The Spearhead Squadron fights together one last time!
Episode 11 is a heart-wrenching episode from start to finish. Shin and the gang has finally reached a point where only one Juggernaut remains, which coincidentally belonged to Shun. Even Fido has been destroyed, as well as most of their supplies, though there is a hint that our favorite scavenger dog might have survived in some other form.
Despite this, the squadron continues their mission, even stopping at an abandoned school to rest. It is worth noting that if the war had not happened, they would have been ordinary students living ordinary lives, a fact made evident when they did a mock roll call.
A funny part about this is how Shin is pretty much a practical person. Since they needed a fire for the night, he burned down some of the books and chairs that they couldn’t even read and use. It further enhances his character, and shows us the extent of what he’ll do to survive.
With their little rest comes another battle. And this time, it is a hopeless cause. The Legion is too numerous, especially with the return of a Shepherd that is even more deadly than Shourei, for a single Juggernaut. Thus, Shin finally sets his sights on fighting alone, leaving his friends behind so they could survive. And it is truly heartbreaking to see Raiden and the gang arriving to rescue Shin, though it ultimately fails as they begin to fall one by one.
Meanwhile, Lena has finally reached the barracks of her former Squadron. And though Shin’s group is all but dead, the war still continues. New recruits arrive, obviously sent to be executed just like their predecessors. It is sad to see that nothing has changed at all, which makes the fate of the Eighty-Six inevitable.
One shocking revelation here is the fact that Albrecht, the Squadron’s mechanic and pseudo-father figure, is actually an Alba in disguise. His backstory, while typical, is still depressing, and hearkens back to the themes in previous episodes where no side is really good or evil.
Perhaps the real twist in the heartstrings here is how Lena explores the barracks for the first and probably the final time. The absence of our heroes can be felt, and even though she hasn’t personally met them, we can really feel Lena’s anguish over their deaths. It is even worse when she finally discovers their group photo, complete with brief messages from the last remaining members, and learns how they really look like.
The final scene is then poignant, with Lena standing on a railroad signifying her conviction to fight until the very end, just as the Spearhead Squadron has done.
Overall, episode 11 contains a lot of emotions as the first cour wraps up all the plot threads it was building since the first episode. Still, there are hints of more things to come, especially with that haunting end credits scene.
Episode score: 8.5/10.