“This soldier possesses remarkable skills. Is it possible my search is over? Could this be the pilot of whom Khyron was speaking?”
“Boy, is she beautiful.”
Read my 365 Days of Robotech write-up on “Showdown” from last summer here.
WHAT HAPPENS: As Claudia walks Lisa to her shuttle, Captain Gloval nervously paces about his bridge, worried about another attack and nervous about Sammie filling in for Lisa. Once seated, Lisa calls Rick to let him know she’ll be going. Max and his squadron escort the shuttle as Rick watches from the observation deck. Suddenly, a legion of Battlepods attacks. The odds are overwhelming; Captain Gloval orders Sammie to send for Rick to fly the new Super Veritech onto the battlefield. Following a mix-up on Sammie’s part regarding changes to coordinate codes, Rick rushes into battle, speeding in and launching a cloud of missiles that wipes out dozens of Battlepods in a single volley. With Khyron’s forces in retreat, Max’s squadron returns to base while Rick assumes escort duty. He finally gets to talk to Lisa about the possibility of her not coming back, and flashes her a message in morse code using the running lights of his plane; he tells her he believes in her and will miss her, and asks her to hurry on back. While Admiral Hayes awaits the arrival of his daughter, Rick sits in the SDF-1 cafeteria playing with his food. Max tries to cheer him up by dragging him to the arcade. On Earth, Lisa shows her father the findings in her report; he assures her he’ll show this to the council. At the arcade, Max lugs along a crate of newly won tokens and points Miriya out to Rick; showing her his winnings, he challenges her to a game. As they duel with holographic Battloids, Miriya realizes who she’s facing. He defeats her again, and as she turns to leave, he grabs her hand and sets up a date at the park tomorrow morning. Back at headquarters, Admiral Hayes tells Lisa that the council seems to have opened up to the idea of peace talks. However, they plan on firing the Grand Cannon at the Zentraedi first. Lisa is heartbroken; she doubts the power of the cannon, while the Admiral assures her that a war-like race like the Zentraedi will only respond to a show of greater force. Aboard the fortress, Rick watches a news conference with Minmei and Kyle. Rumors swirl that the two are getting married. Minmei flatly denies it. Kyle, however, admits it’s been on his mind. As Rick sits back, feeling like a dope, Max drops by to ask for some advice for his big date. Ultimately, Rick finds himself staring at the Earth on the observation deck. Claudia finds him and gives him some advice, telling him Minmei’s really not that special and that she sees him with someone a little more mature. Rick knows who she means, but at the moment she’s sadly out of reach …
THOUGHTS: For all that I’ve confessed my dislike of the Max and Miriya storyline, and Miriya’s character especially, over the past year or so, this is one of my favorite episodes of The Macross Saga. The battle scenes are phenomenal, Rick and Lisa’s chat as he escorts her is sweet — and the morse code bit with the running lights is one of my favorite moments between the two — and Max and Miriya’s video game duel is something else, well staged and directed. I especially love the crazy crowd of weirdos at the arcade. It’s an episode chock full of crazy attention to detail, super-fluid animation, and quite good performances on the Robotech end. Robert Barron and Melanie MacQueen give this episode’s standout performances as Admiral Hayes and Lisa debate the merits of the council’s planned show of force. And for once it presents the council’s side of the issue not with a straw man like the jokers in “Blue Wind,” but with a character who we are shown is, at his core, a good man. The Admiral loves his daughter dearly, and seems to be trying to compensate for shouting her down back in “Homecoming,” but obviously thinks she and Gloval are naive. Given Dolza’s plans outlined in “Battle Hymn,” he’s probably right. Still, even if you think he’s right, MacQueen’s final line delivery is just heartbreaking; clearly a rift has been made here that will never be properly mended. The one sore spot for me is the Kyle-Minmei press conference, but that certainly works; they’ve just gotten annoying. I’m still stunned by how well the Macross City media’s focus on those two maps to our modern celebrity-crazed culture, and Rebecca Forstadt’s almost nasty delivery of the line about Rick being “just a friend” twists the knife in Rick’s gut beautifully. All in all, it’s an episode so good it’s a crying shame it had to be followed up with one as bad as the next one …
FIRSTS OF NOTE: Mecha-wise, it’s the first appearance of both Max’s blue VF-1J and Rick’s Super-equipped Skull Leader — yep, it’s upgrade time! It’s also the first true face-to-face meeting of Max and Miriya.
RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Back down in the dumps; first he decides he’s not going after Minmei anymore, then the girl he’s starting to be into decides to go back to Earth. Oh, and at the arcade, where Max dragged him to get his mind off of his girl problems, Max winds up with a date. Some guys just can’t win.
DOES MINMEI SING? No, mostly she winds up polluting the airwaves with vapid will-they-won’t-they celebrity B.S.