ROBOTECH REWATCH 39: Romancing the Clone

So last week was a disaster. Those of you who tuned in on Saturday for “Debriefing the Dreamboat” may or may not have noticed that – it was totally the wrong episode. I skipped a disc! Which is something of a relief because there were quite a few parts of that episode that didn’t entirely make sense.

Cough.

Here is a double episode to make up for it.

Hold your position, Robotech transmissions will now resume.

robotech-masters-000243. Prelude to Battle

The Alpha Tactical Armoured Corp (ATAC) 15th Squadron is at it again, another battle on the ground against the Robotech Masters, and they’re pretty exhausted.. A member of the Council suggests letting more than one squadron fight at a time to overwhelm the enemy, but the others are wary of that strategy, on the grounds that they might run out of troops that way.

Anyway, we all know there’s only one squadron.

Supreme Commander Leonard would rather they do the wrong thing than nothing, and suggests that Rolf is supposed to be the brains of the operation so if he doesn’t like the current plan, it’s up to him to come up with a better one.

Cue a long slow bathing scene involving Dana and her nipples. I wouldn’t normally mention them, but they’re obviously the protagonists in that particular sequence. While she flirts with a mirror and a tiny pink towel, Sean and Angelo (in another room) complain about how tired they are, and how Bowie has been making a lot of mistakes lately.

Of course he has, they’ve been doing all the war on their own instead of going to sockhops or whatever it is teenagers are supposed to be doing.

Dana and Nova are out on a frenemy coffee date which mostly involves Nova complaining about Dana and how irresponsible she is. Any wonder I thought she was her mother the first time I watched this show? They are interrupted when Bowie is dragged in by the MPs, having been caught sneaking off base. Dana rescues him from Nova’s wrath – well aware that Bowie’s “bad” behaviour is because he likes to go play piano music for the civilians at a local “coffee house” (cough, bar).

The Council talk over the current situation and decide they need a special recon mission inside the crashed Robotech Masters flagship – and to Rolf Emerson’s dismay, the 15th are nominated as the only team who can pull off the mission.

(Why is he surprised? THERE ARE NO OTHER SQUADRONS)

Rolf is worried because of a promise he made to Bowie’s parents – not that he’s shown much interest in keeping Bowie out of trouble before now!

The 15th are excited (Louis) and alarmed (everyone else) by the Council’s latest plan for them. Certain death is definitely on the cards.

“We’re all pawns in the Council’s game of Name That Alien.”
Angelo Dante, little known military poet.

The lads resolve to be patriotic and dutiful, and Dana has their full support. They’re getting better at that.

Bowie makes things up to Dana by buying her a ridonculous giant sundae (with an orchid on it, for luck). She gets him to admit that he’d rather play music than be in the military (as if this is a new revelation to her about her best friend) and then sends him back to the coffee house.

She claims full responsibility, giving him permission but making it clear that if he gets caught by the Fun Police Global Military Police they’ll both be in trouble.

Bowie runs off, catching sight of Sean on a hot (well, tepid) date along his way. Back on the base, Louis spends his eve of battle Doing Science. Dana (wearing her lucky orchid from Bowie) interrupts Angelo with his quiet glass of scotch and the two of them have an intense conversation.

She drops her orchid in his glass for luck, and as he processes this gesture, Nova Satori turns up with Bowie by the scruff of his neck.

Nova not only caught Bowie at the bar, but found him in a brawl over his supposed ‘manliness’ – playing a piano apparently marking him as not macho enough to go into battle. She and Dana snark back and forth about Bowie and responsibility. To everyone’s surprise, Dana agrees that Nova should take Bowie to the guardhouse.

Bowie is devastated at Dana’s betrayal and begs to be allowed to go on the mission, but Nova has no choice if his commanding officer insists. (It’s cute how obvious it is that Nova was bluffing about throwing Bowie in the brig – she is so stunned that Dana goes along with it)

Even when she’s alone with Angelo, Dana won’t admit the real reason why she forced Bowie to stay behind, letting him think that she’s playing this one by the books. He is understandably suspicious that this one time, she won’t break the rules.

(It’s never made explicit, but is certainly implied that Dana is trying to protect Bowie from the mission, because he’s too squishy and vulnerable and should be playing piano instead)

After the 15th rides out, Emerson is quietly worded up that Bowie is in the guardhouse. Nova lets Bowie out on Emerson’s orders, giving Bowie just enough time to catch up with his squadron.

Before he leaves, Nova suggests he take extra care – for Dana’s sake and hers.

Dana is furious that Emerson overruled her authority when Private Grant shows up ready for action, but Bowie proves himself with some excellent shooting, and they prepare to take the flagship.

The Dana/Nova relationship is really weirding me out – it feels like they have a completely different dynamic every time we see them together. Are they friends? Rivals? Old school frenemies? Nova talks to Dana like a big sister most of the time, but we’re never given any hint about their backstory. On the other hand, it’s nice to see Dana occasionally speaking to other women, given that her mother abandoned the planet, she’s surrounded by boys in her daily life, and Marie Crystal hates her guts.

