ROBOTECH REWATCH 2: Who Put Pluto There?

robotech rewatchEpisode 3. Space Fold

Amazingly, the SDF1 manages to get into the air, hovering above Macross City. The aliens have gone quiet, and Gloval thinks they are just playing with the humans.

The bridge crew bat their eyelashes to show how confusing all this is for mere girls, and say ‘huh’ a lot. My new theory is that they are all spies. Maybe independent agents, like Charlie’s Angels, only with Uhura back on earth whispering “just keep repeating what the computer says and you’ll keep the top security clearance we need” in their earpieces every now and then.

Roy rescues Rick and Minmei, which seems like the responsible thing to do. He then attempts to lure them both into space, which seems odd. Rick has yet another “what’s the opposite of meet-cute” encounter with Lisa over the intercom, which consists of her being pissed off that an unqualified pilot “tricked” her into letting him into battle, and him claiming she’s an old sourpuss.

It’s pick on Lisa week! Roy thinks this is far too hilarious, and even Minmei gets in on the action, deciding that old women like Lisa get super grumpy at times.

Children, please. Someday, this lady is going to outrank you like whoa.

This is a battle heavy episode, which means lots of high-charged mood music, and lots of explosions on screen. The aliens continue to press their advantage of knowing what the buttons do. In the midst of all this, Captain Gloval makes a tough call to make a space fold to the moon. His argument is that this will take the aliens by surprise.

It is… an argument.

We briefly visit the shelters, to remind ourselves that the entire population of Macross City are bunkered down to wait out the battle. Minmei’s family are a bit worried about her, because she gave them the slip during the evacuation. But it’s all okay because:

“Nothing’s going to happen to anyone as smart as Minmei!”
The Mayor of Macross City.

Rick has a plan to impress Minmei – his own plane is here on the SDF-1, and they are close enough to the island that he can just fly her down to her family. This, despite a public announcement that they need to ready themselves for Space Fold.

"What's a space fold?"

“What’s a space fold?”

“There’s nothing to worry about, Minmei, I’m an expert pilot.”
Rick Hunter, in response to Minmei’s reasonable question about what a ‘space fold’ is.

The space fold is my favourite of all tech disasters in this show. Yes, even better than the gravity rockets from the last episode, and only slightly ahead of all the drama involving the ‘big gun’ in future episodes. Instead of neatly achieving atmosphere via a clever shortcut, the SDF1 manages to drag most of Macross Island (including, crucially, the civilian evacuation shelters, plus Rick and Minmei in a circus plane) into space with it.

The ice-encrusted island then collides with the space fortress. And, frankly, a lot people (largely those on the aircraft carriers brought along with the party) die horribly.

Seriously, you think you’ve had a bad day at work? Imagine the forms Gloval had to fill in to explain this particular industrial accident.

I think I need to pause at this point to talk about the stupid ball. In plotting, this term means that the story only works because one or more characters are holding the stupid ball that week – it’s their turn to act out of character so the plot works. Well, Rick and Minmei are tossing that ball around in this episode like they’re learning a two person juggling act. She seemed quite sensible earlier, but then we get this sort of exchange:

Rick: “Somehow, we seems to have drifted out into deep space, and we’re in deep trouble.”
Minmei: “Oh my, isn’t it romantic?”

Minmei wonders what that odd hissing sound is, and Rick pretends its nothing while plugging the gap in his window with a handkerchief. In space. I don’t think I can stress enough that he has a crack in his plane, and just plugged it with a handkerchief. IN SPACE.

Rick tries to land the plane back in the SDF1 but the landing bays are closed (for obvious reasons). He manages to crash into another compartment of the ship, which seals shut. He and Minmei laugh with relief, not realising yet what deep shit they are in.

Meanwhile, on the bridge… well, they didn’t think it could get any worse than accidentally dragging an island into space with them. But now it turns out that they aren’t even in the right bit of space. That’s PLUTO out there! Oops, wrong end of the solar system.

Still, it’s not too bad, right? They can just space fold back again, because that worked so well the first time? Well, actually, no. Captain Gloval gets a call from the engineer, who informs him that the fold system has vanished in thin air.

As the girls meltdown into a very understandable panic party, Captain Gloval nips out to the corridor and has a deep, thoughtful smoke of his pipe.

“Well, now. Gonna be a long trip.”
Captain Henry Gloval, Zen Master

next episode khyron

Maintain communications on this channel! The Robotech Rewatch will return next week! Find out more about the Musketeer Space project and how you can support it here at Patreon. Or just check out Musketeer Space, a space opera web serial with swashbuckle and style, starting from Chapter 1.