Robotech, In Brief: Volunteers

“Ah, paying complete attention to practically nothing today, aren’t we, Lieutenant?”

WHAT HAPPENS: Communications between Earth and Space Station Liberty have been cut off by the Robotech Masters. After hearing that Marie Crystal has volunteered her squadron for the mission to reestablish this vital link, Dana Sterling volunteers her men as well. Dana orders Angelo and Bowie to accompany her. When Dana visits the motor pool to check on their Hovertanks, she finds that they’ve already been loaded aboard the shuttle; in fact, Angelo’s already at the launch site! As she arrives with only minutes to spare, Marie snaps at her for her irresponsibility. Worse, Dana thumbs through a fashion magazine during the countdown to liftoff! The g-forces slam the magazine into her face as the two shuttles break free of the atmosphere. The second shuttle, commanded by Lt. Borgnine, suffers an engine overload that causes it to overshoot its mark and crash right into the Masters’ flagship. The senseless loss of life causes Dana to go to pieces. Bioroid transports attack the shuttle, and while Angelo scores a few hits on the enemy, Dana’s side of the shuttle takes heavy fire. She’s quaking with fear and isn’t even touching her controls. Marie marches to the back of the shuttle and slaps Dana in the face. A direct hit from the enemy knocks Dana into her console. She reflexively grabs the joystick and returns fire. As the shuttle approaches the flagship, the transports break off their attack. Particle beams fire from the flagship, so Marie skims the shuttle across its belly, getting too close for them to be effective. She asks Bowie if he’s getting a signal through. Unfortunately, so close to the enemy ship they’re getting too much interference. Once they’re past the enemy ship the firing begins again; Marie pulls up and is pursued by three Bioroid transports, which launch their Bioroids. Marie suits up and takes off in her Logan, leaving her wingman at the helm. As Marie fights off the Bioroids, Bowie raises the shuttle antenna. They begin relaying their message from command headquarters. Marie has some trouble when the Red Bioroid appears. Dana suits up and joins Marie with her Hovertank on the shuttle hull. They keep the pressure on as he tries to nail the shuttle antenna. A few well placed shots send him reeling back through space. Just then, Space Station Liberty responds. The mission is a success, but at a cost; Marie’s wingman was killed in one of the Red Bioroid’s strafing runs. The link reestablished, the shuttle heads for home.

THOUGHTS: There’s a disjointed feel to these early episodes of the Masters era; the last time there were problems with communications with Liberty was back in “Dana’s Story,” but this episode opens with communications down again. In fact, the member of the brass presiding over the briefing tells all assembled that communications with the moon base are down as well. It’s been very episodic, focused more on today’s threat than a narrative arc. The disjointed feel in this particular episode isn’t helped any by a disconnect between the animation and dialog in certain scenes; everything Dana and Angelo say to each other after she gives the 15th their orders and before he leaves is time-killing gobbledygook. Sean is so very right when he tells her, “Don’t pay any attention to what was said.”

When Marie says, “You can’t win! You’re not even human!” doesn’t that seem a little insensitive when Dana, who’s only half-human, is sitting right there?

The animation is again only so-so, though the action sequence at the end is exciting and well staged for the most part. I do have a hard time getting over the idea that Dana, who in the past two episodes has been an effective soldier on the ground, is suffering through this major-league freak-out in space, especially in the wake of her early confidence. Marie is more of a hardened pro in these early episodes, sure, but Dana’s seen losses in the previous episodes as well; is it the ridiculous, senseless nature of the loss that breaks her so? I guess I sort of get that. And the loss of that shuttle is truly ridiculous. I have to admire the “NO ESCAPE” message that flashes up on the screen, just to underline for the crew the fact that they’re completely screwed. I wonder, did they launch from the same base that was attacked last episode? Maybe the ship was still damaged from that attack and the maintenance crew missed it?

FIRSTS OF NOTE: Marie says it’s Dana’s first time in space, but as of the production of this episode it would have been Dana’s second that we know of — she went out into DEEP space back in “Viva Miriya.” Continuity-wise it’s at least her third time up, as she visited the Robotech Factory again in “The Sentinels.” It is possible that Marie isn’t privy to the circumstances of the capture of the Factory Satellite; I’d assume the use of a two-year-old as a weapon wouldn’t be in the official history. I’m also not going to hold the events of Sentinels against her, since they hadn’t been written yet. This is, however, the first episode where Angelo Dante’s given his familiar rank of Sergeant; in the previous two he was stated to be a Corporal.

DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL: Three, maybe four at a stretch. She’s more careless than anything, running late and trying to eye up the latest fashions during the shuttle launch. She then lets, I don’t know, space anxiety get the better of her after Borgnine and his crew are killed and nearly lets her comrades down that way.

DOES BOWIE SULK? No, but he does seem awfully put upon, first left behind by Dana when he tells her the Hovertanks are missing, and then yelled at by Marie when he and Dana nearly miss the shuttle launch.


One thought on “Robotech, In Brief: Volunteers

  1. You forgot the best line, “Are you sure lieutenants Crystal and Sterling are qualified to command this mission? They do seem rather young for so much responsibility.” “Yes, but Sterling is a tactical genius and Crystal’s attitude is extremely positive.” I love Emerson, but he has some of the most (unintentionally) hilarious lines in the series. Seriously, her positive attitude, excuse me, her *extremely* positive attitude is the best he can come up with? Not, say, the fact that she is the best (space) pilot he has?

    When Marie says, “You can’t win! You’re not even human!” doesn’t that seem a little insensitive when Dana, who’s only half-human, is sitting right there?

    Heh, well it’s probably meant to be figurative. Like in Star Trek II when Kirk refers to Spock’s soul as the most human – although Spock might not consider that a complement ;)

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