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Monday, 27 March 2017

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2E24


Mobile Suit Gundam:
Iron-Blooded Orphans
Series 2, Episode 24
McGillis Fareed.



Well, we all (well, most of us) knew this was coming. The moment McGillis appeared on our screens, we all knew he was marked for death, and the moment Gaelio returned, we all knew that it would probably be at his hands. Bafflingly, some people are apparently surprised this has happened, and to those people I say: Congratulations for nearly completing what is apparently the first piece of fiction you've ever consumed! I hope you've enjoyed yourself so far.



This week's episode sees Tekkadan learning of Orga's death. As Rustal's forces attack, the bulk of Tekkadan try to escape, while Mika, Eugene, Akihiro, Dante, and Hush stay behind to fight off the attackers on their own, hoping to buy enough time for the rest of the company to escape. Meanwhile, in orbit, McGillis takes the Bael and engages Rustal's space forces, in a desperate final attempt to kill Rustal himself. Before long, he finds himself dueling Gaelio in the Kimaris Vidar.

Okay, so first of all, Orga's death is very quickly confirmed to be Nobliss' fault, thus putting the kibosh on theories that McGillis had ordered it. That's not really surprising, given that McGillis had no way of contacting the outside world at that point, and no reason to kick the legs out from under his only allies. We get surprisingly little focus on how that affects Tekkadan, but the episode doesn't really suffer for it: Briefly finding out that Tekkadan want to throw themselves into battle to avenge him, and getting that one speech from Mika, was more than sufficient.

This is a really cool shot, tbh.

That's largely because that speech is so effective as a scene. The combination of understated but effective animation (culminating in the sun literally rising as Mika finishes speaking), good scriptwriting, and good voice acting means that it would be the highlight of the episode, were it not beaten out by McGillis' death scene.

McGillis death scene is astounding, by the way. Actually, that whole sequence is: The battle between Gaelio and McGillis is one of the best in the series, frenetic and dramatically charged and tinged with desperation, and an injured McGillis struggling up towards Rustal, only to encounter Gaelio (wearing his mask for the first time in a few episodes) and being shot was both gorgeously animated and deeply atmospheric.

Hush, no, not you.

The best part of the sequence has to be the quieter moment after that, as McGillis starts to -- maybe apologise? At the very least, admit that Gaelio was his friend, only for Gaelio to beg him not to, and for McGillis to die without ever saying it. It's a profoundly sad moment, and one that almost made me like McGillis (almost). The quiet, understated moment of Gaelio returning to the Kimaris and seeing that Ein's brain has finally given out was a nice touch, too, showing us without any words that Ein has finally, finally been allowed to die, and that Gaelio is now truly alone in the world.

(Gaelio is definitely going to kill Rustal next episode.)

Speaking of admissions, kudos to Rustal for knowing that he is a shady, morally terrible person, and happily admitting that to Julieta. It's nice that he's self-aware. That's nice. Doesn't make him less of a terrible person, does mean I feel vindicated in liking him as a character.

Giant robots swordfighting in space.

The most unexpected death of this episode, meanwhile, was Hush's. I was sure that he would survive -- absolutely certain -- since he was being set up to carry on Mika's legacy. Instead, he dies in somewhat unceremonious fashion, gasping that he's fine and will surpass Mika one day. I suppose I should have expected this, since one of the series' big things is realism, and the inexperienced pilot dying first in a battle against overwhelming forces is about as realistic as they come, but it managed to completely blindside me nevertheless.

Incidentally, this means that both my favourite characters -- Ein and Hush -- died in the span of a single episode. I am very unlucky.

Use of the 'one eye' imagery usually associated with Mika, but sometimes with Ein
or Orga, check.

So! Final episode predictions, made slightly more difficult by the episode preview not really telling us much beyond the slight suggestion that there might be some trouble getting through the tunnel. I'm betting on Eugene and Dante surviving, while Mika and Akihiro both die, along with Julieta. I suspect Gaelio will kill Rustal and then command the Gjallarhorn forces to stand down, and Kudelia will probably do -- something. We'll probably get an epilogue where Gjallarhorn crumbles in on itself, so McGillis' goals will be fulfilled, and Tekkadan will survive in some form under Eugene.

Still, I've been wrong before. For example, I said several times that Hush wouldn't die, and I was wrong about that. Harshness. Either way, we should brace ourselves for more people dying, but hopefully at least some of those people will be, like, Rustal and Iok. Especially Iok.


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