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Monday, 21 November 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E8.

Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 8
Sovereign of Mars.

I kind of thought this episode would be the start of a new arc, but if anything, it seems to act more like a bridging episode, simultaneously wrapping up any loose ends from the Arbrau-SAU War plot, while also setting up the plot for the rest of  this series. That doesn't mean we don't get any good scenes, though, because we do get a fair few.

In the aftermath of the war on Earth, Orga arrives on the planet to oversee Tekkadan's withdrawal from Earth. After a meeting with the rest of the Seven Stars, and a conversation with Rustal Elion, McGillis approaches Orga with an offer he can't refuse. As Orga discusses the offer with the rest of Tekkadan, though, it leads to Takaki announcing that he'll be leaving Tekkadan, and staying on Earth. Meanwhile, Makanai offers to mentor Kudelia, if she agrees to stay on Earth.

We get a really nice humanising moment for Rustal in this episode, as a flashback shows him encountering McGillis, recently adopted by the Fareed family, and upon seeing bruises on his neck, being actually pretty gentle and kind with him -- at least up until the point that McGillis mentions the name 'Bael,' which we've not heard before in-series but is apparently sufficient to really spook Rustal.

Extreme nose.

Given that bruises on a child in fiction usually only mean one thing, and especially since Rustal remarks to adult McGillis that he'd initially thought that the reason he deposed and exiles Iznario Fareed was to get payback, it seems pretty obvious that McGillis was abused as a child. Interestingly, though, the flashbacks also clarify that McGillis isn't Iznario's illegitimate son, just an adopted son, and Rustal raises the question of why Iznario would adopt a kid, especially a kid he clearly doesn't want, and especially one that seems to be poor.

I mean, possibly he or his wife are just infertile, but Rustal's reaction certainly makes it seem like there's more to it.

It also squarely places McGillis as one of the 'iron-blooded orphans' that the title is referring to, and possibly even hints at him having been Human Debris before Iznario adopted him. I expect we'll find out more about that in the next few episodes.

The other big mystery the episode poses is that of Vidar. He makes reference to Ein in this episode, but he also rather cryptically remarks that Ein is now very close to him -- all of which makes me wonder if Ein's personality isn't incorporated into him, or if Ein's body parts were used to patch him up, or even if the Gundam Vidar has Ein's mind as a kind of artificial intelligence.

It's possible. I guess.

The only problem is, I think, that Iron-Blooded Orphans isn't really that strain of science fiction, and if any of those options weren't handled exactly right, they'd feel like weird, jarring, shark-jumping moments. So it's probably more likely that Vidar is just being figurative.

We do get to find out what Julietta's connection to Galan Mossa is, though: He recommended her to Rustal, thus allowing her to ascend to the station she's currently at, and ensuring her life had purpose. Again, we don't know exactly what Julietta was doing prior to this, but given the comparisons with Mars, it's likely that she was part of a disenfranchised group.

Meanwhile, with Tekkadan, we get McGillis telling Orga that by seizing Gjallarhorn colonies on Mars, Tekkadan could functionally become the rulers of Mars. For Orga, it's literally an offer he can't refuse, since his creed is that he'll take the shortest route to Tekkadan having status and safety, but others in the group are understandably vexed by the idea. Merribit raises the very good point that doing that would doubtless draw Teiwaz's ire, as it would make Tekkadan potentially as or more influential than them.

Orga, you look ridiculous.

It's interesting, because we don't really know what McGillis is planning here. Does he truly want Tekkadan to succeed? Is he setting Tekkadan up to fail so that he can swoop in and take over a weakened Gjallarhorn? Is he just pitting them against Rustal on the basis that he can take on whoever's left afterwards? It could be any of the three.

(Obviously, McGillis does seem to like Tekkadan, as he compares them frequently to Agnika Kaieru, the founder of Gjallarhorn, and seemingly something of a personal hero to him.)

We also get Takaki leaving. There's not much to say about it, except it nicely caps off his storyline, hammering in that he's still gentle and sweet and not really suited for being a mercenary.

So that's episode seven. Certainly not our most dramatic episode, but it sets us up pretty well for the plot going forward. Next episode looks like it has a lot of people dramatically talking, and also our first look at the Gundam Vidar in battle. It looks like it has a rapier/epee type dealio and a gun. Odd weapon combination, I won't lie.

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