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Phase 3: Return Trajectory

 

Review by Scott Richardson

May 1, 2006

 

Summary

 

Down in the Debris Section office, Tanabe gets some sarcastic advice from Hachi on how to write the written apology for nearly causing a debris collision earlier. Their ensuing spat is interrupted when an attractive young woman enters the office and attempts to sell Hachi some life insurance. Hachi chases her off, and Fee explains that the insurance salesmen are usually out in force at this time of the year. Myers enters the office with other salesmen in tow, all trying their best to bribe him into buying their policies. Meanwhile, Lavie informs Tanabe she'll have write out a last will and testament--it's company policy for employees to write out a fresh one each year. As Hachi explains, there's no telling when you might die when you work in space. Noticing Tanabe is a little taken aback by this, the life insurance salesmen strike, but wind up fighting amongst themselves rather than pitching to Tanabe. Tanabe struggles to come up with the right things to write to her parents in the event of her premature death when she notices Hachi's will on his desk. It consists entirely of a crude drawing of the spaceship he wants to buy someday. Hachi walks in and Tanabe unleashes her idealist's fury on him for not writing something meaningful for his family. Hachi says he doesn't care, because if they see it he'll be dead anyway. But, Tanabe demands he rewrite it, so Hachi snatches it back and scrawls 'Good luck' on top of the drawing--asking if she's happy now. Tanabe gives up. Later that day, Tanabe has lunch with her friends. They discuss their last wills and Tanabe angrily describes Hachi's. Unfortunately, her friends don't match her anger and her friend Lucie suggests that Tanabe must be in love with Hachi, since she's always talking about him. Before Tanabe can mount a protest, the subject is changed to the deluge of insurance salesmen. One of them got suckered into buying a married couple's plan--despite that she isn't seeing anybody and doesn't date co-workers. Lucie mentions she'd like to date Cheng-Shin. Later on, Hachi and Tanabe collect equipment for the upcoming mission and Tanabe brings up the subject of their last wills again. Hachi tells her to go with her gut and just write. The saleslady from earlier interrupts them and suggests that the best thing to leave her loved ones is money. Naturally, Tanabe has a problem with this assertion, and eventually loudly decides that she will leave her loved ones her love. Bewildered by Tanabe's odd epiphany, Hachi tells Tanabe that she's pretty amazing, or at least not jaded. Hachi still can't decide what he'd want to leave behind, but he's sure it isn't money or words. Out in space, Hachi, Tanabe and Yuri are collecting random scrap when Tanabe once again asks Hachi about his will. She suggests he could leave a video letter if he can't figure out something to write. Eventually, Tanabe starts prying into Hachi's family life, which doesn't sit too well with him. Fee interrupts from the ship, asking if they want some overtime, as there's a piece of debris nearby which got sucked into Earth's orbit from a commentary orbit.

 

Back on Seven, Lavie and Myers' plan to block out the salesmen by wearing earplugs, dark sunglasses, and face masks is starting to fall apart under the siege of a dozen or so salesmen who've come to try to claim the last hold-outs. Lavie attempts to make his escape, but the Saleslady blocks his path. Cornered, Lavie wonders how many of these people there could possibly be. Meanwhile, Hachi, Tanabe and Yuri have intercepted the debris they were after, only to discover that it's actually a coffin from a space burial--a practice that was abolished more than fifty years ago--of an astronaut named Fadlan. Apparently, it was intended to leave the solar system, but didn't escape the sun's gravity and through an incredible coincidence has made its way all the way back to Earth. Back on Toy Box, Tanabe and Hachi argue over what should be done about the coffin. Hachi thinks it should simply be classified as debris, but Tanabe reminds him that it contains someone's body. Fee reports back to Control Section, which decides that the coffin legally belongs to its occupant's family. They connect Toy Box to Fadlan's daughter who asks how her father looked--as she never had the courage to look at her father's face after he died. Hachi tells her that he was smiling. Fadlan's daughter looks somewhat distressed by this news. She explains that her father loved space, and rarely came home to visit his family. Eventually, he was made ill by radiation and died shortly after he retired. In his will he stated that he wanted to be buried in space. His will did not mention his wife or daughter at all. With sadness in her voice, she requests that he be sent back into space. Tanabe chooses this moment to go ballistic, yelling that they shouldn't do it--that Fadlan should be with his family. Hachi tries to get Tanabe back under control, but Tanabe pushes him away and floats back to the airlock. Thinking that she's gone off to sulk, Hachi doesn't follow. Tanabe suits up and exits the ship, taking Fadlan's coffin with her. When they realize what's going on, Hachi and Yuri pursue her and corner her on top of the ship. Tanabe threatens to toss Fadlan into the atmosphere if they come any closer. She's dead set against putting Fadlan back into space, but, as Hachi points out, it is not her place to decide. Tanabe suggests because his coffin came back to Earth, Fadlan must have regretted being buried in space--pointing out the astronomical odds against such a situation as proof that it must have been a miracle. While Tanabe to spout off about love Yuri focuses his camera on the coffin window, where a picture of Fadlan's wife and daughter floats. Fadlan's daughter--still in contact with Fee--sees this and begins to cry. Tanabe finishes up by tearfully asking how anyone could be satisfied with living and dying alone--space is just too big for that. Fortunately for Tanabe, Fadlan's daughter now asks that the body be sent back to Earth. The next day, in Debris Section, Tanabe grapples with the paperwork necessary to send a body back down to Earth. Since she was so, ahem, adamant about the idea, Fee thought that she ought to be the one to deal with the red tape. On the other side of the table, the saleslady has finally conned a defeated Lavie and Myers into signing up for some more insurance. She offers Hachi a plan for lovers, but Hachi turns her down, suggesting that there's no way the universe is that sentimental.

 

Commentary

 

This episode suffers a bit from Tanabe's overbearing idealism. Wanting to record your feelings to send to your family is one thing, but hijacking a corpse is a bit over the top (you have to wonder where she was planning on taking it). Miracle or no, they were just trying to respect the guy's last wishes. Fortunately, the episode is not totally wasted on Tanabe's tantrum--the insurance salesmen subplot featuring the antics of Myers and Lavie is amusing and we get to learn a bit more about Hachi's character.

 

Overall Rating

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2 out of 5 stars
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