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Phase 24: Love

 

Review by Scott Richardson

July 8, 2006

 

Summary

 

The Von Braun continues its decent toward Tranquility City with only 30 minutes to go before it passes the point of no return. Goro works feverishly to get past the engine lock-out as the remaining trainees fight off the remaining Space Defense Front soldiers. Locksmith has safely made it to an escape craft, when one of his lackeys wonders if it's okay to leave on their own. Locksmith explains that as long as he lives, the Von Braun can be rebuilt, though--as he considers the Von Braun to be his precious child--he'd like to at least wait until the last minute. Hachi, still holding a gun to Hakim's neck, tells Hakim how happy he is to see him. All Hachi can think about is the last time they were in this position, when he was unable to back up his threat. This time he plans to finish the job. Meanwhile, Yuri burns through Fee's ropes with her lighter. Once they're free, Fee plans to use Toy Box 2 to try to push the Von Braun back into orbit. Yuri notes that the tiny ship will be unable to make any difference in the Von Braun's orbit, but Fee wants to try anyway. Fortunately, Cheng-Shin, currently the co-pilot of a freighter, has the same idea. His ship won't be able to make a difference on its own, but if others have the same idea, they just might be able to do it. Back on the Von Braun, Tanabe runs around in a daze, wanting to help but unable to figure out what to do when she stumbles on an unconscious Claire, who's suffering from a gunshot wound in her leg. Not able to find anyone else alive, she decides to take Claire and find an escape capsule. At the INTO Supreme Council meeting, the Space Defense Front issues its demands by way of their avatar cat. They want the bill which would divide up space resources according to the amount of money a country contributes to INTO to be rejected. Back in Locksmith's office, Hakim manages to throw Hachi off balance and disarm him. They exchange attacks but neither manages to land a decent blow. Eventually, Hachi lunges for the gun, but Hakim catches him in a headlock. Hachi accuses Hakim of being a fanatic, but in Hakim's eyes Hachi is the fanatic--one totally obsessed with space. Hachi reminds Hakim that he's the one trying to destroy a city, but Hakim informs him that the number of people who starved to death last year makes the total population of Tranquility City look like nothing. According to Hakim, the lives of the people in Tranquility City were bought at the expense of countless deaths on Earth. Elsewhere, Colin and Lucie run into a Von Braun security officer, and Colin orders him to escort them to a safe location. Unfortunately, before the officer can comply, a few SDF soldiers open fire, killing him. Colin freezes up, but when a bullet buzzes through Lucie's hair, he manages to regain enough of his senses to pull them both to cover. Lucie, almost in shock from coming so close to death, is temporarily unable to move. Also trying to deal with their situation, Colin chooses this moment to curl up on the floor and start crying. This and the sight of the dead security officer's gun send Lucie over the edge. She grabs the weapon and starts firing back at the SDF, yelling that she's not ready to die, as there are still so many things she wants to do. Tanabe patches up Claire's leg with a medical kit found in an escape pod, but is caught off guard when an explosion starts to depressurize the bay. With no other option, she activates the escape pod, which shoots her and Claire away from the ship. Fee prepares to have Toy Box 2 attempt to push the Von Braun off course, just as Cheng-Shin's freighter pulls up with the same idea. They know that the two of them won't be enough, but continue futilely pushing in the vain hope that they can at least force it to miss the city. Inside, Goro is defeated by the lock-out code. Just as the Von Braun loams large over Tranquility City, the lock-out suddenly disappears and the Von Braun's tandem mirror engine fires, pushing away from the city and back into orbit. As it turned out, the Supreme Council folded to the demands of the Space Defense Front, rejecting the Chairman's bill and adopting a new policy that will have space resources distributed based on population. Privately, Chairman Clifford promises to have territorial rights to a certain unnamed island relinquished. The man behind the cat compliments him on his negotiating skills and then returns control of the Navstar and communications to INTO. SDF soldiers on the Von Braun and in Galileo Development are abandoned to their fate. Meanwhile, the battle between Hakim and Hachi continues. Hakim berates humanity for its 'climb the mountain because it's there' philosophy, but Hachi tells him that humanity is already on the move and it's too late to hit the brakes now. Hakim just wants humanity to know its limitations. Hakim lunges for the gun, but Hachi knocks him off balance. When the dust settles, Hachi has the gun aimed right at Hakim's head. Seeming to accept his fate, Hakim tells Hachi that those are the eyes he was talking about: the eyes of a man capable of eliminating anything in his way. Hakim guarantees Hachi that when he pulls the trigger he'll be reborn as a new man--an animal incapable of doing anything but moving forward. Hachi tells him that that suits him just fine and begins to squeeze the trigger... 

