“Wildstar, I have just one word: return! You are in serious violation of the rules! Return!” — Captain Gideon
Monday meant the start of another week of broadcast for STAR BLAZERS, and events continued to heat up from the past week. Having mutinied against the authority of the Earth Defense Council and made off with the Argo, the Star Force is determined to locate the source of the mysterious message which was recorded during the power blackouts on Earth. But they haven’t reckoned with the forces that will be arrayed to stop them in this endeavor.
As the episode opens, Defense headquarters is closely monitoring the progress of the Star Force, and an aide reports to the Commander that the Andromeda has left the Venus area in pursuit of the Argo. It should take them about a day to catch up to the Star Force. The Argo is also in the vicinity of Earth’s moon base–and suddenly, it is set-upon by fighters stationed at that base.
It’s a tense moment as Wildstar sounds the Red Alert–the Star Force doesn’t really want to fire on friendly craft, but if they don’t defend themselves, their mission will be over before it begins. As the planes circle the battleship. Wildstar notices the lead fighter wiggling its wings in the universal gesture of friendship, and moments later a radio message confirms it: it’s Conroy and the Black Tiger squadron, and they’ve come to rejoin their Star Force comrades!
It’s a big, raucous reunion, and pretty foolishly, just about everybody joins in on the celebration while the ship is still deep within Earth’s immediate territory. That’ll come back to bite them in a few short minutes. In the midst of the party, Dr. Sane’s cat Mimi causes a ruckus, and Wildstar winds up chasing it down the corridors and back to Dr Sane’s medical lab–where he finds Nova. This gives him a perfect opportunity to behave like an ass. “You must leave the ship! I can’t maintain discipline if we have people on board who ignore regulations!” Yeah, you’re a fine one to talk, Wildstar.
As usual, Nova isn’t having it, and she immediately strips out of her nurse’s uniform–much to Wildstar’s embarrassment, a pretty risque sequence that I’m sure only stayed in the STAR BLAZERS cut because there was no easy way to excise it–and starts to put on her space suit, “Isn’t that what you ordered me to do? I’ll get back to Earth if I have to jump ship and swim through space!” Wildstar knows that he’s beaten. “Put on your crew uniform and resume your duties as a member of the Star Force! I wanted you safe, down on Earth, away from all this danger, I never wanted you to take this risk, it was too much to ask of you, too much.”And once again, Nova reasserts herself and her position: “I’m part of the Star Force, just as you are. I’ve earned the right to take the same risks you take. And I wanted to be with you and the others.” Maybe now everybody will quit trying to get Nova to stay behind because she’s a girl. But I doubt it.
In a moment partially cut out of STAR BLAZERS, Conroy goes to the facilities to relieve himself after too much partying. As he does his business, he opens up a porthole. “Once again, the Argo bids goodbye to Earth!” But his keen pilot’s eye detects movement in the distance. While the Star Force was screwing around, the Andromeda has caught up to them. As the crew reassembles on the bridge, their situation looks bleek–Venture tells them straight out that they can’t outrun the Andromeda.
Nova picks this moment to show up on the bridge and take her station. “We missed you!” says Eager, “Now the Star Force is really complete!” Damn right. What’s more, Sandor has an idea. They’ll steer into the nearby asteroid belt and use it for cover, As the Argo speeds up, Captain Gideon is determined to bring this mutiny to a swift end.
The Star Force attempts to race through the asteroid belt at top speed, trusting to Venture’s piloting skills to pull them through. The Andromeda, while faster, can’t use it’s greater speed to good effect in the belt, and its less-capable navigator also can’t react as quickly as venture is able to. Consequently, the ship suffers a few close calls, and is bouncing small asteroids off of its hull. Captain Gideon has had enough of playing on his enemy’s turf. “Take it easy. They’re going through the belt. All we have to do is go around before they come out and meet them on the other side, see?“
The Star Force is operating as a well-oiled team, albeit not without some stress (“I’m much too old for this sorta thing!” exclaims Orion after a near miss, several years before the LETHAL WEAPON films.) and so they’re able to make their escape, coming out on the far side of the asteroid belt. But Wildstar realizes that they’re not finished with the Andromeda yet. “Captain Gideon is a very good officer. He won’t give up. He has his orders. We’re going to see the Andromeda again.”
And sure enough, hours or days later, there’s a blip on Nova’s radar up ahead and it’s the Andromeda, waiting for a face-off. Sandor suggests that Wildstar try talking with Captain Gideon, but the grizzled old commander doesn’t seem interested in what Wildstar has to say. As the two ships move closer, Red Alerts are sounded, and weapons are made hot.
The stand-off plays out in tense real time as the Argo moves closer and closer to the Andromeda’s broadside, on a collision course. And then, it rears up and flies directly over the Andromeda’s forward decks, in essence showing its vulnerable underbelly to the enemy. But no attack is forthcoming–and when the Andromeda’s XO orders a pursuit course, Captain Gideon belays the order.
“Wildstar, you did it, you faced him down!” congratulates Sandor. It is a much-relieved Star Force that listens in on Captain Gideon’s report to headquarters: “Expected encounter with the Argo not accomplished. Could not locate.” What’s more, Gideon sends a message directly to the Star Force as well: “To Deputy Captain Wildstar and all the Star Force. Respect your courage and dedication. Regards, Gideon, captain, Andromeda.“
General Naska of the Comet Empire’s advance fleet has witnessed this encounter from afar, but he’s not at all concerned about the Star Force. Leader Desslok radios over to him to set him straight, and to remind him that he’s supposed to report any Star Force activity to Desslok. “That Gamilon upstart! Who does he think he is? Prince Zordar will regret the day he gave him so much power. All he thinks of is the Star Force. Star Force–who are they? ” Naska would find out in twenty-four hours.