“My race was Protoculturally devoid of everything but the genetically engineered desire to fight. My people evolved as toys for our creators, the Robotech Masters: toys of destruction!“
WHAT HAPPENS: Admiral Gloval arrives at the Factory Satellite for an inspection. During his tour a production line malfunctions and shuts down, perhaps permanently. Meanwhile, light years away, the Robotech Masters order the generation of another Zor-clone and, with the blessing of their Robotech Elders, begin the long journey to Earth. Back on Earth, Rick Hunter’s Veritech squadron is ordered to New Detroit City, where Zentraedi renegades have stolen a Zentraedi resizing chamber. Rick and his team stop them dead in their tracks. In his downed ship up north, Khyron learns of this failure and tells Azonia he will go after it personally. As the resizing chamber is restored to its rightful place, the mayor of New Detroit tells Rick that he can’t help provide security for it, as most of the population is Zentraedi. Kyle steps in and insists that the Zentraedi have a right to control the chamber themselves; he leads a crowd of angry citizens in a chant of “Leave here now!” and Rick is forced to withdraw. Khyron’s forces launch for New Detroit at the resizing chamber is secured in New Detroit’s expo center. The mayor is giving Kyle and Minmei a tour of the center’s performing arts stage when there’s an explosion. New Detroit’s civil defense forces are no match for Khyron’s Powered Armor-clad troops. As chaos rains on New Detroit, Exedore delivers a report on the history of the Zentraedi people: soon after the discovery of Protoculture 500,000 years ago, the Robotech Masters’ civilization created the Zentraedi as a police force. Programmed only for war, they began fighting amongst themselves, and the civilization of the Robotech Masters began to crumble. Khyron seizes the resizing chamber, as Exedore explains that while mankind and the Zentraedi are genetically similar, they are in fact not the same. Later, Claudia tells Rick and Lisa that something has happened in New Detroit. Furious, he takes off in Skull One, but the damage is already done. The combination of the resizing chamber and loads of micronized Zentraedi dissatisfied with peace is all Khyron needs to raise an army.
THOUGHTS: Over the last few episodes the word “Protoculture” has been seeded in wherever the writers could drop it: the resizing chamber is “the Protoculture chamber,” while on the Factory Satellite we hear about “Proto-bolt adjustments” and “manual Protoculture shutdown.” Exedore and Gloval toss the term and derivtatives around in their explanation of Zentraedi history: humans “are not Protoculture” but the Zentraedi are a result of “Proto-genetic engineering.” The overuse is starting to grate.
The Robotech Masters play a confusing linguistic game: they talk about Protoculture, then mention culture, as in a civilization, and they do this TWICE. They appear in footage borrowed from later in the series with newly invented dialog overlaid; there was no reason to be “clever” and confusing like that, especially when the term “Protoculture,” repurposed from Macross, originally referred to an ancient culture. Their dialog rambles on, and the scene itself is made up of footage from two different episodes, “Outsiders” and “Deja Vu,” which take place in two different locales, leading to two wide shots not adding up at all.
I wonder how Gloval knows about the history of the Zentraedi and the Masters; Exedore is surprised, which means he’s not the one who imparted this knowledge. Maybe it came from documents salvaged from the SDF-1 and translated with the help of the Zentraedi. What I find most interesting is that the history he tells doesn’t refer to the things Dolza told Rico, Konda, and Bron or the stories Exedore told about a previous encounter with an open society. This history tells only of a race of giants whose power and ego caused infighting and bred chaos throughout the Masters’ empire. It suggests that the history of the Zentraedi and the Masters is far more complex than later spin-off material would have you believe. This is also where Exedore suggests that human and Zentraedi aren’t as identical as previously suggested; it doesn’t overwrite as much as sidestep the discussion two episodes ago, admitting they might have a similar predisposition for war but for different reasons.
I haven’t even gotten into the real meat of the episode, in which Kyle’s anti-military heckling hands Khyron an army. Part of me thinks Kyle went as far as he did just to jerk Rick around in front of Minmei, but Kyle’s loathing for the military runs so deep that it’s not inconceivable that he’d do the same to any agent of military authority. While I was uncomfortable with Gloval’s plans to watch and control the Zentraedi’s movements and work assignments a few episodes ago, I can’t help but disagree with Kyle’s sentiments — not just because he’s such a jerk, but because control of the resizing chamber is a complex liberty versus public safety issue, as this episode’s events prove. The power of a giant can so easily be abused.
The character art has Toshihiro Hirano’s fingerprints all over it again, and the battle sequences feature more hand-to-hand, close-quarters combat than any episode prior. Despite Kyle’s infuriating behavior, the intriguing history and sharp visuals make this one a winner.
FIRSTS OF NOTE: Nothing truly noteworthy; I guess it’s the first time we’ve seen Khyron in a Powered Armor, and the first time he’s seen combat since the beginning of the Reconstruction era.
RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Frustrated with Kyle’s knee-jerk, disingenous military-hate, and frustrated with himself for giving in to it and the angry crowd he raised. He’s feeling the weight of his responsibilities, and he also appears to be getting sick of the comparisons between human and Zentraedi penchants for war, especially in light of Exedore’s latest report.
DOES MINMEI SING? No, mostly she blankly stares at Rick and chides Kyle for being so mean to him.