Sunday, 27 July 2014

Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team rewatch – Ep. 11 The Shuddering Mountain, Part 2

Welcome to The 08th MS Team rewatch! There is still one episode to go after this one but really, this is the big finale. The final showdown against the Apsalus. Will the 08th Team survive? Probably, they’re the stars of the show!

Summary: Episode 11 “The Shuddering Mountain, Part 2”:
Original Airdate: April 15, 1999
English Airdate: August 6, 2001

Ginias is celebrating the completion of Apsalus and calling it his son. Blood drops out of his mouth as he stands victorious in front of his completed machine. Aina asks him where his research staff is (he murdered them in the first part of this episode) and, when he doesn’t respond, tells him to put on flight suit. The episode recaps what happened during the first part including the launch of Apsalus III and Shiro’s decision to resign from the service.

We learn through the use of a flashback that Karen was ordered by Ryer to kill Shiro if he deserted. When Sanders see that there is a mobile suit weapon locked on Shiro’s Gundam, he realizes that the higher-ups got to her too. She doesn’t kill him but she yells at him and Shiro’s Gundam walks away.

Aina, quite aware of her superior firepower, burns a perimeter at the bottom of the mountain. She gives the Federation commanders an ultimatum: if they do not cross that line she will not attack them. She hasn’t entirely given up her ideals of peace. She wants to evacuate the sick and injured from the mountain base. Karen comments that she understands why Shiro loves her, she’s as naïve in her way of thinking about war and peace than Shiro. War isn’t that simple, Karen thinks.

The Federation says they will not be intimidated but they agree to a ceasefire. Captain Ryer lied though and orders snipers to take out Aina who’s excited her cockpit. While outside watching the Kergeulen take off, Ginias steps into the pilot’s chair and starts attacking the Federation’s mobile suits. Captain Ryer orders that his forces shoot the Kergeulen. They do and it is destroyed. Kojima says to himself that the Federation is no better than the Zeeks, something that Shiro has been saying for a while. Infuriated by the Federation, Aina strikes out in angers and fires a beam shot right about the Federation’s command center and destroys a huge part of a nearby mountain.

Aina and Ginias argue over their conflicting philosophies. She pities him for attributing so much value to war and his Apsalus Project. He shoots her and she falls off the Apsalus but Shiro manages to catch her with his Gundam. Ginias blames Shiro for influencing Aina and making her disagree with her brother. He accuses Shiro of being the reason she died. A mobile suit shoots one of the legs of the Apsalus and it crashes to the ground. Ryer tells Karen to capture the enemy pilot, Aina, and execute Shiro since he deserted in the face of the enemy. Kojima disagrees with Ryer. He orders Karen to assemble the troops; they’re running a different mission now. Kojima goes against his superior’s order stating that even though they’re waging war, there are certain lines that cannot be crossed and Ryer crossed it when he ordered the Kergeulen, carrying sick and wounded passengers, destroyed.

Kojima’s orders are to destroy the Apsalus and take Shiro into custody. Reunited once again, Shiro and Aina are happy. The rest of the 08th Team, accompanied by Kojima, are racing to the Apsalus. They want to get there before the sniper does so that they can capture Shiro and prevent the Sniper from killing him. Aina and Shiro are piloting the Gundam (damaged while battling the Gouf in part 1) together and are trying to destroy the Apsalus. The Sniper destroys the Gundam’s entire right arm but Shiro and Aina are still alive. Ginias turns his attention to them. He’s preparing a full power blast to destroy the remaining Federation troops. Shiro apologizes to Aina letting her know that he plans on killing Ginias. Ginias fires at the command centre, killing captain Ryer and many others but most of the troops survive because Shiro pushed the Apsalus out of the way.

After firing the Apsalus, Shiro’s Gundam and the Apsalus fall into the heart of the mountain. Shiro’s voiceover says that not long after that day, the war ended. They never find Shiro or Aina but Michel writes to B. B. that he believes that Shiro is still alive.

The last shot is of Aina helping Shiro walk out of the mountain base.

I like the progression of the 08th Team throughout the series. In the beginning they’re very much a rag-tag team. Through hard work and having shared the hardships of several missions, they’ve become a tight group of respected colleagues, if not outright friends. Still, superior officers of the Federation military have contacted Sanders and Karen in an attempt to have greater control on what the team does. Orders from superior officers are threatening to pull the team apart. Sanders struggled with his conscience during the first part of “The Shuddering Mountain” but he overcame this when he confided in Shiro. He likely sided with Shiro and his team because this is the first time that Sanders is in an MS team that hasn’t be destroyed during their third mission. He’s never really had enough time to build camaraderie with his fellow soldiers and he can’t let that go, even if ordered to do so by Captain Ryer.

In this episode, we learn that Karen was ordered to execute Shiro if he deserted. Ever since the events of Episode 8 “Duty and Ideals” it’s been clear that Shiro’s commanding officer, Kojima, no longer believes in Shiro’s ability to wage war with the enemy. He is of the opinion that Shiro is blinded by unrealistic ideals of peace. Karen’s a different kind of person than Sanders. She’s by the books. She takes insubordination seriously and has even been known to point it out to her commander when her own team members acted against orders (such as in episode “The Broken Order to Standby”). She can’t follow through on the orders to kill Shiro but she does call him out for his decision to abandon his team. She doesn’t deal well with abandonment, likely because her husband died doing a heroic (read: foolish) gesture. Something she’s had difficulty forgiving him for.

Shiro’s decision to kill Ginias is compatible with his behaviour throughout the series. At first he was trying to damage the Apsalus and make it unfit for battle but after Aina told him that Ginias is preparing for a blast at full power, he changes his tactics. The full power blast would destroy the entire area. He wants to protect his friends and the only way to do that is to destroy the Apsalus which will also kill Ginias.

The most disappointing this about this episode is the ending. It’s a bit of a letdown after the stellar action from the first half of the episode. It also doesn’t successfully deal with the implications of Shiro’s decision to leave the Federation forces, Aina’s decision to aid Shiro in putting an end to her brother’s plans or the consequences of Karen and Sanders breaking a direct order from a superior. It’s likely that Kojima let the Karen and Sanders off the hook because the orders came from Captain Ryer who proved to have no respect in how war is waged. In short, my main problem with the ending is that it feels like the two-part episode wasn’t really building towards anything other than the destruction of the Apsalus and when that happens, the episode just stops. There isn’t a denouement and that’s affecting the overall quality, not only of this episode but of the series as a whole. I guess that’s why they made another episode which serves as an epilogue. If memory serves me right, the episode marks a further decline in quality that this episode.

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