Continuing where the last episode left off, episode 8 gives us the full Gundam experience yet; 23 minutes full of action and chaos. But what really makes this a heartbreaking episode are the casualties, some of whom we never saw coming.
The Fateful Showdown
For the longest time since Guel killed his own father, we expected a duel to the death between him and Shaddiq toward the end of the series. And once again, Witch From Mercury delivers with that while also subverting expectations.
To say that the battle is intense would be an extreme understatement. The choreography is one of the best for the entire series, but what truly makes this scene so engaging is the clash of ideals between the two pilots and the impactful words that give insight into how much development they have gone through since the series started.
Case in point, Shaddiq. When we first meet him, he is this cool and suave guy who later turns out to be a master strategist and terrorist. He is someone who is always calm and composed, never giving in to his emotions. And that stayed throughout most of his fight with Guel.
The thing is, we see Shaddiq’s mask beginning to crack since Elnora put the metaphorical wrench in his plans. That crack spreads in this episode, and though Shaddiq is never reduced to a screaming mess, his words speak much about all his grievances against Spacians and how he sees himself as the ultimate hero of the Earthians.
And that is understandable. In a way, Shaddiq is the hero of his own story—a story of the oppressed rising against the oppressors. But the ugly truth is, Shaddiq is really just perpetuating the cycle of hatred instead of ending it like Nika or even Miorine hopes to do using Gund tech.
On the other hand, while Guel has his own goals, he never lets hatred consume him. More than that, he has truly matured from all the hardships he had endured as well as his admiration for Suletta, and it shows in his verbal spar with Shaddiq. Not only that, but his own skills has improved, leading to his eventual victory.
What really cements Guel’s positive development is how he doesn’t kill Shaddiq despite having every right to do so. For a Gundam series, we expected a showdown like this to have a bloody end. But true to his honor, Guel chooses the moral high ground and simply disables the Michaelis, which speaks volumes about his character.
Even so, the damage has been done, and despite Shaddiq losing this battle, he may have just won a crucial fight in the war between Earthians and Spacians.
It’s terrifying how Shaddiq can turn a defeat into a win. Even though he’s been arrested, his initiative may have granted him a victory. But more than that, it shows how cunning he really is.
Case in point, releasing his prisoners. At first, this may seem a benevolent action as well as an attempt to cut off any unnecessary burden. But in retrospect, it only serves to fan the flames of tragedy. And in the worse possible way.
When Norea was first introduced to the series, we saw her as the opposite of Sophie; while the late Ur pilot was aggressive and laidback, Norea was the calm-headed of the two. And it worked for their little duo.
Throughout the series, we see that façade gradually slip after Sophie’s death, and for the first time, we sometimes see an emotionally unstable Norea, which ultimately culminates in a broken girl whose rage finally consumed her.
It’s heartbreaking to see Norea finally snapping and unleashing all her pent-up fury toward the closest target available, which also happens to represent everything she hated; Asticassia. Once again using Thorn and the remaining Gundvolvas, Norea wreaks havoc, but on a much grander scale.
There are a lot of chilling moments during this part, particularly when Secelia lends the prototype Demi Barding to Chuchu, who then uses it to team up with Felsi to protect their friends. But the main highlight is no doubt the climax of the unexpected love story between Elan 5 and Norea.
The End of Hope
Throughout the series, the interactions between Norea and Elan 5 have been very minimal until the last couple of episodes. And during the moments when the two are in the same room, we can feel that there is a connection between them, thanks in part to their similar fates as Gundam pilots.
And the thing is, it is this that becomes the bridge for Elan 5’s development. Once a selfish individual who only cares about himself, Elan 5 has grown to care about Norea, even going as far as to beg her to stop her rampage and run away with him. Out of all people, perhaps other than Sophie, it is Elan 5 who understands Norea deeply, especially after seeing her sketches.
His confession, as subtle as it is, is really heartwarming. And surprisingly, it is enough to actually calm Norea’s rage, to the point that she agrees to run away together with him and we see her smiling genuinely for the first time as she in turn requests to learn Elan 5’s real name.
But true to franchise tradition, characters like these two would never get a happy ending. Norea dies in front of Elan 5 in a brutal yet painless way, and Elan 5’s expression as he watches is just heart-wrenching.
In a way, this is the price for Norea’s sins, though a part of us wish that she could have gotten a quiet life free from the curse of Gundam.
Move forward, gain two. For the longest time, that has been Suletta’s motto, and it has helped her during her toughest moments. Even after what happened last episode, Suletta is still moving forward.
And that is what she does even in this episode when everything seems so bleak and her peaceful life is finally uprooted for good. With so many casualties, possibly including Petra whom she briefly bonded over during all the chaos, Suletta does the only thing she could: move away debris and rescue anyone who’s still buried.
As a rescue worker on Mars, revealed in the tie-in prequel Cradle Planet, Suletta undoubtedly has her fair share of experiencing disasters. However, the fact that it happened on her school, and caused by yet another terrorist act, is evidently hard on her. Despite that, Suletta prioritizes the lives of others first, evident by her bruised hand and ignoring Nika’s apology in favor of getting her assistance.
But that’s what so great about her character; that there is always hope in her heart. And it would be a satisfying moment to see her giving that hope to Miorine when they finally reunite.
An action-packed yet also emotional and dark episode, episode 8 fully gives us the true Gundam experience while setting up the third act of the series. The series only has 4 episodes left, and so we should expect even more twists and heartbreaking moments as we draw closer to an unpredictable ending.
Episode score: 9/10