[Great Gundam Wing Rewatch] Episodes 19 & 20
Outer space is rejecting humans. And perhaps the earth is telling us we're wrong by pulling us back down towards it.
Assault on Barge
All of the exposition for this episode is very brief: in AC175 the leader of the colonies was assassinated, Gundams were sent to Earth, the colonies have now accepted OZ because they’re not murdering everything and anything and are instead cooperating…
What are the pilots going to do now that they’ve been labeled enemies of the state?
We start off this episode with Zechs waking up in an unfamiliar place. He sounds a little disappointed maybe, shocked definitely, that he’s not actually dead! Well, I mean, we can’t just go around killing off major characters, can we? Zechs doesn’t look terribly banged up despite the crash landing he suffered in the last episode, where his mask cracked rather dramatically when he denounced Treize as his BFF.
Anyway, we’re reunited with Chill Stoner Grandpa (aka Howard) and his eternal devotion to wearing all things Hawaiian print. Zechs is just like “who are you” and Howard explains that he was responsible for “that interesting machine” and its design (and probably also name, because let’s face it, who the hell came up with “Tallgeese” as a name?), but also that that was a long, long time ago in AC175 (I dunno, 1995 doesn’t seem that long ago to me and that was apparently over 20 years ago).
Zechs questions why Howard would even bother rescuing him, and Howard explains that there’s no harm at all, because Zechs Merquise, the hero of OZ, is technically dead. No harm in taking in a dead guy, right? And then they start talking about Tallgeese and vernier rockets that weren’t for atmospheric clearance but, instead, were supposed to get the Gundams back into space, because gravity sucks. And then, kind of like an afterthought, Howard asks, “Think you can make it to outer space?”
“It’s about to undergo a drastic transformation. There’s a growing need for skilled people like you.” Obviously if you can pilot Tallgeese, which is something Howard thought only the five Gundam pilots could do, then you’ve gotta be really good at piloting a mobile suit, since not everyone can pilot the damn thing, and it wasn’t meant to be mass produced so it wasn’t streamlined and simplified.
SO OZ HAS THIS SPACE FORTRESS. It’s officially translated as “Barge” but it’s actually supposed to be “Bulge” and it’s a reference to some battle that happened in history because the writers of Gundam Wing are a bunch of geeks. Regardless it’s symbolic of how great OZ is despite the fact that it was partially destroyed by colony rebels in AC186 and led to the death of its creator (Seis Clark), his wife, and countless others. And for the most part the colonies are okay with OZ and its symbol of strength because hey, they’re not being aggressive!
But there are apparently some people who just can’t let the past go and keep bringing up OZ’s past mistakes, like the fact that it was OZ who ordered the assassination of the leader of the colonies despite them trying to revise the history files on that one. Oh! But that was the past! We’ve all made mistakes! (Except that’s a huge mistake.) If we try hard enough to convince these non-believers they’ll eventually change their minds, right?
But on the other hand if OZ does turn out to be secretly aggressive (which they’re totally not!) we have no means to counter any violent attacks, but why would OZ do that when they say they’re protecting us with the space forces and whatever? As long as they’re here we’re fine, peachy, because OZ is clear as Scotch tape.
And then we have this beautiful gem from Une:
The Gundams are evil and will harm the colonies. They'd be valuable as our evil scapegoats.
Welp. Someone missed the whole point of the Gundams. How unfortunate.
Une orders for the capture of the Gundam and its pilot, and states, “If he’s ugly, let him live. It people could sympatheize with him, then kill him. We can’t have anything interfere with changing public opinion.” And the poor officer is confused by such an order, and Une probably internally facepalms before saying, “Just kidding.” (Or are you?)
Naturally the pilot in question is none other than Duo, because it’s his lucky day. He gets to face Taurus mobile dolls! Unfortunately they overwhelm him and fuck up Deathscythe, so he’s dead in the water, so to speak, so he decides that his only option is self-detonation, because that worked so well in the past for him and certain other people.
“I don’t wanna copy Heero, but…” He hits the self detonation switch. Nothing happens. “Not my lucky day. Can’t even self-detonate. Or maybe…I am lucky…”
He ends up being brought in by OZ, arrested, and shown all over the news as one of those Gundam pilots “known for their destruction and threat to peace”.
