Robotech, In Brief: Broken Heart

“It is a great pleasure to interrupt you, Admiral Gloval.”

“On the contrary, the disgust is all mine, I assure you.”

WHAT HAPPENS: Rick Hunter and his squadron are investigating a suspected Zentraedi hideout, a downed cruiser. While Rick and Lisa assume the weapons stockpile left behind means it was abandoned in a hurry, in truth it was left behind as a distraction, keeping Our Heroes busy as Khyron attacks a Minmei concert and captures her and Kyle. He contacts Admiral Gloval with an ultimatum: they must deliver the space battle fortress to him by noon the next day in exchange for Minmei. As he and Azonia toy with their prey, Minmei sings; Khyron drops to his knees, but reveals it was a ruse just to get her hopes up. Gloval orders Rick and his squadron to deal with Khyron; Lisa passes the word that he’ll be heading up “Operation Star Saver,” but is frustrated that Rick’s being sent to rescue Minmei of all people. She’s afraid he’ll lose his objectivity. Rick assures her that he knows he and Minmei will never be together; he’s doing this as a professional. Skull Squadron takes off, and the mission is on. Meanwhile, the Zentraedi drink to their victory. Kyle taunts them, telling Khyron that living in peace would take more courage than he’s got, but Khyron demonstrates that despite holding to the Zentraedi way of war he’s learned something of the pleasures of human society: he grabs Azonia and gives her a good, long kiss. Grel interrupts to tell Khyron they’re under attack: a perimeter guard reports he’s being overtaken, but it’s a distraction played by a mole in Khyron’s camp. Khyron personally leads his force into battle, leaving his main base wide open. As Khyron’s crew is ambushed by a legion of Monster Destroids, Rick leads Skull Squadron in a quick raid, gunning down the Battlepod guards at the gate and punching out the sentries left inside. With Minmei and Kyle in hand, the mission is complete. Dawn breaks, and while Kyle rages at Lisa for Rick’s “reckless” conduct, Rick and Minmei are reunited. With his forces running low on power, Khyron gives the order to fall back. Lisa interrupts Rick and Minmei’s embrace to send Rick after him; reluctantly, he takes off, leaving Minmei behind once more.

THOUGHTS: If Robotech were a Saturday morning kids cartoon in the 1970’s mold, this is probably the story you’d see week after week: Minmei captured and rescued, time and again, with our heroes’ vast mechanized resources used all for the welfare of a single pop star that our main character is hopelessly in love with. The military leaders’ reactions to Minmei’s capture are over the top, as is Khyron’s ultimatum. It’s a rather broadly played episode, with Rick Hunter the broadest and most melodramatic character on the stage: insisting loudly that his love for Minmei won’t influence his performance on the battlefield, resolving that he’ll rescue Minmei a thousand times over if it’s the last thing he does, and snapping at Lisa for ordering him back onto the battlefield with the claim that he barely made it back from the last scrape despite all evidence to the contrary. At first it seems Lisa’s being unfair to him, but by the end it’s clear that he’s the one being unfair; she’s got him pegged.

Far more interesting than the main characters’ love triangle is the pairing of Khyron and Azonia. From the kiss to to their chat in the hangar and, most tellingly, his concern when her Glaug gets its arm shot off, it’s clear that he’s fallen for her. It would be sweet if he wasn’t such a sociopath. He’s trying not to let it get to him, but it’s Khyron: he never has had a lot of impulse control. It’s a shame Azonia remains such a weak blank slate; it would be a far more interesting story if Khyron’s other half had any character to speak of. Given that Azonia was on Breetai’s side in “Force of Arms,” this arrangement has always come off as a plot convenience; I’m curious what led to her rejection of the micronians and how exactly she wound up on Khyron’s doorstep.

While it’s an iffy animation episode, there are some cool sequences and great moments: a Battlepod kicking over a Zentraedi who insists Khyron mustn’t harm Minmei, a Veritech using its gun pod to light a Zentraedi turncoat’s cigarette, Khyron booting a Veritech from atop his Monster Destroid and stealing its rifle to cause further mayhem. There are so many nice touches that it’s a shame the core drama is so gag-inducing. And honestly, what’s with that final shot of Lisa? It’s a pretty shot of her smiling, some of the best art of the episode, but tonally it doesn’t make a lick of sense, not after she forced Rick back into the air and Minmei went running after him. What’s she so happy about?

FIRSTS OF NOTE: First and only appearance of the three-lasered Veritech head that inspired Robotech: Battlecry’s YF-1R.

RICK’S STATE OF MIND: Conflicted and filled with self-delusion. While he knows they cannot be together, as he told her way back in “Force of Arms” and tells Lisa now, his feelings for Minmei are far from fully resolved. While Rick tells Lisa he’s going in as a pilot, not as a man still in love with Minmei, his words to himself and Minmei and his attitude throughout the episode tell an entirely different story, and prove that Lisa is justified in all her fears. His overreaction to Lisa’s orders says it all.

DOES MINMEI SING? “It’s You” is interrupted by the arrival of Khyron and a force of Battlepods, while “To Be In Love” is performed for her captors.


2 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: Broken Heart

  1. When I saw this episode for the first time, I marked the day on my calendar as “Punch Rick Hunter In The Mouth Day.”

    And yeah, I never got what was up with Lisa’s smile at the end either.

  2. “If Robotech were a Saturday morning kids cartoon…” This was my thought exactly when I watched this episode. Khyron hams it up so much he is practically a caricature of the classic cartoon villain; all that is missing is for him is to exult his villainy through song and dance. I especially liked his ultimatum – how exactly are the humans supposed to deliver the rusting hulk that is the space fortress, and what does he plan to do with it (assuming he is unaware that the protoculture matrix is still inside)? It’d almost be worth it to hand it over and see his face when he discovers the fold system is missing. Good luck getting anywhere interesting in less than a lifetime without a FTL system.

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