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[Thank you, Saturn, for the screencaps!]

Gatchaman Episode 98: “Grape Bomber, the Spherical Iron Beast”

BOTP Episode: “G-Force Defector”


 


This episode begins with Dr. Nambu hitting a switch on a control panel and activating a signal to alert the Science Ninja Team. “Calling the Science Ninja Team! Calling the Science Ninja Team!” he says into a microphone, “At 1404 hours, a Galactor iron beast mecha was spotted at area PS. Science Ninja Team, gather and launch the God Phoenix! Move out!”


 



It turns out that Dr. Nambu has a little control panel listing the Team, G-1, G-2, G-3 etc., with a little button beside each designation that lights up when each member responds to the alert. Well, the G-1 button lights up first and we hear Ken saying that he’s on his way to area PS.

And indeed he is.


 


So is Jun. “G-3, roger!” she responds.


 


Jinpei, likewise, responds with a “G-4, roger!”


 



And then Ryu.



 


I don’t know if they’re all normally in the habit of responding in numerical order, but the member who mucked it up this time, G-2, responds last of all. He’s also the only one who hasn’t already transformed out of civvies mode.


 


“Damn, there’s no way I can transform in the city like this,” mutters Joe, and he is on a busy highway, full of other cars.


 


“And Ryu’s going to get on my case if I’m late again,” he adds. It’s interesting that it’s Ryu, and not Ken, that is the enforcer of punctuality. I also wonder, as Joe says “again,” just how often he is late. There was that one time he refused to pull out of a race and ended up late –maybe that’s what he’s referring to here, or maybe he’s been late on other occasions too.

The street he’s driving on now is lined with street lights, and suddenly a beam of light from one catches Joe in the eye, and he cries out as if in pain.


 

Then more light shines in his face and he gasps again, even louder, his eyes wide as if staring blindly. Frantically he turns his steering wheel and sends his car right off the road, over a fence into a park.


 


It’s not clear how well he’s seeing but Joe does manage to get his car onto a road that runs through the park. Unfortunately, sun is shining down through the branches of the trees that line the road and into Joe’s face and once again he’s wide-eyed and staring blindly. Suddenly, we see a woman fly past his windshield, just as Joe slams his foot on the brakes.


 


Joe’s car has stopped, but the horn is blaring as, inside the car, Joe is slumped over the steering wheel (no seatbelt, Joe? Tsk, tsk.). But after a moment, he manages to sit up slightly, even as Dr. Nambu’s voice comes from his bracelet, asking “What’s wrong, G-2? The other four have already joined up and are waiting on you!”

Joe looks groggy but he does sit up fully and answer Dr. Nambu, “I’m sorry Doc, I’m heading out there right now.”

He’s about to head on his way again, but he glances out his side window…


 


And is horrified at what he sees.


 


“No!” he gasps, and he hastily leaves his car and runs to the woman on the ground.

“Are you okay?” he asks anxiously, but the woman does begin to move and attempt to get up. She’s middle-aged, not young. She turns her head to look at Joe and she says “Yes, I’m fine. I’m just old and I’ve gotten careless –I’m so very sorry.”

Joe looks both incredibly relieved that she says she’s okay but also incredibly guilty for hitting her and for the fact that she’s actually apologizing like it’s her fault.

“Excuse me, but I’m in a hurry!” he says rather abruptly, turning to head back to his car –clearly he’s also well aware that he’s holding up the Team in the midst of what could be a critical mission.

But suddenly the woman cries out in pain and falls to her hands and knees.

Joe is torn…


 


And Dr. Nambu is barking “Joe? Joe, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you coming?” But Joe makes up his mind –he turns off his bracelet’s communicator.


 


Now he goes straight to the woman’s side and he picks her up.


 


“I’ll take you you home, Ma’am,” he says in a much kinder voice.



