DAY THIRTY-SEVEN: Reconstruction Blues
(10) Two years later ...
I always remember this one as "the one where Rick gets excited about a field of sunflowers, then watches as Lynn Kyle drinks a lot and emotionally abuses Minmei."
(9) Yep, there are the sunflowers. Now, where's the purple-suited monster?
Something interesting that started in "The Messenger," Breetai brought up the dwindling supply of Protoculture. Now this idea continues to be seeded in the subsequent episodes, like right here in Rick's internal monologue. Amidst talk of mother nature beginning to forgive humanity for the part they played in the Earth's near destruction and flashbacks to running in a field of flowers just like this after Roy Fokker's old biplane, Rick considers that with the destruction of so many Zentraedi ships, humanity may have also destroyed most of the remaining Protoculture in the universe, and consequently accelerated or caused the fall of the Robotech Masters, whom until now only Exedore, and maybe (though I don't think so) Dolza has mentioned, and who we will meet for the first time in the next episode.
(8) In the shadow of the SDF-1, New Macross City has risen, and in the suburbs of that city, Lisa is tidying up Rick's home while he's on patrol. Beside Roy Fokker's old flight helmet, she finds a photo album filled with pictures of Minmei, and we get to enjoy every moment of Lisa's bitter, disgusted internal monologue. It really doesn't reflect well on her; she remarks on it herself, nobody asked her to come in and tidy up Rick's place, and here she goes, thumbing through Rick's stuff and fantasizing about throttling Little Miss Singing Star to within an inch of her life.
I love how Lisa's remark of "How can any girl compete with this kind of glamor?" is juxtaposed with a picture of Minmei sticking her tongue out.
With two years gone by it sounds like Melanie MacQueen tried to make Lisa sound older, but succeeded in making her sound TOO old. It makes her catty remarks about Minmei sound like a sad middle-aged woman trying to compete with a teenage pop star, when Lisa's only, what, twenty-seven, maybe twenty-eight at this point?
(7) Rick's in another one of his reflective moods, trying to remind himself why he's doing what he's doing -- the same place he was at back in "Battle Hymn" when he strengthened his resolve by standing next to a garish, oversaturated poster and thinking of Minmei. Only this time he thinks back to something Roy Fokker told him, that he's flying now for the sake of his home and his loved ones. Remembering that turns out to be just enough to give Rick a kick in the pants and get him back in the air. Rick spends an awful lot of time on reflection, wondering where his life is going, what he's doing with it. I think he needs a hobby.
Once in the air, he catches the end of "The Man In My Life" on the radio and discovers that Minmei's "People Helping People" tour has brought her, and Kyle, and Kyle's terrible purple suit to Granite City. After Kyle shuts up with his anti-military propagandizing, Minmei goes into "The Right Move," only heard this once and for which only the few lyrics we hear here were ever recorded.
As Rick flies towards Granite City, Minmei's moved on to "It's You," the last complete Reba West-sung Minmei song we hadn't heard until now. He runs to the concert, which seems a little ramshackle, like something out of a county fair, and catches the tail end of that song. He also almost catches a giant Zentraedi's hand on his head; them's the perils of having forty-foot guys just wandering around as part of society, I guess (and I almost forgot, one of Rick's green-trimmed wingmen actually quoted the more correct forty-foot figure in this episode).
(6) Things that have changed in two years: Max and Miriya had a baby, little Dana Sterling, who will grow up to be a more interesting character than either of them -- or, at the very least, a more fun character to watch. Lisa's watching them pass by, continuing to mope about how Rick's still hung up on Minmei after all these years. Two guys walk up with a boom box blasting out "My Time To Be A Star," and Lisa decides to up and leave, trying to escape from Minmei. Then we reach the halfway point of the episode, and whose voice tells us that ROBOTECH will be right back? Why, it's Minmei! THERE IS NO ESCAPE.
