Having just landed on Mars, the Links family make their way across the Martian ocean to one of the structures Dolores saw earlier. James explains to them that it is an oxygen plant, and that when they had landed he was confused at what to do, but now they’re saved. All three disembark from the capsule and looking up at the plant, Leon remarks that you can’t even breathe on Mars without making oxygen with something like that. James tells him the amount of oxygen in Mars’ atmosphere is still 0.4% over the entire planet, but around the planet it might be over 30%. Noel exclaims then they can breathe without the aid of space suits, but James tells her that’s not possible, since the atmosphere is much thicker than Earth’s. However, Noel had already taken off her helmet and passes out from oxygen deprivation. James and Leon immediately rush to her side just as a plant employee named Joey exits the plant to check on the new arrivals. Fortunately, Noel recovers after a fresh, hot shower. Meanwhile, Dolores continues to swim through the water over the seaweed, Pete still in her cockpit, pretending to be a fish. But she notices that unlike Earth’s ocean, there are no fish here, just seaweed. She wonders if they’re in between the seaweed, so she dives deeper. Back at the oxygen plant, Joey and another employee named Morris treat the Links family to a meal, which Noel eats appreciatively, claiming to have grown tired of space rations. Leon, referring to Noel as “Miss Nora,” tells her that’s shameful, but the employees don’t seem to mind. Joey explains that they’ve been in the plant for a while, so it’s nice to have people from main society as company, though it’s horrible that they became shipwrecked while surveying the ocean (as per James’ cover story). Just as one of them brings some coffee in, an alarm goes off, signaling other visitors. Morris explains that it’s probably the Return to Environmental Normalcy Advocacy Organization (RENAO), a group that protests against Mars terraforming periodically. He claims they’ll just give a chant or two and then leave, but James states he doesn’t like those types of people and wonders if they’ll be okay. However, Joey tells him they’re a pacifist organization, so Wilson from the control room will be enough to deal with them. Outside, an airplane lands on the water by the oxygen plant and several armed men disembark and board an elevator. While continuing to eat, Noel asks the two employees if they know about John Carter, which causes James to gag. Joey, totally oblivious to Noel’s reference to James, explains that John Carter is the protagonist of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series from two centuries ago, a man from Earth that got transported to Mars, with the story focusing on his activities. Morris even tell some Martian “words” like Kaoru (greetings) and Saku (jump), the latter which amused the Martians greatly since Earthlings could jump so high (due to the low gravity). Noel observes that they both like the Mars series, and Joey says it’s more about Mars and their goal: to make Mars a planet full of life like in the story. Noel wonders what happens to Mars’ John Carter, and Morris says he marries a Martian princess and becomes a warlord. Noel teases James about Rachel being a princess, but James dismisses “Miss Nora’s” comment. Joey wonders what happened to Wilson at a time like this, but his friend says he hasn’t been here long so he isn’t interested in other people. In the control room, Wilson watches as the assailants enter the plant. He then turns around as the elevator opens and they exit, right on schedule. Wilson asks what happened to the real RENAO members, and one of the assailants replies fertilizer for the seaweed, which causes Wilson to laugh. Back in the cafeteria, James finishes his meal and gets up, informing Noel that he’s “going to take a sh*t.” Noel in turn berates him for being so vulgar, but James ignores her and heads for the bathroom. While sitting on the toilet, James once again reads his Daddy book, coming over a passage that reads as follows: “There are many chances to show your fatherliness, but they’re often overlooked. The god of chance only has hair in the front. If you try to pull his hair from the back, it’s already too late.” Just as he starts to relax, James overhears a very familiar sound to him: a gunshot. He bolts out of the bathroom and runs back to the cafeteria, where he overhears two of the gunmen antagonizing Joey, Leon and Noel, having already shot and killed Morris. James wonders what a pacifist organization would have guns for, but then one of the gunmen realizes that there was more people than they were informed, so he has his buddy go look around. James runs to find a suitable hiding place. In the control room, Wilson makes contact with a group of Sea Phantoma aquatic LEVs that are moving over the Mars Wheeze, informing