On the Vesalius, Athrun says goodbye to Lacus as she boards a shuttle to head back home. She tells Athrun that wars are difficult and that one should ask what they’re fighting for. Later, Rau reminds him of what happened to Yzak and tells him he could be the Strike Gundam‘s next victim if he doesn’t shoot it down first. Elsewhere, the Archangel finally rendezvous with the 8th Fleet and pulls up alongside Admiral Halberton’s flagship Menelaos. The bridge crew wonders what he is like, and Murrue explains that Halberton is the biggest supporter of the Archangel and Gundam projects. Murrue leaves the bridge and is joined in the elevator by Natarle. Natarle tells her that they can’t let someone with Kira’s abilities go, and Murrue says that she can’t force Kira to join the military. In the hangar, Kira wonders why they have to repair Mu’s Moebius Zero so quickly, and Mu says he feels insecure with the enemy nearby. Murdoch explains that most of the pilots in Halberton’s fleet are rookies. Murrue comes down to the hangar and takes Kira aside. She apologizes for not having spoken much with him and thanks him for all his hard work so far. A shuttle lands in the hangar carrying Halberton and his assistant, Capt. Hoffman. Halberton greets Murrue and then goes over to speak to Kira and his friends. He thanks them for their hard work and tells them that all their parents are alive. He tells them that he wants to speak with them again, and he leaves with Hoffman, Murrue, Natarle and Mu. On the Vesalius, Rau and Ades see that they were wrong about the Archangel heading for the Alliance base on the Moon. Rau figures they are trying to send the Archangel to Earth, and he wants to destroy them before they can make it. Halberton explains to Murrue and the others that the senior staff in Alaska don’t understand what it’s like to fight in space. Hoffman asks what they will do about Kira, and Murrue says he is just a civilian. Natarle speaks out of turn and says that they can’t let someone with his abilities go. Halberton agrees with Murrue, and Natarle suggests taking Kira’s parents hostage. Halberton orders her to be quiet and stop saying such nonsense. In the hangar, Murdoch watches as two new Sky Grasper atmospheric combat fighters are loaded onto the ship.
Hoffman explains to Murrue that because the advance ships were destroyed they have no additional crew to spare for the Archangel. He tells Murrue that she has to get the Archangel and Strike Gundam’s data down to Alaska to continue the development of the G-weapons. He says that ZAFT will continue to develop more mobile suits and that they have to prepare for that. After the meeting, Natarle and Hoffman give Miriallia, Tolle, Sai and Kuzzey their discharge papers. Flay steps forward and says that she wants to join the army. In the hangar, Kira looks at the Strike Gundam and thinks about his first battle in it. Halberton asks him if he is sorry about having to part with it now. He also wonders what Kira’s parents were thinking when they made him a Coordinator. He says that the Strike Gundam was developed simply to counter ZAFT suits, but when Kira pilots it it becomes more like a super weapon. He also says that though Kira’s abilities are tempting to have, one person alone can’t win a war. Kira asks if he should fight because he has the power to, and Halberton tells him power means nothing if he doesn’t have the will to fight. Halberton is called back to the Menelaos and says goodbye to Kira. Flay explains to Natarle that she’s thought a lot about things since her father’s death and realizes that she must fight to bring peace to the world. She begins to cry and says that she wants to carry on his will. Natarle and Hoffman take her away, and Sai tears up his discharge papers. He says he feels the same as Flay, and everyone else tears up their papers too. As Kira waits to board the shuttle for Earth, Elle gives him an origami flower to thank him for protecting everyone. On the Vesalius, Athrun performs a systems check on the Aegis Gundam as the GINNs begin to launch. Athrun launches, followed by Dearka and Nicol from the Gamow. Wearing bandages over his damaged eye, Yzak launches with the upgraded Duel Gundam‘s Assault Shroud and vows to get revenge on Kira. Sai and the others come to tell Kira they’re staying and wish him well as a battle alert is sounded. As the shuttle prepares to leave, Kira decides to stay and fight.
I’ve noticed a trend that’s been developing with this show: it alternates between an episode involving battles and an episode focusing on character development. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but here it does. The Archangel finally meets up with the 8th Fleet, and we get to meet Admiral Halberton. He’s the nice guy admiral, so he seems to be the General Revil of this series. We find out some more about the Atlantic Federation’s Alaska base, and it seems they don’t care about the Archangel and Gundams too much. Halberton mentions continuing the development of the Strike Gundam, so does this mean it will be eventually mass produced with a simplified GM-like counterpart? Natarle again demonstrates how cold and uncaring she can be by trying to convince Halberton to take Kira’s parents hostage to force him to fight. Though Natarle is very by-the-book, her actions show she is also quite Machiavellian and is willing to do almost anything to reach a certain end. Kira decides to stay and fight at the episode’s end, and it looks like he’s going to have quite a battle on his hands.