Also, was Dana flirting with Angelo? I’ll admit that I’m shipping them this time around.

1257780630485_fEpisode 44. The Trap

The Earth command centre monitors the hover tank recon mission deep inside the enemy’s crashed flagship – and they’re not the only ones.

Angelo Dante is the one to note that it’s easier than they expected – giving Dana the opportunity to say “almost too easy” in an ominous tone of voice.

Oh, and two NPC members of the 15th are left behind at this point – Simon, whose armour was destroyed on the way in, and his mate Jordan, to protect him. Though Dana only put Jordan on the protection detail because he mocked Simon about being left behind.

Despite the obvious trapness of the situation, Dana allows her squadron to be split and split again down the various corridors – the groups of various sizes led by herself, Angie and Sean.

I love the fact that Dana only refers to Sean’s rank when she thinks he’s getting too big for his boots (every time he’s flirty or teasing around her, she smacks him down with a well placed ‘Private’) but in the field, she ignores his rank because obviously he’s the one with the most leadership experience and treats him as the equivalent to Angelo – a second/third in command that she can trust.

Dana, you really do have a problem with military protocol, don’t you?

One of the privates in Angie’s party gets picked off, Alien-style, and the others run around trying to find him for the rest of the episode. Meanwhile, Dana, Bowie and Louis are cut off from the rest without working comms. They follow a mysterious plinking sound that leads them to a vat of android limbs floating in liquid.

Dana and Bowie are grossed out but Louis is fascinated at how lifelike the limbs are: the perfect meld of bioengineering technology with organics. While the others are distracted, Bowie is accidentally teleported elsewhere in the ship.

The alluring siren song of the plinking xylophone pulls Bowie onwards, and he goes deeper and deeper into yet another long hallway.

To his shock, he comes across a beautiful green-haired girl playing what looks like a theramin inside Venus’ clamshell. Or maybe a digital harp? Bowie immediately tries to chat her up with lines about how music is a universal language – but she’s a lot more responsive to his flirtation once he takes off his massive metal helmet to show her how cute he is.

There’s a tip for you Casanovas out there. Always remove your armoured faceplate so the object of your affections can tell you are humanoid before you roll out your best chat up lines.

Bowie tries to play her instrument to communicate with her, and is terrible at it. (He actually jokes that it’s out of tune which – oh, Bowie, you tool) She plays for him, and he is overwhelmed by the beauty of the girl as well as the music.

Their meet-cute is interrupted by a couple of angry droids/stormtroopers (I don’t even know what they are) who call him Earth Man and try to take him prisoner. Bowie fights back and freaks out the girl, then mansplains to her how she shouldn’t be afraid of him because he’s proven himself to her. Even though he just got her shot in the leg.

So romantic.

Bowie chases his mystery woman out into a corridor and finds a near-identical version of her with blue hair and a different outfit. He assumes it’s the same girl and chases her up and down corridors for a while, basically doing his best to enact a scene from Yellow Submarine.

Dana and Louis finally pick Bowie up and explore some more of the ship, including a weird Roman-style architecture. They come across a crowd of pretty adult twins and triplets (clone alert!) who are staring at them in quiet horror, and are chased again by the droids that Dana charmingly refers to as Bowie’s boyfriends.

Sean is really disappointed that he has just had the most boring mission of his life, which annoys Dana to no end when they meet up again. Just as Angie and his group join them, the Robotech Masters trap is finally sprung – it’s basically a giant trapdoor which is embarrassing given that they are all in FLYING MECHA.

They fall into a random Star Wars set piece – yes, it’s a garbage compacter with the ceiling pressing in on them! Every space opera needs one.

Dana shoots the walls saying ‘everybody hit the deck and hope for the best.’ What follows is a beautiful piece of flaming slapstick as her shot bounces off all the walls, nearly kills everyone, and sends the boys into the garbage.

For a moment, all the lads (especially Bowie and Angie) are horrified that Dana seems to have sustained a direct hit – but it turns out she’s a floor below them all, under the smoking hole she fell through. Turns out the floor wasn’t as laser resistant as the walls.

Aww, Angie. I see you totally worrying about Dana. You’re not subtle.

The purple haired boy in the red Bioroid (remember him?) shoots all the lasers at the 15th squadron as they fight their way out of the flagship. Bowie isn’t wearing his helmet which seems careless. On their way out, they see the dead bodies of Simon and Jordan.

(Weirdly, Jordan is no longer wearing his armour, so what happened to it?)

Dana embarks on one her regular one-on-one duels with a bioroid, only it’s a normal green one instead of the special red one she’s been flirting with in nearly every other battle. This time, she hangs on to her man and takes him home with her.

robotech rewatch dana

This weekly rewatch of classic animated space opera Robotech is brought to you as bonus content for the Musketeer Space project.

Thanks to everyone who has linked, commented, and especially to my paid patrons.

You can support Musketeer Space at Patreon.