After Garma Zabi’s untimely death, the threat of the Principality of Zeon is becoming clear as they focus their attentions on the White Base! As the White Base attempts to cross the Pacific Ocean to reach safe Federation airspace, a shellshocked Amuro must protect the crew from a new and deadly Mobile Suit!
In our Summer TV Binge, we take a look at the twelfth episode of Mobile Suit Gundam, “The Threat Of Zeon.” Will you be able to survive?
1. A New Opening
For 11 episodes now, we’ve been seeing the same intro to every episode, setting up the conflict of the One Year War. The opening is grand and iconic, but it only shows a vague idea of the ideologies and the machinations of the people behind the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation. This episode sprang for a new opening in the wake of last episode’s introduction of the Zabi family. The new opening specifically focuses on the Zabi family, their role in creating the Principality of Zeon and how that sparked the conflict with the Federation as well as recapping the journey of the White Base so far.
I really appreciated changing things up to showcase just how far the show has come in 12 episodes and this episode marked a real turning point for the story as a whole.
2. Garma’s Funeral
I love how Gundam genuinely tries to humanise the characters who are ostensibly its villains. We’ve seen it with Char and his connection to Sayla and we saw it with Garma and Icelina before their untimely deaths. This episode opens with Degwin mourning his son in private, rewatching a video message sent to him from the front lines. It’s a reminder that, behind the bombast of the politics involved, this is still a man who has lost one of his sons to war.
Then, contrasting that, we see how Dozle turns his anger at losing a brother to Federation forces into a rallying speech near the end of the episode. The show doesn’t shy away from comparing Zeon to fascist dictatorships like the Nazis (even calling them to mind with their Sieg Zeon chants) which is interesting in how it comments on those regimes that claim to be fighting for freedom in order to control it.
3. The Pressures Of War
Things are really starting to get too much for Bright and Amuro, huh? Both of them have been put through the ringer lately and this episode shows just what a toll that can take on someone. Both of them have been too on edge and too dissociative from constantly being on the frontline, always shouldering a burden that is too much for them.
Amuro takes the real brunt of this and apparently spends much of his time locked in his room working away on repairs. It’s terribly sad, especially because of how the show draws attention to the misunderstanding of PTSD. For Amuro, shellshock has completely drained him of his ability to function, but to someone like Ryu or Bright it looks like he’s just zoning out. That lack of care can only compound things for the worse.
4. The Lightning Gag
One of the little things I loved about this episode was not just the use of weather, but how the characters reacted to the weather. So many of them have grown up on Sides, where weather is likely controlled artificially and pockets of pressure that lead to thunderstorms are likely eliminated before they can form. Seeing them react to the wild unpredictability of Earth’s weather, thinking lightning is some kind of new Zeon weapon or, in Amuro’s case, having it trigger their PTSD was a real nice touch. Especially Ramba Ral’s lines about “Ah, so this is what they call lightning!” was real fun.
5. Gundam Overwhelmed
Speaking of Ramba Ral, he makes his debut in this episode. Taking over from Garma as they figurehead of the Zeon forces assembled against the White Base, he immediately makes a hell of an impression. Hunting down the White Base with his lover, Hamon, at his side and taking to the field of battle in a brand new, more heavily armoured Mobile Suit, he embodies that romantic ideal of Zeon being crusaders fighting for freedom. In reality, however, he’s a soldier hunting down children and refugees and was pretty close to killing Amuro in his dazed, shellshocked state. I love the dichotomies presented in Gundam and I can’t wait to see what they do with Ral from this episode on.