Are the people of the colonies so used to being controlled that nobody can figure out the Gundams are the only ally?
Trowa wants to go in after Duo, but the colony they sent him to is too far away for him to get to. However, it’s near the colony someone else is currently staying at, so surely he’ll do something!
I like colony architecture okay.
Who looked at the tables and said YOU KNOW WHAT WE NEED??? A HELIX DESIGN FOR OUR SCHOOL LIBRARY. (Knowing these people, it’s probably the school logo or something and they’re trying to be clever and NOT CONSPICUOUS AT ALL about it.)
Also I forgot how big CRT monitors and TVs were when I live in an era where LCD/LED monitors are currently the norm.
So that student at the bottom left computer is looking up all of the interesting things that happened in After Colony 175 and let me tell you, absolutely nothing of interest happened. Allegedly. According to OZ. Are you telling me they’re lying?! If OZ tells me “nothing happened in AC175” then by golly nothing happened!
And like maybe that would work on the people of Earth, who would likely be ignorant to colonial history (as we see with Relena in an earlier episode where she’s never heard of the real Heero Yuy), but why and how does this work on colonists who would know their own history, especially something as important and influential as Heero Yuy getting half his chest insides blown out?
Heero is understandably perturbed by this, but he’s also not surprised that OZ is, well, OZ. But considering how a lot of the older colonial government officials are just like HAVE YOU ASSHOLES FORGOTTEN HEERO YUY and all these young people who fell asleep in history class are just like IT WAS A MISTAKE/IT’S JUST RUMOUR/THAT’S COLONIAL PROPAGANDA/WE’RE IGNORING THIS LIKE SUMIZAWA IGNORED MOST OF GUNDAM WING’S CANON FOR FROZEN TEARDROP…
Heero watches the news broadcast and sees that Duo’s gotten his ass in trouble because it’s not like the pilots are on a Super Secret Mission or anything.
All negative factors must be eliminated.
In case your memories of this episode are a bit hazy and you need a somewhat subtle reminder… This is the cabbage episode. What does that mean, I hear you ask?
I mean this is the episode where a guy gets knocked out because of a floating cabbage, and if people remember little else about this series, this is one of the things they remember. Heero uses a vegetable as a decoy. No one can say Heero isn’t creative.
So Duo’s gonna be interrogated by OZ officials for the crime of Being a Gundam Pilot, and the officer says he didn’t expect the pilot to be a kid. Duo takes offence to this and asks if he’s wounded the officer’s pride.
“Not compared to how your pride has suffered,” the officer retorts. “You’ll be executed. The people’s feelings toward the execution will unite the colonies. I never expected to use the Gundam pilots this way.” And this just insults Duo even more, which causes an outburst and him getting his ass kicked and locked up.
Duo wakes up in this cell and ends up doing the strangest sounding cough that is a mixture of trying to dislodge phlegm and trying to cough up a hairball, and props to Seki Toshihiko for making that somehow still sound very attractive despite the description I just used.
Of course Duo’s not out of the woods yet.
He’s got this guy to tango with. And to be honest, I don’t think I’d mind if this was the last thing I ever saw. Quite frankly, I think Duo is okay with this too, because he says, “Just in time. They were about to use me and my Gundam for their plans. If I’m gonna die, then this seems like the way to go. Go ahead and shoot me.”
(Be careful what you wish for, Duo.)
So Heero slowly squeezes on the trigger, which prompts Duo to say, “Hey… You’re really gonna shoot me, aren’t you?”
“If that’s what you want.”
Well I’m pretty sure Duo doesn’t want to die, and I’m pretty sure Heero knows this, because he doesn’t shoot him (surprise surprise). Instead he asks if Duo’s right hand is okay, because then Duo can use a gun still and be somewhat useful. Although if he just got his ass kicked, I don’t know how useful he’d be.
Especially when Duo has to lean on him. Duo asks Heero where his Gundam is, and Heero says he left it on Earth so he wouldn’t stick out and “get caught like you.” And Duo takes offence at that, because it’s not like he wanted to get caught.
So Duo asks how he plans on getting them out of here, and Heero says, “I came to kill you. I hadn’t thought up an escape plan yet.” (Or, alternatively, “My purpose here was to kill you. I didn’t plan on escaping,” which makes this sound more like a murder-suicide or something.)
