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Phase 23: Debris Cluster

 

Review by Scott Richardson

July 8, 2006

 

Summary

 

As INTO's Supreme Council Meeting draws to a close, security at the lunar station is at a suffocating new high. An annoyed Fee thinks the whole thing is merely a publicity stunt. The main point of the meeting is to discuss a bill that will divide up lunar resources based on countries' contributions to INTO; however, the debate is already over. All they need to do is rubber stamp the bill and the meeting is over. Fee also wonders where they managed to dig up so many cops. In response, Yuri tells her that Tranquility City sent over half its police force. A bit concerned, Fee places a call to Dolf, who's currently at Galileo Development's head office in Tranquility City. Fee is worried that the Space Defense Front might strike at him while security is thin. Dolf isn't concerned, though, as he feels he's extremely inconsequential compared to Dr. Locksmith or the Von Braun. As Dolf hangs up, he notices one of his aides arguing with a work crew and goes over to see what's going on. The work crew claims to have orders to perform maintenance on the emergency generator, but no one can find the corresponding work order. When the head worker recognizes Dolf as the president of Galileo Development, he calmly pulls out a nail gun and shoots Dolf in the stomach. The work crew, all wielding nail guns, quickly takes over the office, and informs the workers that anyone who doesn't obey their orders will be shot. Elsewhere, Tanabe has managed to hitch a ride to the Von Braun with Colin, who's headed there on official business. Lucie is also with them, still aggressively pursuing Colin. When Colin is called to the cockpit, Lucie tries to cheer up Tanabe, who's very depressed after Hachi's outburst earlier. At a lunar dock, Claire checks in some last minute cargo to be loaded onto Toy Box 2. Yuri finds it odd that somebody's sending an airtight container, but quickly changes the subject, asking Claire if she thinks they've been too soft on Tanabe by letting her go to the Von Braun. Yuri reflects on Hachi's state-of-mind when he quit the company, comparing it to how he built a wall around himself after he lost his wife. He and Fee hope that Tanabe will be able to snap him out of it. At Galileo Development, the terrorists set up a data uplink to the Navstar which requires Dolf's security clearance in the form of a retinal scan. The injured Dolf refuses to open his eyes for it until the terrorist threaten to kill one of his workers. With full access to the Navstar, the terrorists begin to put the next phase of their plan into action. In lunar orbit, an unidentified ship unexpectedly moves into Toy Box 2's flight path. As Fee tries to contact the mysterious ship, Claire bursts into the cockpit and points a gun at Fee while informing her that Toy Box 2 is being commandeered by the Space Defense Front. The cargo container apparently contained several Space Defense Front members, including Hakim, who has already knocked Yuri unconscious. 

 

All over lunar orbit, nearly all communications channels, including those used by the Navstar, are suddenly actively jammed, and six ships (including Toy Box 2) have been spotted leaving their scheduled trajectories. Suspecting a Space Defense Front attack, INTO Chairman Clifford orders all available ships to protect the Supreme Council Meeting. An aide reminds him that the most likely target is the Von Braun, but Clifford tells him that the Von Braun's tandem mirror engine is operational, so they should be able to easily escape in the event of an attack. Sure enough, as the OSA vessels protecting the Von Braun pull away, Locksmith orders the tandem mirror engines to be brought up to speed. Colin, Lucie and Tanabe, having already boarded the Von Braun are surprised by the sudden announcement. Meanwhile, the Supreme Council is extremely confident that the situation will soon be back under their control, and considers using this attack as an excuse to pass another space tax. However, a report comes in from the OSA that the ships sent out after the six errant ships have been chasing decoys on account of Navstar manipulation. At this point, their screens go black and then display an image of a white cat with a very long tail. The cat speaks with an electronically altered voice being broadcast from a van driving across the lunar surface. It introduces itself as a member of the Space Defense Front and apologizes for interrupting their meeting before showing them a live video feed of the Von Braun. On board the Von Braun, Goro tries to fire up the engines, but they shut down on him. It seems that the emergency shutdown system, which was designed to prevent a terrorist takeover, has been activated remotely, preventing their escape. Under Hakim's control, Toy Box 2 docks with the Von Braun as Claire locks Yuri and Fee in the cargo bay. Space Defense Front soldiers board the Von Braun, shooting crew members as they go. Hakim leads a team to take Locksmith's office, while Claire leads a second team to take control of the control room. The alarm sounds just as Colin, Lucie and Tanabe are checking in. Outside, several SDF ships that have docked with the Von Braun begin pushing it out of its orbit. Meanwhile, the OSA manages to reboot the Navstar and regain control of their communications systems. They immediately notice that the Von Braun is now in an orbit which will send it crashing into the Moon and move to access it remotely, which suddenly causes communications to fall back under the SDF's control and the cat avatar to reappear before the INTO Supreme Council. The cat informs them that the Von Braun will be dropped onto Tranquility City (the Moon's largest population center). On board the Von Braun, the SDF continues rampaging toward the front of the ship. Goro arms himself with a fire axe, but Leonov and Sally tell him to stay in the control room and try to work around the emergency shutdown system while they buy him the time he needs. Elsewhere, Hachi has begun stalking around the ship, convinced that Hakim is back on board. He arms himself with a fallen SDF soldier's handgun and promises to finish the job this time. A panicking Colin is lead by Lucie towards the docking port, but they are separated from Tanabe, who knows that Hachi would stay and fight. Hakim contacts Claire and orders her to head back toward engineering, but before Claire can comply her group is ambushed by regrouping Von Braun security members and Claire is shot in the leg. Knowing that Claire's team is lost, Hakim considers what to do now, but is interrupted by another group of Von Braun security personnel, who manage to kill his remaining soldiers. Hakim manages to take the security guards out by detonating the plastic explosive they had managed to plant around Locksmith's office door. Alone now, Hakim enters the office, but realizes he's too late- Locksmith is gone. At that moment, Hachi gets the drop on him. Hachi pins Hakim's arms behind his back and holds his gun to Hakim's neck. A homicidal Hachi greets his old friend. 

 

Commentary

 

Now that's a tense episode. Claire finally hits rock bottom and betrays Fee and Yuri--both of whom have been nothing but kind to her since her demotion. Hachi has also snapped and seeks to kill Hakim not out of revenge but simply to prove to himself that he's the kind of cold-hearted bastard that will make it to Jupiter. And, in a brilliantly orchestrated move, the Space Defense Front has given itself a position from which they can make any demand they want from the INTO Supreme Council. On a side note, the long-tailed white cat that the SDF leader uses as his avatar originally appeared in the Planetes manga in a vision Hachi had whilst passed out on the surface of the Moon.

 

Overall Rating

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Planetes Episode 23 Planetes Episode 23

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