Aldnoah.Zero – 07

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Could we be headed for another “Han or Greedo” controversy?

Han shot first.

That was certainly a lot to take in, in a good way.  Mostly we got an episode delivered over to some of the best action of any series this season, but it finished by unzipping an enormous bundle of intriguing questions that should have a huge impact on the future direction of the series.  And for me, this was the episode where Inaho’s strange inscrutability was most effectively utilized, thanks to those last few minutes – not knowing just what he’s thinking gives him an intriguing air of menace.

After what effectively amounted to a three-minute recap pre-credits (I really dislike those) events picked up right where they left off, and they certainly hit the ground running.  It always seemed likely that we were going to see Inaho and Slaine team up at last, though I think it’s fair to say my expectations were exceeded.  Not only did their respective brands of genius prove to be quite compatible, but we even got a de facto gattai move.  Surely this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…

Ah, well – alas, for now at least things are a bit more complicated.  There’s really nothing too noteworthy about Femianne and her Hellas – we see the exact pattern repeated for the third time.  The Martian kataphrakts are strong with a fatal weakness, Inoha exploits it, and they’re destroyed.  Like her predecessors she a plot device, but the results are good – not only is the entire battle sequence superbly executed, but it was really interesting to watch “Orange” and “Bat” take the measure of each other and figure out how to work together.  Slaine is quick on his feet, instinctive and quick to adjust – Inaho analyzes and deconstructs with calm deliberation.  Their combine move was literal and figurative – they made a powerful team.  And it’s not insignificant that it was Rayet that took the final shot and killed Femianne, noting that “All Martians will pay for father’s death”.  I think that settles any questions about where her loyalties lie.

It’s now that the questions start arising.  I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Marito’s buried report turned out to be true, but we still don’t know the full import behind what was discovered at Tanegashima this week.  We see a Martian kataphrakt – the “demon” Marito saw 15 years earlier.   Presumably the Terran kataphrakts were reverse-engineered from this prototype, but without Aldnoah were nothing more than the walking tanks we’ve seen in action.  But what was it that made the Captain and the others gasp in shock when they saw it?  Was it the flying battleship that soon made it’s appearance, or something else?  And why have the Earth authorities kept the existence of this secret base and its contents secret for 15 years – is it simply a matter of being unable to exploit them because of the lack of Aldnoah?

“Exploit” is a big word in those crucial last few moments of the episode.  If Rayet has confirmed her loyalties to us, Asseylum has confirmed her identity to everyone by taking control of the battleship – presumably the only way it could be used unless or until she grants Aldnoah to someone else.  It seems natural at this point for Slaine to join the cause officially, but this is where things get dodgy.  With the immediate crisis over he and Inaho have time to really size each other up.  The most simple explanation for what happened is that Inaho suspects that Slaine is one of the Martian faction that tried to kill Asseylum, otherwise how would he know she was alive?  He gives Slaine a chance to explain himself, and Slaine refuses – he simply demands to see the Princess.

Inaho’s sphinx-like nature lends itself to another possibility, though.  Slaine asks him if he intends to “exploit” the Princess, and his response is “Would it bother you if I did?”  Slaine asks if Inaho is his enemy, and Inaho replies with “You are my enemy.”  It’s a fascinating exchange, that, and here’s a question – Inaho has shown himself to be astute to an almost Marty Stu (Gary, if you prefer) level so far.  Would he really so badly misread the situation here, after Slaine has just risked his life to help him?  Or is it just possible that he has a plan to “exploit” Asseylum to stop the war, and he sees Slaine – whose role in all this he’s correctly sussed out (remember, Asseylum has talked about Slaine to Inaho) – as an obstacle to that plan?

Or, he could just be hot for her and doesn’t want the competition.

I suppose we’re going to know a lot more after the next ep, but it’s certainly intriguing to ponder.  As to their exchange of hostilities, if you watch carefully it seems clear that it was Han Slaine that fired first.  Also, it seems that Inaho fired a disabling shot rather than one intended to destroy Slaine’s ship.  In any event it’s a wild finish, and it leaves Slaine in quite the bind.  Saazbaum – who’s happily proving to have at least a modicum of intelligence – has now located Slaine (and seems dismayed to learn that it’s Tanegashima that he’s headed to).  It seems there’s no refuge with the Terrans despite his assistance against Femianne, and soon enough he’ll be facing the threat of capture from above (though he does have the advantage in that Saazbaum needs him alive, making him a a far more difficult target).  This is the sort of cliffhanger every action series should aspire to, and the anticipation starts as soon as the credits roll.  Well played, Aldnoah.Zero.

