DAY THIRTY-FIVE: The Messenger
(10) Another typical blunder by the narrator opens the penultimate episode of the pre-reconstruction era Macross Saga; he states that it was Breetai's plan to attack the SDF-1 to disrupt the wedding, while it was clearly a plan hatched by Dolza. As I noted yesterday, Breetai didn't even want to attack the SDF-1, though he did because he is a good and loyal Zentraedi.
Setting aside the unreliable narration, as is typical of these end-of-the-road-to-Armageddon Macross Saga episodes, it hits the ground running, opening with everyone on alert as a Zentraedi ship approaches the SDF-1. I can't help but notice Sammie back at her typical post as opposed to filling Lisa's chair; I guess she only takes the hot seat during combat.
(9) In stark contrast to yesterday's episode, this one is brilliantly-drawn. Lots of great character moments; Kim sticking out her tongue above is just one of the earliest examples. Moreover, there's a nice directorial touch in the opening; the split-screen effects used for the first thirty seconds or so, overlaying a member of the bridge crew in close-up overtop the SDF-1 as they report on enemy activity, create a sense of tension and urgency, ala the TV series 24 two decades hence.
One more reason to love Breetai: after his flagship destroys Khyron's meddling squadron of Fighter Pods, Khyron radios him demanding to know if he's gone mad. Breetai says, simply and coldly, "Your ships were interfering with a diplomatic mission, so I disposed of them." Once again, Breetai shows us how to take care of business. Are you taking notes, Azonia?
Rick, standing in for the audience again: when one of his wingmen remarks how weird it is escorting an enemy Battlepod, Rick thinks to himself, "And it's getting weirder all the time. Oh, brother."
(8) The emissary from the Zentraedi is, of course, Exedore; of those serving in Breetai's fleet, he's the most knowledgeable and linguistically gifted, and on top of that he isn't combat-necessary. Mark this down, too; last episode, "Wedding Bells," was the last time Exedore would ever be a full-sized Zentraedi in any version of ROBOTECH continuity. (In MACROSS continuity, of course, he would not only be returned to full size but further genetically modified to resemble his green, lumpy big-headed counterpart from the movie Do You Remember Love and would serve as Max's advisor in MACROSS 7 just as he did Breetai during the original TV series.)
Great exchange here:
EXEDORE: I am called Exedore among my people, Minister of Affairs.
COL. MAISTROFF: It sounds rather ... important.
EXEDORE: Not really.
Humility, or a simple statement of fact? You decide!
(7) One of the more memorable scenes in this episode is when the convoy ferrying Exedore to his meeting with Gloval and the other brass passes by a billboard of a barely-clad female and Exedore asks Maistroff to explain that to him. Maistroff doesn't even try, so Exedore nods sagely and decides it must be a military secret. "Yes," Maistroff says, clearing his throat, "a military secret, of course." It's a scene you wouldn't find in any other animated series of the 1980s, and one that points, once again, to ROBOTECH's relative maturity compared to other shows of its vintage. Of course, I think it got away with this moment because it was so brief and subtle; really, it plays out no differently than if a child pointed to a similar billboard and got a similar dismissive answer, like, "I'll tell you when you're older."
On the one hand, I assume they're probably serving Exedore something like orange juice. However, given that the server offers him another so quickly after he totally downs the first one, I can't help but think, say, maybe that's alcohol and the RDF is trying to get Exedore drunk. Yeah, probably not, but it's an amusing thought ...
Love Edie Mirman's embarrassed delivery when Exedore tells Miriya he saw the wedding. "Um, you probably wondered why we did it ..."
Also great is Exedore's creepy, creepy grin when Rico, Konda, and Bron notice him. They completely freak out, and he has to assure them he has no intention of harming them before they can breathe easy again. While presumably they fear him for his status within the fleet, it is funny to think of anyone being physically intimidated by Exedore. Does he possess some power we know nothing about? Could he go all Yoda in STAR WARS: EPISODE II on them if he so desired? Again, probably not ...
(6) Gloval and Exedore obviously have differing ideas as to who all should be present for the first diplomatic meeting of the two races: while Gloval calls in the Zentraedi defectors and the two remaining members of the crew who were held hostage aboard Breetai's flagship, Exedore requests the presence of, guess who, Kyle (whom he still think harbors amazing powers) and Minmei (who, well, really DOES seem to harbor some sort of amazing power). Maistroff quickly figures out that Exedore is referring to the wire-fu and CG effects trickery of "Small White Dragon," but I find it amazing that nobody present makes the leap from "female at the core of a psychological assult" to "Minmei," especially given that Rico, Konda, and Bron already told our heroes that one of the key reasons they defected was Minmei's song. I expect the writers keep our heroes in the dark simply so we can be serenaded by Exedore's take on one of Minmei's standards. (Somewhere around here I have an MP3 of Japanese-language Exedore's complete rendition of "My Boyfriend Is A Pilot," though I seem to have misplaced it ...)