 

Tanabe and Claire's escape pod does not make a clean landing on the lunar surface. With the pod smashed, Tanabe gets herself and Claire into spacesuits. Claire is in bad shape from the bleeding and is currently unconscious. Despite this, Tanabe tells her not to worry, the automatic SOS from the pod should bring a rescue team from Tranquility City shortly. Unfortunately, Tanabe then realizes that the com system was damaged in the crash and the SOS cannot be sent. Their air will only last them ten hours, and Claire may not last that long without medical attention. Tanabe decides that their only hope of survival is to head for shelter. Meanwhile, the OSA finally arrives on the Von Braun and captures the remaining Space Defense Front members. In Tranquility City, Galileo Development is raided and a badly injured Dolf is brought out on a stretcher. The van from which the leaders of the Space Defense Front made their demands is found abandoned in a car park. Tanabe carries Claire across the lunar surface, heading for a communications facility 40 kilometers from their crash site. Tanabe calculates that if she maintains a pace of 4.5 kph, they'll make it before their air runs out. Claire wakes up and Tanabe fills her in on their situation. Claire doesn't think it's possible--even with the Moon's lower gravity--for Tanabe to make it whilst carrying her, but Tanabe remains optimistic, telling her that she's a lot stronger now than when she lived on Earth. Hours later, Tanabe is starting to feel the strain on her legs and worries that the station isn't in sight yet. She pauses momentarily to catch her breath, and Claire tells her to just leave her and go on alone. Tanabe reminds her that she'll die if Tanabe leaves her and Claire responds that that is exactly what she wants. Claire tells Tanabe that she's been ready to die since she decided to help Hakim steal Toy Box 2 and fills Tanabe in on the events leading up to her being shot in the leg on the Von Braun. Tanabe simply tells her that she won't fall for such lies. Reminding Tanabe that there would be no other explanation for her sudden appearance on the Von Braun, Claire also tells her that, assuming that their plan was a success, Fee, Yuri, Hachi and the residents of Tranquility City are all dead. And, as far as Claire is concerned, it serves them right. That's what they get for abandoning her. Having killed so many of the people Tanabe cares about, Claire tells Tanabe to put her down and leave her. As far as Claire is concerned, she deserves to die. Tanabe tells Claire that she's not going to do that, and Claire snidely asks if that's because there's no love in it. Claire tells Tanabe that love can't save anything. Tanabe obviously disagrees, but Claire gets angry, asking Tanabe to have love call up some extra air or a rescue team. Or bring Hachi back to life. Tanabe says that she still doesn't believe Claire is a terrorist, and also doesn't believe that any person's life is worthless. Tanabe still absolutely believes that love can make anything bearable. But her resolve begins to weaken as she begins to remember all the miserable people that she's met over her year as a debris hauler. She also thinks about Hachi, whom she still loves despite his best efforts to shake her of it. Suddenly she has a realization. It wasn't her that saved Hachi when he developed Spatial Loss Disorder. And it's not her that he's in love with--he loves space and the Von Braun. Unable to go any further Tanabe loses her grip on Claire and drops to her knees. Slowly, she collects herself and decides to keep moving, but suddenly, a warning light turns on. With 10 kilometers to go, Tanabe has only five minutes of oxygen left. Panic begins to set in--Tanabe screams for someone to come and help them. Absolutely terrified of death and watching her time quickly count down, Tanabe realizes that the unconscious Claire should have a lot more air than she thanks to having been carried all this way. Remembering Claire telling her that she deserves to die, Tanabe moves toward Claire's air tank. Alone, she realizes, she could make it, and Claire's plea to be left to die echoes through Tanabe's mind. Having completely lost herself in her mad panic, Tanabe unlocks Claire's air tank just as her own oxygen tank flatlines… 

 

Commentary

 

Holy crap. Every time I see it, the ending of this episode still gets to me. This is, in my mind, the most terrifying cliffhanger ever. Could you blame Tanabe if she did let Claire die? The same Claire that betrayed Debris Section and (as far as she knows) killed thousands of people including many of Tanabe's friends? Let Claire die so Tanabe won't face a slow, horrible death by suffocation? Tanabe's entire world-view is being put to the absolute test--if she stays true to herself, she dies. It doesn't help that the scene is so perfectly done--Tanabe going mad from fear as the beautiful song Planetes plays in the background. Even worse, this episode features two cliffhangers if you include Hachi preparing to shoot a defeated Hakim. Whether or not Hakim deserves to die isn't the issue. Hachi isn't out to kill Hakim because he's trying to destroy a city. He isn't even really trying to kill Hakim because he betrayed him. His primary reason for killing Hakim is to prove that he's got what it takes to reach this ideal of a person totally consumed by his own dreams that he's built up in his head over the past half-season. Anyway, personal battles aside, the heroic efforts of Fee, Yuri, Cheng-Shin and Goro wind up amounting to nothing as the conflict between INTO and the SDF is resolved when Chairmen Clifford (a jerk in his own right) negotiates a compromise with the self-serving leader of the SDF. Though on the surface this might seem somewhat anti-climactic, it is amusingly realistic. As Locksmith noted, the war was started behind the scenes and that's exactly where it ended. I just can't praise this episode enough--I'd give it a 6 out of 5 if I thought Chris would let me get away with it [ed.- sorry, that ain't gonna happen].

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

5 out of 5 stars
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Planetes Episode 24 Planetes Episode 24

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