Muv-Luv ep21: the cure is worse than the disease
I expected a stark contrast in episodes from the ridiculous hot springs episode in 19 to this one (episode 20 was a recap and promo), but this is jarring! The quietly bustling Alaskan base has turned into a stage for human on human treachery. This is just as bad as what happened in the Soviet Union. And it shows that the real source of conflict in this show isn’t the BETA, it’s the petty differences and the inhumanity of humans.
Things start out normally enough, for me and the show. I’m excited to see Team Argos get prepped for their duel with the Infinites of America. Lt. Cui even stops by to help them train, on the condition that she be allowed to go on a date with Yuuya. So things seems to be going as expected, but even from the beginning we see these Coeurl Express trucks all over the place with shady looking delivery men in them. And the cute bartender that all the test pilots know so well, Natalie appears to be in on whatever they’re planning.
The show doesn’t take long to introduce us to the RLF (Refugee Liberation Front), as we see a group of pilots waiting on standby talk about the situation at the base and of those around the world on the different front lines. One blonde and brown skinned female pilot (one of my favorite combinations) appears to be an important mole, and we see all the other pilots brutally murdered other RLF sleeper agents. I’m a little extra disturbed to when I hear them talk in some prayer circle. I always found religious zealots to be the most dangerous kind.
It doesn’t take long for all business on the base to be abruptly halted, and the massacre to begin. And for most of the rest of this episode we see the base surgically and brutally overtaken by the RLF. And just like in the Soviet Union, Lt. Takamura barely escapes the initial attack and the escape.
The episode is punctuated by a standoff between Yuuya, Cui and Tarisa and an RLF barricade led by Natalie of all people. The scene I thought was really good, and made me believe that this might be the last we see of Tarisa. But in the end it’s not her that gets it, but the friend who’s pointing the gun at her. Looks like she had a change of heart during the massacre, but I personally still don’t have any sympathy for a traitor whose actions likely killed hundreds of people.
Though the episode seemed to blow by in moments. There was actually a lot to take stock of here. Firstly, there was a lot of important (and not so important) business being taken care of at the exact moment of the attack. The biggest probably being Ibrahim and Jerzy’s discussion of Yuuya’s relationship with the Scarlet Twins, namely Cryska. I wasn’t sure if Jerzy was going to tell Ibrahim to have Yuuya back off, or what. And it will still be an important issue should the pilots survive this. The Scarlet Twins seem to be mental time bombs waiting to go off. And abruptly extracting Yuuya from their lives could have consequences.
I thought it was quite smooth how they set up the RLF’s debut. Natalie must’ve been one of their main moles. And she told the pilots several episodes ago how horrible her life had been in the refugee camps. So it’s not a huge surprise if you paid attention that she would be in on this. Though I was disappointed because I liked her character, no matter how minor she was.
I’m still trying to form an opinion on the RLF itself. Obviously I’m going to hate them because they’re going around brutally murdering any and everyone, including the pilots I like so much. But the arc in the Soviet Union does complicate things. I did complain about how nasty and corrupt the leadership was there. And the RLF is the natural rebuttal to that. If a majority of the UN command is that corrupt and inhumane, then humanity as a whole has a huge problem. But conversely the problem isn’t so simple, you can’t just wipe away an entity that protects the existence of humanity, even if it does abuse it, too. Plus we were treated to a scene where we see RLF and detained scientists in a lab FULL of BETA! Are they studying these creatures, or cultivating them? It’s all dirty, and kinda reminds me of the problem the world usually has with its leaders in Gundam. Whether it be the Federation or its counterpart in a story, or the Zeon and their counterpart in a story; the government both protects and endangers its populace.
And speaking of Gundam, a thing that I couldn’t help but notice in this episode was the graphic nature of the deaths in it. There was plenty of blood to be had. It simultaneously reminded me of, and outdid the graphic deaths I had seen in the SEED and especially SEED Destiny series. Head shot after head shot on stunned and unarmed personnel, these were all accompanied by copious amounts of blood letting. I was pretty damn impressed by some of their aim as well. There were scenes where you just saw body parts and blood dripping down surfaces. You saw rooms of dead bodies and blood pools and splatter spots all around them. Worst of all were the executions. One near dead girl having her face stepped on and then getting shot through the heart. DAMN! The show even made me jump in my seat once as we see Lt. Takamura talk to soldier one moment and then hear loud, sudden gunshot, followed by a quick silent moment with a black screen, and then a shot of blood splattered all over her face. All in all, the episode did a great job of attempting to add weight, chaos and fear to each death.
The situation will now likely turn into a frenzied race for the test pilots to get to their TSF’s and fight humans… and probably BETA as well. And I’m left with a sense of excitement and sadness as it’s now clear that Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse is nearing its end. And I’m very likely to see characters I’m attached to die.