by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Schwarzes Marken ?
We have known for a while now that the Stasi was maneuvering to make a power grab, and that does finally take place here in episode 7. However, the late stages of the episode suggest that the Stasi might not have actually been behind everything.
The main focus of the episode is still what's happening on the front lines. The intimidating numbers of the new wave of attackers are a problem, but a bigger one surfaces when the attack actually happens: this wave has Heavy Laser Class BETAs, which are powerful enough to be game-changers compared to what the GDR forces have been used to fighting. That makes taking them out even more critical, but they are also more resilient to attacks, and so using mecha-sized melee weapons on them is often required. A laserjagd by the 666 Squadron takes out the first group, but at the cost of Irisdina being injured to the point that most of her squadron insists on her remaining in the backfield when a second, bigger group of Heavy Laser Class shows up. Combined with support from ship-to-ship missiles, the unit is (barely) able to handle the second wave, too. But they have a nasty surprise waiting for them back at their hanger.
One big question at the end of the episode is what, if anything, that surprise has to do with what's going on back in Berlin. While the front line attack is happening, Axmann makes his move and seems prepared to fend off a strike by Brehme's forces, much to the dismay of Gretel, who had remained behind in Berlin to muster more support. However, it apparently wasn't Major Brehme who showed up to attack but someone else entirely. (Either that, or Major Brehme somehow found access to some unusual equipment.) Are they affiliated with the same armed group that invades the hangar in the episode's epilogue? That seems likely, as does the probability that Lise was connected to that group all along instead of the Stasi; after all, she is holding a gun to Irisdina's head as a threat to get her brother to come out of the protection of his TSF cockpit (where Katia also scrambles to when she can't make it to her own unit). So who is this other faction?
The other big question is whether Lise's cold expression at the end of the episode is just her revealing her true nature or her being royally pissed that she gave herself to Theodor last episode (this one confirms that they did end up having sex) and yet he's still showing loyalty first to Irisdina. It's probably a mix of both, since Lise does make one final attempt to get Theodor to abandon East Germany for the West, under the pretext of East Germany being a lost cause. Theodor, for his part, insisted that he went ahead and had sex with her because he figured that he could keep her under control that way, but either he was simply a loser at that game of manipulation or he grossly underestimated Lise's jealous streak. Either way, it's pretty clear that he should just stick to fighting in mecha and leave the intrigue to others.
Beyond that, the comments are mostly the standard ones for this series: good mecha action and a heavily-dramatic but effectively-used musical score. The same ruminations about how mankind is shooting itself in the foot through internecine warfare in the face of such a devastating threat is also present; I really have to wander what ace Axmann thinks he has up his sleeve that he can afford to be messing around with a coup d'etat when the BETA are threatening to overrun Berlin. Depending on who and what this mystery group is doing, it may soon not even matter anymore.
Schwarzes Marken is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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