The best part about it is how long it's allowed to go on while all assembled stare at Exedore in slack-jawed shock, amazement, and presumably a bit of horror. Gloval really says all that needs to be said: "I don't believe this ..."
When Kyle grumbles that he's tired of being pushed around by the military, all I can think is, "If there were a pull-string Lynn Kyle doll, I'm pretty sure that's what it would say." And when Minmei asks what she's doing here, he overplays it by a fair margin, shouting that she shouldn't expect any answers out of them. Bless Captain Gloval for shouting back, "Enough of this nonsense!" Someone should really have been shouting that at Kyle since day one ... or at least day two.
(5) Admit it, Admiral Hayes, you're just saying you doubt the negotiations will result in a full fledged cease fire because you're just jonesing to blow some stuff up with that Grand Cannon of yours, aren't you?
Exedore is intelligent and humble enough to realize when he's wrong, and it doesn't take much to convince him he's wrong about Kyle's powers and the terrifying power that was unleashed on those poor folks in Ontario, but he remains undeterred as regards the power of Minmei's song. He explains that long, long ago the Zentraedi encountered another open society like that of humanity and it nearly destroyed them; Dolza will not allow this to happen again. Exedore reveals that his mission was one of observation, and once his report is filed, Dolza will likely order the main fleet to launch an all-out assault on the Earth, "after he recovers the Protoculture Factory." As with so much of what is shoehorned in as part of the ROBOTECH story, that detail is left sitting there, and Gloval remarks, "The main fleet, eh?"
(4) And yet, Breetai clearly doesn't know the whole score, because when Azonia tells him the main fleet is on its way he's surprised. On the other hand, he obviously knows more about the big picture than Azonia does, because by the sound of it if the main fleet is on its way, Dolza has decided the matter is too urgent to bother with seizing the Protoculture Factory; he's skipping right to the final solution, the annihilation of humanity. The problem with this is that according to Breetai, without the additional Protoculture supply that would come from seizing the Protoculture Factory, the Zentraedi race is doomed. I suppose Dolza assumes that death from energy starvation is preferable to the wholesale transformation of the Zentraedi people -- death before "dishonor," perhaps?
(3) Four million, eight hundred thousand battleships: a number like that has an effect on people. Well, not really much of one on Kyle, he just continues on with the same defeatist anti-military nonsense he's been spewing the whole while. Max gets all cheesy and romantic, holding Miriya's hand and calling her "my darling." Rick looks over at them and gets depressed and mopey, again. That is the interesting thing about Max and Miriya's "fairy tale" romance: it serves as a contrast to Rick's hopeless romantic situation and makes him even more frustrated with his lot in life for a few episodes. He's just lucky that the pre-reconstruction MACROSS storyline got compressed the way it did; from the looks of things, if he had to put up with listening to Max and Miriya any longer without the distraction of planetary armageddon, he'd hang himself.
While Exedore assures his new friends that they'll surely succeed because the SDF-1's proven indestructible so far, back on Earth Admiral Hayes tells Lisa that the ship will surely be destroyed, as they're planning on ordering it to act as a decoy so they can use the Grand Cannon to destroy the incoming enemy fleet. Lisa, naturally, wants to stand with those she's fought beside for so long in this final battle, but the Admiral won't allow it, because ... well, because he's her dad. It's selfish, but it makes sense.
(2) Breetai checks in with Azonia and Khyron to see where they stand. Azonia, realizing that she is now Dolza's enemy due to "contamination" from Earth culture, decides to stand and fight alongside Breetai. Breetai nods and wishes her well in battle. Contestant #2, though, scratches his head, won't look Breetai in the eye, and remarks that he will not fight if he cannot win. "As I expected, Khyron. I wasn't depending on you anyway."
Khyron: YOU WILL BE DESTROYED!
Funny how the one-note characters get even more one-note in the face of the threat of annihilation; if Khyron were a pull-string toy, that's what HE would say.
When Grel asks Khyron where they're headed, his response is, "Anyplace else in the universe but here." Despite this, you'll notice he is lurking about during the final battle next episode.
While there's a big complicated chart behind him when we return to Exedore and our heroes aboard the SDF-1, Exedore explains that their best chance for victory lies with a very simple strategy: destroy the leader. Wipe out Dolza's flagship, and the rest of the fleet will fall into disarray. As usual, Exedore proves to be right ...
(1) At Exedore's request, Minmei sings for all gathered, choosing "To Be In Love" for whatever reason. The song fades out as space surrounding the Earth is blanketed in a sea of green. With the exception of the narrator, Exedore gets the last word in:
"Well, I'm afraid this is it."
"Be watching for 'Force Of Arms,' the next action-packed episode of ROBOTECH!"