“… understand that the better we perform our mission, the better this planet’s hope for survival. I wish I could remember more than I do, but one thing I do remember: I was much less than a human being while under the control of the Robotech Masters. I want to destroy them now, to make sure that I will never be like that again.“
The crew of Moon Base ALuCE welcome a transport squadron from deep space, latecomers responding to the mayday called out during the Robotech Masters’ attack on Space Station Liberty. Once resupplied by ALuCE, they will rendezvous with the rest of the ships under Rolf Emerson’s command in Earth orbit. As the fleet from ALuCE returns to Earth to prepare for the latest attack on the Masters’ flagships, the 15th Squadron waits as ships and mecha are readied for battle. Dana is nervous, Bowie’s worried that they might not make it back, and Angelo just wants everyone to shut up and just think about the mission. Zor thinks that’s good advice; he tells them to stay sharp, because the survival of the planet and their continued freedom is at stake. Angelo is impressed, and the rest of the 15th cheer in agreement — all except Bowie. Meanwhile, the Robotech Masters ask their scientists if the humans are planning any action against the Invid Sensor Nebula. While the scientists see no indication of that; they do see that the humans are planning a new offensive against the Masters. As the Masters fret about the Invid, the 15th Squadron rushes to their transport. A fleet of ships from Earth lifts off to link up with the forces from the moon to begin the new offensive. Aboard the 15th’s transport, Dana finds Bowie staring at his Hovertank. Despite what Zor was saying back at the barracks, Bowie feels he can’t fight; Zor used to be one of the enemy, and he’s more human than some of their own people. Dana tells him what he’s feeling is normal, that she feels the same way sometimes. She assures him that they’ll make it through this. Just then, General Emerson gives the order to attack. The fleet fires on the enemy flagships. Eventually a missile barrage blows an opening into one of the ships’ hulls. At that, the 15th Squadron launches and descends to the flagship’s surface. The Robotech Masters take this opportunity to deploy the Invid Fighters. Vada Prime guard triumvirates are briefed and ordered to the human’s anticipated entry point. Every three Invid Fighters act as one; three of them tail loudmouthed Eddie and take him out with simultaneous shots. Worse casualties are sustained among the AGAC squadrons. Angelo takes one of the Invid Fighters out and suggests going for the faceplates, but when one of the pilots is thrown out into the vacuum of space, Bowie loses his nerve. Dana covers him and reminds him that they’re programmed to destroy him. Meanwhile, Sean is isolated and has a squad of Invid FIghters on his tail. Suddenly a squad of AGACs appears and picks them off: it’s Marie’s squadron! He rejoins the others as they prepare to leap into the hull breach, but the first Hovertank down is taken out by another wave of Invid Fighters. The 15th retreats for cover. Dana radios Emerson with the bad news. Col. Green suggests using the Tristar as a battering ram to make the breach wider. Emerson gives the order. The ship dives into the chasm, crashes into it, and rips past it. Another stretch of the enemy flagship’s hull collapses from the structural damage. The 15th advances as Emerson orders Green to find out if they’ve sustained any permanent damage. Just then the ship sustains a direct hit from the enemy: the flagships are advancing on them. Green suggests withdrawal. Another hit convinces Emerson that it’s the right move. The Earth forces withdraw as the 15th make their way into the alien ship. The Robotech Masters observe their advance and realize that these humans have discovered the flaw in the Invid Fighters’ system. Thus, they decide to reactivate Zor Prime. He stops dead in his tracks. Dana approaches him, but he attacks her and flees. She and Angelo go after Zor and order the others to stay behind. A surprise triumvirate of Invid Fighters cuts off their approach and takes out a Hovertank. Dana and Angelo break through and enter a circular chamber filled with pillars. Angelo switches to Gladiator mode and starts blasting pillars and doors. Dana follows suit. Beyond the flames of a wrecked door stands Zor’s Red Bioroid. Dana and Angelo dismount and are told that they now Zor’s prisoners, and that the 15th Squadron doesn’t stand a chance against the power of the Robotech Masters …
Remember when I was talking about “False Start” and thinking that maybe the show was suggesting that General Emerson was on Space Station Liberty? I was thinking about this episode when I wrote that. Based on the events of the previous episode and the footage itself, Emerson’s clearly aboard the Tristar on the moon, but it’s treated like he’s on Earth and will be joining the offensive when the ships lift off from Earth towards the end of the first act. Numerous voiceovers by Emerson are laid in during those ships’ approach to that effect. They pull this off because among the ships lifting off for that offensive is a Tristar-class ship; in fact, the shot of it lifting off is just reused footage of Emerson’s Tristar from earlier in the episode with a sky background instead of space. The ship maneuvers are much easier to follow in the original SOUTHERN CROSS version of the episode; however, that’s largely because a lot of shots of Glorie’s twin moons had to be left on the cutting room floor. Annoying, but necessary from a storytelling standpoint.
