Star Trek: Voyager – Season 4, Episode 14 – “Message in a Bottle” – When Comedy and Action Align

     “Message in a Bottle,” is a fantastic Doctor episode and I was glad it was the next one I chose as I review an episode for each doctor in “Legacy Trek” (TOS to ENT in time of release). Robert Picardo’s EMH is my favorite character on “Voyager” besides Seven of Nine and this episode really illustrates all the reasons that he is. Andy Dick and Picardo have such amazing chemistry in this episode and I like how the story ties “Voyager” to the Alpha Quadrant. Without saying anymore this is an episode I highly recommend for Picardo’s performance alone.

The story was written by Rick Williams with Teleplay by Lisa Klink with the episode being directed by Nancy Malone.

Using the Hirogen’s arrays Voyager has found a way to contact a Federation ship in the Alpha Quadrant. Due to the limited time they decide to send the Doctor over to send their messages to Starfleet.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Romulan Threat – When the Doctor transports over to the ship he finds it has been taken over by the Romulans. This threat is constant as they are paranoid and right not to trust the Doctor. He has to use all of his adaptability to get around them and even after the crew is defeated there is still the Tal Shiar forces that arrive. I’m a huge Romulan fan and this episode does a wonderful job of illustrating why they are such a threat. The Romulans are taking a prototype Starfleet Advanced Vessel called Prometheus, the fact they almost win shows just how great they are as a threat and the fact that they’d captured this advanced ship in the first place.

The Call of Home – When 7 of 9 figures out how they can use the array to send a message to Starfleet we get some wonderful moment of Chakotay, Janeway and members of the crew talking about the letters they want to send home. There are so many beautiful moments that really capture how long they’ve been away and how strong their desire is to return home.

EMH-2 – Andy Dick is fantastic as the EMH-2. He’s arrogant and smart but is completely driven by his programming and rules and regulation. It takes the Doctor to get him out of this. They clash originally but in the end the EMH-2 saves the Doctor when the Romulans find him out. The comedic timing is fantastic and he still feels so human too.

Captain Janeway – This is a good Captain Janeway episode. In this we see her holding out to the last minute to be sure the Doctor gets back and the message is delivered, we see how much she misses home and also how much she cares about the crew. This is a great episode that captures why she is the Captain.

Seven of Nine – Seven of Nine is one of my favorite characters in “Voyager” and this episode helps capture part of the reason why. She is very much the Spock or Odo as she disconnected from the crew by her being a former Borg but she still cares deeply for them and getting them home. She is the one who discovers how to use the arrays and she calls the senior staff immediately to act on it. She also shocks a Hirogen who tries to stop them from using the array when “Clearly diplomacy wasn’t working.” She’s amazing and Jeri Ryan continues to own the role.

The Doctor – This is the Doctor’s episode and seeing him play off the EMH-2 and help the EMH-2 find courage while at the same time outsmart the Romulans and contact Starfleet are the amazing things he accomplishes this episode. Robert Picardo brings a lot of nuance to the role too as we see his fear when he is found out by the Romulans and also his brief moment of gratitude when he is saved, before the EMH-2 rubs it in his face.

The Cons:

Torres – Torres is the worst part of this episode. She starts out dehumanizing Seven and proceeds to do so throughout the episode. She even uses the fact that Seven was a former drone to hurt her. It is awful and I usually like her. This struck me as pointless drama and did nothing but make Torres look like an awful person.

This was a near perfect “Voyager” episode with only the writing of Torres bringing it down. I loved seeing the Doctor take on the Romulans and spend time on the Prometheus. This episode gives us the theme of “Voyager” with the quest for home along with the exploration of self through the Doctor. This is easily a favorite and is one of the best episodes “Voyager” has to offer. Suffice to say, this is one I highly recommend.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 Would have been perfect if Torres had been written better.

“Star Trek: Picard” Season 1 – Good Characters That Needed a Further Developed World

STAR TREK: PICARD - REMEMBRANCE - PhantaNews

      Season 1 of “Star Trek: Picard” is flawed but has more that works than doesn’t in the end. This is a series that is willing to explore quite a few different factions that are at odds and still focus on the characters who drive the story. It doesn’t all work, I would not call this series great but it is good and has the potential to be great in future seasons. This is a review that will include SPOILERS so warning you now, I’m exploring what works and doesn’t work about this season for me so I will be in the details. Continue reading at your own risk. In the end, more worked for me than didn’t and I really hope we see characters and the world developed further in Season 2.

