Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 22: The Trap of M’Quve

I’ve got to say, I was a bit surprised by this episode’s intro. Rather than remind viewers of Ryu’s dramatic death last episode, it starts with a more generic recap of the Universal Century timeline. Considering how many times Ryu is brought up throughout the rest of the episode, I’d have thought they’d put in a quick mention of his demise in case anyone missed the last week’s show.

At any rate, it seems the White Base has been continuing to move through the desert, wiping out M’Quve’s mining operations as they go. In fact, they’re currently in the process of attacking a base! It’s a fairly quick fight, but there’s a few important things to note about it. The first is that it seems Goufs are the new standard for Zeon in the area–we’re going to see several of them over the next half-hour, with nary a Zaku in sight. The second is that Bright is not doing so well… in fact, he passes out mid-combat. Luckily Amuro has things under control, but with White Base in the shape it’s in, this is a very bad time for the captain to be out of commission.

On the Zeon side of things, M’Quve is scheming again.

I know, it’s hard to believe–he’s got such a trustworthy face.

This interlude with M’Quve’s forces is brief, but it confirms something that’s already been alluded to in previous episodes: M’Quve has a mole in the Federation, working to mess up Odessa Day from the inside. Specifically, it’s a guy named Judock. Judock is ordered to slow down Federation mobilization as much as possible while M’Quve executes a plan–a trap, if you will–to take out White Base.

And… this is where we get another weird shower scene. This one is a lot more direct–whereas last time we only saw Mirai briefly and from a distance, this time it’s an extended sequence of Fraw Bow washing up with the three orphans. Again, I don’t know why this is here. It’s… I guess it’s fanservice? This one definitely feels more like it’s supposed to be fanservice-y than the last one, but the art isn’t particularly lascivious, and there’s a bunch of crying, naked kids throughout most of it. Also, isn’t Fraw Bow, like… fourteen or something? And the kids are asking why Kikka doesn’t have breasts like Fraw Bow does, and the whole thing is just uncomfortable and weird. I guess maybe it’s supposed to be funny…? Regardless, I hate it. Please stop doing this, Gundam!

Mercifully, we cut away to Mirai, who is anxiously sitting in the infirmary with Bright. Awww, she likes him! Unfortunately, since he’s in no position to lead, the ship’s command falls to Mirai, so she can’t stick around. Hopefully no major crisis occurs while Bright recuperates!

Uh-oh.

Well, I suppose the episode isn’t called “The Passivity of M’Quve,” so it was inevitable that the Zeonic forces would launch an attack. A small unit of soldiers jetpacks onto White Base and plants a ton of plastic explosives. These disable several of the ship’s critical systems–specifically, the ones that keep it hidden from enemy radar. Curiously, though, the White Base’s own radar isn’t damaged…

Multiple squadrons of Dopps descend on the newly-revealed White Base, and in a panic, Mirai sends Amuro and Hayato out in Core Fighters (notably, she initially calls for Amuro and Ryu before catching herself–clearly, the crew is having a rough time reckoning with Ryu’s absence). This ends up being the wrong call; there are far too many Dopps for two Core Fighters to handle. It turns out that while she’s a great helmsman, Mirai isn’t a particularly good battle strategist.

Sayla calls this out (rather bluntly), and it looks like the two women will be at odds while Mirai is in charge; this is disappointing for a few reasons. First off, while I do like Sayla, let’s be real: Mirai has been far more valuable to the crew up to this point, and to yank away her competency at this crucial narrative juncture feels forced. I get that she’s worried about Bright and that she’s under a ton of pressure, but it’s a bit galling to see such a strong character fall apart as soon as her love interest is sidelined. Second, Sayla’s grand contribution to combat strategy to this point has been stealing the Gundam and almost getting it destroyed, so she’s far from justified in her haughty treatment of Mirai. Finally, this new tension reinforces some icky tropes about competition between women, which feels especially weird considering they’ve always gotten along before now.

The fight does cause Bright to stir a bit, but he’s delusional; he starts giving commands as though he were on the bridge. Worse, the person he’s issuing these commands to is Ryu.

Hayato returns to White Base to re-deploy in the Guncannon while the Gundam parts are launched for Amuro. He manages a tricky mid-air docking, though he’s not happy about it. As the battle wears on, both the Gundam and Guncannon run out of ammo and have to retreat as M’Quve’s forces close in around White Base. The crew is left with only one escape route, and–wouldn’t you know it–this ‘escape route’ leads directly into the titular trap: a mega particle cannon concealed beneath the sand, which blows a massive hole in White Base and causes severe damage to the ship’s engines.

Luckily, the Gundam’s beam rifle has recharged enough for Amuro to get a shot off on the cannon and take it out, but the damage is done–White Base is going down. It crashes in the desert, and as M’Quve’s Dopps approach to finish it off, all hope seems lost. That is, until one of the two bridge crew guys from the other week comes up with a plan: the White Base has smoke bombs, and if they were set off in the right places, it might make it look like the crash was much worse than it actually was. It works, and the Dopps fly off under the assumption that the White Base is out of commission permanently.

Thus, our heroes live to see another day… but with Bright still in the sick bay and Mirai a complete wreck after this whole debacle, who knows how much longer they’ll last?

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