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14 comments

  1. H

    I'm still not completely sure what to make of Slaine and Inaho's conversation at the end myself, my best guess is that Inaho still doesn't trust him because he's a Martian and therefore doesn't want to accidentally let someone get close enough to Asseyelum to kill her, although you're right that since he is such a quiet character that we really have no idea what he's thinking. However, given that he's advised against her revealing herself and it was Rayet, not Inaho, who made the "I will use anyone I need to" comment I doubt that he currently has any plans to exploit her, heck if he does make them I'd half expect him to lay them all out in front of her to get her cooperation on it as well. Regardless, as excited as ever for what the next episode will bring!

  2. R

    One thing that i have to say is that there is a bit too many conveniences here. How the heck did Inaho even know that there was a dock there? And how convenient that the dock they entered just happened to lead to the captured Martian battleship.

    But, hey, I am not complaining. It is still one heck of a ride. I really love the track that played when Slaine and Inaho directly confronted Femianne. Though I do hope that the next opponent they face is a lot more interesting. The pattern is getting a bit boring.

    One thing that really strikes me here is how Asseylum came to a realization that she really needs to do something to stop the conflict. It does come in as a nice payoff. and an interesting turn to her characterization.

  3. Z

    Looks like team Inaho have found White Base and Tallgeese!

  4. R

    They even got Relene Peacecraft/Lacus Clyne on their side now (I got the white base reference, but didn't get the Tallgeese one)

  5. Z

    Tallgeese was the prototype from which the Gundams were later made.

  6. R
  7. z

    Inaho didn't know there was a dock there. It just happened to be pure luck that one of Femieanne's fists hit the rock wall at the right location. For what it's worth, that specific section of wall seemed like it was hastily put up and not reinforced at all… perhaps an indication that the United Earth government abandoned this top-secret "Area 51" style base in a hurry.

  8. K

    Is Inaho the Lelouch to Slaine's Suzaku?

  9. Z

    Although unfortunately they got Jeremiah "orange" all wrong, or may be it's a reference?

  10. m

    While there are thing that are a bit too convenient, especially with regards to the enemies having such an exploitable weakness, I think that falls under the category of things you have to accept in a sci-fi show. It's the anthropic principle: if Inaho wasn't good enough to defeat all three Martian Kata and find out about the secret base then the story would've already been over by now. This ep was so entertaining that I didn't even notice the absurdity of him knowing where the base was until you said something about it, so I don't mind overlooking it.

    I agree that the in fight music was phenomenal. The series has done a great job overall of having really unique yet perfectly fitting music. After this ep the only thing that sort of worries me is that it feels like this is a series that needs a season 2, and a season 2 confirmed before they write the ending.

  11. H

    Agreeing with the first paragraph, it's a rare story these days that's NOT set up where if the protagonist fails everything falls to pieces. If the story had the time to deal with them all getting nearly killed/captured or if we had a big enough cast that we could alternate between who saves the day it'd be a very different story indeed, not that I wouldn't watch that. And I think Inaho noticed something about where the base was, he pauses for just a second (can't figure out why, I think the arms did something weird and then he decided to knock them off course to find out) but as you, Enzo, said in the review he has so little internal dialogue that he does come off as a very unknowable character most of the time.

  12. N

    I think the reason Inaho shoot down Slain was because their goals are different: Slain and Princess together may bring peace between Martians and Terrans. But let's be honest: the Martians would just look for another opportunity to attack and Inaho probably realizes that so he may want to take the "Defeat the Martians" route rather than the route of peace.

  13. d

    Or, at the same time, it may not. Slaine has no solid plans. He's winging it, and that hasn't worked in Martian politics. It already backfired turning armistice by the Emperor to full out war.

    Yep, Inaho would realize there's more politican spin involved. What Slaine would do, had he communicated his intentions (which he didn't), would likely fail.

    Inaho is inherently distrusting & scrutinizing, for good reason, and Slaine also has no reason to trust Inaho. Slaine is also too (take pick) stupid / emotional / inexperienced to actually sweet talk his way into getting the princess.

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