This is a season reflection so will contain SPOILERS as it covers what I liked and hated in the narrative.

The Pros:

Premise – The premise of the show is really strong. You have a Federation that has retreated from the world and outlawed the building of synthetics after synthetics destroy the shipyards on Mars. This in turn leads to a refugee crisis as Mars was building ships to help get Romulans out of the blastzone of the Hobas Supernova. Picard resigns in protest against Starfleet, which brings us to the present and Dahj, an android made from Data’s postaron seeking out Picard’s protection after an attempt is made to kindap her.

Soundtrack – Jeff Russo’s soundtrack is beautiful and reflective and has a hint of melancholy about it. This worked really well as what drives the show is Picard facing is own mortality and what he wants to make of the rest of his life as he comes out of retirement. The theme song reflects this well as well as the underlying mystery as Dahj and Soji discover they are androids slowly and the soundtrack captures that.

Cinematography – Picard is a good looking show. The cinematography is movie quality and the use of sets and green screens are blended together really well.

Star Trek: Picard's Best New Characters Are Laris and Zhaban

Laris and Zhaban – Laris and Zhaban are former Tal Shiar and Picard’s carekeepers at the winery. Laris is one of my favorite characters on the show and both of these characters bring a human face to the conflict. They believe in Picard and helping the refugees and are the ones who tell Picard about the Zhat Vash. I wish we had gotten more time with both of them as we saw they have given up their old ways but still use their training to protect.

Zhat Vash – The Zhat Vash are a secret order that seeks to destroy all synthetic lifeforms as due to a beacon left on a planet they saw that advanced synths will destroy all life. The members of the order we meet are Oh, Narissa and Narek. Oh is half-Vulcan while Narissa and Narek are adoptive siblings. All of them are damaged in different ways and see their desire to protect the universe from the synths above all else. I’m really curious to see if we will learn more about them in Season 2 as they do not succeed in destroying Soji’s people and the new Synths made from Data.

Seven of Nine – Seven of Nine has changed since the last time we saw her, and I appreciate the direction it took. She is part of the Rangers who are a group fighting criminals in the area that was once the Neutral Zone. Seven finds her story tied to Picard as she gets revenge against the woman who killed Icheb. After she is pulled back to Picard when Elnor uses Hugh’s emergency beacon and she and Elnor fight the Romulans with Seven even taking control of the Cube as a Queen at one point. After she and Elnor are taking care of the Ex-Borgs until they rejoin Picard. I’m curious to see her relationship with the Ex-Borgs explored further and her relationship to whatever form the Borg are now. Jeri Ryan did an amazing job.

Ex-Borg Hugh's Character Arc in 'Picard' Embodies the Best of ...

Hugh – Hugh was my favorite character besides Laris and Jonathan Del Arco returned to this character beautifully. He is the Director on “The Artifact” and is helping Ex-Borg also called xBs heal from the trauma of assimilation. The fact that the Romulans are good with him until he tries to get to the Queen’s room says a lot for Federation influence and the impression he left. He reminds Picard of how all xBs were victims of the Borg Collective and Picard doesn’t have to ask twice for him to help. He is only killed when is scene as breaking the treaty by helping Elnor and the Zhat Vash agent “Narissa” kills him. I hated this death initially and but on further reflection, him dying fighting to help another is fitting as that was his final act in “Descent” Part 2 which was his final appearance on “The Next Generation” and lead to him leading the free Borg who had been under Lore’s control. I do hope they bring him back in some capacity, flashbacks of how he knew Seven of Nine would be very fitting or if Seven gets a show have it be during the time when he was alive.

The Crew – I liked the crew though it is hard for me to really choose one who I like more than the characters mentioned above. Soji brings a curiosity and presence as Data’s daughter, Raffi brings empathy and cynicism, Caption Rios is broken with hidden idealism and Agnes, Elnor is the young innocent and ruthless bodyguard and Agnes is the torn over honest doctor. Each of them bring something reveals a part of Picard as his relationship to them also reveals aspects of them. It is a good crew and if I had to choose favorites it’d probably be Elnor and Captain Rios.

