“Huh. The Argo? Hmm, whatever it is, it’s better than here!” – Sgt. Knox
The next episode of STAR BLAZERS introduced a well-remembered and beloved new character; Sgt. Knox of the Space Marine Corps previously stationed on Planet Brumus. Knox was the stereotypical tough guy marine sergeant, and he often clashed with Wildstar and the other members of the Star Force. But he was also a formidable fighter who cared about his men and his mission, and his introduction brought some much-needed character tension to the series. He was always an entertaining player, even when you hoped that Wildstar or one of the other crew members would knock his block off. This is also a very action-heavy episode, after a number of more cerebral or emotional outings.
At the outermost edge of the solar system, the Star Force receives a distress call from Planet Brumus, the 11th planet in our solar system, discovered at the end of the 20th Century. (I must have been sleeping that day.) While the planet is now devoid of native life, at one time it was home to an advanced civilization, now extinct, and since its discovery, Earth has set up an installation there to mine rare mineral resources and also as an early warning monitor for the system. As such, General Naska of the Comet Empire attacks the base, intending to wipe it out.
The Argo immediately changes course for Planet Brumus, and swiftly runs into a squadron of enemy fighter places, of the type that Wildstar has seen twice before. The planes make the foolish decision to attack the Star Force, and they’re rapidly shot down by the Argo’s defensive Pulse Laser batteries. But on Brumus itself, those same types of fighter planes are making bombing and attack runs, and have already crippled the base there.
Down on Brumus. Sgt. Knox orders his men to fall back after the main energy generator is knocked out, along with the broadcast antenna. High above, General Naska sees that victory is assured, and so when he receives reports that the Star Force is approaching, he dispatches a Task Force to intercept and destroy the enemy ship.
With the enemy fighters vanquished, Wildstar orders the Black Tiger squadron to launch, both to pursue the enemy and to render aid to those trapped in the base on the surface of Brumus. As the planes take off, Nova reports the approach of hostile ships. Wildstar holds his fire until Sandor informs him that the improvements they’ve made to the Argo’s firepower has increased their effective firing range. At that, the ship opens up its main guns on the Comet Empire task force, obliterating it from afar. “Their planes get better…” muses Sandor, “...but our guns are better, too.” It’s worth noting that this is the first time we’ve seen the Star Force completely wipe out an enemy force with superior numbers, something that will become de rigeur for the rest of the series. So those new guns must be pretty good indeed.
Down on Brumus, the bombardment is taking its toll. There are numerous quick cuts made to STAR BLAZERS here where we see assorted Space Marines buy the farm–including a sequence where a Marine locked out after an air leak in B-Block first suffocates and then freezes solid. Things are looking bad, and Knox asks for a space suit while his guys attempt to get tier distress beacon working again. And then, the attacking forces begin landing assault vehicles on the surface. STAR BLAZERS describes these vehicles as “robot tanks” to avoid any question of people being killed, but in YAMATO 2 they’re just straight up tanks.
Seeing this, Knox is suddenly as happy as a pig in shit. His guys can’t do much of anything against planes at the moment, but forces on the ground he can get to. “Now they’re talkin’! We know this terrain, those robots don’t! We can take care of those rolling tin cans! They’re down here where we can get at them! “Manning their outpost’s remaining defenses, the Space Marines begin to fight back, destroying a number of the approaching tanks.
“Yeah, now we make our move! They think they’ve got us tied down, they don’t know us! Robot Tanks are no match for Space Marines! I want ten volunteers with your bopper guns!” So saying, Sgt. Knox leads his men out of their base on a counter-assault against the invading tanks, They’re on foot, but using these shoulder’mounted bazooka-style weapons, they begin to rout the attackers.
High above, the battle is turning for General Naska as well. As the Argo crests Planet Brumus, it notices his assault force and opens fire on it. Even Naska and his men are surprised and impressed by the range of the Argo’s new weaponry, and in mere minutes, only Naska’s flagship is left to limp away in abject defeat. But rather than pursuing this straggler, Wildstar is instead focused on rescuing the stranded and desperate personnel still left alive on the surface of Planet Brumus.
As things are starting to look bad for the remaining Space Marines, the Black Tigers show up to provide them with air cover, and they succeed in driving off the remainder of the Comet Empire’s tanks and planes. Sandor and Dash take the rescue ships down to the surface and offer Knox and his remaining men asylum on the Argo.
Elsewhere, General Naska is practically in tears as he reports his encounter to Leader Desslok. “You were right about the Star Force! I sincerely apologize for doubting you! They’re incredible fighters, I don’t know what I’m going to tell Prince Zordar!” Unsympathetic, Desslok has Naska cut off.
On board the Argo, we get an immediate taste of the culture shock that is awaiting the Star Force, as the unruly Space Marines run roughshod over everything. Knox makes a pass at Nova and gets sprayed in the face with a stinging antiseptic for his troubles. (In YAMATO 2, it’s a spray for treating Athlete’s Foot.) Elsewhere, Sandor has confirmed from the wreckage recovered on Brumus that the enemy they have just faced is the same one responsible for the energy blackout on Earth. Wildstar has no choice but to inform Earth Defense Headquarters, even though the Star Force is still listed as mutineers.
The Commander welcomes their report, as dreadful as it is, and then welcomes the Star Force back into the fold, reinstating them. It’s a pretty convenient turn of events, and it makes a bit of a mockery of the preceding three or four episodes, but whatever. They’re given the mission of investigating the message that Sandor recorded episodes earlier, and so the Argo heads out into intergalactic space. As it does so, on the conning tower’s observation deck, Sgt. Knox bitterly watches as Planet Brumus fades into the distance. “We never left a base this way before, in retreat! Lucky the Star Force arrived or we’d have been goners! We’ll be back, you bet! We’ll be back!” This sentiment would form the backbone of tomorrow’s episode.