Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 24: Black Tri-Star

Buckle up, folks: this is a big one.

We start off with a scene of Kycilia Zabi meeting with a few Zeon generals. Kycilia doesn’t mess around; we see here that she’s a force to be reckoned with as a commander. She’s insistent that her plans (which are left vague for the time being) are carried out to her exact specifications, regardless of any objections her subordinates may have. We also learn two crucial pieces of information in this scene: the more directly relevant is that an elite trio of pilots called the Black Tri-Stars has been dispatched to take out White Base once and for all. The other is that Kycilia is sending Char some top-of-the-line new mobile suits.

You read that right. Char! Remember that guy?

Pictured here mourning the death of his close friend, Garma Zabi.

It’s been quite a while since we dealt with the Red Comet; last we heard of him was way back in “Sayla’s Agony,” when the captured Zeon soldier told Sayla that Char had been called back from the front lines. Unfortunately for our heroes, it sounds like Amuro’s old nemesis will soon return.

Speaking of Amuro, let’s check in on the kid. White Base is still working on repairs with the help of Matilda’s Supply Corps, and as one might expect, Amuro is desperately trying to get as much time with Matilda as possible. He even blows of Fraw Bow to spend more time with the Lieutenant. It’s not just Amuro who carries a torch for her, though; it seems like everyone on White Base has a crush on Matilda. She’s apparently used to dealing with this, as she doesn’t give anyone too hard a time about it and agrees to take a photo with various (male) crew members gathered around her; Amuro and Kai each hold onto a copy of the picture as a keepsake.

Meanwhile, General Revil has learned that the Black Tri-Stars are heading toward White Base. It turns out Revil and the Tri-Stars have a bit of history–the Zeon aces captured Revil at the Battle of Loum, which is the same battle where Char earned his Red Comet moniker. Knowing that these dangerous combatants will be in the area, Revil readjusts his plans for Odessa Day, much to the chagrin of the traitorous Elran and Judock, M’Quve’s spies within the Federation.

Of course, while Revil’s change of plans throws a wrench into Kycilia and M’Quve’s schemes, there’s not much he can do about the Black Tri-Stars heading to White Base. The Zeon aces arrive on Earth and immediately set out to destroy White Base in their Doms.

Just imagine what Ramba Ral could’ve done with one of these.

Just a quick note here–these three are awfully confident in themselves, aren’t they? They claim that they’re in a whole different league than Char. I’d argue that that’s true, but not in the way they mean…

Thankfully, White Base has taken the precaution of setting up a sensor net in the area, so they detect the enemy mobile suits fairly quickly. Hayato and Kai deploy in the Guntank and Guncannon, respectively, which is when we learn that the Guntank has been modified to only require a single pilot. That’s handy!

On the flip side, though, the Gundam is now a two-man job. Well, that’s not quite true–the suit itself only need one pilot, but now the G-Armor (which the Gundam is launching in) needs a pilot, too. Sayla is selected for the job, apparently because she has more mobile suit experience than the other candidate, Job John

Er… is that true? Sayla has only taken the Gundam out twice, hasn’t she? There was the time she stole it and almost got killed by Ramba Ral, and then the time Ral attacked while Amuro was in the brig. Admittedly, she seemed to have improved significantly by her second outing, so I’m not saying this is a bad choice; I just thought that Job John had accompanied Hayato in the Guntank several times, though i could certainly be wrong about that. Regardless, Sayla is piloting the G-Armor now, meaning Fraw Bow has to fill in for her on the bridge. Matilda also heads to the bridge, where she has an interesting interaction with Mirai…

Because of the prevalence of newtypes in the franchise, it’s always a good idea to pay attention when a Gundam protagonist has a ‘bad feeling’ about something, and that’s exactly what happens here: Mirai seems to sense that the White Base won’t get out of this fight unscathed. When Matilda questions her on this, Mirai looks at the other woman, freezes, and gasps. It’s not really addressed at the time, but given what happens later in the episode–and what we’ll learn about Mirai’s own newtype potential before the end of the series–it seems clear to me: Mirai just had a premonition of Matilda Ajan’s death. I completely missed this on my first watch (even though I knew Matilda was going to die), but it kind of blew my mind a little bit this time.

Mirai attempts to get the White Base moving, but the newly-repaired engine is stalling out, leaving the ship a sitting duck. Thankfully, Kai and Hayato are able to hold off the Tri-Stars while Amuro and Sayla launch; it’s tricky for them to adjust to the G-Armor’s bulk, but the two of them actually make a good team once they’re in the air. They separate (the G-Fighter is to the Gundam what the Gundam is to a Core Fighter, so the Gundam can launch from the G-Fighter’s tummy) and Amuro descends to take on the Tri-Stars while Sayla tries to get the hang of the G-Fighter’s controls.

Amuro arrives just in time, too, as the Tri-Stars have made it past the Guntank and Guncannon and are about to start an assault on the White Base. Our young hero gets in their way, and they unleash their special technique: the Jet Stream Attack!

Slash, then shoot, then punch.

And that’s when something very important happens. It’s quick–so quick you might miss it–but the screen flashes briefly and Amuro manages to dodge their blows. It’s the first instance of the newtype flash–the sort of spider-sense that newtypes get that alerts them to danger and makes them such incredible pilots. I find it quite interesting that the first time this ever happens to Amuro is intrinsically linked with the death of Matilda, the woman who initially told him he might be psychic.

Because, yes, here it is–Amuro, off balance from the first Jet Stream Attack, is left vulnerable to the Tri-Stars follow-up… until Lt. Matilda Ajan swoops in in her Medea transport, saving Amuro’s life. Tragically, this puts her ship in the sights of a Tri-Star’s Dom, and he casually smashes the Medea’s cockpit, killing Matilda.

I’ll be honest–I forgot how quickly this gut-punch comes after Ryu’s death. Losing both beloved supporting characters in quick succession is brutal, especially as both die rescuing our main character. These deaths will haunt Amuro for a long time.

Matilda’s sacrifice gives him time to recover, however, and he ends up taking out Mash (one of the Tri-Stars), forcing the other two (Gaia and Ortega) to flee. White Base lives to see another day, and with its engine finally in working order, it launches once more. As it leaves this battlefield behind, everyone–even Bright, who has managed to get out of bed for the occasion–salutes the fallen Supply Corps members.

It’s a somber note to end the episode on, to be sure. Hopefully next week will be brighter, as the Federation launches the long-planned Odessa Day operation to wipe M’Quve off the map!

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