them that they’ve gained control of the plant. The Sea Phantomas report that they will soon reach the supply line rendezvous point, and Wilson states that as soon as they’re done setting up, he’ll send the demands over. The two LEVs approach a saltwater intake vent underneath the oxygen plant, but before they can move in, they hear Dolores voice asking them if they know of any fish. The Sea Phantoma pilots are confused at first, but when Dolores, who is covered in seaweed and appearing as a sea monster, actually grabs onto one of the LEVs, they start to panic. Again she asks where the fish are, but her question is answered by screams of fear. Back at the plant, James ambushes one of the assailants by dropping on him from a catwalk and takes his assault rifle. He berates the unconscious man for not paying attention, and then checks the gun’s magazine and sees the rounds are guided types. He also notices that the rifle is military standard, which means these people aren’t normal terrorists. Knowing he may be outmatched, James tries contact Dolores over the radio, but she’s out of range. Outside, the Sea Phantoma pilots, fully convinced that they’re being attacked by a sea monster, open fire on Dolores with their arm photon maser cannons. The maser blasts slice through Dolores seaweed cover, but they don’t do much damage to Dolores herself. Back in the cafeteria, Joey tries to reason with the assailants, who he still thinks are RENAO members. He claims even if they have changed methods, there’s no way Mars will return to its state before terraforming. This earns him two jabs from a rifle butt, and Noel rushes to his side. Before the assailant can shoot Joey, he sees his comrade’s arm at the doorway, waving at him to go over. When he does, he is knocked out quickly. James then moves into the room and discards the gray coat he had taken from the previous assailant and enters the room. Leon and Noel accidentally refer to him as “Dad” at first, which goes against their cover story, but Leon soon corrects it by claiming he’s “Mr. Dad.” James orders them to tie up the assailant he just knocked out, but Leon and Noel demand to know what he’s about to do. James tells them he’s going to fight back, and before the siblings protest he reminds them he’s the only one with military experience. Joey tells him they have emergency weapons on the plant, but James tells him to take those and hide. Leon wants to join in to, but James points out that the assailants are professionals, and an amateur would only get in the way. James then takes the assailant’s headset and asks Joey where somebody can watch over the entire plant. Joey tells him the control room, and James states that’s where the enemy leader probably is. Joey worries about Wilson, since he was in the control room as well, but James wonders about that. He then leaves, telling them not to move on their own before he departs. As James runs down a corridor, Wilson contacts him over the headset thinking he’s “George,” but James flatly tells him George isn’t there anymore. James then tells Wilson, who he thinks is part of RENAO as well, that he won’t complain about their organization’s agenda and how they push it down on people, but he draws the line at murdering people. James then tells Wilson he’s going to track him down next. Wilson demands to know James’ identity, but James simply replies “John Carter”. He then rips the headset off and stomps on it, knowing that now they’ll concentrate on him and leave Noel, Leon and the rest of the plant staff alone. In the control room, Wilson reports that they have an irregular, and dispatches his men to hunt down “John Carter.” Wilson then vows not to let anyone get in his way, that when the ransom demands are paid off, he’s going to run from Mars and not look back. In the corridor, James continues to sneak around. He smirks at himself since this might be a chance to show off his fatherliness, just like the book said, if he stays alive of course. He then takes off running, claiming it beats changing diapers.
Underwater, the Sea Phantomas continue to barrage Dolores with their phonon masers, and she ends up crying out from the assault. One of the pilots wonders where that sexy voice is coming from, but his comrade berates him and tells him to concentrate. At the plant, Wilson’s thugs wait at an elevator coming up to them, and open fire once it opens, thinking James is in it. As it turns out, the elevator is a decoy; James is currently climbing a latter, muttering that only an idiot would take an elevator straightforward. However, the climb on the latter starts to exhaust James, despite the lower gravity than he’s used to. To make matters worse, the thugs soon appear and spot him, then proceed to rain guided bullets down at James. James dodges into another corridor and avoids the assault, reminding himself that he’s dead if they get a lock on him. In