Speaking of confusing ship maneuvers, Transport Squadron 85 in the original SOUTHERN CROSS animation was just supply ships from Glorie sent to sustain ALuCE, not some squadron coming in from hyperspace responding so very, very late to a distress call from the very beginning of the Masters era. But since it’s brought up in the dialog, despite my remarks in “Triumvirate” that one of the dudes in the audience for Leonard’s address looked like Jonathan Wolff, this is when it’s assumed that Wolff joined the effort to fight the Robotech Masters, since in “Eulogy” it’s claimed that he did just that and this is the last time ships coming in from hyperspace are cited for the rest of the second generation, as far as I remember.
References to the Invid continue to be seeded in; is it arrogance that has the Masters more spooked about the Invid than they are about losing this war to the humans?
For much touted “perfect” new machines, the Invid Fighters are pretty quickly overcome by the 15th Squadron, and the Masters freely admit this. Those Triumviroids the Clonemasters wheeled out two episodes ago were supposed to be hot stuff, too; why not try those against the 15th, eh?
Nova’s participation in the show is reduced to wishing forgettable Dennis Brown good luck as he joins the fleet. Is that better or worse than serving Rolf Emerson coffee? Similarly, Marie, who so stoically refused to talk to Sean at the close of “Love Song” is seen staring out a window giving a lovesick, “Oh, Sean!” Yes, she saves his butt during the battle, but between that and the Emerson mix-up at the outset it’s like the writers aren’t following the episode-to-episode continuity at all.
I sort of like how the reason Bowie cites for finding it so hard to fire on the enemy is that Zor, the very person who said that destroying the Robotech Masters is their only chance for survival and freedom, is so very human — he doesn’t want to kill a people who are capable of such feeling. And then once the operation is underway, Zor has his humanity stripped from him, thanks to the Masters’ neurosensor. It’s a neat little chain there that underscores the power-hungry dictatorial nature of the Robotech Masters. I’m also glad that when Dana spots the Bioroid pilot ejected into space it startles her, but it doesn’t render her useless in the fight; she even tells Bowie, as he pictures Musica, that they’re still going to try and kill him, so he’d better shoot back.
Ever since I realized that the “Vada Prime” are the guard triumvirates that include Musica’s betrothed, Karno, I’ve wondered what that title means and how it relates to the fact that the name Zor Prime refers to the mathematical term “prime,” as in a thing derived from the named thing. Are all of the guard clones derived from some great Tirolian warrior named Vada, perhaps?
FIRSTS OF NOTE:
First deployment of the Bioroid Invid Fighter. It gets off to a good start, but by the episode’s end it’s as much bad cannon fodder as the regular blues.
DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL:
Very low; she’s understandably nervous when the episode opens, tries to comfort Bowie while at the same time trying to keep him focused on performing his duty, and doesn’t completely freak out over the fact that yes, they’re still fighting things that look human. Even her kind of stupid decision to dismount from her Gladiator at the end makes a kind of emotional sense.
DOES BOWIE SULK?
Oh yes. He doesn’t want to fight anymore because he doesn’t want to kill living things that are like him, and Zor, and Musica. He’s losing his nerve, and it almost gets him killed this time out.