Riker and Troi – Riker and Troi offer relief for Soji and Picard from the Zhat Vash and Riker arrives with the Federation fleet to protect the Synths from the Zhat Vash. Seeing how much all of them had grown and their relationship to one another was powerful. Sirtis and Frakes truly inhabit their roles and they brought much needed wisdom that Picard needed. I hope this isn’t the last of them we see on the show.

Picard – This main story on the show is that of Picard and him facing his regrets, trauma and mortality. He faces his regrets in his going into retirement rather than seeking to change Starfleet, he faces his trauma in once more facing his history with the Borg and what was done to him and his mortality in his illness and death. In the end he is granted a chance to live without the illness, though it involves finally saying good-bye to Data and granting his last wish for death.

Data and his Legacy – Data’s legacy lives on the synthetics and the society they created when Maddox and Alton Soong used his positrons to make them. In the end it is one of his “children” Soji who saves his people and lives his idealism over the fear that is felt towards him and his people. We also see that he has been living in a holographic world since his psyche was saved out of B-4 after “Nemesis.” In the end he wants to die to complete his quest to become human and like a human his life lives on in the society made from him. It is beautifully done and Spiner finally gave Data the sendoff he deserved.

Brent Spiner And Patrick Stewart: Saying Goodbye To Data On 'Star ...

Confronting Fear and Persecution of “The Other” – Another theme of the series was fear of the other and facing it. Hugh had become the Director on “The Artifact” to protect and take of the xBs as he told Picard, they had no home and everyone feared them. Those same rules applied to synthetic from their outlaw by the Federation and the Zhat Vash quest to exterminate them. We see Soji’s people and herself fear and experience first hand. I hope this thread isn’t dropped as it as all the more important today.

The Cons:

Dropped Plot Threads – There are quite a few dropped plot threads that hurt the narrative. We have the xBs and them forming a civilization with Seven of Nine and Elnor and it is just forgotten as we see Seven and Elnor as member’s of Picard’s new crew in the final shot. We never learn why Maddox left the Synthetic homeworld, which given he would have been protected there made no sense why he’d leave. These are just a few of the dropped plot threads that could have easily been wrapped up with more dialogue at the very least.

Lack of Starfleet Perspective – Everyone in the crew and even Picard are all former Starfleet. This I think is a disservice as Starfleet comes to save the day at the end but no one within Starfleet is picked up as a part of Picard’s crew. This was a missed oppurtunity and would have been a great oppurtunity to have someone who contrasted with the rest of the crew. They wouldn’t even have to be “Next Generation” cast, just someone who still believed in Federation but also felt they had to help Picard and his mission.

Actual Political State of the Romulans – We learn about the Zhat Vash, meet a Romulan Refugee planet and that the Romulan Free State was in control of “The Artifact” which was the Borg Cube. Is the Romulan Star Empire gone? Is the Romulan Free State the only organized faction or are there others? The Romulan Star Empire was huge but I had no idea if they even had an Empire anymore as we only have the Free State who the Zhat Vash seem to control. This would have been such an easy fix and could have been solved in showing us a map of the region.

The Synthetic Threat – The Reaper like Synethic threat are a faction we get a glimpse of but are never taken on directly. We learn that they exterminate organic life and apparently come from another dimension and not much more than that. We even see one coming through the portal but that threat is never addressed. They are put away when at the very least I wish we could have learned more about this threat that caused the Zhat Vash to destroy the Romulan rescue fleet when they hacked the synths on Mars.

This was a flawed show but in the end it was good. I liked the moments the show slowed down and we got to know where Riker and Troi were. When we got to know the villains they became compelling and the characters who returned had lives that took fascinating directions. The show was flawed and as a whole I would consider it good but not reach great. It had a great ending and I loved how it explored the characters and themes, but too many unexplained plot and world elements held it back. Regardless, I can’t wait to see where the story is explored from here.

