The final mission begins.
Episode 8 gives us several twists and revelations, though it’s highlight is definitely the somber and bittersweet atmosphere as the remaining members of the Spearhead Squadron—Shin, Raiden, Anju, Theo, and Kurena—prepares for their final mission: a recon deep in Legion territory where they must fight until the very end.
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time this has happened. All previous incarnations of the squadron were wiped out due to this very same mission, effectively making them all suicide squadrons that the Republic frequently dispose. It goes to show how deep hatred run in the race of Alba, though there is also a political motive for it.
For one, the Republic wouldn’t want to reverse their policy, not just because racism runs deep in many citizens, but also because they would be viewed by the international community as oppressors, greatly reducing their credibility. Thus, even though Lena and a few others like her uncle wants to change how things work, they are helpless against the wishes of their nation; the very same nation that executed their own patron saint.
One of the saddest thing in this episode is the fact that even Annette is bound by this helplessness and guilt. In her childhood, she has an Eighty-Six friend who she values dearly, but has to abandon even though her father wants to save him and his family.
Incidentally, Annette’s friend is the basis for the development of the Para-RAID. And based on obvious clues scattered in this episode, her friend is definitely a major character we’ve already seen.
Thus, we can’t really blame Annette for ending her friendship with Lena after blaming her for the suicide mission. However, this is all done in spite, and it should be quite some time before they could repair their friendship, if at all.
With this, Spearhead Squadron’s fate is all but sealed. A desperate Lena pleads for Shin and the others to run away instead, and even Shin tells Raiden not to follow him. But in the head, the five remaining members’ bonds are so strong that they would fight together until their last breath, or die while their at it. Moreover, Shin couldn’t simply forget that his brother’s head is still out there, and it is his own mission to finally end Shourei’s misery. This is partly due to the shocking revelation that Shourei once accidentally killed Shin after blaming him for the deaths of their parents; an event that heavily affects a lot of people and events in the present.
Overall, episode 8 answers some burning questions that previous episodes has presented. The twists are really unexpected for anime-only fans, and while there are no fight scenes, the haunting buildup to an explosive and bittersweet end more than makes up for that.
Episode score: 8.5/10.