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Monday, 28 November 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E9

Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 9
Vidar Rising.

Gosh, we're very nearly at the halfway point of this series. That's almost a surprise, especially given how few of the series' major plot turns we've had so far -- the Gundam Flauros still hasn't made a proper appearance in battle yet, and the Gundam Vidar only just makes its entrance in this episode, not to mention that we're only just getting into the Tekkadan trying to defeat Rustal Elion plotline. I don't want to say it's slow going, because actually the arcs we've had so far have been pretty fast-paced, but it's certainly only just starting to kick into high gear.

Well, I say 'only just starting to kick into high gear,' but this is actually not a very high gear episode at all.

In this week's episode, Teiwaz meets to discuss Orga's deal to take over Gjallarhorn's Mars outposts, and to make Tekkadan the sovereign of Mars. With Naze putting his career and his life on the line, and McGillis arranging meetings between Orga and numerous economic bloc representatives, pressure mounts on Tekkadan to succeed. Meanwhile, down on the surface of Mars, repair work gets underway on the Landman Rodis from the Earth branch, on Teiwaz's Shidens, and on the company's new Gundam, Flauros. Elsewhere, at the Dort colonies, Iok and Julietta head out to suppress an uprising, and are joined by Vidar, in the first test of the Gundam Vidar and its mysterious control system.

This is an incredibly talky episode, by and large. We have serious business talk with Teiwaz, setting us up not only for a potential conflict with McMurdo, but also for a much more immediate conflict with shady Teiwaz lieutenant Jasley Donomikols. Calling it now: Eventually Jasley is going to get into a slightly customised mass produced suit and then die approximately fifteen minutes later. It's the way of things.

Naze's no good bad day.

Either way, I don't think Naze is getting out of this series alive -- the show has not only set him up to die (and for it to be Orga's fault), it's also set up a conflict that can basically only be solved by Naze dying, namely the burgeoning romance between Akihiro and Lafter.

It would also tie in very much to something people were saying during the last series, that the Turbines are mentor characters and a support system for Tekkadan, and that the tone of the series and the themes of independence, self-sufficiency, and carving out a place for yourself in the world all but demand the Turbines die or are disbanded.

We also get a fair amount of stuff on Mars, but to be honest, most of it doesn't amount to much. We get some shots of the Flauros, sans paintjob, being prepared for Shino -- who at this point is pretty much a dead certainty as far as its pilot goes -- but apart from that, much of the surface plotline revolves around Chad finding out that Merribit and Nady are dating, and being appropriately surprised.

In truth, I'm kind of surprised as well, since the first series set up a Merribit/Orga romance -- it's not a bad surprise, since in all honesty I'm quite happy that the show is veering away from a romance between an adult woman and a teenage boy, but it's a surprise nonetheless, especially since I'm not sure that Merribit and Nady had even interacted prior to this episode. 

Go back to Berserk where you belong, Akihiro.

The big draw of the episode, meanwhile, is Vidar finally entering battle with the Gundam Vidar. Given the repeated references to Ein in this episode, and Vidar frequently talking to his Gundam and remarking on how happy he is to fight with it, it's looking increasingly likely that the Gundam Vidar's 'unique control system' is that it has Ein's armless, legless body as a control unit.

Which does make some sense, I guess? That was essentially Ein's deal at the end of the first series, and while Mika seemed to kill him, it's not like Ein hasn't survived fatal wounds before. It'd also make it entirely clear just how far Gali has fallen in becoming Vidar -- he's perpetuating a crime that once horrified him, rather than just letting Ein die.

This episode also made it very clear that the Gundam Vidar is a drastically overhauled version of the Kimaris -- we can see it has Kimaris' boosters and foot blades, and it seems to have the equipment for Kimaris' trooper form, as well, although that's not hugely relevant in space battles.

Ein? Is that you?

The battle also gives us an interesting moment where Iok is being comically inept in battle and insisting that he's brilliant and must just be fighting against very skilled opponents, which confused me, given that earlier episodes had people noting that he'd made impossible shots with his sniper rifle. Was that just supposed to be blind luck, then?

Next episode, it looks like we're getting another battle, as Iok leads his forces against the Tekkadan half-metal mine where they discovered that giant pterodactyl robot, apparently in the middle of a tour for McGillis and a few other dignitaries. Whether we'll see anyone more competent than Iok on Gjallarhorn's side is unclear, but it does look like this'll involve Shino debuting in the Flauros.

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