Final Score: 8.2 / 10

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Star Trek: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 16 – “The Time Trap” – To Work With and Outsmart One’s Enemy

ST TAS S 1 Ep 16 The Time Trap

     “The Time Trap” is a good episode that doesn’t change the antagonistic relationship between the Klingons and Federation, but still has them working together while they are working against each other at the same time. The world it has in the Trap is really cool too as it shows that being lost ins’t a complete loss giving our characters a little more of a choice. This was “Star Trek” done right.

     The episode was directed by Hal Sutherland and written by Joyce Perry.

   The story involves the Enterprise and Kor and his Klingon ship getting trapped in a pocket dimension in the Delta Triangle. They must work together while dealing with the fact that they have limited power and are still bitter foes.

The Pros: Kirk – It is implied Kirk hooks up with the Orion council member (no surprise) but we also see that he never fully trusts the Klingons even though he supports the plan of them working together. He is an interesting character in this episode and we see how strong his attachment to his world is.

The Council – There is an Orion, Vulcan and a few other people who were ship captains and represent a council that enforces peace in their zone. They are smart too and offer an idyllic paradise for our trapped captains. They have also all given up so there is a hopelessness for that.

Spock – Spock does a good job in this episode and we see him show kindness in order to find out that the Klingons are hiding something and from it help prevent the Klingons from destroying the  Enterprise. 

Kor – Kor has to sate the bloodlust of his crew who doesn’t want to work with the Federation as well as safe face with his people who are waiting on the outside. To this end he endorses his second’s plan to explode the Enterprise when it reaches Warp 8. Since that doesn’t work he just takes responsibility for “saving” them when the most he did was follow Spock and Kirk’s plan.

This was a great episode that showed even extreme circumstances won’t always bring about peace between enemies. This was something you don’t see often in “Star Trek.” I’m glad they were comfortable doing that as it revealed the humanity of our factions and how no one is prefect and that the road to peace comes through more than just extreme circumstances.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam – An Anime That Truly Explores War

Mobile Suit Gundam

This has been article I’ve been meaning to write, now that I’ve finished reviewing all the episodes of “Mobile Suit Gundam.” The first in the “Gundam” series. Suffice to say, I understand how it sparked a franchise. This was an anime that covered the human cost of war and politics, the hard choices, from the civilians caught in the middle who in many cases are forced to take sides, from the good people on both sides of the conflict and how war can lead to regret when a person realizes how it has changed them and those around them. You get to know the characters, which is why these things and many times their dying actually matters.

The human cost of war is the most prevalent thing you feel in “Mobile Suit Gundam,” characters are introduced like Ramba Ral, Crowley, Matilda and others who we come to know right before they are torn from us, in many cases by other characters like the crew of the Trojan Horse who we have come to care for. We also see the human cost in how Amuro’s father is psychologically broken from the attack when he loses oxygen and he is no longer able to fully attach to his son or to use the great engineering mind he once had the designed Gundam.

Characters are also forced to make hard choices and take sides. At one point Amuro leaves, at another point Kai leaves…for Amuro it’s partially because he doesn’t want to give up Gundam, but it’s also him genuinely wanting to prove himself and help in the war, for Kai it’s because he’s tired of fighting in a conflict he never wanted to be a part of. He was a civilian who doesn’t adapt to war until he has a reason when he loses the woman he loves who was a spy who ends up betraying Zeon. She makes that hard choice too as she became a Zeon spy to care for orphan children and needed money. Sayla is also forced to make a choice when she learns her brother Char is serving under the Zeons in order to overthrow them since Char and Sayla are the true heirs before the Zabi family overthrew them. In these moments of hard choices, we get why characters do the things they do. It makes them human and the conflict they are a part of real.

Another aspect covered is how people change. Char goes from his personal vendetta against Amuro to remembering his original mission and destroying the Zabi line so that his new dream of having a world shaped by Newtypes like him and Amuro can become a reality. Degwin Zabi also changes when he sees the human cost of the war and how he has turned his son into a monster who believes in Zeon supreme and decimating the rest of the colonies for population control so Zeon can colonize them. To prevent his Nazi son from destroying his legacy and innocent lives he goes to meet General Revil for a peace talk only for Gehrin to destroy them with the Solar Ray. Amuro also goes from fighting for the sake of fighting to fighting for his family of White Base 7. The crew is his community and home and his last act before saving himself is to get them all to safely with his newtype powers.