(5) We look in on Minmei's life these days and see it's in pretty terrible shape, though she's doing an okay job holding her own against her boozy, unappreciative jerk of a cousin and manager. I guess living in the shadow of a military-run government has taken its toll on the former peace movement activist and turned him toward the drink and made him even more hardline in his loathing of our valiant Robotech Defenders, to the point of nonsense and paranoia. Yes, certainly, if there was no military, the Zentraedi wouldn't have come and nearly annihilated the Earth. That makes a whole lot of sense, Kyle. I wonder -- Rick was hiding behind some rubble, watching the drama unfold as Minmei told Kyle to quit with the drinking and stop knocking the soldiers, and nearly told him to hit the road. If he'd stepped in, would it have made things worse? I think it probably would have; it would have given him a target for his anti-military hate, and he could have gotten more out of hand than just kicking glass bottles around.
On the other hand, it makes Rick look like an ineffectual idiot to just stand in the shadows while this drunken kung-fu twit goes on a tear at the girl he claims to love. Earlier in the episode he described good ol' Roy Fokker as "a real hero;" by leaving Minmei and Kyle behind to continue to bicker, and Kyle to continue to drink, he proves that in at least one way he completely failed to follow in his big brother's footsteps.
(4) Then again, it's not like Rick just ran off to avoid dropping in on one of his oldest friends and her piece of work of a cousin/manager -- he received word that Zentraedi mecha were attacking New Portland with a handful of Battlepods and powered armors. Switching from the all-out space combat of the war to the civil defense actions of the reconstruction era, it's a shock to see just how much damage a few of what used to be cannon fodder enemy troops can do to a defenseless city. Visibility is low due to the hard rain, but when Rick's wingmen get close enough, they find the city ablaze.
(3) Rick's men are taking a bit of a beating from the Zentraedi, and while Rick is en route, he takes a bit of a tongue lashing from Lisa for not staying with them, which does seem a bit irresponsible of him. Then again, because we've been listening to Lisa's jealous internal whining all episode long, she doesn't come off particularly well either. One gets the impression from the bridge girls' chatter that this has been going on for some time -- Lisa in the "isn't this a relationship?" Rick Hunter role, and Rick as oblivious Minmei, being hung up on and not entirely sure why.
(2) When Rick tears apart two of the three Battlepods, why doesn't anyone move to detain the pilots, or pursue that third one that seems to be escaping to a highway tunnel? The immediate danger is over, but shouldn't the guilty parties be locked up so they don't pull something like this again? Or are Rick's wingmen going to do just that off-camera, between the fight and the next scene back at the SDF-1? It sure doesn't LOOK like anyone's making any effort to stop them ...
Handing Rick an envelope full of photos "to remember me by" is kind of a weird passive-aggressive move on Lisa's part, isn't it? But then, that seems consistent with the rest of her behavior this episode, and by all appearances consistent with her behavior for some time before. We see them smiling, flying towards the rising sun at the end of "Force of Arms" and we assume they finally got together; we see what they're up to two years later, and they seem anything BUT together. Rick keeps wondering what he's doing wrong, and Lisa keeps biting his head off basically for not being her boyfriend yet. Certainly not as dysfunctional as Minmei and Kyle, but at least those two seem to each know where the other stands.
(1) How recently did order start to return from the chaos? How bad were things immediately after the fighting stopped? I'm curious, because Rick, Lisa, and Gloval all act like this is the first time in a while that violence has sprung up among the Zentraedi, that this is the first time the war-like aliens have returned to their "old ways." But I'd think it had to have been a bit like the Wild West for a while out there, lawless and violent. I say this because of what Gloval proposes here -- in the wake of one incident of renewed violence, Gloval suggests clamping down on the freedoms of the Zentraedi, issuing them jobs where they can be monitored by the military establishment. I wonder if they've been letting them just go freely because they felt the need to show trust, or because they just let things go due to the fact that the RDF had to focus on getting other parts of society rolling again.
It's a tricky thing, clamping down on the freedoms of forty-foot-tall men. I can see why you would do it, but you run a terrible risk of angering and radicalizing law-abiding new citizens who left their old ways BECAUSE of the freedoms our society offered. And doing such a thing to a whole people because of the actions of what appeared to be three dissidents -- why, that would be playing right into the hands of rabble rousers and anarchists. Can we name any rabble rousers or anarchists in the ROBOTECH cast for whom this will be catnip? I think we can ...
"Be with us next time for 'The Robotech Masters,' the newest chapter in the amazing story of ROBOTECH."