But what if they don’t make it? “It’s as simple as silencing the two of us.”
Heero seems to have an answer for everything even if he doesn’t have a plan for something. But with that all said, he decides it’s a good time to blow some shit up as a diversion.
It's always the quiet guys who're the flashiest.
(Well that explains why fire and explosions always announce Wufei’s arrival anywhere, but Quatre doesn’t act all flashy.)
So they escape and OZ is losing their shit over it because HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN??? Especially when there are explosions but no sign of anyone breaking into the place. And these explosions leave the mobile suits untouched but all of the supplies are, well, torched. And that includes all of the cabbages and various produce that have been harmed in the making of this plan of Heero’s. So they figure hey, if they left that untouched, they must be escaping from there! Instead of going out to greet them, they send the mobile dolls out instead, because there’s no way that can backfire or anything.
“Wouldn’t target settings be difficult within the colony?!”
“The dolls aren’t a cheap system! They’re annihilation machines!”
Yeah just set it to target anything threatening, no way that that could go wrong, just do as you’re told!
Meanwhile there’s a Gundam who wants to have some Ozzies for breakfast and maybe do something to Barge, who knows? Wufei is in the firing range of the beam cannon and one of the guys is upset that they’d fire on their own men but who cares about that, just do as you’re told!
“Sacrificing your own men?! I’ve never seen the enemy as foul as they are now.” Wufei is not pleased with your shit. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the current head of OZ would have words to say about this as well.
So Une starts talking about stopping futile battles and getting rid of any desire to fight and that this isn’t needed in the New Era and Wufei’s just like wtf are you talking about, lady? And these Ozzies want to fight Wufei, but Une tells them no, that peace should be a Thing in Space and not war and fighting and all this other nonsense, and everyone is confused because which Une should they even listen to?
BACK TO HEERO AND DUO, Heero has some sage advice about the mobile dolls that will come in handy later on: “Once they’re locked onto a target, there’s no escaping.”
“Then how will we get away?” Duo asks, because he has Some Concerns.
“I’m not thinking about escaping.”
Heero’s going to exploit the targeting system and use that to escape. They’re in Leos. OZ Leos. Wearing OZ astrosuits. The targeting system isn’t all that sophisticated at this point, since mobile dolls are a relatively new thing, and right now they’re on auto-target, so anything that they perceive as threatening is going to be shot at. So if Heero attacks a mobile doll in an OZ Leo, they’re going to set OZ Leos as the target. I guess OZ didn’t expect anyone to figure this out, let alone enemies they perceive as “children” (maybe they didn’t even know about this kind of exploit), because they’re confused as to why the mobile dolls are even attacking the Leos in the first place (which means they’re attacking their own troops). So they look into the data, because the mobile dolls are basically piloted by a computer program if a human doesn’t give them any overrides, and find that because a Leo was acting suspicious, it got set as a target. And to make matters worse, another target’s just been set.
Because someone pointed a rifle at a mobile doll wearing one, and now it’s considered a threat. And guess what all of these OZ soldiers are wearing?
They try to cancel the auto target, but they can’t do it fast enough and end up being killed by their own machines.
Heero and Duo meanwhile end up escaping in a shuttle. Duo remarks that he has to destroy Deathscythe, presumably so OZ can’t use it for any of their nefarious purposes that they don’t let the colonists see. Heero says that “the Gundams are worthless,” and Duo’s not too happy about him saying that, because Deathscythe’s his BFF and how dare you. It’s not like they can really use them since any attack in them will be used against them as some kind of “rebel attack”, and they’re also not geared for space combat, so they’re not very maneuverable even with AMBAC because of the thrusters and so forth. Plus the colonists kind of hate the Gundams now.
Not only that but the engineers responsible for them being built have been captured by OZ, so presumably OZ can just get any and all information from them (not like they’d give it up), or they could build Gundams for OZ to use that rival or outmatch the Operation M Gundams. They also know exactly who the pilots are, and could give OZ that information (again, not like they’d give it up) and get all of the pilots captured and executed.
So Heero’s gonna kill them all. Because now they’re obstacles. And any obstacle to the mission needs to be taken care of. Also Heero has a personal reason to hold a grudge against them, particularly Dr J, but I’ll get into that in a later meta because there’s an episode where this is brought up when ZERO is introduced.