Because of all these factors, the choices characters make and the cost that comes with it are accurately felt. In many cases during war there isn’t a right answer, there are only slightly worse or better answers. This moral quandary is part of what makes the characters memorable, they aren’t allowed to stay static because the war presents them with choices and their choices shape the conflict. The series doesn’t end on a completely idealistic note either. An armistice is signed between the Federation and Zeon but it is left open since the cost of the war so high…you know that both sides now carry hatred from what they just went through and for this reason even though there is peace it could very well be temporary as both sides have hurt each other so greatly.

This was an amazing anime and one I’d highly recommend. The animation is a little rough at first and the songs too hopeful but they both get better and better capture the price and cost of war. If you are looking for an anime with compelling characters, good action and choices that mean something, you will enjoy this one greatly. This series makes me look forward to reviewing other series in the “Gundam” franchise.

Final score: 9 / 10. Solidly great, just started out a little rough and the Trojan Horse being unstoppable for a time kept it from being perfect.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 41 – “Space Fortress: A Baoa Qu” – To Destroy One’s Enemies

Space Fortress A Baoa Qu

The penultimate episode of the series really starts with a powerful beginning as we see General Revil and Degwin Zabi destroyed by the Solar Ray that his own son Gehrin Zabi fires. This really sets up the theme of everyone seeking to destroy the ones they consider their enemy.

The episode was written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama and directed by Ryoji Fujihara and Yoshiyuki Tomino.

As stated above it begins with the Solar Ray destroying Degwin and his peace envoy which puts Kycilia on edge and distrusting of Gihren as she meets up with him at A Baoa Qu. It is here he goes full on propaganda with promoting Zeon as the superior race who will crush all their enemies before them. At the same time the Trojan Horse is recovering from the destruction it witnessed as Amuro pulls them together for the final attack on the base with the remainder of the Federation fleet. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Battle – The Battle is amazing! We see the base holding it’s own against greater forces and also the battles on the smaller scale when we get the POV’s of Kai, Hayato and Sayla in Guncannon, Guntank and G-Fighter. This lends to how epic the scale really is as Mr. Bright and Kycilia are giving orders.

Gihren Zabi – Is a bastard and I was so happy when Kycilia killed him. She figured out that he murdered his own father and puts him down as she believes only the honorable should rule and those who respect the Zabi family which he clearly doesn’t. He won’t be missed.

Kycilia Zabi – Her blind spot is still Char though as she gives him a Newtype Gundam Zeong (given his budding Newtype abilities). We see her command her forces and firmly establish leadership after the coup against her brother as the base quickly falls into line. It says a lot about her power that her murder of her brother didn’t cause a Civil War among the troops. I guess they saw how reckless he had become too. Her other blindspot is she depends too much on Gundams to fight the battle and doesn’t call for reinforcements from Zeon. She was the one who realized Newtypes could change the war but it was realized too late.

Amuro – Amuro is getting better in his abilities but is now evenly matched with Char on the battlefield as when they face off neither knows how to defeat the other and they both experience fear because of it. They also know how much of a game changer each is as their gundams and their personal abilities are quite powerful.

Kai, Hayato, Sayla – All of them have great moments this battle, though Sayla is going to get a bigger sequence on why she’s a pro next episode. In this one she is taking out Zeon Gundams as Kai and Hayato manage to land on A Baoa Qu and help break through.

Char's Zeong

Char – Char gets an awesome new Gundam that forces him to use his Newtype abilities as he, at least initially is pretty balanced in the fight against Amuro. They fight to a standstill and lose each other in the battle and aren’t able to find each other again till the end. He decimates lots of Federation forces too and would have changed the battle towards Zeon victory if not for Amuro.

Enemies Meet – This episode is all about enemies meeting. From Kycilia killing her brother Gihren, from Gihren’s execution of his father with the Solar Ray for seeking peace and of course the main two of the series – Char and Amuro. We see the outcomes of all of this in the final episode.

