For the first time in weeks, we’re watching an episode of Gundam that doesn’t open with White Base desperately fleeing Garma Zabi’s Gaw! Instead, this episode kicks off with Garma and Char at a swanky party. Char, predictably, hates parties, though Garma seems to be having a good time. Of course, that might have less to do with the party and more to do with who’s hosting: a man named Eschonbach. Eschonbach was a local politician who stayed in the area after Zeon took over (we’re still in Zeon territory, remember); he hates Zeon, apparently, but has been working with them in order to protect his constituents.
Garma isn’t interested in Eschonbach’s politics, though; he’s interested in the man’s beautiful daughter, Icelina. We quickly find out that Garma has been carrying on an affair with the young woman, despite their families’ mutual protests. We’ve got a real Romeo & Juliet situation on our hands, folks! No way that could go wrong!
At any rate, the two young lovers step outside for a moment, where Icelina confides that she is prepared to abandon her family and run away with Garma, because she’s just so in love with him. “Cool,” Garma more-or-less replies. “My family is super rich and powerful and I’m not gonna throw that away for you, but hey, maybe if I capture this enemy mobile suit my dad will let me marry you anyway!”
Okay, it’s not that blatant, but still–this poor girl is ready to leave everything behind for Garma, and he tells her that, uh, sorry, he’s not invested enough to go that far; she’ll just have to hope he can convince his daddy to let them get hitched. Even Garma must realize that he’s being painfully unromantic, because he follows it up with a half-hearted “Oh, but if Papa still says no, then sure, I’ll run away with you.” I don’t buy it for a second, though.
This romantic interlude gets interrupted by a Zeonic soldier, come to inform Garma that the White Base will soon breach Zeon’s last defensive line and enter Federation territory. Obviously, Garma can’t let that happen, so he and Char head out to intercept the White Base before it escapes their clutches.
Speaking of, things are tense on the bridge of our favorite ship. The crew knows they are close to reaching safety, but the edges of Zeon territory will be difficult to cross. Amuro–in a marked departure from his refusal to pilot the Gundam last week–is raring to go, and offers to deploy and act as a diversion, leading the enemy on a chase while White Base proceeds unmolested. Bright shoots this idea down, which is probably a good call; it’s highly unlikely a lone mobile suit, even one as advanced as the Gundam, could deal with that many enemies. I think Amuro knows it, too; unlike his similarly-dangerous plan in “The Core Fighter’s Escape,” I think he’s genuinely got no regard for whether or not he survives this outing.
Thankfully, Bright opts instead to hide the White Base in a bombed-out stadium with a domed roof, where Zeon patrols won’t be able to find it. He wants to minimize risk to the ship, in part because there are still civilians aboard. Yep, that’s right–even after dropping a bunch off on Earth and sending a bunch more off with the supply corps, there are still Side 7 refugees taking up space on the White Base! Well, I suppose they did take on quite a lot of people during the Side 7 evacuation, and Lt. Matilda said the supply corps could only take something like thirty-five people, so it makes sense that they haven’t gotten rid of everyone yet; what a pain it must be to still be lugging these guys around, though.
White Base tucks itself away in the stadium (courtesy of Mirai’s piloting skills) and successfully evades detection by Zeon, meaning Char and Garma need to take things up a notch to find their prey. Thus, Char suggests carpet bombing the area. His actual line is something like, “The best way to flush rats out of a hole is with carpet bombing!” Kinda lost the metaphor on that one, huh, buddy?
Thanks to the dome above them, the White Base is protected from the bombs. This means some mobile suits will need to descend and perform a more thorough search of the area. Char volunteers right away.
While this is happening, we get a quick cutaway to Icelina, who is trying to steal her dad’s jet and fly off to be with Garma. Unfortunately for her, her father immediately catches her and forbids her from going out, slapping her in the process. This whole mini-arc about Icelina–which plays out across this episode and the next–is fascinating, because from the viewer’s perspective, Garma is the bad guy… but it’s impossible not to sympathize with his lover, Icelina, who is young and naive and trapped with an abusive father. Her tragic story feels much different than the rest of the show’s narrative to this point; but we’ll discuss that more next week.
Back at the White Base, Bright has decided to use Amuro’s distraction plan after all, though with a slight modification: rather than the Gundam leading enemies away from White Base, clearing a path for the ship’s escape, the Gundam will lead the Zeonic forces into White Base’s line of fire, allowing the crew to wipe out their foes and leave before reinforcements arrive. It’s a stellar idea on Bright’s part.
However, just like the last time Bright had a great plan, the whole thing gets mucked up when an inopportune moment of glare reveals the Gundam’s position to the enemy. In this instance, it’s Char who sees the light glinting off the Gundam, sparking an intense bazooka battle between the two. It only takes about ten seconds of bazooka-fighting for Char to–you guessed it–figure out Bright’s whole plan and discern the exact location of White Base. Luckily for our heroes, there’s something more important to Char than taking out White Base. Our boy is out to kill Garma Zabi, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
This is one of the Big Moments of Mobile Suit Gundam. Char lies to Garma about the White Base’s position, sending his ‘friend’ right into the Federation ship’s line of fire. The entire Gaw Carrier goes down in a hail of bullets (er… lasers? Both?) while Char mocks the dying Zabi over the radio.
“You were a good friend to me, Garma. Blame this on the misfortune of your birth!”
With the Gaw irreparably damaged, Garma tries to go out in a blaze of glory, ramming the White Base with his exploding ship… but no dice. Mirai is able to ascend above the crashing Gaw’s trajectory, and Garma perishes as the ship explodes. The youngest Zabi is dead, and no one knows that Char had a hand in killing him. As word spreads of Garma’s death, we see that the Zabi family patriarch, Degwin, is devastated–as is Icelina. Next week, the young woman will try to take matters into her own hands, with catastrophic results.