Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 23: Matilda’s Rescue

It’s that time of the week again! We’re officially past the halfway point of Mobile Suit Gundam now–pretty exciting!

As a quick recap of last week’s episode, the White Base was critically damaged by M’Quve’s forces and crashed. Not much has changed as this week’s episode begins. The crew is working feverishly to repair the ship (well, except for Kai, who’s goofing off with some paper airplanes), but it’s simply not enough. They’ll need a resupply to get the parts they need, which is why Mirai has sent an urgent message to General Revil.

Speaking of Mirai, she has a brief conversation with Bright towards the start of the episode. He’s still feeling sick, so he has a favor to ask of her: take over as captain.

Have I mentioned that these two are my OTP?

Woof. I know you aren’t feeling good, buddy, but that’s kind of a tall order! Mirai agrees with me and tells him as much, but he’s confident in her ability to replace him–at least for a little while. In fairness to Bright, I suppose he has to ask someone, and there’s no one he trusts as much as Mirai. Still, it’s a lot to put on her shoulders.

Elsewhere in the Federation ranks, General Revil is having a meeting with another general named Elran. The two discuss the upcoming Odessa Day and the role Revile intends White Base to play in it. He reveals that he’s sending Lieutenant Matilda Ajan to the damaged ship–huzzah, Matilda is back! She’s not just bringing repair parts and fresh supplies, though. She’s also going to be delivering some Gundam upgrades.

This is something that becomes a staple of the franchise: the mid-season upgrade. As I mentioned earlier, we’re now around the halfway point of the series (actually a bit earlier than the intended halfway point–the show was originally planned to run for 52 episodes, remember–but that’s neither here nor there), and suddenly the main mecha is getting some new gear. This trope is codified later in Zeta Gundam when protagonist Kamille graduates from the Gundam Mk. II to the titular Zeta Gundam, but this episode’s introduction of the G-Mecha parts is the original instance within the franchise.

Also, I just want to take a moment to enjoy the fact that Revil repeatedly refers to this upgrade as “the Gundam’s power-up mecha,” as though it were a video game.

At any rate, the G-Mecha is untested, but Revil is already using the White Base as guinea pigs to test the Operation V mobile suits; why stop now? Besides, he’s counting on the Gundam to provide backup on Odessa Day, so the stronger it gets the better.

Unfortunately, General Elran works closely with Judock, M’Quve’s mole within the Federation. In fact, this episode strongly implies that Elran himself is a traitor, and Judock merely the go-between for Elran and M’Quve. As a result, M’Quve learns of Matilda’s mission and sends out a squad of Goufs and Dopps to take out the supply corps. Matilda, for her part, notes how suspicious it is that the Zeons located them, considering how few people were aware of the mission to resupply White Base; she smells a rat.

Mirai orders the White Base’s pilots to launch to protect Matilda, but second-guesses herself; she’s afraid of leaving the ship unprotected and cancels the order almost immediately. Sayla is still being combative, so she issues her own orders to the crew, having Amuro launch in the Gundam; Job John and Hayato in the Gunperry; and Kai in the Guncannon. I feel like neither character is fully in the right here. On the one hand, Sayla is right that they need to send backup to Matilda–without the supplies she’s bringing, White Base is toast. On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to keep someone around to protect White Base, just in case. Regardless, I hate seeing these two fight.

Bright, in a moment of lucidity, watches the bridge from a viewscreen by his bunk. We see that he’s still feeling deeply guilty over Ryu’s death, and that this is almost certainly what’s causing his illness. However, he also reflects that Ryu’s suicide attack–though effective–was maybe not the smartest way to have handled the situation. He does respect the fact that Ryu made that choice, though, especially compared with Mirai’s current indecision.

While I don’t appreciate her attitude, Sayla’s deployment strategy pays off; Amuro takes out a Gouf in the Core Fighter before meeting up with the Gunperry to form the Gundam. It’s a tricky operation with so many enemies around, but thanks to some backup from Kai, he pulls it off. While all this is going on, though, the Medea transport carrying the G-Mecha is critically damaged, forcing Matilda’s entire unit to make an emergency landing. Thankfully, they aren’t too far out from White Base at this point, and Matilda immediately deploys one of the new… “power-up mecha,” the G-Fighter.

Gundam fight! All set! Ready… go!

Oops, sorry, wrong one! What I meant was, she deploys the G-Fighter:

That’s… just as cool, right?

Just in time, too, because Amuro’s getting his butt kicked by the last remaining Gouf. Hayato and the G-Fighter show up to save the day, and we find out how this thing operates: the Gundam can jump onto it and ride around. So… not terribly impressive, actually, but the increased mobility does make the difference here, allowing Amuro to finish off the remaining Zeons.

In the aftermath of the battle, the White Base crew gets its repairs underway, Mirai and Sayla make up, and all the boys awkwardly pine after Matilda. Ah, finally an episode that ends well! Things are looking up at last! Er, until the next episode preview, which immediately spoils a major death next episode… but we’ll deal with that next week.

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