“Trelaina, people want to be governed, they don’t want to have to make decisions, to use their judgment, it’s too difficult, too demanding. They want things done for them, not by them. And if the universe is to run efficiently, who will do it?” – Prince Zordar
From this point on throughout the remainder of the series, the brakes come off in a major way, and pretty much every single episode from here on out is excellent. As good as STAR BLAZERS has been up until now, it’s really this last block of nine episodes that contain the most memorable moments and make the strongest impression.
As this episode opens, the Comet Empire is just one day away from Telezart, and the Star Force is rushing to get back to Earth in time to join the efforts to defend their mother planet. But at its present speed, the Comet Empire will overtake their ship in just three more days, long before they can reach Earthspace. The situation isn’t aided by the fact that the Argo’s chief navigator Mark Venture is obsessed with Trelaina and her ultimate fate–so much so that he keeps leaving his post to stare back out of the observation deck to where Telezart is and imagine its impending destruction. “Oh, Venture, I know you’ve got a lot on your mind,” thinks Wildstar to himself, “but, boy, we need you here!“
A message comes in from Trelaina urging the Star Force to leave Telezart’s solar system, but Wildstar tells her that they can’t yet warp due to hazards that are still ahead of them in their projected path. What’s worse, hearing Trelaina’s voice drives Venture into a frenzy. “Mark, you must not worry about me!“, she urges him, “I will be all right!“In the Comet Empire, Trelaina’s communication with the Star Force has been overheard, and creates much mirth in Princess Invidia. “She should worry about herself! It’s very noble of her to worry about Earth when Telezart has only one more day to exist!“
At this point, Trelaina broadcasts a message to the Comet Empire, ordering them to leave Telezart’s airspace. Monitoring the conversation from the Argo, Dash remarks, ‘What? She can’t stop the Comet Empire by telling it nicely to go away!” Invidia finds Trelaina’s threats absurd given that she has no army or weapons, but Prince Zordar suggests caution. He says that he’s willing to allow Trelaina to leave Telezart peacefully before it is destroyed, as a show of respect. When Invidia questions this, Zordar coldly just about takes her head off. Just them, the Comet Empire control room is buffeted by intense energy emanating from Telezart. In response, Zordar orders the communications circuit to be opened.
Here, we begin to get a sense as to what motives drive Zordar on his march to conquest. He sees the universe as requiring order and governance, and he has taken on this holy quest. Trelaina speaks to him about mercy and love, but he finds her positions laughable–there can be no common ground between them, for Zordar and the Comet Empire will not relent. (“That Zordar sounds dangerous!” remarks Eager.) With no cease-fire possible, Trelaina makes her stand before signing off: “I pledge I will stop you here and now!“Zordar’s reply is a clipped, “No. You. Won’t.” but Invidia is really feeling her oats now: “We go on to Telezart! Crush the rebel!“
On the surface of Telezart, Trelaina walks through the ruins of the cities that she destroyed with her mind energy. The Comet Empire has picked up speed–it’s now so close that it’s visible in the naked sky, and its gravitational pull is beginning to create tremors on Telezart. As they draw closer to their objective, Zordar’s senior staff grows more confident in their own invincibility and more certain of Trelaina’s helplessness. But Zordar has a different viewpoint: “Dire, you are a fool! Trelaina–SHE’S going to fight us!“
And indeed she is. Summoning her mind energy, Trelaina casts out a wave of energy that begins to transmute the very structure of her planet. “Telezart is changing its form! It’s going into pure energy!” screams one panicked Comet Empire technician. With this done, Trelaina hurls the entire planet at the Comet Empire, crashing it against their shields and causing the very structure of the city-state war machine within to buckle and warp. As you’d expect, a bunch of Comet Empire fatalities are edited out of STAR BLAZERS at this point, all of them simply random Empire soldiers who meet their maker. The whole thing is a spectacular sequence, a veritable orgy of destruction.
With the final thought, “Oh Mark…” Trelaina disappears into the conflagration. Eager confirms that Telezart is gone, and everybody rushes to the observation platform to get a better look at what is happening out there in space. Wildstar tries to reassure Venture that Trelaina will still be okay, in a manner that feels like the writing team trying to reassure the broadcast censors that they didn’t just show the suicide of a character. But nobody here acts as though she could possibly still be alive–despite the fact that she will, in actuality, turn up again five episodes down the line. But this moment is played as being very real, for all that it has to be blunted somewhat due to the standards of afternoon children’s television in the late 1970s.
What’s left is a glowing mass of burning gas in the void. “It’s like a new star!” Eager’s voice cries at one point. But it’s burly old Sergeant Knox, watching out of a porthole, who gets the final word on what just went down: “And to think I doubted her great power…“
As the reaction begins to subside, Eager, Sandor and Wildstar monitor it up on the bridge. Suddenly, a large element separates itself from the rest of the gas. Sandor has Eager switch the image to the main video panel, and the crew is horrified to see that the Comet Empire has survived. But Sandor points out that it’s way off course now and has suffered heavy damage–they’ve gained the time they needed to beat it back to Earth. (Why they don’t turn around and attack it here and now, while it’s weakened, and try to finish it off is never brought up, but I’ve wondered about it ever since the first time I watched this episode. Dumb Star Force…)
As the Argo readies itself to warp away, Venture stands out on the outer deck, gazing back towards where Telezart once was. “Trelaina, I know you’re somewhere out there! Your power has to protect you, just as it protected us!” As I mentioned earlier, it turns out he’s right, but we won’t find that out for another week or so.