For the first time in the series, we have a full episode without Suletta and entirely dedicated on Earth and its situation, finally giving us a view of its geopolitics and providing insight on the Dawn of Fold’s, as well as Shaddiq’s, motivations.
Better yet, Guel receives the attention he rightfully deserves.
The Dawn of Fold
Ever since the series started, Earth has remained a mystery to both the viewers and main characters, and all we know of it came from throwaway lines and offhanded comments. Still, they are enough to give us a blurry picture of a planet in decline with its population oppressed and exploited for the Spacians’ benefit.
Episode 3 finally shows more of that picture, and as expected, it is far from beautiful; refugee camps are common, children are starving, and there’s a food and energy crisis. It is no surprise that some would resort to terrorism, like the Dawn of Fold.
And like in every Gundam series, we see that these terrorists aren’t inherently evil. They even help people evacuate before a battle, and some of the refugees see them as heroes. It is particularly sad when kids erect a grave for Sophie, not knowing the late Ur’s pilot’s nature. Though that in itself speaks much about the moral questions present in the story.
Switching the focus on the Earthian side, at least for now, gives viewers a chance to know a whole new cast of characters. Of course, as with most Gundam series, a lot of them die in a fight, but this still has us rooting for them due to brief glimpses of their backstories.
One such character is Olcott, initially introduced as a minor character in the first season. Surprisingly, he’s given a lot of screen time here, and his past is every bit as sad and typical of someone like him. He’s a former Dominicus ace, but he switched sides after his family became collateral damage when Earthians attacked, and now he’s working as a terrorist.
An interesting detail about Olcott is how he seems to be part cyborg. Whether this is GUND tech or not remains to be seen, though it could foreshadow something in the future.
In any case, Olcott is intriguing as a character. He’s calm, smart, and practical. But perhaps what makes him intriguing is the fact that he represents one of Gundam’s themes: that no side is truly evil, and everyone is fighting for something they believe is right.
Changing The Status Quo
Ever since his first appearance in season 1, the show has gradually developed Shaddiq into a fine antagonist. Initially, we didn’t know just what his motivations are, though we could somewhat guess based on subtle clues scattered in each episode. Even so, his real plan, or at least part of it, has never been clear until now.
Or at least, that’s what it looks on the surface. He wants to sell weapons to the Earthians and instigate a situation where Spacians and Earthians would enter a sustainable war, ensuring that Earth would unite under one banner.
But the thing is, it’s not as impressive as it sounds, and even Sarius is doubtful of its effectiveness. After all, Shaddiq couldn’t really control people, and such a plan might just blow up in his face. Nevertheless, it is quite likely that this is simply another stage in whatever his grand scheme is.
Still, this this gives us another insight on who Shaddiq is; a half-Earthian who wants his people to have a fighting chance while still satisfying his greed for money and even a lust for power. He’s quite a typical antagonist, but one who has several layers that also make him an intriguing one.
The Hunt Begins
While Shaddiq’s goals may be to unite Earth and give its downtrodden people a fighting chance, he might just as well betray other people just to achieve it. And this is hinted during a scene where a furious Norea briefly beats up a captured Nika in an attempt to vent her frustrations for Sophie’s death and the hunt for Dawn of Fold.
Did he really set his comrades up? Various clues point to this, though it is still not clear whether this anti-terrorist operation is the result of the Benerit Group’s meeting in episode 13. In any case, things get heated quickly in the second half of the episode, and we get a treat of an all-out skirmish between groups of MS.
The fight scene feels very much like a traditional Gundam fight scene involving grunt mobile suits, but what makes this particularly engaging is the desperation of the Dawn of Fold to survive and the fact that their mobile suits are outdated compared to the more advanced suits of the Spacians.
Olcott shines here the most, proving himself a veteran pilot and commander. His calm disposition even under pressure is admirable, which makes him a viable asset of the terrorist group. It is not a surprise that Naji, Dawn of Fold’s leader, trusts him so much.
With that said, the battle is pyrrhic at best, even if the evacuation of the civilians is a success thanks to Dawn of Fold’s sacrifice. Still, if there’s one silver lining in this dark storm, it is the development of a beloved character.
Out Of The Darkness
Ever since his first appearance, Guel has undergone an impressive character development. From an arrogant and cocky rival to Suletta to a humble and compassionate individual. This happened in just bits and pieces of screen time, making him one of the most well-written characters in the series.
With the harrowing events of season 1’s finale, our last shot of him was heartbreaking. But this episode dials that up by a notch. The Guel we see is a mumbling mess of a broken man, barely a husk of his former self with no will to live. Worse, he’s being held as a hostage.
And yet there’s still a spark of hope in a dying ember. During the first half of this episode, we see a girl, Seethia, hating Guel for his return while her father, a terrorist, was killed at Plant Quetta. It perfectly mirrors Guel’s guilt over killing his own father, something that the series itself has intentionally portrayed.
We all expect Guel to give up, especially after hearing that Jeturk Heavy Machineries is going bankrupt. But the thing with the entire Jeturk lineage, at least the males who we’ve seen, is that they never give up even if something is futile.
Guel is a Jeturk through and through, evident when he tries to save a dying Seethia while in the middle of a warzone. The scene incredibly displays his sheer determination, but more than that, it shows that he doesn’t discriminate between Spacians and Earthians when it comes to saving lives.
Of course, we already know that Seethia would eventually die given her injuries. But this only pushes Guel forward to continue past his own misery and become an even better person.
In Search Of Answers
For the last three episodes, Miorine’s screen time is noticeably less compared to the first season. And that is understandable. After all, season 2 seems to tackle different characters and their respective arcs.
This episode continues that, though frankly, Miorine’s brief appearance actually serves to slowly unveil the mystery behind her parents’ Quiet Zero project. And while everything isn’t fully revealed yet, there are interesting insights on its history.
First, Quiet Zero may also have elements of botany, hence why Notrette was its pioneer. How this relates to the GUND Format remains to be seen. However, what we know is that Notrette wants humanity to “return to its nature”, which is why Delling decided to support her.
Is Delling an antagonist? Certainly, but that goes the same for Prospera. Still, it’s intriguing how Prospera’s plans fit into all of this. There is clearly an even bigger twist coming, and it could be that Miorine is the unwilling key to this grand scheme.
Another action-packed episode that gives a fan-favorite character the development he deserves, season 2’s episode 3 serves as a satisfying interlude to the previous episode. A lot of mysteries still remain unsolved, and some of the characters have yet to reach their arcs’ conclusion. Nevertheless, it is an excellent set up to more epic twists and revelations.
Episode score: 9.5/10