We end the episode with Zechs heading off into the proverbial sunset, where he imparts this bit of wisdom on us:
Outer space is rejecting humans. And perhaps the earth is telling us we're wrong by pulling us back down towards it.
This kind of ties in with Heero’s speech from episode 18: humanity cannot forget the Earth, especially since the whole point of the colonies was to artificially recreate what Earth gives naturally in case Earth ends up decimated. And because humanity can’t forget Earth, they can’t forget the folly of man. They wanted to live in peace in a place that wasn’t a war torn and politically hostile environment, only to have history start the dance over again.
That’s just how humans as a species works.
The Lunar Base Infiltration
(Or “Smuggling, Moon Base” if you use the Hong Kong fansubs, which brings some hilarity if you imagine smuggling a moon base.)
We open this episode with…a large amount of Gundanium alloy being shipped to the lunar base. “Probably for making a new type of mobile suit.” Is it Gundanium alloy plated Leos? Probably not, but we can only hope and dream, right?
(It’s not Gundanium alloy plated Leos.)
Duo asks Heero what his plans are and Heero basically tells him to just shut up and focus on getting better. “You’ll get in my way.” Duo tells Heero that he could be a little nicer to him every once in a while. (Heero’s just telling it like it is: Duo is too injured to really be much of a help to him so he would just hinder him and be a liability, but I guess he could say it in a less blunt manner, but that’s how Heero is.) So Heero tells Duo to go to school instead and that admission is already taken care of, and Duo is shocked that Heero would even steal his name! I don’t know why Duo is surprised by anything Heero does. Duo even knows the reason why Heero would steal his name and use it out in the colonies (a name like “Heero Yuy” would raise questions because Heero Yuy was Pretty Important), but before he can complain too much, Heero tells him to stop whining and focus on recovery.
“Don’t overdo it,” Duo warns, but knows that “overdoing it” is Heero’s middle name.
Heero doesn’t know much about the new mobile suit but says that he’ll decide whether to blow it up or take it as his own once he gets to the base itself. “But Heero has a Gundam!” you cry. He does, but Wing is on Earth because it would stick out too much (and also isn’t meant for space combat), so he’s gonna have to use something in the interim, and why not get a new and shiny suit instead of a Leo or an Aries or Taurus or something? Maybe it’s a Gundanium Leo. You don’t know, and neither does he.
We get to learn that, because of how gravity works on the Moon, it’s not all that great for being inhabited by humans, but it makes a nice tourist attraction and has things like malls, because who doesn’t like shopping malls? But then the Alliance came in and fucked up everything, and then OZ came and kicked their ass, and then the Moon was allowed to have its malls and amusement parks and whatever else in addition to different research facilities. People can freely travel between the colonies without anyone giving any trouble. There’s peace. Or what people think is peace but is really just some low-key oppression. OZ is handing out gifts like it’s Oprah in an attempt to get people on their side. They’ve made the Gundams out to be the enemy that OZ will protect them against. Before long all of the colonies’ resources will belong to OZ and by the time anyone realises how wrong this all is, it’ll be too late to do much about it. It’s like the Alliance was at first, and look at what happened with them, all of the power got to their heads and they started fighting because why not. This time OZ has charisma on their side.
So what are the Gundam engineers gonna do? They’re gonna troll OZ and build two suits: one that is nothing but offence, and one that is nothing but defence. Who will be piloting these suits? OZ will determine that and choose from among people in the different colonies. What about the Gundam pilots? Maybe they’ll join the selection process and vy with a bunch of inexperienced n00bs for a spot. Except Dr J doesn’t think so, saying that “Heero won’t bother with the selection process. It’s more his style to go straight for their throats.” Meaning Heero won’t vy for anything, he’ll just brute force his way into the cockpit and say, “This one’s mine.” And besides, Heero pretty much said if he likes whatever the new suit OZ is developing, he’ll take it for himself. It’s almost like that’s what J is hoping for…
So the resources on our precious colonies consist of military technology and mobile suits production. Which the colonies don’t want but no one said they had a choice in the matter, resistance is futile, etc. etc. So basically the price of their freedom to communicate and travel to other colonies is them manufacturing arms to fuel this war that Romefeller et al really want and no one has a say in the matter. The resources can’t be found on Earth so that’s a bonus! And the colonies have lots of people they can steal away into the night to become mobile suit pilots who will likely end up as cannon fodder, just a small blood smear in the history textbooks future generations will read about. If OZ even acknowledges those blood smears. And also why do you need any of these things during “peace times”? It’s like they don’t believe in the peace they say they’re making. Or maybe it’s not peace at all, it’s all a glamour.
