Robotech, In Brief: Final Nightmare

“You yourself said there can be no forgiveness for somebody who betrays the people who trust him. Well, what do you think you just did? Are WE supposed to forgive YOU?



WHAT HAPPENS:

Bowie and Musica are on the run, pursued by the Global Military Police. As they race down a forest road, Musica grows tired. Thunder clashes and rain begins to pour, and Bowie pushes her on. Meanwhile, at the barracks of the 15th Squadron, Dana demands to know why Zor betrayed Musica to the GMP, especially after Musica saved their lives. Nova orders the 15th to form a search party in the morning to bring Musica in. Back outside, Bowie and Musica keep running until Musica collapses from exhaustion. In order to keep moving Bowie steals a hovercycle from a military outpost, but is pursued by a pair of soldiers in a jeep. He stops only for a moment to let Musica on before speeding away, the soldiers still on his tail. He crashes the bike into some bushes, losing their pursuers but knocking the two of them to the ground. By sunrise, the storm is but a memory. Unfortunately for the 15th Squadron, Nova’s orders aren’t. The four move out in a pair of jeeps. Dana thinks she knows where to look for their fugitives, but she’s in no hurry to find them. Zor observes their departure from above. Moments later, Nova follows on her hovercycle. In orbit, the Robotech Masters discover that seventy percent of their remaining culture pods have been invaded by the Invid Flower of Life. While the possibility exists that the Protoculture Factory on Earth has suffered a similar fate, it is decided that the time has come for a full-scale assault on the Earth in order to seize the remaining undegenerated Protoculture and, if necessary, to destroy mankind. A similar decision has been made by Commander Leonard. He tells his staff that the final offensive against the Masters will begin at 1300 hours. In the woods, as Musica wakes, Bowie finishes repairs on the stolen hovercycle and the two continue on their way. On the moon, the Masters’ movements have not gone unnoticed. General Emerson is informed that the enemy appears to be launching their entire fleet against the Earth. Commander Leonard calls in to explain that just this morning they agreed to a preemptive strike, but the enemy has beaten them to the punch. This time there will be no retreat: it’s all or nothing. Back on Earth, the 15th’s jeeps continue through the forest. Louie asks Dana if she’s afraid of what she’ll have to do if they find Bowie and Musica, but Angelo says it’s out of her hands; he points out that Nova’s on their tail. Sean and Louie try to lose her. Watching from a cliff high above, Zor discovers their destination: the ruins of the SDF-1. There, Bowie and Musica dismount. Bowie tells Musica this is where he thinks he saw the Flowers of Life. Inside, as they approach the central chamber, a gust of wind sends yellow powder at their faces: it’s the spores of the Flower of Life. Upon entering the chamber, both are shocked at the sight of spores rising through an opening in the ruins. “We’re too late, Bowie!” Musica cries in fear. “You were right! These are the Flowers of Life! And those spores they’re sending out — that means the mutation is complete! The Invid will be drawn here from across the cosmos!” She explains to him that the Flower of Life feeds off the Protoculture Matrix. It occurs to Bowie that if they feed on Protoculture, the chamber they’re standing in is the Protoculture Factory, the very thing both the Zentraedi and Robotech Masters were seeking. Soon, Dana’s team enters the chamber. Dana takes a misstep, causing some debris to fall, and Bowie notices the 15th Squadron. He tells them that he and Musica aren’t going back, but Dana assures him that she’s not bringing them in. At that moment, Nova brings her hovercycle to a halt in front of the ruins, having spotted the jeeps and the hovercycle. Inside, Dana and the 15th are brought up to speed, but Angelo has his doubts about all this. Dana, however, believes every word. As Nova approaches the Protoculture chamber, she calls out to Dana and draws her sidearm. Just then, Zor approaches from behind. Nova asks what he’s doing here. “You won’t be needing that,” he says of the weapon, pushing it away. As Zor enters the chamber ahead of her, she re-holsters her gun and follows. Upon seeing the spores, Zor’s head aches. Nova spots the 15th Squadron and tells them she’s taking Musica in. As she confronts Dana, Zor screams. “Stop! Stop! Can’t you see? This plant is responsible for making me the monster I’ve become!” He tells them his full memory has recovered; he was a scientist, seeding a planet with Protoculture spores, when an explosion threw him into a deep crevasse. He remembers being outside his body, then opening his eyes and seeing a strange green light above him; as it entered his body, he felt as though he’d been reborn with no memory of his life before. He falls to his knees, but continues: “I can only assume my contemporaries have resurrected me in the hope of learning the secrets of Robotechnology and Protoculture.” Bowie puts it all together: “So, these plants are creating a new form of life and at the same time are breaking down the Protoculture. And whatever form of life this is, it must be something the Invid want because they’re on their way!” Nova says this doesn’t change anything, that Musica is still her prisoner. Dana tells Nova to stay back, but Nova continues her approach. Above the planet, the Robotech Masters’ warships continue their approach as Rolf Emerson’s fleet moves to intercept. Rochelle asks Emerson if he’ll be watching the battle from the bridge. Emerson surprises him with an order for their ship to join the fleet in battle. On Earth, Leonard is informed that Emerson’s ships have engaged the enemy. He orders the fleet to launch. As ships from Earth lift off to join Emerson’s fleet, the final battle of the Second Robotech War is joined …

Original comic book cover art from Comico The Comic Company's adaptation of "Final Nightmare" from my personal art collection. Art by Dave Dorman (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Alien Vs. Predator).

