Robotech, In Brief: Farewell Big Brother

“It has never been a game, Claudia. Maybe someday you’ll understand that.”

Read my 365 Days of Robotech write-up on “Farewell Big Brother” from last summer here.

WHAT HAPPENS: Rick Hunter is still laid up in the hospital following the destruction of his Veritech during that last Daedalus attack. Lisa Hayes drops by with some flowers and an apology, but Rick takes all the blame. He asks if she’ll come and see him again, but she curtly tells him she’ll be too busy; back on the bridge, Lisa admits to Claudia that she loves Rick, but fears he doesn’t feel the same. Roy, Ben, and Max are the next to visit Rick; Ben puts Rick in a bad mood with constant talk of Minmei. Roy knows that if he doesn’t do something drastic Rick will be moping around the hospital for weeks. He meets Claudia at the cafe and finds out that Minmei’s shooting a movie. Meanwhile, Miriya jeers at Khyron over his recent defeat, but Khyron taunts her, telling her that there’s an ace aboard the SDF-1 that she cannot beat. Roy drops by the movie set and tells Minmei that Rick’s in the hospital; she gladly agrees to see him, but is dragged back to work by Lynn Kyle. As Roy drives away, Lisa radios him with news of an enemy ship incoming. He requests Max and Ben as backup. The Quadronos attack, and as the battle begins Miriya watches Max and decides he’s the one; on the bridge, Lisa and Claudia notice that the ship hasn’t been attacked and that Max appears to have been singled out. He is ordered to retreat, and Miriya follows behind. Meanwhile, Minmei visits Rick, but is exhausted and falls asleep on his hospital bed. Back in the air, Roy’s Veritech takes some serious hits from a squad of Quadronos as Max chases Miriya into the SDF-1. At the sound of battle alert sirens, Rick leaves his hospital bed and watches as Max pegs Miriya’s Quadrono with several direct hits. Gloval orders an overhead hatch open and Miriya flees to the sky, cursing the micronian devil. Roy and the others return home, and as Minmei’s manager drags her from Rick’s empty hospital room, Roy strums his guitar in Claudia’s quarters as she fixes him his favorite pineapple salad. When she turns back, she notices he appears to have nodded off. Then he slumps over. Roy Fokker is dead. Tears in her eyes, Lisa visits Rick to break the news to him. “Big brother,” he stammers out, “my big brother’s dead …”

THOUGHTS: The end of an era, and what a way to go out: gorgeous animation, a dazzling dogfight between Max and Miriya, some terrific banter between Dan Woren’s Roy Fokker and Iona Morris’s Claudia Grant, the hilarious sight of the bridge girls catching the Zentraedi spies with a Minmei doll (and Bron’s terrific line, “Do you suppose this disco thing is some sort of micronian method of torture?”), and mercifully, no Azonia and very little Lynn Kyle. This is Roy Fokker’s last hurrah, and he’s given all the room he needs to make it memorable; while Max gets the famous fight, beating the best the Zentraedi have to offer — or so she keeps telling us — Roy’s no slouch, and besides that, he utterly dominates the first half of the episode, determined to get Rick out of his latest stupid funk. The last time we saw him he was dragging Claudia to bed in “Battle Cry;” the time before that, railing at the Vermilion Team to stay behind in “Blue Wind.” He’s really not been around, so it’s a treat to see him taking charge throughout. Indeed, it’s a shame he has to go; Woren really gives it his all, making Fokker’s death all the more tragic. His delivery of Roy’s final line always gives me chills; it’s a pitch-perfect moment, a standout in a series which, while filled with flubs, usually manages to stick the big landings. This, right here, is one of the biggest landings of all, and it nails it beautifully. As for whether or not Roy had to die, my take is that he knew his ticket was punched and he selfishly decided to spend his final moments with the woman he loved, and to hell with the heartbreaking consequences. No medical attention, no getting hooked up to machines, nobody crying over him as he fights to live. Like I said, he took charge all the way to the end, the magnificent jerk.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: The first duel of Max and Miriya coincides with the first named human casualty of the series, Roy Fokker. (The first named casualty overall would be Captain Zeril, the Zentraedi who got a faceful of Destroid missile barrage in “Blitzkrieg.”) It also coincides with the first “date” of bridge techs Sammie, Vanessa, and Kim with the three Zentraedi spies Rico, Konda, and Bron — a much more adorable pairing of humans and Zentraedi than the more famous blue and green-haired lovebirds. We see our first Minmei dolls at a kiosk run by General Products, the Japanese sci-fi speciality shop owned (circa 1982) by the folks who would later (in the real world) found the anime studio Gainax. Finally, it’s the first time we’ve been on the set of that movie Minmei said she was going to be working on back in “Homecoming.”

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Sour and snippy, depressed about being shot down, depressed about Minmei, and ultimately devastated about losing the closest thing he has to family aboard the fortress. He perks up a bit when Minmei visits him, and is pretty chipper when Lisa comes with the bad news, but Lisa’s blunt, sobbing statement of the facts brings him right back down again — and things are going to get worse before they get better.

DOES MINMEI SING? Only on the radio, “The Man In My Life” again. She’s clearly too busy to sing.