Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 41 of
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV 2) ?
From heartwarming baby talk to actual murder, this episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans gave me whiplash I'm still reeling from. We go from comedy and romance to betrayal and violence so quickly that it's less of a space opera and more of a soap opera. That said, it's an episode with real emotion that has me feeling right alongside these characters, even if I hated them last episode like Iok. There weren't any Gundam fights today, but the human drama got my heart racing anyway.
It's time for a modest funeral for Amida and Naze, and Orga is acting as if he's back at square one. In Orga's mind, following Naze is the reason he's gotten to where he is today, and now there's no mentor he can turn to for guidance. He recalled Naze's last good advice to him, about taking care of his family instead of just rushing blindly forward to become the King of Mars and “take it easy after that.” But it looks like Orga isn't taking that advice at all. He's going to take Jasley's bait and let Mikazuki hand it to them in his new version of Barbatos, Lupus Rex, which tellingly means “king.” Orga is allowing himself to be guided by emotion, telling Mikazuki, “if we're headed in one direction, we don't need any reason.” Now that Naze's dead and can do no wrong, it seems to me that this is seriously the wrong decision to make.
On the other hand, I can't blame Orga for letting his emotions run high. Jasley is intentionally baiting him. He arrives at Naze's funeral making a show of having the largest memorial bouquet and loudly makes insulting jokes about Naze's hair. Jasley's heightened aggression has a clear origin—even after his death, McMurdo is siding with Naze in Jasley's view. It's stupid but so conceivably realistic that Jasley's envy and petty internal politicking has turned into a string of assassinations. This is how serial killers are made—the first kill was easy and had zero consequences, so he's getting ready to do it again, and he has the perfect stooge in Iok Kujan. Iok is just so earnest this episode, sending Jasley a handwritten thank you note. He brags about his actions to Rustal, thinking he did something praiseworthy. His exasperation is what makes him usable and dangerous. Both Iok and Jasley are terrible, but I really appreciated the way this episode put their personalities and motivations on display. I'll never like either of them, but now I understand them.
The crux of the episode, where Orga's judgment is clouded and Jasley becomes even more heinous than Iok, is when Lafter is suddenly killed while buying a stuffed bear that looks like Akihiro. Azee's anguish cry in this scene is so realistic, capturing the surprise and horror of this sudden act of violence. It's a Gundam tradition that nobody in love can live happily ever after, but I didn't predict Lafter's death until her outing with Akihiro. When they meet outside and Lafter gives him her promised squeeze, the characters are shown from some unusual faraway viewpoints, like deep inside an alleyway or from a rooftop looking down. It feels so obviously like somebody is watching them, and that's when I began to fear for both of their lives. It was awful to see the normally calm and collected people around her just lose it—Azee's scream and Akihiro resting tearlessly and methodically after wrecking the gym.
The contrasts of this episode are physically painful. There were so many fluffy spots, from Akihiro's “wingmen” getting the concept of a date into his dense skull, to Atra and Hush caring for the Turbine babies, to Mikazuki getting a little baby crazy and surprising Atra! Going from Lafter's hug to Lafter's death is going to take me more than a week to get over—at least with Naze and Amida, we saw it coming several episodes ago. It's Stockholm Syndrome the way this show keeps hurting me and I keep, excitedly and willingly, going back each week. It's thrilling, it's heartwarming, it's horrifically tragic—and it's irrefutably human.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is available streaming at Daisuki.net.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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