Like okay, you need weapons and fighting to acquire your peace. Whatever. But after all of that, do you really need to keep fighting? Or is there some other way to maintain peace without violence whilst still standing up for your beliefs…?
How can there be world peace based on this idea that arms are needed as a deterrent? History's taught us otherwise.
OZ knows this. They don’t care. They don’t want peace. They want a war. A huge, catastrophic war to unite everyone with a huge price to pay.
I think “Lady” Une parrots back what Treize’s ideals are (or what she thinks they are) without really understanding herself what those ideals entail, whereas “Colonel” Une goes along with the OZ ideal as espoused by Romefeller. Unable to find some kind of middle ground or a way to blend these two ideologies together, she ends up “splitting” so that she can have, and be, both things.
As a test of loyalty to OZ, Trowa is tasked with destroying Deathscythe during an exercise designed to help unite the hearts of the colonists with OZ and have them play further into their collective hand. They figure well, he’s a former Gundam pilot himself, he might feel a twinge of dismay or something because hey, this is his comrade! I think OZ missed the memo about how being a Gundam pilot is a solitary adventure and they owe nothing to each other or anyone else for that matter save for the colonies and really, that’s the only thing they have in common in terms of an endgame. How do they even know Trowa knows who the other pilots even are? He really only knows, by name, two of them, so why would he give a shit is what I’m trying to say. The only one who cares about Deathscythe is Duo because it’s his suit.
(Hold onto your feels.)
Duo’s watching on a screen in a square somewhere minding his own business otherwise, and begs for Deathscythe to pull through; the thing is, you’re dealing with someone who knows what will blow up a Gundam because he has one himself, so I don’t think Deathscythe is gonna survive… Trowa blows it to kingdom come and Duo has a BSOD and no one else seems to care about this, probably everyone else is like YES BURN THE REBELS or something. It’s a boost of morale to the Colonists because yay they have nothing to worry about! OZ is keeping them safe from the damn rebels! Freedom and peace are at hand! The saddest part is they don’t realise that the Gundams are only the enemy because OZ made them their scapegoats, painting them as wolves when they themselves are wolves disguised as sheep.
Trowa questions what this shit floating around in his cockpit is and realises that they’re tears. But why is he crying? Why is he even affected…? That’s what he wonders. Une and the others meanwhile are commending his piloting skills and deem him suitable to pilot one of the new machines the engineers are working on, but not before throwing shade on OZ by saying, “I’m impressed how OZ is gradually taking over space while appearing to act out of friendship. People may think of it as foul play, but it suits me.” And he only ends up confusing “Lady” with these words like foul play and that OZ is crafty and why would OZ want to take over when His Excellency just wants love and peace everywhere?
did you really need to murder someone to use the computer
(pretty sure he just knocked the guy out, but still)
did you have to take the chair out with him
What is Heero even looking at?
Just some technical stuff. Which do you think he’s gonna steal: the one with the big rifle, or the one without the big rifle? Text in your vote now!
So the Mercurius, which lacks a Big Gun, is about 80% complete, and the Vayeate is about half done, and they probs spent the time they would’ve spent on legs and stuff on the Big Gun instead.
And this is totally Not Ominous.
So Vayeate fires on them, and luckily they’re able to have Mercurius shield the blast before they end up, you know, vapourised. Who the fuck is even in this half done suit anyway, and how did no one notice them???
Oh for the love of–Heero this is why you can’t have nice things.
Dr J’s all proud of him though, even boasting, “What’d I tell you? My weapon, he’s something, don’t you think?” only to get as a reply, “That’s some weapon! He even went after us!”
I’ve seen in the past people making remarks about how terrible Dr J is and what not which I will meta about later on in more depth but suffice it to say that his relationship with Heero is complicated and leave it at that for now.
I’ll end this with a picture of Heero:
He looks like he got busted trying to steal from the cookie jar or something but also why does he always have to look so pretty all the time, this is ridiculous.