki heads into battle and wonders what’s beyond that. Aston leads the mobile suit forces and wonders how Chad is doing. On the Hotarubi, Eugene calls Orga and expresses his annoyance at being unable to contact the Earth Branch. Merribit laments that the news is their only source of info, but Orga has faith in the people he chose to send to Earth. Lafter and Azee joke about Akihiro lifting even more weights, but he says it’s his hobby. Kudelia sits with Eugene and Mikazuki in the mess hall and worries about Chad. Hush tells Mikazuki that he’s finished the Shiden simulation, tuned his machine, and worked out, so Mikazuki tells him to get rest. Hush objects because he wants to prepare for battle, but Mikazuki notes that he won’t get rest once they reach Earth. Eugene addresses the crew in the mess hall on that subject, and Mikazuki comments that he’s just imitating Orga.
Fuka says goodbye to her classmates and heads to the hospital to visit Chad, who is still in a regeneration capsule. A nurse tells her that it’ll take time for him to heal, but he’ll be ok. After heading home, she wonders how Takaki is doing. The fighting continues into the night, and Aston prepares to launch and aid Takaki, but Galan’s Geirail takes off first. He destroys a Gilda SAU targeting Takaki and comments that Arbrau’s troops would suffer without Takaki. Galan apologizes for all the fighting and says that their victory will arrive soon if they can hold on a bit longer. The Hotarubi arrives at Earth and docks at the spaceport Jutland 1, and the new recruits are amazed to see Earth up close. Eugene is informed that Arbrau has declared a state of emergency and won’t allow any shuttles to land. He argues with a woman that they’re the military advisors to Arbrau, but she tells him there are no exceptions and cuts off the call. Galan gets a call from Radice that the Hotarubi has left the spaceport. Radice comments that Galan has done well in taming the boys, and Galan explains that they’re just like dogs who have to be fed and petted sometimes, especially Aston. In their tent, Aston comments on the situation and thinks the difference might be that they’re not fighting under Orga’s orders this time. Aston doesn’t care who gives the orders because human debris only exist to fight. Takaki objects and says that even though they risk their lives, he doesn’t want Aston to accept death from the beginning. Takaki wants them both to survive and go home together. The next morning, McGillis launches in his Graze Ritter and leads a mobile suit squadron into battle to bring an end to the situation. Galan hears the news and gives orders for his Geirail and the Geirail Scharfrichters to prepare to sortie. Galan addresses the Tekkadan boys and tells them this will be the last battle if they can bring down the enemy boss. Galan’s team and Tekkadan take off and head for McGillis’ position.
The situation on Earth has deteriorated between episodes, but I would’ve preferred to see the outbreak of war last episode rather than have two weeks of fighting recapped by Takaki during the teaser. That would’ve been more effective than him summarizing events. Either way, the rest of the episode shows that Galan has been successful in his attempts to draw out the fighting and create a stalemate. People on both sides are starting to see that something is wrong, and ultimately McGillis is drawn into the battle, which will pit him against his allies – Tekkadan. Although the Hotarubi has reached Earth, they’re prevented from launching a shuttle to reinforce the Earth Branch. Which, of course, is all according to Rustal’s plan. The death flags are running high for Takaki and Aston, so the question now is, who will survive?