This was a solid episode that doesn’t have any real cons. It has a limited time so we don’t have the minor characters get too much exploration, but we still get exploration of the leads and the Zabi family, which was all the episode needed to do.

Final Score: 10 / 10. A perfect “Mobile Suit Gundam” episode.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 40 – “A Cosmic Glow” – A Dream for Peace

A Cosmic Glow

This is the episode that shows what different characters are do to try and reach peace, and showing us that Degwin Zabi isn’t a completely bad guy. It also has a very trippy sequence as we fully get to know the motivations of Lalah and Amuro.

The episode was written by Kenichi Matsuzaki and directed by Shinya Sadamitsu.

The story involves Kycilia calling out Char on his real identity and asking him why his quest for revenge changed? When he says Lalah, she understands and says they won’t have peace and resolution between them until after the war. An attack is than mounted to stop the Fleet that the Trojan Horse is leading as Degwin Zabi goes over to the Federation to negotiate for peace as Gihren Zabi prepares the Solar Ray. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Degwin Zabi – A guy who backs up his regret with action and trying to change the war he started. Where this goes remains to be seen, but I suspect that Gihren is going to kill him as he lamenting that Degwin has become a sentimental old man as he prepares the Solar Ray to decimate a portion of the Federation’s Fleet. We also see that the death of Garma his son, is a major motivation for his quest for peace.

Gihren Zabi – Is a bastard and great bad guy. We see him follow through on his ends justify the means approach in his preparation to the point that his Father who is the Lord of Zeon in name is worth killing. History repeats as Degwin did the same thing to the last lord of Zeon.

Kycilia Zabi – Knows the truth of Char’s identity and tells him and forces him to face why he changed his mind on revenge and that things aren’t resolved but winning the war is more important. You can tell she puts Zeon over her personal issues with other people.

Lalah – We see that Lalah is more aware of the big picture than Char and when she connects to Amuro during the battle shows him a vision of peace. It is here she asks him why he fights and learns because he has to, where for her it is to protect. We see her take this to the full degree when she sacrifices herself to save Char from Amuro’s attack.

Char – Char’s hate has consumed him to the point that he nearly kills Sayla in battle. We see him have a great moment with Kycilia though that at least for the moment, he’s put his hatred for the Zabi family aside for Lalah and the hopes the Newtypes bring. We also see his despair at the death of Lalah, the woman he loved.

Amuro – Amuro is shown the bigger picture and how his fighting to kill has hurt so many…he and Lalah connect over the dream of peace and stop fighting when they see their past and current meeting as destiny and resolve to stop…before Char forces their hands which leads to Amuro accidentally killing Lalah.

The Set up – The Solar Ray is about to fire and probably is going to destroy General Revil and Degwin Zabi which will make peace less likely (and also continuation of the Gundam series since many characters we haven’t met will have reasons to hate).

The Cons: The Dream Sequence – The vision or dream was way too confusing and it was hard to understand what Lalah’s and Amuro’s motivations were fully during it. It could have been done much more subtly and with much less words. It was excess.

This is a favorite episode for sure and has some great character development! I can’t wait to see how it all plays out in the final two episodes…especially in regards to Char and the Zabis and Char and Sayla.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 38 – “The Newtype: Challia Bull” – The New Weapons of War

The New Type Challia Bull

“The Newtype: Challia Bull” is themed just as it’s suggested…the exploration of Newtypes in relation to the war effort. We also see politicing between the Zabi siblings and Zeon striking back at the recent Federation victories.

The episode was directed by Osamu Sekita and Yoshiyuki Tomino and written by Masaru Yamamoto.

The story begins with Lalah working with Char to destroy Federation ships and cause chaos and fear on the Solomon Base that the Federation recently captured. We then see Gihren who sends out Challia Bull to be his agent in Kycilia’s forces. Around this time Amuro was sensing Lalah’s attack but is surprised when Bull attacks and it an unknown for him and his Gundam. Sayla also comes forward about the truth of her identity to Mr. Bright. The story unfolds from there.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Challia Bull – This guy is a soldier who is good at hiding his own agenda. At one point he appears to be almost a Magneto when he tells Lalah they need to look out for their own people. He also does a good job fighting and doing damage (destroys Guncannon’s legs) and is only defeated because of Amuro honing his abilities as a Newtype.

