Robotech, In Brief: Southern Cross

“We were all assigned to protect this sector, Lieutenant, or have you forgotten those orders?

“We don’t have a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace of surviving this attack unless every one of our units gets into the fight right now!”

“Our orders are to wait right here!”

“Then YOU wait. Let’s move out!”

WHAT HAPPENS: A broadcast goes out to the people of Earth informing everyone of the state of war and telling them to remain calm and act in accordance with military directives. One of the Masters’ flagships hangs in the sky just above the clouds. Military headquarters has a plan to knock it off balance, a plan which features Dana Sterling’s 15th ATAC as the rear guard and Marie Crystal’s TASC squadron as its spearhead. At the 15th’s motor pool, Sean Phillips is told he’s been assigned to a new Hovertank — or rather, to a really OLD Hovertank. Meanwhile, Marie’s squadron is moved to the second attack wave, while conventional fighters lead the offensive. At the designated time, the 15th moves to their defensive position. When the fighters’ approach fails to provoke any action from the flagship, Emerson orders them to attack. Soon, turrets fire and two Bioroid transports launch. Between the turrets and the transports’ guns, the squadron is wiped out. The transports deploy their Bioroids, led by the red commander. They launch an attack on the aerospace complex that deployed the fighters. Marie leads her squadron of Logan Veritechs into the air. Watching the aerospace center under attack in the distance, Dana decides to leave her post to help defend it, but Angelo stands in her way. She nearly bowls him over with her Hovertank and leads the 15th into battle. When Nova arrives to charge Dana with deserting her post, Angelo joins the squadron. As they proceed towards the aerospace center, the Bioroids are tearing it apart. Colonel Green tells Emerson the base could fall at any time. Emerson orders the 15th to move out, not realizing they’re already en route. Marie duels with the Red Bioroid, but is forced to flee her Veritech when he cuts it off at the knees. She is saved by the approaching 15th; switching to Gladiator, they start to make short work of the Bioroids. Fighting them on the ground, Dana switches to Battloid and catches the Red Bioroid in the shoulder, then knocks his blaster from his hands. He rushes her, then mounts his skysled and strafes her with its guns. Furious, Dana switches to Gladiator and fires on their transport. Again, they retreat. This weakness is passed on to Emerson, who is then asked what to do about Dana abandoning her post. He suggests a promotion.

THOUGHTS: What exactly the United Earth Forces know changes from episode to episode; the opening voiceover tells us that somehow the military has intercepted internal communications and apparently “these renegades are descendants of Zor, the originator of the science of Robotechnology. They are invaders intent on plundering the world’s supply of Protoculture.” And now the link between Earth and Space Station Liberty is knocked out again, so I think I was right in saying Emerson wasn’t on Liberty last episode. Perhaps the ship in the distance behind the satellite was supposed to be Liberty, even though I think it was one of the Masters’ flagships. Who knows? It’s all terribly disjointed.

What isn’t disjointed is the way the world, or at least Monument City, seems to be operating under a military government; it follows perfectly from the state of the world at the end of The Macross Saga. I still find it funny, though, that we were first introduced to Monument as a city freed from the yoke of the military government, and now it’s the seat of it, with armored soldiers standing, it appears, on every street corner.

The Robotech Masters are repeatedly referred to in this episode as “renegades,” which is odd since they’re the dictatorial ruling class of their civilization; among their people, they’re the establishment. If the narrator wasn’t also throwing the word around, I’d call it military propaganda.

Overall, “Southern Cross” is kind of a dull episode with wall-to-wall battle sequences featuring pilots who aren’t our main characters, leaving little for the cast to do but wait throughout the first act. Worse, it’s marred by mediocre art and animation. Once the 15th Squadron arrives on the scene it livens up a bit; transforming mecha and robot-on-robot action makes everything better, but it’s a bit “too little, too late.” The two highlights are Angelo nearly being run down and the final shot of a rabbit-eared Battloid at the promotion ceremony, and the latter doesn’t make a lick of sense. The second generation is off to a very slow start.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: First appearance of the Logan Veritech Fighter, which switches from a boat-like blunt-nosed fighter to a Guardian-like robot mode.

DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL: About a six, I’d say, though that insubordination salvages the day for the Southern Cross. I’d put it a bit lower, but again, she nearly runs Angelo over, and her arrival at the promotion ceremony in a rabbit-eared Hovertank and delivery of a load of bad puns brings it up a bit. Indeed, the puns are worth a point all on their own.

DOES BOWIE SULK? Bowie barely figures into the episode as a character; no sulkiness this time.


One thought on “Robotech, In Brief: Southern Cross

  1. Yeah, these early episodes are pretty dull. I always thought they’d work better if we had seen things from the Masters’ perspective as well as from Earth’s. I know Southern Cross was going for the narrative that the viewer knows nothing of the Zor Lords until the 15th breaks inside the ship, but since we’ve already seen the Robotech Masters in the Robotech version a good three times by this point their disappearing for the next 7 episodes or so just feels out of place and slows the overall story arc down (imho, of course).

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