by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Schwarzes Marken ?
Oh, so newcomer Lise (i.e., the blonde with the hair bows shown in the closer) is actually Theodor's sister. I guess that I should be less surprised than I am that she popped up again in that capacity.
Or, to be more accurate, Lise is actually Theodor's stepsister. The first post-opener scene makes it clear that Theodor was adopted at a relatively young age by a distant relative of his mother, so any actual blood relation he has to Lise is thin at best. This was, of course, a necessary revelation because we cannot have something like real incest interfere with integrating Lise into the harem vibe that Theodor already has going with Irisdina and Katia, can we?
Cynicism aside, this is a story about East Germany in a time when everyone was paranoid (and had good reason to be), so naturally Theodor's sister suddenly showing up for the first time since their separation smells fishy to both the viewer and the other 666 Squadron members. Is Lise on the Stasi payroll? Was she brainwashed and planted here as a spy? Theodor is asked by Irisdina to find out. Certainly she seems genuine, and darn it all if she doesn't still have that hair bow that her brother bought for her many years ago, but Theodor is understandably coy about revealing anything about Irisdina's true motives to her when she asks why he can trust a supposed Stasi informant like here. Right now I think it's equally likely that she has been brainwashed/reprogrammed or that she is an innocent dupe meant to provoke Theodor into openly traitorous behavior; after all, keeping them apart for several years as insurance would hardly be an unheard-of tactic.
This is also the episode where we finally get to see Gretel Jeckeln's status as the unit's political officer take full effect. So far she's been remarkably cooperative and supportive of the unit, but when the 666 gets involved in a joint UN operation to reestablish a beachhead against the BETA in Poland, her concern for Eastern Germany's top squadron distinguishing itself (and in the process representing the motherland well) takes over, which combines with her more limited tactical experience to lead to some questionable decisions. Looks like one of the female West German TSF pilots also has grave misgivings about working with the East Germans (whom she insists are “not German”); no doubt we haven't seen the last of her.
While Lise's arrival and reconnecting with Theodor is the early feature, the combined mecha/naval fleet action actually forms the bulk of the episode. Mecha fans and general military enthusiasts should not be left disappointed by the attention to animation detail that these scenes get; I personally found intriguing how skillfully ship designs were reimagined to create a realistic TSF carrier; it basically looks like a small tanker with large apertures on its deck that up to a dozen TSFs can be launched from. I have no doubt that the military uniforms and the way Lt. Pham's broken arm is braced are also realistic.
What this all means, in short, is that all aspects of the show are chugging along pretty nicely at this point, hence the continued high rating.
Schwarzes Marken is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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