“I wish I were drinking this with you, my friend. Goodbye.” – Sergeant Knox
This week of STAR BLAZERS episodes ended with another strong entry, one that served to redefine the relationship between Wildstar and Space Marine Sergeant Knox, and one that was also very affecting and dealt with subject matter that other shows–and even this show–often tried to avoid. It was all fairly standard War Movie fare, but it wasn’t the kind of thing you expected to find in an afternoon cartoon, and it served to give the character of Knox greater depth and sympathy–up to this point, he was kind of an aggressive jerk, but this episode let’s you understand the pain that he’s sitting atop.
The episode opens with the Argo passing near to the orbit of Planet Brumis, which represents the outer marker of the Earth’s space territory. The Star Force is now two days out from rendezvousing with the rest of the Earth’s defense forces at Saturn’s moon, Titan. As Homer radios their position to headquarters, Knox enters the bridge and asks to speak with Wildstar privately.
He makes a plea for Wildstar to allow him to go down to Planet Brumis since they’re in the area–this is the world where the Star Force first picked up the beleaguered Space Marines several months ago. The YAMATO 2 source material is much more direct about the fact that Knox wants to pay his respects to his fallen comrades, but by necessity STAR BLAZERS needs to play things more coy. This actually works as a benefit, because it makes it sounds for much of the episode like Knox is intending to visit living soldiers that he left behind: “Listen, a lot of my friends are down there, good guys that I fought beside! I just want to say goodbye to them!” But Wildstar has his orders, and so he must refuse. “You, you’ve got no heart!” screams Knox, kicking the bulkhead as Wildstar walks away. “That lousy officer! What does he know about guys you live and die with?“
Undaunted, Knox heads down to the Black Tiger hanger, where he attempts to “borrow” Hardy’s plane. Conroy shows up to confront him, and a huge, brutal fight breaks out (much of which is cut out of STAR BLAZERS, and no wonder–it’s maybe the most violent punch-up in the show.) Meanwhile, Wildstar had been thinking about how the enemy fleet isn’t expected to make contact with Earth’s defenses for three more days, giving them a one-day window to stop off at Planet Brumis. Venture starts to express his concern about this idea when IQ-9 bursts in, reporting the brawl going on in the hanger.
Wildstar gets down there in time to break things up. “What’s the matter with you guys? We’re soon going to have plenty of fighting on our hands, the Comet Empire’s getting closer all the time!” But he also orders the chagrined Knox to take a plane and investigate Planet Brumis. Knox is stunned by his change of heart–and Dr. Sane brings him a bottle of Captain Avatar’s spring water (actually a bottle of Sake) to share with his comrades. Wildstar sends IQ-9 along with Knox to babysit him and make sure he comes back to the Argo in short order.
After Knox departs, the Argo’s time-radar picks up images of a Comet Empire fleet in this area three hours previous, leading Sandor to suspect that Brumis may have nee converted into a supply depot for the enemy. The Earth Commander radios in to ask Wildstar why he’s diverted the Star Force and to drive home the seriousness of the need to halt the Comet Empire and its forces at Saturn. Wildstar has Homer order Knox back to the ship and Venture brings the Argo down into Brumis’s atmosphere to link up with him.
On the surface, Knox makes his way to where his men have been laid to rest, solemnly pouring a drink for them as he pays his respects. It’s a lovely and somber scene. Unfortunately, his approach was detected by the Comet Empire garrison stationed there, and when the Argo breaks the atmosphere, they figure the jig is up and move to counter-attack the ship. IQ-9 is sent tumbling as the ground under his feet breaks open and surface-to-air missiles move into firing position.
The Star Force is surprised to find itself under attack from the surface, and cut off when the enemy fleet they saw on the time radar also comes at them from above. Caught in a pincer, the ship begins to fight back, while, down on the surface, Knox becomes aware of the fighting that’s broken out. He takes it personally that Brumis, which e and his men were forced to retreat from, has been turned int an enemy outpost.
Racing back to his torpedo boat, Knox begins to bombard the enemy missile emplacements, but it’s too little too late. The Argo is taking heavy fire, and Sandor warns Wildstar that, “If we take much more of this, we won’t be able to join the Earth forces!“Wildstar orders Venture to move the ship up to 70,000 meters, outside of the effective firing range of the ground-based missiles. As the ship rises, IQ-9 warns Knox that it is leaving the Brumis atmosphere, and he turns his torpedo boat to follow.
At 70,000, Wildstar orders the Wave-Motion Gun to be readied for firing. Knox tries to guide his plane in for a landing, but the Argo is taking heavy fire, and his boat is rocked and damaged. He radios in to tell Wildstar to abandon him and get out of there, but Wildstar calmly tells him to try it again. On this second attempt to maneuver his way through the enemy blasts, Knox does manage to hit the hanger, but he completely totals his plane in the process. Still, any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
The Argo is ready to fire, though it’s taking on heavy damage while it waits for the Wave-Motion Gun to fully charge. But once this happens, the Star Force is able to take out both the enemy fleet and the base on the surface of Brumis with a single shot. General Bleek of the Comet Empire is angered as a subordinate reports to him about the loss of both the base and the fleet at the hands of the Star Force.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Star Force hustles to make repairs so that they can warp to the Saturn area in time for the general strategy session. They are the only element of Earths’ defense not yet in place, a fact that an aide reports to Captain Gideon at Saturn. An Earth spy satellite catches sight of the Comet Empire fleet passing the Neptune orbit, but it is destroyed before they can calculate the strength of the opposition. With no other way to beat the enemy fleet to Saturn, the Star Force decides to warp to the Titan area. In a scene cut out of STAR BLAZERS, Knox sits and drinks with Dr Sane, and tells him that the Star Force’s Deputy Captain is a stand-up guy. He’s got a newfound respect for Wildstar.
In the Titan area, a Comet Empire spy plane is trying to take the measure of the assembled Earth forces when the Argo suddenly warps in behind it. It plows through the spy plane as though it was a bug against the windshield. Captain Gideon and the Earth forces are overjoyed to see the Star Force at last. “You came through! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!Captain Avatar would be proud of you!” He sends the Star Force a message welcoming them to the defense forces. As the ship descends towards Titan, the episode ends–with the all-out fight with the Comet Empire fleet looming on Monday!