the control room, one of Wilson’s comrades checks his watch, and then tells Wilson that it’s time to threaten Cimmeria County’s Ministry of Home Affairs. Wilson replies that there has been no contact from the Sea Phantoma team, no notification that they’ve made it to the oxygen supply lines and “John Carter” is still at large. Wilson gripes nothing’s going to plan. Underwater, the two Sea Phantomas are still attacking Dolores, having blasted away most of her seaweed now. Dolores, not bothered from the attacks, starts to feel tingly inside, but she doesn’t know why. Aggravated that the Sea Phantomas haven’t told her about any fish, she decides to attack them just as the rest of her cover is blown away. The Sea Phantoma pilots are astonished by the appearance of an orbital frame in front of them, and Dolores powers up her energy shield. The energy exerted in turn creates a shockwave in the water that sends the Sea Phantomas flying up to the surface. High above Mars though, a BAHRAM satellite has detected the disturbance and scans the area, detecting Dolores’ Metatron energy wave. As a result of Dolores’ energy, a tidal wave forms and moves toward the plant. Dolores decides to try and contact James. In the control room, Wilson tries to contact the Sea Phantomas again, but he doesn’t get a response. The entire plant is then hit by the title wave and begins to tip over. This causes James to be knocked on his back, giving an opportunity for the thugs to fire at him. Fortunately, James ducks behind a corner and the bullets fire off target. He gripes that it’s harder doing it alone after all, but then he notices a group of smoke detectors on the ceiling. Getting an idea, he locks onto one of the detectors and fires a seeker bullet. The shot triggers the plant’s fire control system to go off, and the corridor is filled with steam. James takes the opportunity and runs the opposite direction. Greatly aggravated that “John” hasn’t been dealt with yet, Wilson orders the rest of his men to halt guarding and to track down “John.” He then sends his remaining guard back to the airplane so it can take off at any time. In the cafeteria, Joey exclaims this to be the first time he had felt a shake like that, and Noel gets fed up with waiting and states they can’t leave everything to James. Leon reminds her that James told them to stay there, but Joey is also tired of sitting there, especially since Morris was killed. Leon sighs and says he doesn’t know what’ll happen, but there’s no helping it. Underwater, Dolores floats up to the plant wondering how she’s going to communicate James since she can’t do it underwater, but James told her not to surface no matter what. In the plant, James is stuck in a fire fight between the rest of the assailants. His opponents having resorted to swarm tactics, James knows that he’ll eventually be overwhelmed if he doesn’t do something. He soon finds himself surrounded, and seeing no available solution, he sits down. He calls out to Rachel, apologizing that he had been a bad husband and father, but that it would have been nice to see her alive again. When he looks up, he sees a skylight on the ceiling to the Martian sky, and that there are oxygen masks present. With a new determination, he announces he’s not dead yet. He quickly grabs a mask and fires at the skylight, remembering that the pressure outside is three times stronger than inside. However, the skylight is reinforced, and James ends up putting entire clips of ammunition into it. After some concentrated barrages, the window breaks and the outside air seeps in. The thugs, not wearing masks, are unable to breathe and one by one they pass out. The broken skylight is eventually sealed, but the pressure has already been changed. A last thug manages to hold his breathe, but when he realizes James had taken all the masks, he passes out too. With no more guards to deal with, James moves towards the control room and sees Wilson back out of it. James comes up to him and aims the gun at his head, but when the man turns, he sees he’s wearing an employee jumpsuit, so he levels the gun away. He asks Wilson where he had been all this time, and Wilson claims something had happened when he got to the control room, so he had been lying low all this time. He thanks James for giving him the opportunity to escape, but James is not bought. James then asks what his own name is, and Wilson replies “John Carter,” claiming he heard it from Joey. Now knowing that Wilson is the terrorist leader, James aims at his head again, telling Wilson he only called himself that over the radio, so the enemy leader would think it was his name. The elevator soon opens, and James wonders if there are anymore, but it turns out to be Joey, Leon and Noel. Joey calls out to Wilson, seeing that he’s alright, and Noel compliments James on shooting the skylight since it knocked everyone out. Wilson replies