This week picks up not long after the previous episode. The White Base is still in Jaburo; while the base managed to repel Char’s initial attack, it’s still being routinely bombed by Zeon forces. The Federation doesn’t seem fazed by these assaults, but we soon see their utility: Char uses this latest bombing run as a cover, distracting the Federation so that he and a small mobile suit team can sneak into Jaburo.
This reveal is handled in a way that is very emblematic of the episode as a whole: at once extremely dark and oddly childish. A pair of Federation officers at a small outpost are having some idle chit-chat, lamenting how boring things are at their particular posting. Suddenly, a mobile suit (an Acguy, to be precise) appears, smashing the outpost and killing the two Feddies. The Acguy turns around and motions to someone offscreen; there’s a large snake in the shot, lazing on a tree. The snake looks towards the camera (directly at whatever the Acguy is motioning to) and gets this big, cartoony shocked look–I’m talking bulging eyes, tongue out, the works. The yellow rings that formed a pattern on its scales even fall off as it slithers away! It’s a weird comedic beat to sandwich in right after a brutal murder and right before the reveal of Char’s Z’Gok stepping out of the shadows.
Hey, this is the first time we’ve seen Acguys, isn’t it? I love ’em.
What’s Char doing, you ask? We’ll find out later! Right now, it’s time to check in with the White Base crew. They’re being assigned to the 13th Autonomous Corps of the Tianem Fleet, becoming an official military unit at last. To go along with that, the crew are finally receiving their official ranks: Bright is made Lieutenant, Amuro is Chief Petty Officer, and so forth. The officer handing out ranks also notes that Ryu Jose, alongside all other White Base crew who have been killed in action to this point, will be receiving a posthumous two-rank promotion. This bit of info sticks in Amuro’s craw. He feels that Ryu deserves a bit more than a measly bump up the ranks, and he says so. This being Gundam, he gets slapped for his trouble. Some things never change!
Fraw Bow nearly misses the rank ceremony because she’s trying to corral Katz, Letz, and Kikka. Ultimately, another Federation soldier convinces them to go to Jaburo’s childcare center, but we soon see that Fraw isn’t confident in the decision to leave the orphans behind. Amuro argues that a warship is no place for kids, as it only exposes them to death and carnage. It’s clear from his demeanor that it’s not just the three orphans he’s talking about here–it looks like some of that early-series depression might be creeping its way back.
For their part, the kids are enjoying Jaburo’s facilities. And who could blame them? There’s a robot that serves ice cream and juice! I know that sounds like a non-sequitur, but I’m serious–there’s a big orange robot that walks in screaming about juice, and then the kids ask it for ice cream and it gives them some. Why does Jaburo have this robot? How much ice cream does it contain? Are there rules for how often it can acquiesce to ice cream requests? Whose job is it to fill the robot with juice?
While the magical Juicebot makes the place seem pretty inviting, the other kids staying there are significantly less friendly. They immediately make Katz, Letz, and Kikka feel bad for enjoying themselves, and then they end up making Kikka cry by accidentally reminding her that her parents are dead. Because children are monsters.
It’s no surprise, then, that the three decide to run away. They elude their caretaker with astonishing ease (seriously, lady, you are bad at your job) and run off into the tunnels of Jaburo, looking for the White Base. What they stumble onto instead is the mobile suit factory that produced last episode’s GMs.
Now, remember how we saw Char earlier…?
Yeah, turns out the target of the Red Comet’s infiltration was the mobile suit factory. Or, more accurately, one group of infiltrators went to hit the factory while another group went to sabotage the White Base (Char is in the latter squad). Our precocious kids stumble onto the Zeons planting bombs in the factory and are quickly captured.
Meanwhile, Fraw Bow, Mirai, and Sayla are alerted to the fact that the orphans have gone missing and head out to look for them. At the same time, Bright and the White Base’s three main pilots are given the go-ahead to tour the GM factory. This is actually a nice little bonding scene for the four of them (well, most of them, anyway–Hayato doesn’t do much). Amuro is clearly excited to get to tour the factory, and Kai admits that it’ll help him unwind and clear his head. Bright seems like he’s looking forward to it, too, but he’s called away on military business at the last second; he jokes that Hayato, Kai, and Amuro will probably have more fun without their superior officer around anyway. It’s sweet to see them all getting along like this, making plans together and joking around.
Back at the factory, the kids manage to get free of the Zeons’ hasty restraints. The three of them somehow manage to locate all of the bombs, and even load them all into a buggy to drive them away from the factory. Maybe they picked up some bomb-handling tips back in “Time, Be Still.” Letz somehow manages to get the buggy moving, and they crash their way out of the factory just as Amuro, Hayato, and Kai are arriving.
The guys pull up alongside the kids and are quickly brought up to speed on the situation. Amuro hops over to the kids’ cart while the three orphans transfer themselves to the other vehicle with Kai’s help. Once the children have safely evacuated, Amuro hits the gas and leaps out of the buggy, sending it over a cliff; the bombs detonate harmlessly in an underground trench. Afterwards, the group radios Jaburo headquarters to inform them about the Zeon infiltrators, and just in time–the tip alerts the Federation to Char’s presence before he can get to the White Base.
Forced to flee, Char winds up bumping into Sayla (who’s still out looking for the kids). The siblings have a brief but tense standoff before Mirai arrives and drives Char off with some gunfire. Afterwards, Sayla tries to play the whole thing off like she didn’t even realize there was a Zeon officer nearby, but Mirai isn’t fooled. Probably because she, you know, saw Sayla standing there talking to the guy? Sayla, you’re a really bad liar.
Char makes it back to his Z’Gok, and he begins his retreat alongside four Acguys. Unfortunately for them, Amuro’s had time to get back the White Base and launches in the Gundam. He hunts down Char’s squad and takes out all four Acguys in no time flat; he even manages to cut off one the arms of Char’s Z’Gok! Char only survives by firing into the ground, sending up enough dirt, rock, and smoke to cloud the Gundam’s sensors and prevent Amuro from dealing the finishing blow.
With the crisis averted and the children safely recovered, it’s time to take them back to the Jaburo child care center… except they don’t want to go. Furthermore, Fraw Bow doesn’t want to leave them behind–and after this, I can’t blame her! The Federation child care lady argues that the kids are safer there (arguable) and that the Federation would take excellent care of the kids because they’d groom them into the next generation of soldiers (which is a really terrible argument that Amuro immediately calls her out for). Fraw and Amuro speak in defense of keeping the kids on White Base, but the person who really goes to bat for them is Kai, of all people. He gives an impassioned speech about all the things the three have gone through and what a help they’ve been on White Base, and the Federation lady is convinced. Looks like we’re stuck with these three for the long haul.
The day’s events cause the Federation brass to realize something: Zeon seems to place an incredibly high value on the White Base. Perhaps more value than is warranted, in fact (especially now that the Federation has reliable non-Gundam mobile suits). As a result, they’ve decided that the White Base would make an excellent decoy–a target for Zeon to focus on while the Federation gathers its strength elsewhere. We’ll see how that plays out next week!