Mobile Suit Gundam, Episode 34: A Fateful Encounter

After last week’s fiasco, Side 6 is eager to get the White Base out of its hair. The crew makes preparations to leave the colony, but they’ve got to wait for Amuro to return from a trip he made into town to see his father.

On his way to the junkyard to visit Tem, Amuro has a strange (one might even say fateful) encounter. He’s walking past a lake when he sees a beautiful bird fly past. Also watching the bird is a young woman, around Amuro’s age. He seems drawn to her; as he approaches, she remarks that the bird’s fate is tragic. Shortly thereafter, it… has a heart attack or something? It just sort of dies in midair and falls into the lake.

Amuro, unperturbed by the woman’s prediction of the bird’s death, asks if she was fond of the bird. Her response (“Does anyone dislike beautiful things?”) seems to come to Amuro multiple times before she even opens her mouth.

Yeah, we’re in full-on Newtype territory now. This girl, soon to be revealed as Lalah Sune, is clearly either telepathic, precognitive, or both. What’s more, her and Amuro quite obviously connect on a psychic level. This immediately does a few things for the narrative. First of all, it canonizes the building implication that Amuro is psychic–this scene confirms that psychic powers exist in the Universal Century, which all but guarantees that that’s where Amuro’s incredible combat skill comes from. Second, it introduces a clearly important character into the story. A psychic girl who Amuro is instantly smitten with? You know she’s got a big part to play moving forward. In fact, Lalah ends up being one of the most pivotal figures in Gundam history, with her impact still being felt as recently as Gundam Unicorn.

Appropriate that she’s so important to UC’s history, considering she can see time itself.

Lalah soon departs, after noting that Amuro has beautiful eyes. Hm, she remarks on Amuro’s beauty shortly after having a conversation on the fleeting nature of beauty and its proximity to death? Eh, that’s probably not important.

Amuro does eventually get around to seeing his dad, and… ugh, it’s grim. Tem Ray was never going to win any father of the year awards, but the brain damage has only made things worse. Seeing him hunched over a table rambling about his ‘new designs’ for the Gundam, complete with a barely-acknowledged Amuro quietly sobbing in the background, is just heartbreaking.

Let’s take a break from that and check on Char, shall we? He’s departing from Conscon’s group and heading–guess where?–to Side 6! As it turns out, there’s a special pilot he needs to retrieve from the colony who could turn the course of the war in Zeon’s favor.

Oh man, who could that possibly be, huh?

Well, to the episode’s credit, it doesn’t stretch out this “mystery” very long. By the time Amuro leaves Tem’s place, Char has already landed at Side 6 and retrieved his new pilot, Lalah (whaaaat, no way).

Amuro is understandably pretty shaken by his visit with dear old dad, and he ends up driving a touch incautiously and getting his buggy stuck in the mud. He flags down the first car he sees for help, and who should it be but Char and Lalah! Boy, this show really runs on contrived coincidence, doesn’t it? I’m willing to forgive this one because Newtype Magic is involved (I’m still bitter about Cameron showing up the second White Base hit Side 6, though).

At any rate, Amuro immediately realizes the young soldier towing his car is his sworn enemy, Char Aznable. Char, on the other hand, seems oblivious to who Amuro is. However, beyond Amuro briefly freaking out–and seeing Lalah in Char’s car–not a lot comes of this little interaction.

Our hero returns to the White Base and the ship prepares to leave the colony. Cameron Bloom shows up again, offering to use his own ship to escort the White Base out; his reasoning is that if a neutral ship is in front of the Federation vessel, Zeon forces wouldn’t dare fire on them for fear of angering Side 6. Mirai (correctly) assumes that Cameron is only doing this to try to impress her and turns Cameron down. It’s a pretty awkward scene–everyone on the bridge just sort of shuffles around while Mirai and her ex-fiancĂ© argue. At least, that’s how it’s going until Sleggar interjects… by slapping Mirai in the face.

I don’t, uh… I don’t know how to address this one. On the one hand, violence against women is bad. On the other hand, is it… is it sexist to object to this slap, specifically, considering most male characters have been slapped around a bunch in similar circumstances? But then, this case is at least a little different because Sleggar and Mirai are potential love interests, so the possible implications of the slap are a bit skeevier than usual. Then again, his point is actually a valid one: Mirai should not be turning down what could be vital aid just because she has mixed feelings about Cameron. Whether he’s doing it to impress her or not, Cameron’s idea offers genuine protection for the White Base.

Ultimately, Bright accepts Cameron’s help, and the ship leaves Side 6 tucked safely behind Cameron’s own tiny vessel.

Here’s the thing, though: Zeon has mobile suits. And it’s not really hard for a mobile suit to maneuver past Cameron’s ship and attack White Base directly. Conscon sends out a team of Doms to intercept the White Base just outside the neutral zone, and Cameron is forced to return to Side 6 or risk a senseless death in the crossfire. So… this whole process has been kind of moot. To the guy’s credit, though, he only turns back when Bright and Mirai basically force him to, and he seems to have accepted that he and Mirai are parting ways for good.

Now it’s time for the requisite mobile suit fight! As has been the case with every fight lately, Amuro quickly demolishes the competition; both he and the enemy pilots note that he seems to be able to predict the Doms’ movement easily. Aw yeah, Newtype time has come at last!

There’s one small twist to this fight: a camera crew from Side 6 is recording and broadcasting the whole thing. We’re treated to a brief scene of Char and Lalah watching the battle; Lalah predicts that “the white mobile suit will win” before the Gundam even shows up on screen.

Amuro wipes out Conscon’s forces, leading the Zeon commander to panic and try ramming the White Base with his ship. Sadly for him, Amuro easily deduces his foe’s weak points and annihilates the ship before it even gets close. Bye-bye, Conscon!

With Side 6 in their rearview, White Base moves on toward a major offensive: the Battle of Solomon…

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