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Phase 18: Debris Section's Last Day

 

Review by Scott Richardson

June 14, 2006

 

Summary

 

Reeling from the bad publicity from the tandem mirror engine meltdown, top Technora executives have hatched a plan to save face. A new company, Galileo Development, has been created to serve as a buffer between Technora and the Jupiter project. It will take the fall if something else goes wrong. Technora has chosen Dolf to be the director of this dummy company, and Norman Schwimmer will be taking over Dolf's position as director of 2nd Division. One of Schwimmer's first moves is to order the disbanding of Debris Section--ostensibly due to their history of not making a profit, but mostly as revenge for Debris Section's previous transgression against him. Myers sadly informs his employees that they'll be out of a job at the end of the week. Lavie worries he won't be able to pay child support for his seven children, and blames Fee for not listening to him during the earlier incident. Tanabe runs out to tell the news to Hachi, who's still running on that treadmill. But Hachi seems strangely ambivalent toward the whole subject. Meanwhile, Hakim and Claire talk at a bar. It seems that Claire has been taken off almost all her remaining duties because she was too close to the old manager. Claire seems to have lost the ability to care even the slightest bit about her position in the company, and jokes that she should go down to Earth and get married. Hakim goes silent for a second and then asks Claire if she's heard of a country called Mananga--a third-world Middle Eastern country. Hakim tells her he was born there, amid the civil wars which rage even today… Elsewhere, Lavie puts on a big show for Schwimmer, who finds him hilarious, and promises to find him a position in General Affairs. Afterwards, Lavie places an excited call to his children to tell them about his promotion. They immediately start asking for various toys, which Lavie happily agrees to buy for them. Then one of the younger children asks if this means he's going to pick up bigger debris now. Lavie explains that he won't have to pick up debris anymore at his new job. At this, his children go silent, and one asks who will keep space safe if he's not picking up debris anymore. On the Moon, Gigalt has been admitted to a hospital to attempt to treat his cancer. He tells Hakim over a com channel that he's not sick enough to be grounded just yet, but Hakim reminds him that someone who isn't 100% can put the entire team in danger. Gigalt recognizes that as one of his own lessons and lets it go, telling Hakim that he was lucky to have such a good pupil. Hakim then informs Gigalt that he's quitting the OSA. Toy Box 2 launches on its last mission, and Hachi notes his surprise at Lavie tagging along. An unusually somber Lavie looks at a picture of his kids as a distress call is picked up, causing Fee to cancel their debris mission in favor of search-and-rescue. Lavie mumbles that that would be a perfect ending for heroes who keep space safe. 

 

