Captain Earth certainly isn’t going to stake out a place in the top echelon of BONES sci-fi shows, because that’s an extremely elite group. But damned if it hasn’t turned out to be a very good series, and one which is revealed to have had an interesting endgame in-mind all along, even if it occasionally took unnecessary detours along the way. It’s as if it were a river of many channels which really only gained a powerful current once they came together in a single flow, as they have in this final act.
I really liked this episode, because as most of them have lately, it had a strong and insistent narrative drive and the events were executed with clarity and precision. It was good storytelling, plain and simple, and Captain Earth has a strong enough cast that it always succeeds when the narrative itself rises to the occasion. We’re at the point in the story now where we pretty much know who everybody is and where they stand, and the fact that what results is a compelling story is a vindication for the series as a whole.
What we have on the Tenkaidou is essentially a three-pronged battle, with the Intercept Faction, Kivotos and Planetary Gears each trying to manipulate events to their own ends. Just when things seem bleakest for the Tenkaidou because of Hirosue and his bomb, the P.G.s (via Ai) intervene. And just when things seem bleakest because of what she does, Hirosue is prepared to release Hana in order to prevent the worst from happening. It’s an interesting dynamic, and it especially casts the conflict between the two human factions in an surprising light.
The Gears have certainly figured out what Operation Summer is, and their actions are in-effect self defense – though certainly from a human perspective, Operation Summer is self-defense in the first place. Essentially, Kivotos is ceding the battlefield to the enemy – they’re surrendering the Earth as part of their plan for “victory”. It’s a defeatist approach, though no doubt their “Committee of 300” goals are a major part of it. It’s interesting to ponder – would the leaders of the Ark Faction willingly accept a scenario where the Intercept side won, saving the Earth and almost all its people? Is their plan predicated on the notion that the Intercept Faction is doomed to fail, or on taking advantage of the situation to build a new elite society to their own specifications elsewhere?
Whatever the leaders would do, Hirosue (why they seem to treat as something like an attack dog) reveals his true stripes via his actions here. His plan is a good one – he’s rigged a Netero-style trigger to his vital signs, with bombs planted all over the Tenkaidou to detonate if he dies. And it would have worked, too, if not for those meddling alien kids. It’s Ai’s plan to launch a veritable avalanche of space debris at the Tenkaidou that fundamentally changes the dynamic. First Teppei goes out in the Nebula Engine to destroy the debris, but it keeps coming in greater and greater numbers and eventually escapes him, leaving the Nebula crippled and silent. Daichi is forced to suspend the hunt for the kidnapped Hana and launch in the Earth Engine, planning to use the experimental “boosted plasmagnum” to destroy the hundreds of hunks of debris hurtling towards the Tenkaidou. Unfortunately this also means taking out Teppei, who’s in the line of fire and unable to move or communicate – and there’s no time to launch a rescue mission.
This is a good, solid sci-fi climax – but it’s all the more interesting because of the chain reaction of events it causes. Convinced Daichi will be unable to fire Hirosue decides to release Hana so that she can enter the Blume and stop the debris field before it destroys everything (including the Ark). But Daichi does fire, knowing he’ll be taking Teppei’s life if he does. There’s a part of me that says the dramatic impact would have been greater if Teppei had actually died (not that I have anything against him) and I
‘m still not quire sure how he survived – he references “DC”, which I assume still stands for Designer Children, apparently it was “Dream Catcher, his Livelaster, that saved him). But the event is artfully used to shake up the series, with Hirosue being so taken by Daichi’s resolve that he allows himself to believe that sacrificing everything (including his family on Earth) may not be the only hope. And of course, despite Teppei’s lack of reproach this will always hang in the air between Daichi and he, and perhaps change their relationship in a fundamental way.
There are certainly still some cards to be played here. We had nary a mention of Puck this week, but what role will he take when the battle between the two factions reaches its climax with the launch of Operation Summer? And what will the Planetary Gears themselves do, with what seems almost to be a shared interest with the Kivotos Faction? And of course we still have the potential for a divide within the alien side, with Baku and Setsuna (both of whom were conspicuously absent from planning sessions this week) clearly engaging in a level of introspection and hesitation that the others are not. It’s a pretty damn good setup if you ask me, and offers the potential for a more interesting conclusion than we might get from some flashier and more popular series.