This is peak Gundam space battle episode here. Intense combat abounds as everything blows up and gets killed, with Tekkadan and McGillis struggling as best they can given the onslaught of a superior force. This episode pretty much lays threadbare how on a knife’s edge they are all on at this point, and with an opposition like Rustal Elion, one wrong step and SLICE.
Speaking of Rustal, he is the star of this episode, and is quite the Big Bad in terms of last space battles in Gundam. Sure, we’ll probably see McGillis and Bael be the endgame boss, yet in older Gundam shows he’d have already been against our heroes at this point and be the one bringing the pain. However, all we get is Rustal Elion and quite frankly it’s a breath of fresh air. Endgame space battle Gundam villains usually run the gamut from Hitler-esque (Gihren), bellicose (Gyn Ghingham), to sadistic psycho-bitchy (Katejina). Rustal looks to be the more normal out of all of them, since he doesn’t embody much of those character traits, and if he does it’s very tapered down by sheer force of discipline. Also, the rather solid character design that does not reek of bishounen malevolence or a hideously ugly mug that screams "I'M EVIL" helps too.
The result is a man who knows his way around the block in terms of revolutions and the nature of those who inhabit them, thus making it easy for him to insert that one rogue element into it. What does said rogue element do? Fire a Dainsleif weapon at his fleet, so he has grounds to retaliate with the same weapon, and being head of the WDoJ/Arianrhod grants him Force Multiplier X30 or so. Thus we get Turbine Mk. II, as his fleet rips the revolutionary fringe and Tekkadan apart. It’s quite way to bring things full circle and see the master employ the same tactics the pupil did. Rustal Elion is not for show.
Thus it leads to the inevitable conclusion of how one element of the opposition will try and barrel past the enemy forces and take the head with one final shot. One would think this would be successful the second time, but no, the show’s jaws finally extract a big pound of flesh from Tekkadan just like it did around this time the last season. The victim of this is Shino, who attempts to make one final Lockon-esque stand to fire a Dainsleif at Rustal, in a tactic that even catches the man off. However, since the odds can’t be in their favour (…yet), Julieta successfully veers it off course, and Shino dies in despair from a hail of artillery.
Quite a way for Shino to go, but I think we all knew given his interaction with Yamagi throughout the episode (what with the ambiguously gay helmet touching he enjoys doing during those moments). Then of course, you remember his usual bouts of confidence how he’ll make it out alive from battle. There is no better scalp at this juncture to take than him it would seem. Yet the death is fair storywise. It is not one that got pulled out of an ass.
Now here comes ANOTHER weeklong wait. Tekkadan is down one ship, one Gundam Frame, and one pilot, and our heroes (plus McGillis) are in disarray. How do you rally after such a gambit? I guess we’ll find out next time, but it looks like the pace will not slow even after Shino’s death.
- What a shame regarding the Flauros. It wasn’t used as much to my liking as it should have.
- The Kimaris Vidar looks very nice, can’t wait to see more of it in action.
- Bael is… okay ish? McGillis only gets in it near episode’s end and it mostly is used to rally the troops or get into swordfights. I’m curious what its trump card is.
- This said, I REALLY admire how they did Bael. It’s so wonderfully divergent from all other final Gundam bosses, who usually are made with the effort to look so BIG and EVIL. Bael’s heroic aesthetic in both design and colour works so well given the nature of the show and its pilot.
- Iok’s reactions near the end are a nice touch. I like how he was all, by use of body language, “Wait… I’ve seen this before. This doesn’t look right.”