Lalah – She is getting character development! We see a huge part of her motivation is doing things for Char because Char cares about her, and she loves the feel of victory and being in control. We get more exploration of this next episode too.

Char – Knows how tough his position when when Challia arrives as an agent of Gihren, but doesn’t let that stop him. Once again he lets it be a chance to show Lalah as superior as he puts Challia’s fears to rest about him before Challia’s inevitable doom to Gundam.

Amuro – Amuro gets to the point where his reflexes are faster than his armor. This is the first time his Newtype abilities are very apparent and it comes in handy it is his speed that allows him to take out Challia Bull. It ends with him figuring how to upgrade the Gundam so it doesn’t happen again.

Sayla – Sayla tells the truth about her identity as a Princess of Zeon and that Char is her older brother. She expresses her disapproval of him and that she stands ready to fight. This one firmly establishes her truth and transparency.

Mr. Bright – Accepts Sayla’s confession and is grateful to have still on board. We also see him commanding during the battle.

Okay: Gihren – We don’t really get enough time with him to know his intentions, just that he’s untrustworthy, so there isn’t much to go on.

This is a good episode that shows how Amuro’s abilities are advancing and the fact that the Federation and Zeons now both know of Newtypes are using them as weapons of war. The Newtypes change things and just how radically they’ll change things remains to be seen.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10. Solidly good and enjoyable episode.

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 36 – “The Duel in Texas” – The Pride of M’Quve

The Duel in Texas

“The Duel in Texas,” is very much a M’Quve episode as we find he has fallen into the trap most Zabi’s have of wanting to take Amuro on their own to show Char that they deserve respect. I was hoping M’Quve was above this, but what can you do. It is still an enjoyable episode.

The episode was directed by Shinya Sadamitsu and Yoshiyuki Tomino and written by Masaru Yamamoto.

We first learn that Gihrin has moved Zeon headquarters to A Baoa Qu as the final line of defense against Federation forces and also putting out a double rank advancement for whomever defeats the Gundam. The story involves M’Quve entering his own Gundam and luring Amuro into a trap in the Texas area that is a wasteland that Char is using to test Lalah’s abilities. The story lines meet when Amuro enters and Char decides to go and help M’Quve so Kycilia won’t be shamed. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Sayla – We see her take on and do lots of damage and destroy many of the Zeon ships before Kai joins the battle later to help take on the Gundams. She’s improved a lot and the Zeon Captain is surprised one ship can do so much damage.

Amuro – Amuro faces off against M’Quve and at one point Char in his new Gundam over the course of the traps set on Texas. He fights M’Quve and kills him even when Lalah begs for him to stop as he’s already one. In this we see Amuro has no sense of attacking to incapacitate, he is just like Char in he fights to kill.

M’Quve – We see his pride (the Zeon’s and their pride) at stake when he duels Amuro for Kycilia to show up Char and when he’s later rescued by Char he asks Char to stay out of it, leading to M’Quve’s death. He was a good character though, he was the planner and scheme and his Gyan is pretty great.

The Introduction – It is great seeing that Dozle’s death is having consequences, from Degwin, the leader expecting Dozle’s defeat and Gihrin’s actions to strengthen the war effort. The past episodes have consequences, which makes the series great.

Char – Char helps M’Quve but let M’Quve’s pride destroy himself in the end as he saw M’Quve’s pride and ivory tower approach a waste (and every hurt against the Zabi family is a win for Char). It was great seeing that side of him again, that he will help but he’ll also let others destroy themselves if it serves him. He also manages to put up a good fight against Amuro which continues next episode.

Okay: Lalah – She doesn’t like fighting but she’s serving Char and Zeon? What? She is a confusing character who I really don’t get at this point.

This was a great episode and good way for M’Quve to go. I was hoping he’d get to go out with a super weapon though rather than Gundam vs Gundam which seems to be the status quo for how Zeon’s get defeated. Still has some great Char and Amuro moments though and we get to know M’Quve better too.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 33 – “A Fateful Encounter” – When Char Met Amuro

A Fatefull Encounter

“A Fateful Encounter” finishes up the arc in Base 6 and introduces us to some new elements, mostly related to Char. I’ll go into more of what I mean in the following assessment.

