“Ha, just as I thought! We crashed into four ships total! You thought it would only be three at the most — I win the bet!”
“Quiet, you fool! Our conversation is being broadcast!”
Read my 365 Days of Robotech write-up on “Bye Bye Mars” from last summer here.
WHAT HAPPENS: Zentraedi Commander Breetai plans to use the abandoned Sara Base on Mars as a trap to seize the SDF-1, luring it there and preventing it from leaving with gravity mines. For this mission he’s ordered up the 7th Space Division of the Boturu Fleet, headed by the unpredictable Khyron the Backstabber. As the trap is laid, the SDF-1 fights off a wave of Battlepods, which lure them off course and towards the red planet. Data comes in from Sara Base, piquing our heroes’ curiosity; they change course to take a look. Lisa especially wants to go, as her fiancee, Karl Riber, was assigned to Sara Base when it went dark. The SDF-1 lands, and as trucks ferry supplies onto the fortress, Lisa requests permission to investigate the base. As she wanders corridors and checks computers, Khyron shoots down an impatient subordinate, attracting the attention of the SDF-1’s scanners. A recon plane flyby alerts Gloval and his crew to Khyron’s legion of Battlepods. The SDF-1 tries to lift off, but the mines are go, meaning the ship isn’t going anywhere. Gloval remembers that Sara Base has a reflex furnace below it and orders Lisa to overload it to destroy the mines. She does so reluctantly. While trying to escape, she arrives right in front of Karl Riber’s room; cut off by automatic doors, she enters and prepares to meet her end. Rick is ordered to rescue her. As the clock ticks down, she refuses to go. His Guardian-mode Veritech grabs her and he takes off with only seconds to spare. Khyron vows revenge as Lisa cries silently on the deck of the Prometheus, looking back at the ruins of her lost love’s last home.
THOUGHTS: This episode expands the universe out in both directions, digging into Lisa’s past and expanding the history of space exploration in the Robotech chronology while introducing someone who will prove to be the longest-serving villain of The Macross Saga. The two planet-based episodes in a row make me wish there’d been more, as each takes full advantage of its setting; I’m sure if they’d done a Jupiter-based episode, not only would it have been on-par with “Blitzkrieg” and “Bye Bye Mars,” both very good episodes, but we would have also been spared the abysmal Antarctic Press Robotech comic story “Megastorm.” I love how the story never conclusively explains why the computer’s running when Lisa finds it; it’s possible that there really was someone on the base that Lisa just got killed, though more likely Breetai had someone micronized to activate it or it was activated by remote. I also like how the writers seed in a reference to Minmei’s birthday party, our next episode; what I don’t like, though, is the way that the narrator talks up the love triangle before Rick’s even spent any time with Lisa. He didn’t even remember her name or her voice ten minutes earlier; when Claudia pipes into Rick and Roy’s conversation about Minmei’s birthday, Rick asks if it’s “that old sourpuss.” Whoops!
FIRSTS OF NOTE: Again, this is the first appearance of Khyron, the brash, impatient, egomaniacal, violent, bloodthirsty gloryhound of a Zentraedi commander, who will now obsess over defeating the crew of the SDF-1 and destroying the battle fortress until the day he dies. He has a great entrance, a memorable design, and I adore Greg Snegoff’s vocal characterization, a very aristocratic James Mason voice that sings with ego and hate. He’s useful as a recurring villain because his motive is so straightforward; he was humiliated on Mars, and now he just wants to destroy the SDF-1 and everyone in it, mission be damned. The side effect of this is that once you get past his superficially cool qualities, alas, he’s a little boring. The other first is the other focus of the episode, the first real long look we’ve had at Lisa Hayes and her past. A shame she turns out to have so standard a backstory; she joins the military to follow Karl Riber, and when Sara Base goes dark, she throws herself into her work and becomes the hardened stick in the mud we know today. When she becomes vulnerable here, she becomes a damsel in distress to rescue; I’m not sure whether to love or hate the twist that she doesn’t want rescuing, because while it’s a change of pace, it also gives the impression that with her old wounds reopened she doesn’t want to live anymore. When this is a sentiment your strongest female character is espousing, I think you have a problem.
RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Morose, disillusioned, and tired — daily battles wearing him down, military propaganda making him depressed.
DOES MINMEI SING? No. In fact, she barely shows up except to try and cheer Rick up from his problems and worries (see above).