Robotech, In Brief: Outsiders

“Sacrifices are often necessary during a war, and she was a good fighter. She never let us down, even at the end.”

WHAT HAPPENS: Dana plays a tune on the barracks piano as the rest of the 15th Squadron sleeps, images of Zor Prime and his Red Bioroid floating through her mind. Meanwhile, Nova Satori discovers a wounded Zor Prime wandering through the wreckage at the site of the previous day’s battle. He is quickly brought to Dr. Cochrane’s laboratory, where General Emerson oversees their examination. He orders an information blackout regarding Zor Prime. Not even the Supreme Commander is to know of him until they’ve found out all they can. As the Masters gloat that the humans have played right into their hands, Recon-1, a Tokugawa-class vessel from the SDF-3 Pioneer Mission, defolds from hyperspace. Morning comes, and Sean wakes Dana up; she nodded off at the piano. He tells her she needs to learn to relax a bit, and points out what a hopeless case Bowie’s become since coming back from the alien ship. Bowie’s carrying a torch for the alien Musica. When Angelo reminds Bowie that there’s a war on and she’s the enemy, Bowie runs away. Commander Leonard lets Emerson know that he knows all about the newly captured Bioroid pilot, and is none too pleased about Emerson’s attempts to keep it a secret. He tells Emerson he’s taking over, but given what happened to the last Bioroid pilot, Emerson puts up a fight — and wins. Zor Prime will remain in Dr. Cochrane’s care. In space, Major John Carpenter orders Recon-1’s pilots to their fighters and all hands to battle stations. Fighter wings launch and form attack formations. As Bowie dreams of Musica, the Robotech Masters shrug off the Expeditionary Force fighters and attack Recon-1. A transmission from Recon-1 reaches Earth and Emerson orders reinforcements. Two of the Masters’ ships box Recon-1 in and take out its primary starboard thrusters. With Recon-1’s shields down and the Masters’ ships continuing their laser barrage, Carpenter orders all hands to abandon ship. Recon-1 is locked on a collision course with one of the Masters’ flagships. Carpenter and his first officer escape just in the nick of time; Recon-1 tears into the ship and explodes. On Earth, the 15th Squadron serves recovery detail. Dana is on hand to greet Carpenter. She and Sean take him to command headquarters, where Carpenter informs Leonard that they can expect no further assistance from the SDF-3 mission at this time. Emerson fears all their hopes now rest with what they can learn from their new prisoner …

THOUGHTS: Dana’s had a weird fixation on the Red Bioroid since “False Start,” and the explanation of it as some sort of weird racial memory-slash-psychic resonance caused by her halfbreed-Zentraedi nature makes about as much sense to me as anything else, especially in light of the way the second generation ends. I think it’s a clever way to explain this fixation from the original Japanese show in light of the changes made to build the Robotech story.

I hadn’t noticed in some time that the sequence of Dana telling Bowie to cheer up that was used in “Dana’s Story” actually doesn’t appear in the Robotech cut of this episode.

Carpenter’s first officer mentions that they’ve been with Recon-1 for fifteen years. Clearly the writing staff were expecting the SDF-3 to launch not long after the destruction of the SDF-1 & SDF-2. The decision to set things eight years on from that mucks this up on first glance. However, the Pioneer Mission might have launched back in 2014 in order to find the way to Tirol in advance of the SDF-3, serving its named goal as a reconnaissance vessel in the absence of a flagship. It would certainly help explain the difference in uniforms between these guys and the REF personnel we see in Sentinels. They all seem to be wearing dentist’s smock-style uniforms left over from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

It is curious based on what we later hear — and what we know from Sentinels — that General Reinhardt is currently leader of the Pioneer Mission. In the absence of Sentinels one could assume that other members of the brass are running the show and during the course of whatever campaign they’re engaged in Rick rises through the ranks to become the “legendary” Admiral Hunter. However, in Sentinels he’s the military commander of the mission. I suppose he could be indisposed, leaving Reinhardt in charge — maybe Edwards is in the middle of some power grab, cutting him out of the chain of command, or he’s busy leading a revolution on one of the Sentinels’ worlds. Who knows?

I’ve always liked this one because of how it presents a glimpse of the wider Robotech universe. This isn’t the only front that mankind is engaged in right now. The Expeditionary Force is occupied with other business, and could only send back this token force. Earth isn’t the only battlefield in the Robotech Wars. The space battle is also dynamically animated, and the fighters look like cool space shooter ships. And with our newfound glimpses into the Masters’ ship during the battles, it doesn’t even hurt things too much that our heroes aren’t engaged in the battle; at least one set of familiar faces appear, even if they’re the enemy. It also helps that we get so much drama on the side: Bowie moping over Musica, Sean half-heartedly trying to visit Marie, Dana fretting over the Red Bioroid, and Leonard and Emerson’s war of wills. Lots of meat to chew on, even if our heroes don’t man their Hovertanks.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: First appearance of the Tokugawa-class vessel and REF Vulture space fighters, first and only appearance of John Carpenter in the Robotech TV series, and first mention of General Reinhardt, who later appears in the last two episodes of Robotech and The Shadow Chronicles.

DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL: Zero. In fact, Sean worries that she’s taking things a bit too seriously at the moment. No worries, though. The next episode will fix all that.

DOES BOWIE SULK? He’s in the deepest of deep funks since the departure of the alien ship, and with it his hopes of being reunited with Musica.


6 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: Outsiders

  1. Reinhardt was in the last two episodes?!? Man, I never caught that! I’m so ashamed of myself. Especially since when I first saw this episode, when Carpenter mentioned Reinhardt was in command I was all like “What?!? Who’s he?!? What happened to Rick and Lisa?!?” Then when the Sentinels came around the pieces fell into place; the animation introduced him (or so I thought), and the books showed Reinhardt being put in charge when Rick & Lisa left the fleet on the Sentinels’ campaign. It’s one of those after-the-fact fixes that works really well.

  2. My submission to was the following: First appearances of Maj. John Carpenter and other references to future Robotech episodes. Not just the New Generation arc, but the Sentinels as well.

  3. This is one of my favorites of the earlier Masters episodes – well, it is more midseason I suppose, but most of my other favorites are in the final story arc so it just feels that way. The animation is terrific, and the Tokugawa is just so damn cool. Odd how almost all my favorite episodes also involve ships ramming things.

    The later departure of the SDF-3 in the Sentinels story is just one of many things that screws up both the dialog and overall ramifications of this episode. It’s no accident that this episode was so heavily edited in the books- it undermines several of the key contrivances McKinney used to hold his version of the Sentinels together (even then, it still fails, but I digress). However, if you ignore the books (which you pretty much have to when discussing the TV show), the idea of advanced recon ships leaving the Earth years before the main fleet is perfectly reasonable and fits in quite well.

    I have to admit, I didn’t consider that the ship might be named Recon-1. I just took that as what it was (in terms of mission or function), rather than its actual name, but that would be a fitting name given its likely mission.

    “I’ve always liked this one because of how it presents a glimpse of the wider Robotech universe. This isn’t the only front that mankind is engaged in right now. The Expeditionary Force is occupied with other business, and could only send back this token force. Earth isn’t the only battlefield in the Robotech Wars.”

    Yes. Totally agree!

  4. Fer: First identified in the McKinney novels, Reinhardt is the brown-and-then-purple-haired guy commanding the Izumo/SDF-4 in “Dark Finale” and “Symphony of Light,” who then gets to be a big deal (well, as big a deal as anyone gets to be) in The Shadow Chronicles. Despite what McKinney says, he is NOT the Colonel Reinhardt we see in the Sentinels animation; it’s really kind of strange how the novels wind up conflating the two despite their drastically different appearances. One of the more sensible retcons of the era was making Sentinels Reinhardt (Col. Adams according to Sentinels preproduction material) into one Col. Adam Reinhardt, father of the Gen. Gunther Reinhardt mentioned here (who’d be in his mid-30’s as of this episode based on his age in the Shadow Chronicles artbook) who then appears in New Gen.

    Brian: I’ve always called it by that name in the absence of another one; the fact that it sort of accidentally fits given changes to the SDF-3 storyline is just icing on the cake. And I think it was during the discussion where members of the old Robotech Message Board all sort of settled on the “hey, the Pioneer Mission might have been an early mission mapping the way for the SDF-3” concept that I started to sour on Team McKinney and their five-year-folds and too-tidy, all-or-none approach to elements of the Robotech universe. It was either that or during a discussion of the Tristar and its Orbital Warp Blast.

  5. I like your proposed explanation for the different uniforms of the REF personnel shown here.

    In practical terms, of course, they look different for the same reason that there are no Alpha fighters in the Southern Cross (despite the glaring shortcomings of the Logan) and why there are no actual hovertanks in the wreckage on the island in New Generation Episode #2 — that is, despite the storyline brilliantly written to make Robotech a continuous tale, the animation for Southern Cross and New Generation is utterly unrelated.

    You mention that this episode was the “first appearance of the Tokugawa-class vessel and REF Vulture space fighters;” do they appear later in Southern Cross, or are they somewhere shown in the Shadow Chronicles? (Obviously, for the reasons just mentioned, Tokugawas wouldn’t be part of the REF fleet at Reflex Point.)

    • There might be more, but two Tokugawas are seen very briefly during the last Southern Cross episode when Leonard launches the very last “final” assault. One of the Tokugawas is tan colored (like the one that appeared in the Outsiders) and apparently on the ground (presumably to be launched with the rest of the fleet); the other is blue (same color as the rest of the Southern Cross capital ships aside from the even darker Tristars) and already in orbit alongside several other ships.

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