“Right now, we have an advantage. Everyone will expect the Star Force to surrender too. Captain Gideon didn’t surrender–he fought to the end. And someone else…Trelaina…Can the Star Force do any less? It’s up to us now!” – Derek Wildstar
Things were looking pretty bad for the Earth at the end of yesterday’s episode, and things aren’t going to get much better for it today. This was the last of the quieter, more introspective episodes of the series, as the Star Force works to effect repairs to their ship while the Comet Empire consolidates its power. This one’s all about the emotions and the drama of being vanquished, the kind of story you didn’t often see on American television. It feels very raw and true–no doubt many on the YAMATO 2 production team remembered the days of Occupied Japan after the close of World War II and how that felt.
As the episode opens, the Argo drifts near Jupiter. The fire is out and the Star Force is back on board, and they’re struggling to make repairs and get the ship working again. but until the Wave-Motion Engine is repaired, they’ve got only the auxiliary thrusters to maneuver the ship. They’ve been making their way to Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon, where the Earth has a repair depot that they’re hoping to use to make the repair process go quicker. Additionally, the ship’s communications equipment is out, so they can neither send nor receive–so they have no idea what’s transpiring with the Comet Empire.
Down in Doctor Sane’s medical bay, Wildstar finally comes to. Sane has patched him up from the injuries he sustained in the prior episode, but Wildstar is still a mess. Stubborn as ever, he tries to get up to go to the bridge–and promptly falls on his face, his wounded leg unable to support his weight. He begs Nova and Dr Sane to take him to the first bridge. “Listen, I don’t need to be on my feet to run the ship. I don’t think with my legs. Please, Doc…” But Nova isn’t having it, and she has IQ-9 pick Wildstar up and plop him back into his sick bed. When Knox shows up to see how Wildstar is doing, Dr Sane is similarly forceful:”You want to make yourself useful for a change, Knox? You keep Wildstar in bed, even if you have to sit on him.“
Back on Earth, with the Comet Empire approaching and the Earth Fleet wiped out, the Defense Council is trying to figure out how to mobilize the scant forces remaining to them. The Commander asks the President to keep the situation under wraps to avoid panic, but it’s too late–word of the Earth Fleet’s destruction has already leaked out, and people are going crazy. A lot of this footage got removed from STAR BLAZERS because it’s pretty disturbing stuff as the citizens of Earth flood train stations and airports–so much so that people get forced out of windows and onto the tracks. Car crashes and fights are breaking out everywhere, and we see one panicked guy pull out a gun and kill himself right in the middle of the street.
IN another bit cut out of STAR BLAZERS, Venture’s younger brother Jordie rescues a young girl who is almost trampled by a mob of people heedlessly running to get to the spaceport, despite not really having anywhere they can go. STAR BLAZERS did keep in the follow-up moment, where Jordie, now safely back at the family’s apartment, casts his eyes skyward and hopes for the Star Force’s return. The rioting continues at the space port, and STAR BLAZERS does surprisingly keep in a powerful moment that made a strong impact: a man is knocked aside by the crowd and his suitcase full of money falls to the ground–but everybody just tramples over it heedlessly as they try to escape. In such a situation, it’s just worthless paper.
Within the Comet Empire, Zordar’s senior staff is delighted at the chaos their imminent arrival is causing on Earth. “Planet Earth does need a strong leader, ” Zordar opines, “They’re like children. But with the right kind of training, they’ll make very good slaves.” He has General Dire dispatch an envoy to demand the Earth’s unconditional surrender. As the Empire ships approach, Earth’s few remaining defensive Battle Satellites open fire on them, but their paltry shots cannot penetrate the Comet Empire armor and they are swiftly annihilated.
As the Comet Empire battleships overfly the city causing greater terror below, General Gorce delivers Zordar’s ultimatum to the Defense Council: either the Earth surrenders unconditionally, or the Comet Empire will attack, resulting in the extermination of all life on Earth. This whole sequence and the escalation of the stakes and the feeling of hopelessness is very powerful. In response to this ultimatum, the Earth President tells the Commander that the only option they have left to them is to attempt to negotiate an honorable peace.
Prince Zordar thinks the idea of peace negotiations is the funniest thing he’s ever heard, but he’s through playing around. “I must show the Earthlings just how powerful I am. Let us start with…their moon!“Princess Invidia is delighted. “Marvelous! Ha ha ha! They’re so sentimental about it!” The Comet Empire unleashes a full scale bombardment of the moon, turning it into a flaming ball of fire. YAMATO 2 makes it clear that the Comet Empire doesn’t destroy the moon here, it just sets the surface ablaze, but STAR BLAZERS is less precise, leading a number of fans to wonder how and why the Moon is back unharmed in a few episodes.
Zordar gives the Earth 24 hours to submit itself to his will before the same thing happens to it, and the example is not lost on Earth’s ruling body. Quietly, the Earth President is forced to tell those in attendance that for the sake of their children, who represent the future, they have no choice but to accept the Comet Empire’s terms. The Commander muses to himself: “If the Star Force has survived…maybe…“
Out on Ganymede, the Star Force’s communications equipment has been repaired, and Venture races to Wildstar’s sick bed to give him the horrifying news they’ve just picked up; Earth has surrendered! Knox helps Wildstar get up out of bed, and when Doctor Sane shows up and starts to object, he replies, “Sure, Doc, but I guess somebody didn’t tell you the news, Earth has surrendered! But that doesn’t include the Star Force or the space marines, right?”
The entire Star Force assembles in the mess hall, where Wildstar addresses them. He confirms the rumor they’ve heard, as well as his commitment to fighting on. “The Star Force is the last hope of the Planet Earth. We’ve all been together a long time. Now is not the time to quit!“The crew is fired up, and with the ship repaired, the Star Force blasts off for Earth and a final battle. Wildstar chooses to maintain radio silence so as to maintain the element of surprise. But as the Argo heads off, Wildstar’s thoughts reveal that he isn’t half as confident as he’s been trying to appear: “So much depends on us. Can we do it? Oh-h, why do I wonder? We HAVE to do it! There is no one else!“