Robotech, In Brief: Clone Chamber

“That no-good two-timer! I swear, I’ll never be able to trust an android again!”

“Now c’mon, the boy might behave a little funny sometimes, but all he needs is a bit of compassion! Do you remember that, ma’am?”

WHAT HAPPENS: The remains of the first attack wave have regrouped at Moon Base ALuCE (Advanced Lunar Chemical Engineering)-1. Marie Crystal sends a progress report back to Earth, and Commander Leonard decides to convert ALuCE into an advance outpost. The second attack wave becomes a relief mission, to replace the wounded at ALuCE. Outside the council chambers, Zor staggers through the corridors, dazed. Angelo spots him and demands to know what he’s up to. Dana appears and whisks Zor away before Angelo can get a straight answer. She wants to know if Zor will go to a movie with her, “The Revenge of the Martian Mystery Women.” He agrees. In space, the Masters are told that Bioroids will not be sufficient to battle the Invid; they will need weapons more closely tied to the triumvirate. Dana spends her evening picking something to wear to the movie, but Angelo tells her that Zor’s having dinner with Nova. Furious, Dana orders Angelo to join her instead. Back aboard the Masters’ flagship, they are told that the Protoculture generators are consuming more power than they’re generating, and without a fresh infusion of Protoculture they are doomed. Elsewhere, Musica rejects being paired with the warrior Karno, as it feels wrong. Back on Earth, Angelo laughs hysterically at “The Revenge of the Martian Mystery Women.” Embarrassed, Dana drags him out of the theater. At a fancy restaurant, an inebriated Nova tells Zor that the relief forces have taken off. When he asks for more information, Dana and Angelo arrive; Dana starts raging at the two, but Zor ducks out, complaining that he doesn’t feel well. Outside, unwittingly, he transmits his information to his Masters. As the relief forces of Air Cavalry One blast off, Marie tells everyone not staying at ALuCe to prepare to evacuate. Aboard the Masters’ ship, the Clone Masters berate Musica for her disobedience; she cannot explain herself and, when pressed, she faints. Bioroid Transports intercept Air Cavalry One before it can reach ALuCE. It’s an ambush! As AGACs are launched to battle Bioroids, the relief forces request aid from the ships evacuating. Marie acknowledges, and she and her men scramble their own AGACs. With Marie’s forces keeping the Bioroids busy, Air Cavalry One breaks off and continues to the moon; with the Bioroids in retreat, Marie orders her men to resume course for Earth. The Masters demand to know why the mission was a failure; they are told that Zor’s intelligence did not mention the ships returning from the moon. They fear that emotions have made Zor unreliable. The Clone Masters concur, and note this is in evidence among their people as well, as in the case of Musica. The go-ahead is given for the production of the Invid Fighters. On Earth, Leonard commends Marie on a job well done. As she is dismissed, Dana, Angelo, and Sean are there to greet her. It is Sean she’s most happy to see. Back in Leonard’s office, he tells Emerson that as ALuCE is converted for military use they’ll start preparing for a second offensive, and he has a surprise for him. Louie breaks that surprise to the 15th Squadron: General Emerson will lead it himself.

THOUGHTS: By this point the Robotech writing staff have gotten pretty darned good at matching new dialog to preexisting footage and at tying concepts together; aside from Dana’s “android” crack, this episode is largely seamless. I especially like how the Clone Masters tie together the dangerous wave of emotions throughout their fleet with what happened to the Zentraedi when they pursued the same goal. Mind you, I’d blame Zor’s ineffectuality as an intelligence agent on him being too conspicuous rather than a problem of emotions. Or rather, not the emotions that he’s experiencing, but the emotions he’s setting off in Nova and Dana — if they hadn’t started fighting, he might have gotten information on Marie’s movements as well. Mind you, Dana covering for him is, two episodes in, starting to get a little old; Angelo’s concerns are pretty valid given where Zor came from.

I think Marie’s teary reunion with Sean would have worked better if it hadn’t been foreshadowed by some internal monologue earlier, if the reaction had snuck up on the audience and Marie alike. Remember, she was surprised at his sincerity in “Triumvirate.” Now he’s all she can think about coming home to? That doesn’t sound right. In fact, it sounds like the sort of thing that happened all the time in The Macross Saga with Rick and Lisa, foreshadowing the relationship well in advance of the feelings actually surfacing.

I’ve bashed the action scenes in Masters before, but I really enjoy watching the AGAC in action because it’s such an odd, interesting design to watch moving around. It’s built and armed differently from every other transformable craft in all three generations, and its movements in space have a simultaneous clunkiness and grace to them. I like it, and I wish someone would make a damn toy of it. I’d buy the hell out of that thing, and in various color schemes to boot. How in the hell does Dorvack keep getting toys when Southern Cross doesn’t get even a one? Is it the Transformers thing? I think it’s the Transformers thing …

The issue of Musica’s betrothal to Karno seems odd for a clone society. I think the point they’re getting at — and I seem to recall that Team McKinney reached the same conclusion — is that with the lack of Protoculture (a drum beaten pretty severely in this episode) they can no longer generate clones and will have to start doing things the old fashioned way to ensure the immediate survival of their civilization. If not for the infection of the imbalance of human emotion, this would be a simple interruption to their Protoculture-derived way of doing things, but because the Masters did not factor in this disorder (one they let charge in through the front door back in “Prelude to Battle”/”The Trap”), things will never return to normal again. A shame they didn’t keep in closer contact with the Zentraedi during their campaign to seize the Protoculture; they might have learned something.

This marks the moment where everyone starts to seem a little desperate. The Masters are getting worrying reports from their scientists, their “perfect” society is starting to crack around the seams, and meanwhile Leonard’s decided to not only build up their lunar presence again but also take care of Emerson’s bellyaching about negotiations once and for all. Both civilizations are crossing the point of no return.

FIRSTS OF NOTE: First appearance of Moon Base ALuCE-1 and the warrior triumvirate “led” — though that isn’t the right word given the nature of the triumvirates — by Karno.

DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL: I’d call it as little as a four, maybe a five. She’s still making excuses for Zor, and she does drag Angelo to the movie against his will, then storm in on Nova and Zor when Angelo embarrasses her — but the latter is perfectly understandable given the circumstances. I’ll even give her all the cracks at Nova’s expense, given that Nova’s either a total lightweight who shouldn’t be imbibing or had already gotten started well before meeting with Zor.

DOES BOWIE SULK? I wouldn’t call what Bowie does in this episode “sulking.” He gets so mad at Dana that he wants to rend something in two, and when Louie breaks the news about Emerson’s appointment, he bangs his hands on the piano keys and begins to seethe with rage.

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