As the ZAFT fleet approaches, Halberton orders his fleet to enter battle formation. He also orders the Archangel to stick to the rear next to the Menelaos. The four Gundams head for the battlefield as the Alliance ships begin to launch their Moebius units. The battle begins, and the Gundams and GINNs begin to make quick work of the Alliance fleet. Murrue is surprised to see Kira’s friends return to their posts on the bridge, and Natarle tells her that she authorized it. Kira goes into the locker room to change and finds Flay in there. She is surprised that he is still there, and he tells her he’s not going to run away anymore. He sees that she was standing next to a normal suit and tells her it’s impossible for her to pilot the Strike Gundam. He tells her he’s going to fight and end the war. Flay tells him she will protect him with her feelings and then kisses him. On the Vesalius, Rau discusses the battle with Ades and says that Halberton must know he can’t win the battle with only ships and mobile armors. He sees that Halberton is hiding the Archangel in the rear lines so that it can escape to Earth. Yzak and Dearka destroy several Alliance ships, while Nicol and Athrun only cripple them. Rau thinks that Nicol and Athrun are too soft, so he fires at the crippled, retreating ships and destroys them. Yzak destroys more Moebiuses and searches the battlefield for the Strike Gundam. Mu calls Murrue and demands to know why he’s on standby and not in the battle. Murrue tells him they haven’t been given orders by Halberton, and Mu insists on going out even if he can’t make much of a difference to the battle. Murrue calls the Menelaos and asks Halberton for permission to descend to Earth. Hoffman accuses her of wanting to save her ship only, and she says that the Archangel must leave because they are ZAFT’s target. Halberton hesitates until he sees another one of his ships explode. He tells Murrue she is as reckless as ever and gives her permission to descend to Earth. He tells her that he will make sure no enemies approach while they begin atmospheric re-entry. Yzak continues to search for Kira and wants him to come out so that his wound will stop throbbing.
As the Archangel prepares to descend, Murrue has the ablative gel tested. Mu and Murdoch can’t believe they’re going to descend, and Mu is surprised when Kira enters the hangar and goes over to the Strike Gundam. Rau sees that the Archangel is descending, so he orders his units to target it and destroy it before it enters the atmosphere. Mu calls Murrue and tells her that they’re ready for launch. She asks what he means by “they,” and she’s shocked when Kira calls her from the Strike Gundam’s cockpit. She asks him what he’s doing there, and he says that according to the specs he can survive atmospheric re-entry. Murrue yells at Natarle when she gives Kira permission to launch, and Natarle says they can’t let the 8th Fleet’s sacrifice go to waste. Kira launches in the Aile Strike Gundam, followed by Mu’s Moebius Zero. Yzak spots Kira and immediately attacks him while Mu attacks Dearka. Yzak pulls out his beam saber and wants to repay Kira for his scar. As the battles rages near the atmosphere, Dearka sees that it’s getting kind of dangerous to fight Mu. The Archangel continues its descent and releases ablative gel on its underside to protect it from the heat. Kira and Mu receive the order to return to the ship, but Kira is too consumed in his fight with Yzak to respond. Mu escapes and fires a towing line to the Archangel to pull himself in. The damaged Gamow rushes in to do a suicide attack on the Menelaos. Rau tells Zelman to pull back, but Zelman says he can’t after coming so far. Rau orders Athrun and Nicol to return because there’s nothing else they can do. The Gamow closes in on the Menelaos, but it burns up in the atmosphere and explodes. Halberton orders the shuttle with the Heliopolis civilians to launch before the ship is destroyed. Kira continues to fight with Yzak and kicks at him to get away. The Menelaos burns up and explodes, and Murrue cries and salutes Halberton. As the Duel Gundam closes in on Kira, the civilian shuttle comes between them and gets in Yzak’s way. Kira turns around to try to stop him, but Yzak fires his beam rifle at the shuttle, believing it is filled with escaping soldiers. Kira closes in on the shuttle, but it explodes and knocks him away into the atmosphere.
Since this series is pretty much a remake of the original Gundam, an atmospheric battle had to happen sooner or later. Whereas the original battle was only between the White Base and Char, this one features two fleets, rather like the AEUG’s atmospheric battles with the Titans and Neo Zeon in Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ respectively. These Earth Alliance ships sure do seem to explode pretty easily, just like the Moebiuses. While it’s not surprising to see cannon fodder mecha in Gundam, you don’t get cannon fodder ships too often. For once, Natarle’s actually right when she does something that Murrue doesn’t approve of. Yzak returns to combat with his upgraded Duel Gundam, and his obsession with his scar is very much like that of Dilandau Albatou from Escaflowne. His destruction of the civilian shuttle really was cruel and pointless. Even if it was full of retreating soldiers, there would have been no need to shoot at them. The Archangel of course won’t end up near Alaska, so we’ll have to see where they do finally land.