“A Fateful Encounter” was directed by Ryoji Fujihara and written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama.

The episode involves Amuro seeing more of his father’s mind falling apart and meeting the mysterious woman named Lalah who he later runs into again when he sees Char for the first time. The story unfolds from here as Conscon does a full scale assault against the Trojan Horse to show Char how powerful he is as Char is staying on Base 6.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Amuro – Amuro is afraid of Char, when they meet and Char helps him pull his car out of a rut Amuro loses the ability to thank him and takes off as quickly as possible. We see later being with his father has honed him as he doesn’t want more people to go mad from the war like his father has. He kills the most Zeon Gundams in this battle.

Char – Char has taken Lalah under his wing as it implies she is a psychic and can sense Amuro’s Gundam during the fight. They have an interesting relationship as she seems to be his protege. We also see Char’s kindness when he helps Amuro and in his time with Lalah and honoring Base 6’s neutrality.

Mirai – We see her try to protect Cameron Bloom in this episode but ends up respecting his wish to escort the Trojan Horse out of the dock to offer them more protection. She is smacked by Slagger (hate this guy) and the trying to force her to like Bloom is getting really annoying. She holds her own though.

Cameron Bloom – We see his love for Mirai in his self sacrifice and his hope for her protecting after the battle is over. He was willing to risk his own neutrality for another, which was great to see. Showing that there was more than an arranged marriage going on for him.

Okay: Lalah – She’s a blank slate at this point. She comments on nature’s beauty to Amuro when a bird dies and seems to have something with Char, but none of these are fully fleshed out.

The Cons: Sleggar – Hate this guy, he violently smacks Mirai for no reason as Mr. Bright lets Bloom escort them anyway. Can this character just die? Even Kai’s improved but this guy is still horrid.

Coscon – Risks all his forces and dies in the battle against the Trojan Horse and Amuro’s Gundam all for the sake of pride. He will not be missed.

This was a good but not great episode. I liked the moments of Amuro’s dad rooting for him during the battle and his moments with Amuro and Cameron Bloom and Mirai had some good moments too. Coscon was a waste of a bad guy though.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Mobile Suit Gundam – Season 1, Episode 30 – “A Decoy in Space” – Sayla’s Loyalties

A Decoy in Space

“A Decoy in Space” continues Char’s assault on The Trojan Horse and further exploration of the conflict that Sayla now feels that she’s talked to her brother and knows they are facing him on the other side.

The episode was directed by Hiroshi Hisano and Yoshiyuki Tomino and written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama.

“A Decoy in Space,” begins with the Trojan Horse leaving orbit after taking on a new officer named Sleggar while Char mounts an attack with his limited forces as he wants to make sure White Base 7 will not reach it’s location. When the crew are called into action Sayla finds herself paralyzed and possibly harming her brother.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Char – Shows why he is the main rival of the Trojan Horse and White Base 7 once again when he attacks them head on and manages to reek a lot of havok before Sleggar gets a direct hit on his ship the Zanzibar. I would have liked to see him think about Sayla though.

Sayla – Her conflict in loyalties is really prevalent here as she worries that Char may be in one of the Gundams so is slow to react leading to trouble in the battle. Amuro talks to her after and Mirai and Mr. Bright also confront her to but she brushes it off not wanting to face her dilemma yet.

Amuro – Uses his wit to outsmart the latest and greatest Zeon Gundam ship the Bigro and 2 upgraded Doms that Sayla and Kai help take out. We see how much he cares for Sayla too when he reaches out about her question on who their enemy is and her freezing in battle.

The Cons: Sleggar – Guy is way too macho confident. I can see what they were getting at with his character, but at this point Hayato has more personality and complexity and he’s one of the characters that is the least fleshed out. His constant hitting on Mirai and all the women was uncomfortable an annoying.

This was a good episode with decent action. Don’t like Sleggar all that much and kind of thought he’d die this episode continuing the theme of if a character is introduced, they will be killed. He broke that pattern which was nice to see though which means he could get more character development. He’s also the first outsider on the crew.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10