Original comic book cover art from Comico The Comic Company's adaptation of "Final Nightmare" from my personal art collection. Art by Dave Dorman.

THOUGHTS:

There is an air of finality to this episode; while it opens with a direct continuation of the previous episode, Bowie and Musica continuing their escape, once the Robotech Masters appear bathed in an eerie red light and decide that the time for dilly-dallying is over, an ominous mood is built up, a sense that one way or another the war is nearing its endgame. The scene in Emerson’s darkened office has that same air about it. The melodramatic staging is cranked up throughout the episode, from the gloomy weather in the forest, to moody lighting, dramatic angles, and cameras pulling back to reveal someone watching from afar.

This might’ve become obvious last episode, but it seems to me a sure sign of the end coming: look around the 15th’s barracks and see how empty it is. All the guys without the fancy colors and torso harnesses were killed by the Invid Fighters back in “Mind Games,” and nobody’s been brought in to bolster their ranks. With Bowie’s desertion and Zor drifting around aimlessly, the 15th Squadron is down to four members. I started to wonder why nobody’s mentioned it, but the fact is someone did during the last episode: Angelo, when he was giving Zor a good right cross. Is this another reason why our heroes are closing ranks to try and protect Bowie and his shot at happiness?

Musica acts as though she’s seen the Invid first-hand. Racial memory passed from clone-progenitor to clone, or had the Invid already begun their efforts to take their revenge on the Robotech Masters before the departure of the Masters’ flagships about a decade and a half ago? (That brings up another good question: how old is Musica, chronologically and biologically? You get the idea that the Masters themselves have been around for a while, but how old are the young people of their clone society? You see the occasional baby aboard-ship, such as in “Dana in Wonderland,” and you also see those android bits in “The Trap.” Who is what, and what is who? So many questions that the show never even begins to address.)

Musica tells Bowie that the spores are going to summon the Invid. I’ve been working from the standpoint that the spores are some kind of mutation due to the influences of outside explanations of Protoculture, chiefly Zor’s dialogue from the Comico Graphic Novel of 1986, but A) Musica already knows about them, and B) Zor says he was seeding a planet with “Protoculture spores.” This would seem inconsistent with this idea. Except that, hang on, what if attracting the Invid was Zor’s goal all along? Ever since he’s had his memory returned, Zor’s had a death wish: it’s right there in the dialog of the previous episode, when Angelo decks him for trivializing the deaths of their teammates, and this one, when Dana asks him how he can live with himself: “I don’t think I can,” he says. Everything that happened to the original Zor is now locked in Zor Prime’s head — and it’s largely unlocked by the sight of the spores — and I assume that includes the feelings and emotions he was experiencing at the end, when he was seeding a planet with the spores, just asking for the Invid to come calling. What if that was the whole point of disposing of the SDF-1? What if he was throwing it as one does a bone from a dog, calling out, “Fetch!” He stole their Flower (per the SENTINELS animation), and now he was trying to atone for this by returning it to them, casting it far from his Masters and imbuing it with a biological time bomb that would call out to them. As I’ve mentioned previously, he’s found himself a man without a people, an enemy to both his teammates and the Masters. Who else is described as such? The Invid. Guilt-stricken Zor doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s side, but he is. It’s just not a side that’s arrived on the scene yet. At least, that’s one possible reading of his actions. Maybe I’m overthinking it. I just find it interesting that he was very specifically seeding a planet with the very same things that cause Musica to totally freak out when she sees them, things that seem to be cited as a tell-tale sign that a “mutation” has taken place.

FIRSTS OF NOTE:

Behold the seeds of Earth’s doom. Or, rather, spores. This is also the first account, and the only one in the television series, of Zor’s death. Oddly, it doesn’t match any of the subsequent accounts.

DANA’S BRATTINESS/INSUBORDINATION LEVEL:

Does she feel the winds of change around her? Because she really doesn’t seem to care about the orders given to her. Sure, she tracks down Bowie and Musica, but when she finds them, she tells them straight up, “Yeah, I’m not turning you in.” And then Nova shows up and she goes, “Nope, not doing it.” Given that she did at least follow the order to form the search party, I think I’m gonna hold tight at a seven, but the flagrant defiance of Nova’s intent has me tempted to go higher.

DOES BOWIE SULK?

Sulking Bowie is done, I think. In fact, one of the best scenes in the whole episode features Bowie and Musica happily riding the hovercycle, towards the ruins of the SDF-1, enjoying being together, enjoying the sun shining down on them and nature around them, juxtaposed with the Southern Cross mobilizing, preparing for the final battle. It’s the last moment of peace anyone’s going to have for a very, very long time.

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2 thoughts on “Robotech, In Brief: Final Nightmare

  1. “All the guys without the fancy colors and torso harnesses were killed by the Invid Fighters back in ‘Mind Games,’ and nobody’s been brought in to bolster their ranks.”

    This never dawned on me before. Excellent observation.

  2. Yes! I never really noticed either, but now that you mention it, it is very eerie and very fitting.

    Like most of the later Southern Cross episodes, I find this one very enjoyable to watch – especially since it features Emerson’s Crowning Moment of Awesome.

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