Toy Box 2 docks with a derelict spacecraft, while Tanabe and Yuri prepare to board with extra oxygen tanks and Hachi stands by on a Fishbone. Surprisingly, the ship is currently carrying the unlicensed director from the Moon ferry and his crew. He attempts to explain that he and his crew are actually acting as social activists now, while Fee tells Lavie how they met. She is interrupted by a new object on their scanners. Noting that it seems to be debris with a relative velocity of near-zero, she decides to send Hachi out to retrieve it for their last job. Unfortunately, when they check in with Control Section, Fee is ordered to ignore this particular piece of debris and is cut off when she asks why. The movie director overhears this and volunteers a possible explanation. Rumor has it that INTO has been secretly laying mines in orbit disguised as debris, and the director was out here trying to expose them. It seems, though, that this mine isn't the ordinary explosive type. Instead it emits a signal which fries the circuitry of any nearby ship--explaining what happened to the director's ship. Tanabe expresses disgust at the idea that such a dangerous thing has been purposely placed in orbit, and Yuri notes that this orbit is used as an emergency evacuation orbit by Russia and the European Union. Fee decides that since it's officially classified as debris they shouldn't be able to complain if they go in and scoop it up. Lavie is obviously not enthusiastic at the prospect of going against the orders of Control Section but is ignored as usual. Yuri postulates that the only way to get it would be to send somebody in a spacesuit out to the mine with no extra equipment to shut it down manually, but they do not have a lifeline long enough for the job. Hachi, who is still standing by in the Fishbone, volunteers anyway. Lavie argues that it's way too difficult, but Hachi tells him that's why he wants to do it. Plans are finalized as Lavie finally snaps, ordering everybody to stop what they're doing. Fee tells him that there is more to life than Technora, which Lavie surprisingly agrees with. Lavie explains that his oldest daughter is very smart and he'd like to send her to a private school. Another loves space and wants a telescope, yet another has a gift for music, so Lavie wants to get him piano lessons. Since he can't be with them as a father, the only thing he can do is earn money for them. So Lavie begs Fee to stop all this, as he just can't afford to be fired. After a moment of silence, Fee orders everybody to keep going--Technora isn't the whole world and, though this is their last job, right now they are still debris haulers. Meanwhile, Myers and Edel are in Schwimmer's office, turning in the last of their paperwork, when an employee bursts in, telling them that Toy Box 2 is sending out an EVA worker. One of the managers berates Myers for not being able to train his employees properly, but Schwimmer has a plan. All they need to do is activate the emergency shutdown system for Toy Box 2, which requires the password of the division manager and the manager of the department in question. Schwimmer punches in his password and then orders a confused Myers to do the same. Knowing that punching in his password would render Toy Box 2 inoperable, Myers hesitates and is promptly chewed out before claiming that he just can't remember what his password is. Hachi manages to complete his approach, makes a difficult landing on the mine and connects with the mine's computer. Feeding it false Navstar data, Hachi fools the mine into thinking it's alone, allowing Toy Box 2--still docked with the director's ship--to make its approach and grab on. Unfortunately, Schwimmer is tired of Myers' forgetfulness and cuts Toy Box 2's Navstar access instead. He contacts Toy Box 2 and orders them to leave that orbit or their systems will be fried by the mine--leaving them dead in space. Schwimmer vindictively notes the irony of debris haulers becoming debris themselves, which causes Myers to angrily launch himself at Schwimmer, knocking him to the ground. The other manager goes in to help Schwimmer, but Edel steps in and sends him flying into a wall. Control Section employees notice the commotion and send someone to alert security. Meanwhile, the mine has fried Toy Box 2's primary systems, but with their backup power, communications and life support are still online for the time being. As Myers and Edel are dragged off by security, the crew listens to Myers rant about how humanity needs debris haulers and beg for somebody help his employees. Lavie glances over at the picture of his kids and makes a decision. Toy Box 2's emergency power is running out and Fee prepares to give the order to abandon ship, but just then they realize that Lavie has moved over to the derelict ship, which has a robotic arm that can be operated manually--sparing it from the mine's jamming. As Lavie prepares to smash the mine, Schwimmer contacts him directly and tells him that if he does this he won't have a job to come back to, and reminds him that the company is all he has. Lavie hesitates, and says that he understands that, but it seems that he has a choice between being true to his company or his children. He chooses his children and smashes the arm into the mine's control panel, disabling it and returning Toy Box 2's systems to normal. Yuri congratulates Lavie and Fee tells him she was wrong about him. Knowing full well what he's done, Lavie invites everybody to go drinking with him tonight. Everyone happily accepts his invitation. Tanabe goes to the airlock to meet Hachi and congratulates him on his impressive EVA work. Though flush with his success, Hachi seriously informs her that he's giving up debris hauling for good. 

 

Commentary

 

Without Dolf to protect them, Debris Section's considerable disregard for company pecking order catches up to it in this episode. Lavie is also given a chance to show some growth, as he is put in a very similar situation to the one he faced in episode 14. This time he makes a stand, even in the face of losing his job. No matter what the outcome of Debris Section's stunt, it seems that Hachi no longer desires a place among them, having made his decision to try out for the crew of the Von Braun. One thing that didn't really make sense, however, was Schwimmer's plan to cut Debris Section and make money by recycling debris. For one, if Debris Section wasn't recycling the debris they bring in, what were they doing with it all? And two, he would still require somebody to go out and retrieve the debris. Seems the scriptwriter went a bit overboard trying to make Schwimmer seem nefarious.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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