to Joey, but he only does it so he can slip by and grab Noel at gunpoint, threatening to kill her if they move. Joey tries to explain that James isn’t the terrorist, but James berates him and tells Joey that Wilson was the leader all along. James then calls out “Kaoru” to Wilson, but he doesn’t know what it means, thinking James is pleading for Noel’s life. With that in mind, James tells Noel “Saku,” and she jumps in the air, slamming Wilson into the ceiling. Noel ends up landing on Leon, but James compliments her anyway. However, Wilson crawls into the elevator and has it go down to the level where the airplane is docked. Wilson then runs into the plane and tells his comrade to take off. James follows him and calls out for Dolores, who surfaces, having been waiting for him. James tells her they’re going to follow the airplane, so he jumps in Dolores’ cockpit and they dive back underwater. Despite the water resistance against her frame, Dolores easily outruns the plane and activates her arm blade. James has her run at the plane, but he seemingly misses the first slash, and Dolores tells him he hasn’t trained enough. As it turns out though, James slash did land, having cut off the fins on the plane’s left side, causing it to crash into the water. James claims he planned it, but Dolores tells him it’s not good to lie. Back at the plant, Wilson and his men are tied up and placed at the foot of the plant with oxygen masks. Wilson tries to persuade Joey into letting them go and joining them in abandoning the “rotten planet,” but Joey tells him Mars isn’t rotten, it’s still young, and that he’s going to change it. Wilson just laughs and says prison is just the same as being on Mars anyway, so Noel kicks him in the gut to shut him up. Leon wonders if Mars is such a bad place. Joey thanks James for everything, but James tells him they gave him food, so it’s only natural. As James, Leon and Noel board the capsule again, Joey asks them if they’re really from an ocean survey ship. James simply replies there are some things that are better left unknown, and the capsule begins to move away, Dolores pulling it from underwater. Joey calls out for James to come back, but James just waves back at him, as he and his family disappear into the fog.
Although the focus hasn’t shifted back to the main plot yet, this episode was still pretty good. I should note that this was the first episode I saw of Dolores, i, so it’s a little special to me. Once again, Dolores, i seems to take a nod to mainstream movies, and this time it’s the infamous Die Hard series. The whole setup is just like any one of those movies, with a rag-tag but heavily organized terrorist group taking over a building of some kind and one man going against him with only a machine gun, raw battle skills and greater creativity. Only instead of John McClane here, we have James Links. That being said, this is the first time we’ve seen James play the one-man action hero outside of Dolores, and he’s surprisingly or unsurprisingly very good at it. With the bumbling character we’ve seen in the past several episodes, it’s hard to remember that James was a trained soldier in the UNSF, and that he has plenty of combat experience. Either way, it was pretty cool seeing him actually show his combat abilities. His sneaking around the oxygen plant reminded me of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, where in the second half of the game, the player’s objective is to move around an occupied oceanic decontamination plant undetected, although James was up against a lot less than Raiden was. I wonder if that in itself was a Metal Gear Solid reference (wouldn’t be the first in a ZOE story). Also, somebody in the staff must have just seen The Matrix, because when James shoots a bullet at the smoke detector, the animation goes black and white and the motion slows into “bullet time,” complete with a CG bullet and trail. Granted, it was cool in The Matrix when Neo did it, but here it seems seriously out of place, and the fade to black and white wasn’t necessary either. Dolores also gets to see some action, against a pair of Sea Phantoma LEVs, which are quite hideous in design. I laughed so hard when she grabbed that Phantoma to ask where there were fish (while covered in seaweed with eyes glowing), because you just knew the Phantoma pilot was going to wet himself. It’s not everyday a giant lump of seaweed asks you about fish ;-). Unfortunately, Dolores overdoes it again and not only causes a tidal wave to erupt, but also catches the attention of a BAHRAM satellite. That only means trouble in the future for James and co., as if the Space Force, Baan and the Yans weren’t enough. Another strange thing is besides the Zalgas arc, this episode has more action than any of the previous episodes, and most of it is regular ground combat. But then, what’d you expect from an episode with this title?