“Desslok, for a man like you there can be no such thing as defeat. You’re different. You know what you want and you’re willing to fight for it. I understand you. We are alike.” – Prince Zordar
The next episode of STAR BLAZERS finally brought the Star Force and Desslok back into direct conflict, although it spend a good deal of its run time doing bookkeeping for the series. This was a bit more necessary in the Japanese YAMATO 2 because, in Japan, the previous series had aired first run several years before, and the compilation film had changed some of the details of the story. But for STAR BLAZERS audiences, those episodes had aired only a week or two before, and so they were fresher in everybody’s mind. As a result, STAR BLAZERS trims out a bunch of the flashback sequences relating to Desslok’s history and the Voyage to Iscandar that the episode opens on.
That all said, this episode does finally give us an answer for how Desslok survived annihilation back at the end of the original series. Granted, it’s not much of an explanation in terms of its plausibility, but at this point I as a viewer was certain that it was a plot point that had just been driven past, so I was happy to get the explanation, however dodgy it may have wound up being.
The episode opens with a reprise of yesterday’s climax, as the Star Force receives Desslok’s message of congratulations on conquering General Torbac. There’s a bit of quick conversation about how likely it is that this is really Desslok before Wildstar accepts the truth, his mind turning to the events of the previous year for a flashback that lays out Desslok’s final encounter wit the Star Force. Because the compilation film cut that final battle, this flashback in both STAR BLAZERS and YAMATO 2 includes footage from the earlier battle that destroyed Gamilon, in which Desslok was seemingly crushed. For the film audience, YAMATO 2 had to explain that resurrection as well. So we experience that last encounter again, then segue to where Desslok and his fleet have set up in the skies above Telezart.
The way is finally clear for Desslok to attack the Star Force directly, and he’s been planning his strategy well. Desslok’s General Garotte has spread a field of Star Flies in the area where the Argo is making repairs after their battle with General Torbac. As the crew becomes aware of them, they are reminded of Earth fireflies and begin to collect them as pets, bringing them aboard the Argo. It’s an incautious move, but the ship has been away from Earth for fifty days at this point, so you can’t blame them if the crew is getting a little bit stir-crazy.
Up on the Bridge, it’s time for another communication from Telezart, which breaks everybody’s dour mood concerning Desslok. Trelaina’s signal is coming in clearly now that Torbac isn’t able to jam it, and she gives Venture precise directional information, then signs off before he’s done talking to her. Venture is clearly developing a thing for the mysterious space woman he has yet to lay eyes on. Elsewhere, IQ-9 has been gathering up Star Flies and is handing them out to the crew in lanterns. He saves his final one for Nova.
On the bridge, however, the Time Radar displays images of a Gamilon fleet in this area two hours earlier, dumping the Star Flies into space. So when IQ-9 shows up to give Nova her lantern as a present, a concerned Sandor confiscates it and takes it to his lab for analysis. Very quickly he works out that these Star Flies are not what they appear to be at all, and that in fact they are the carriers of a metal-eating bacteria. Wildstar orders all of the Star Flies to be ejected from the ship.
Because there wouldn’t be much of an episode if he didn’t, Sergeant Knox, upon hearing Wildstar’s instructions conveyed by IQ-9, tells his men that they can keep the Star Flies. When Wildstar shows up to enforce his orders, Knox is belligerent and gets in his face. He’s bored and spoiling for a fight, and in the manner of the Wildstar of the first series, the Acting Captain gives him one.
But it’s a short battle, for, just as the two men get started throwing punches, they begin to drift up into the air–as does everything else in the room: furniture, spectators, the works. It’s clear in instants that the ship’s artificial gravity is malfunctioning.
After the commercial break, we wind back the clock to answer the lingering questions concerning Desslok’s survival. In his last encounter with the Star Force, when the blast from his own Desslok Gun had been reflected back upon his ship, Desslok attempted to warp out of the way. But he was only partly successful–and when a Comet Empire scoutship came across his body floating in the void, he was more dead than alive. But his will to live was strong and pulled him through the ordeal. And in him, Prince Zordar sensed a kindred spirit, and proposed an alliance between them, one that Desslok was hardly in a position to refuse. “I think someday you’ll regret this, ” cautions Princess Invidia, “He’s the only man strong enough to take the Empire away from us!“
Back in the present, Desslok proceeds with phase two of General Garotte’s assignment, ordering his assault carrier to advance and engage the Star Force. Gamilon attack bombers take off and begin an attack run. On board the Argo, Wildstar awkwardly makes his way to the Bridge, where the rest of the main crew is struggling to remain at their posts. Sandor confirms that the Star Flies contained a metal-eating bacteria that has done damage to the Argo’s gravity control system. Worse, Eager detects the incoming Gamilon bombers on their attack vector heading towards the ship.
As Sandor and Royster make their way to the second bridge to try to repair the gravity control unit, the Star Force attempts to fight back and defend itself, despite being hampered by low-gravity conditions. They’re able to fire their weaponry, but only haphazardly, and so their taking the worst of the encounter. Unless they can get the gravity situation back under control before the enemy carrier can enter effective firing range and turn its main guns loose on them, they’ll be finished.
In the midst of the struggle, in typical fashion, Desslok calls over to the Argo to taunt his foes. “You thought I was dead. That’s what I wanted you to think. It’s the perfect plan to catch you unaware. I knew when you got the radio messages from Telezart you’d come here. You can’t resist a call for help. You did well, Derek Wildstar. Captain Avatar could not have done any better!“
As Desslok wraps up his snarky message, Wildstar and everybody else are suddenly pinned down to the deck. On the second bridge, Sandor and Royster have succeeded in reactivating the gravity control unit, but the setting is far too high, crushing the Star Force crew under several G’s of gravity. If anything, they are now even more helpless than they had been.
And as the episode wraps up, the Gamilon carrier approaches, and converts its flight decks to attack mode, preparing to unleash an all-out volley against the enemy Earth ship. Things look bad for the Star Force at the moment–and that’s where we wrap up until tomorrow’s episode with the narrator intoning: “The Argo is helpless. Her gravity system out of control. Will Desslok’s fiendishly clever strategy succeed in destroying the Star Force?”