“What’s stronger than the main engine? Maybe…the Wave-Motion Gun…?” – Royster
Things were looking pretty poor for the Star Force at the close of yesterday’s episode. Today, though, the immediate danger is dealt with rather quickly, but this installment is one that stuck in the minds of STAR BLAZERS fans as an iconic encounter. It also had karma come back around to bite Desslok in the behind. So while not one of the absolute pinnacles of the series, it was still a memorable outing.
The episode opens on Sandor and Royster down on the second bridge struggling to repair the Star Force’s out of control gravity unit. This episode is really Royster’s star-turn, as he gets a lot of play in it. Clearly someone on the production team had a soft spot for him. In short order, they get the device working properly again, and the Star Force is able to fight back against the approaching attack carrier. On board that Gamilon carrier, the order to open fire on the Argo cannot be carried out. It turns out that the Star Flies that the Gamilons released into this area have gotten into their own fire-control systems, destroying them.
The Star Force damages the Gamilon carrier with a few well-placed shots and it retreats–just in time, for a huge swarm of Star Flies is still in the area. Sandor tells Wildstar that they’d better get out of there before the ship suffers any greater damage from them. Knox is pissed that they’re not finishing off the enemy Carrier, until Nova reminds him that he’s still got his Star Flies lantern back in his quarters, and he races off to dump it into space. Below deck, Conroy races to get Dr. Sane, because IQ-9 has gone bananas. His systems, too, have been corrupted by the Star Flies’ bacteria. Dr Sane tosses up his hands and tells Conroy that this is Sandor’s department.
Aboard Desslok’s flagship, General Garote must report his failure to his Leader–who dismisses him from his command. Actually, in YAMATO 2, Desslok pulls out his pistol and shoots Garote dead, but that was all excised from STAR BLAZERS. In either case, General Talan has another plan in mind. There’s a natural Tunnel Satellite along the Argo’s flight path which would make for an excellent makeshift dock for the Star Force while it rids itself of the Star Flies which are even now slowly eating through their ship’s hull. Talan’s forces have installed an Electromagnetic Unit concealed within the Tunnel Satellite, one which will trap the Argo within it.
Mortar, Princess Invidia’s spy aboard Desslok’s ship, sends her a report about Desslok’s activities, and she races to rat him out to Prince Zordar. But Zordar isn’t having it. “What are you afraid of, Invidia? Desslok’s a strong man! I like him, I trust him, he’s the kind of man the Comet Empire needs!” Concerned that Desslok’s rise in Zordar’s eyes signals their own eventual sunset, Invidia, General Dire and General Gorse conspire against the Gamilon ruler. Meanwhile, having come across the Tunnel Satellite, Wildstar has Conroy and IQ-9 investigate it. IQ is anxious to redeem himself after his earlier bacteria-fueled freak-out, and so he makes a thorough analysis of the asteroid–but not so thorough that he locates the Gamilon device hidden there. With the terrain seeming to be safe, the Star Force enters the trap.
Taking refuge within the Tunnel Satellite, the Star Force begins the process of cleaning the Star Flies off of their hull. But as they are distracted by their efforts, Desslok moves his fleet up into position, surrounding the asteroid. Then, he triggers the Electromagnetic Device, which creates a powerful magnetic field that grabs hold of the Argo. (A number of space marines working outside to clean the ship are electrocuted when the device is activated, but that bit was cut out of STAR BLAZERS.) The ship is trapped–and only now does Nova notice the enemy fleet that has encircled them.
Firing up first the auxiliary engine and then the main engine, Venture tries to pull the ship free of the electromagnetic snare. But it’s no use, the Argo will not budge–and Sandor suggests that they not waste more precious energy that they may need later. True to form, Desslok sends a message to the Star Force at this point. “This is our last battle–the only one that counts!” he tells them. Having said his farewells, Desslok enjoys a ceremonial toast to victory with his crew, before throwing his now-empty wine goblet over his shoulder and ordering his Desslok Gun readied for firing.
As Sandor wanders the corridors trying to come up with an answer to this dilemma, he runs into Royster who is cleaning up after working to exhume the Star Flies. Royster idly offers the notion that maybe they could get out by firing the Wave-Motion Gun and using the recoil force to push the ship out–“Just like a pea in a pea-shooter!“–and Sandor hurls him to the ground in his enthusiasm! Swiftly, the Wave-Motion Gun is powered up for firing. But for the plan to work. Royster will need to disengage the Anti-Recoil Device (called the Gravity Anchor in YAMATO 2, which makes a bit more sense) just as the Gun is fired. Otherwise, the Star Force will be blown up along with the Tunnel.
Back aboard his flagship, Desslok is having his own problems. He began charging his Desslok Gun before the Star Force did, but now a communication has come to him courtesy of Mortar indicating that Price Zordar is ordering him to withdraw from the conflict and return to the Comet Empire. When Desslok ignores this command, Mortar returns with Princess Invidia on the line just as Desslok is ready to fire. If looks could kill, both Invidia and Mortar would be finished. It’s an echo of the situation in EPISODE 20, where Gamilon General Lysis had the Star Force dead to rights, and a call from Desslok himself bought them the time they needed to escape. Here, the shoe is on the other foot.
From here, it’s an intercut simultaneous countdown, as both weapons fire in the same instant. At first, it looks as though Desslok has annihilated the Star Force–but them, suddenly, shooting out of the heart of the holocaust comes the Argo, propelled backwards. Both Royster’s plan and his timing was on-point. Desslok is so angry he tears the firing grip off of his Desslok Gun, hurling it angrily to the ground, where it bounces and strikes Mortar in the head. Mortal tells Desslok that he must return tot eh Comet Empire at once, and Desslok grabs him, murder in his eyes. “Don’t worry, Mortar, I’ll see him! If he hadn’t interrupted me, I would have gotten the Star Force! I’d like to thank him in person!” Desslok turns to the helm and hisses, “Set course for the Comet Empire!”
Meanwhile, Sandor has come to the bedridden Royster to offer his congratulations on the success of his plan. “I don’t know if I can make it as a Star Force member!” Royster confides after admitting that he passed out after pulling the lever to the Anti-Recoil device. Sandor, though, has more confidence in him, and has brought him a gift in the form of a disinfected Star Fly. There’s a commotion from outside the room, and the pair races to see what’s going on. Telezart is now visible with the naked eye, and the crew is elated to have finally reached their destination. “Telezart! I never thought we’d make it!“And tomorrow, Trelaina awaits!