With only two episodes to go left in the season Iron-Blooded Orphans shifts up a gear going into the home stretch. This was without any doubt one of the best episodes of the season again and coming only two weeks after the undisputed best episode of the season its a pretty good feeling to write that. The theme of the episode can basically be summed up as “everyone lies”- to themselves and others. Although with a title like “The Final Lie” that isn’t exactly a very profound statement to make, however even after a couple watches it still remains hard to grasp which is indeed “the final lie” even if I have my own opinion on the subject. If you missed last weeks episode which is essential viewing for this weeks check out my write up here.
Authors Note: I have been more sick this week then I have been in a decade sorry for the late write up.
Starting with Gjallahorn Carta is seen pleading for forgiveness in front of Iznario Fareed due to the result of her rampant failures of the past few days. Saying it is unbecoming for a member of the Seven Stars and unacceptable for a daughter of the Issue family in particular. Iznario however gives Carta a chance to redeem herself in his eyes by halting Makanai’s progress to the Parliamentary elections in Edmonton.
McGillis waiting outside plays Carta like a fiddle. Reminiscing about their childhood together McGillis moves Carta into position to challenge Tekkadan directly while giving Carta the impression he cares for her. Now considering how its becoming quite clear McGillis cares for nobody but himself that is a pretty hefty lie to start the episode. We also discover that McGillis doesn’t seem to be a biological son of the Fareed family either, likely being a driving reason for his contempt for the Gjallahorn brass as he’s seen and felt their distrust of outsiders directly. Furthermore a flash back is a pretty hefty death flag to be raising so early.
Following the opening we return to Tekkadan who is preparing to bring Makanai to Edmonton to stand for election in front of the Parliament. However an issue is the prohibition on Ahab Reactors within the cities limits meaning no Mobile Suits allowed. To get around this Tekkadan loads up tank type Mobile Workers they recently procured, however being new Earth bound models they are not equipped with the Alaya-Vijnana system limiting Tekkadans advantages.
However while this is happening Merribet continues to have problems with the direction Tekkadan is heading in. Since the death of Biscuit she’s felt Tekkadan has become even more reckless then they were previously, the very thing Biscuit was against. She pleads with Orga to at least keep the children out of the fighting, the children though have choice words for her view and are very much against the idea; nobody is keeping them from their revenge.
Returning to Gjallahorn Ein has “awoken” from his coma after being implanted with the Alaya-Vijnana system. The surgery was a complete success however due to the fact Ein’s body was so damaged by Mikazuki he is effectively fused with his Mobile Suit now. Horrified at what he’s done to a man who he considers a friend Gaeleo realizes he basically plays the role of Victor Frankenstein and Ein has become his monster.
Ein however feels relieved he can again fight to avenge Crank and is profoundly grateful Gaeleo gave his chance. Lying to his young subordinate Gaeleo holds down the revolution at what he’s done and instead pretends to share Ein’s hope. If only to spare Ein’s feelings showing Gaeleo’s undeniable humanity and kindness qualities very rare in this universe.
Speaking with McGillis about his misgivings of what he’s done to Ein Gaeleo is still troubled. McGillis says Ein will be a sword for Gjallahorn and Gaeleo’s feeling are proof he will be the one to reform Gjallahorn. In many ways mirroring his conversation he’s had with multiple people over the course of the series. By talking them up he’s able to deftly manipulate them to take actions for his benefit. All the while praising him, McGillis as some great man.
Back with Tekkadan it seems that Merribets words have touched Orga somewhat and his resolve to travel the path they have chosen seems to be wavering. Orga doing what he often does turns to Mikazuki for advice and support. Mikazuki provides this by telling him his and Biscuits final conversation, however while doing so he lies about the content. He states Biscuit was not planning on quitting following the battle making Tekkadan’s current course true and in line with this false final wish of Biscuit’s.
This is of course a lie. There is several reasons for Mikazuki to do this such as prop up his wavering friend with moral support or perhaps to manipulate his friend into the action that will provide Mikazuki the most chance to kill. As it stands it is an unknown, however considering this and last weeks episode there is a distinct possibilities Mikazuki has fully embraced being an avenger and killer and rather likes it.
However the calm is short lived as the time of reckoning has arrived. Carta using the intelligence provided to her by McGillis finds Tekkadan and with two elites lands in front of the Orphans and challenges them to a three on three duel. This shocks many people except Orga as the railway was supposed to be a secret to all but a few. Orga sees through the ruse rather quickly and deduces it must have been McGillis, potentially setting up the realization he is playing both sides of the conflict.
Mikazuki however has no use for formalities and niceties and despite the fact Tekkadan clearly overpowers Carta’s forces in a proper fair fight, rushes in hammer first. This action catches Carta and her forces off guard as Mikazuki brutally brings down her elite companions leaving Carta just enough time to enter her mobile suit.
However its too little too late as the Barbatos superior fire power and speed coupled with Mikazuki’s palpable blood lust overwhelms Carta. The battle is so one sided at times its even hard to watch as Mikazuki uses Carta like some rag doll as he mercilessly brutalizes her. On the sidelines though only Merribet and some older members of Tekkadan seem disturbed by the scene. Indeed much to Merribets horror the young members of Tekkadan are enthralled by the carnage - as she tries to stop them from watching Orga instructs her to let them stay.
It becomes clear that Tekkadan as a whole is going into a very dark place without the moderating influence of Biscuit. Furthermore the twisted and very unhealthy relationship between Orga and Mikazuki now provides its heart and that darkness seems to be infecting nearly everyone. With people like Merribet only able to watch in abject horror as mere children devolve into monsters.
However back in the battle as Mikazuki is about the deliver the final hammer blow he is stopped as Gaeleo intervenes on Carta’s behalf. Using a modified Kimaris that looks like some kind of Gundam Centaur Mikazuki is pulled away enough for Gaeleo to escape with Carta. Mikazuki about to pursue is instead called back by Orga as they have more pressing matters to worry about.
As Gaeleo leaves Carta starts to call out McGillis believing it was her old love that saved her. Showing she doesn’t realize that the entire circumstances of her ordeal and imminent demise were set up by McGillis himself. Gaeleo with the final lie of the episode plays along with the dying woman pretending to be his friend giving comfort to Carta as she passed on into the eternal embrace of death. Crying as his childhood friend finally succumbs to her wounds dying in his arms.
Overall this was another powerful episode cumulating in a very satisfying death. In many ways Carta’s death hit all the right notes and perhaps even surpassed Biscuits as when the light left Carta’s eyes I was genuinely surprised despite looking back in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have been. It was moving and poignant and served a strong story telling purpose by showing how truly monstrous Mikazuki has become.
Beyond the death of Carta however the episode was well served by its strong emphasis on its themes of lying and manipulation. Never before have we seen such clear examples of McGillis’ two faced nature and how easily lying and manipulating comes to him. Even when he is knowingly putting a person on a path to their death he can do it with a smile. Furthermore we see many more of his victims then just Carta with Ein now little more then a sentient Mobile Suit he is as much a victim of McGillis’ scheming as Carta. With only two weeks left before the almost certainly exciting conclusion this will be one hell of a ride.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
Gundam Music of the Week:
So lets have some cool jazz. This is also kind of reminding me that I should do my second Thunderbolt write up soon. I like it because of how well it fits the series and is well integrated. Also as such a different piece of music from other Gundam music I thought it’d be a good entry this late in our series.
I already have the song for last weeks episode picked so give us a good on for the last reader pick.