Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 25: The Battle of Odessa

We’re finally here: the big climax of the M’Quve/Odessa Arc!

Odessa Day has already kicked off as the episode begins; the White Base is making hasty repairs to the G-Armor so Sayla and Amuro can launch as quickly as possible. Sayla’s hoping to get in a bit of flight practice before they reach the combat zone; she likely still feels guilty about Matilda’s death (which was less than a day earlier, in-universe).

As for M’Quve, he’s gone all out deploying defenses. He’s got various teams of Dopps, Magellas, and mobile suits (using call signs like ‘Fried Chicken’ and ‘Borscht Team’) moving out to stop the Earth Federation in its tracks. Unfortunately for him, his trump card–the Black Tri-Stars–don’t seem to be taking things too seriously. Gaia and Ortega are shooting off rockets in memory of Mash; they make it clear to M’Quve that their priority is revenge, not the mission. Given that their role is to go blow up White Base anyway, there’s not too much friction here, but it’s clear M’Quve hates these guys.

Back on White Base, we visit the bridge and see that–as the end of last episode indicated–Bright is back, baby!

In addition to Bright’s triumphant return, we’ve got Fraw Bow manning comms again, since Sayla is out flying with Amuro. Speaking of which, the two pilots are called back to White Base, but are distracted by an unusual sight: a Federation plane leaving Zeon territory, completely ignored by Zeonic forces. Amuro and Sayla figure something shady is going on and opt to follow (a call that Bright and Mirai support).

Trailing the plane back to a Federation Big Tray mobile base, they put two and two together and figure out that the plane’s pilot, Judock, has been spying on the Feddies for M’Quve. Amuro confronts the Big Tray’s commander with this information… but that commander is General Elran, another mole for Zeon. Elran tries to shoot Amuro, but the kid manages to dodge out of the way–presumably due to his emerging newtype abilities, although it’s difficult to tell if the on-screen flash is meant to symbolize Amuro’s powers or merely the gun’s muzzle flash. Either way, Federation soldiers wound Elran and save Amuro before the general can get off another shot. By this point, Odessa Day is in full swing and the Gundam is sorely needed, so Amuro rushes off to join the battle.

Gaia and Ortega have made it to the White Base by now, with Kai and Hayato deployed to hold them off. Kai actually does pretty well here! He only lands one direct hit, but he keeps the enemy Dom on its toes and doesn’t take too much damage himself. Hayato, on the other hand, doesn’t fare so well; the Guntank’s lack of mobility makes it highly ineffective against the fast-moving Doms, and it once again loses a tread to enemy fire. Thankfully, it’s right about now that the G-Armor shows up to save the day.

I know I’ve been a bit harsh on Sayla lately (mostly because she came after Mirai, and I can’t abide that), but I’ve got to admit, she’s already drastically improved since the last time she flew the G-Armor. She very nearly takes out the remaining Tri-Stars, and she has little trouble maneuvering where Amuro directs her; they also pull off a flawless Gundam launch mid-combat. Shortly afterwards, however, she tanks a bazooka round and has to retreat. Still, it’s a much better showing than last time! She’s certainly a quick learner.

As the battle rages, we take a moment to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. Thanks to Amuro revealing Elran as a traitor, the general didn’t have a chance to sabotage his part of the operation; this, along with the fact that the ace Black Tri-Stars are preoccupied with White Base, gives the Federation a definitive edge in the fight. M’Quve realizes he’s losing, and so he radios Revil to make a threat: either the Federation stands down, or M’Quve will launch a more lo hydrogen bomb.

Revil isn’t impressed; he orders the Federation to press on.

Back to our heroes. Amuro manages to take out Ortega, but is soon contacted by Bright with a new mission–the Gundam needs to take out M’Quve’s bomb. A bit of a tall order, but thanks to the Gundam’s impressive weaponry and the speed afforded by the G-Armor (which has been patched up using Hayato’s Core Fighter), it should be possible.

M’Quve is genuinely shocked that Revil isn’t backing down, but it turns out he wasn’t bluffing; he really does have a hydrogen bomb, and launches it. Of course, we’ve got about twenty more episodes to go before this show is over, so you all know what happens next: Amuro gets to the bomb in time and successfully disables it (and takes out Gaia, the last Tri-Star, while he’s at it).

And that’s… pretty much it. Honestly, while this should be a major episode, it falls a little flat to me. Part of it is that so much happens; Odessa Day starts, Amuro reveals that Judock and Elran are traitors, Amuro kills the other Black Tri-Stars, Amuro stops a hydrogen bomb, and Odessa Day ends as a rousing success for the Federation. It’s all jammed in so tightly that it’s hard for any of the individual beats to get the space they deserve.

The other part of it is that it suffers from the same issue as the “bombs on the Gundam” episode–the stakes are simply too high to be believable. It never really seems like Odessa Day will fail at any point, so the writers try to add tension by throwing in the hydrogen bomb… but as Bright says, that bomb would just obliterate everyone, and we know that’s not going to happen. If Odessa Day itself were a closer fight–or if the big threat at the end was something more personal to Amuro or the White Base crew–this episode would be a lot more effective.

One thing I do like, though, is that M’Quve escapes at the end. It makes sense that someone as meticulous as him would have plans to escape, and it preserves him to be a thorn in our heroes’ sides at a later date (not unlike Char getting sent back home after Garma’s death). Another crucial detail? He manages to bring his beloved vase with him as well. Classic.

Thus ends Odessa Day. A bit of an anticlimax, yes, but don’t worry–we’ve got big things just around the corner. Tune in next week for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Char’s return!

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