 


“She’s frail,” Joe thinks to himself, “Are all mothers this frail? If my mother was still alive…”

But elsewhere, the God Phoenix is swooping through the sky and past Galactor’s newest mecha.


 


The thing looks like either some sort of Paleozoic trilobite or one of those sow bugs that live underneath rocks and logs and what not.


 


Whatever it is, it’s formidable. It blasts the God Phoenix with intense light, causing all the Ninjas to recoil, and Ken to hastily order Ryu to turn off the viewscreen.


 


Ken tells Jun to “Switch to instrument flight and bring the radar online.” She’s sitting in the chair normally occupied by Joe and seems to have inherited his duties in his absence. Her eyes widen in surprise, however, when she sees the radar screens filling up with a multitude of glowing dots instead of just one.

“Ken, the iron beasts are multiplying!” she says. “Huh?’ replies Ken and he and Jinpei both come over to see for themselves.


 


Ken determines it’s really some sort of jamming signal. “So out of all those bugs, only one is real and rest are just fakes?” asks a worried Jinpei.


 


“We can’t use the viewscreen or the radar,” concludes Ken, with some frustration, “It looks like we’ve lost our eyes.”

“One of them is coming in fast!” calls out Jun suddenly as she sees that one dot is zipping a path across the radar screen, “Fifteen degrees!”

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“Dodge it –thirty degrees!” orders Ken and Ryu complies. But then the whole God Phoenix starts shaking, and Ken has to grab onto the wall to keep his balance.

It turns out that the mecha is directly atop them and the God Phoenix is repeatedly banging against the mecha’s underside now. But the God Phoenix gets past the mecha –only to have the mecha swat at it with one of its antennae.

On the bridge, Ken’s still holding onto the wall and Jinpei’s clutching the back of one of the chairs as the God Phoenix continues to shake.

“Ryu,” calls Ken, “Maintain altitude at 2000 or we’ll slam into the mountain!”

But they soon have worse things to worry about. A grape-like missile drops from the underside edge of the mecha and lands on top of the God Phoenix.


 


“It’s firing!” says Ken, sensing the impact. But more grape missiles now hit the God Phoenix.

“Damn,” snarls Ken, “It’s like we’ve been blindfolded and now they’re batting us around!”

“Ryu, can’t we use the screen yet?” demands Jinpei. Ryu tries it but it’s no good –they’re still being bombarded with blindingly bright light.

“If we had the power from G-2 we could find a way to force back this light!” declares Ryu.

But Ken’s mind is on other things –like the fact that highly toxic-looking gas is now seeping into the bridge.

“What the heck is this –it’s sulfuric acid!” cries Ken, covering his mouth hastily.


 


Sure enough, the grape missiles have deposited a highly corrosive substance on the God Phoenix in each location they struck, and it’s eating through the exterior and getting inside the God Phoenix. Jun gasps and turns away hastily as it begins leaking into the bridge where she’s sitting, at the radar screens. The mecha drops two more grape missiles, and soon the corrosive substance is dripping all over Ken’s G-1 jet.


 


“Where are you, Joe,” growls Ryu, “We need you!”

“The God Phoenix can’t hold out much longer,” says Jun anxiously.

“What do we do, Ken?” asks Ryu as Ken sits down beside him, “Our super BMs are offline.”

“What in the world’s happened to Joe?” wonders Ken grimly.

Another grape missile hits the wing pod that houses Jinpei’s G-4 buggy and soon the corrosive substance is dripping all over it too.

Thick clouds of the yellowish sulfuric gas are pouring into the bridge from around the edges of the main door.

“Big Bro, if this keeps up, we’re going to die!” calls Jinpei.

“Ryu, pull up,” instructs Ken, “The only way we can escape now is up.”

Ryu complies, taking the God Phoenix into a steep ascent.


 


The God Phoenix is shaking now from the strain of their sudden ascent –as are its occupants- as Ryu calls out their ever-increasing altitudes.

“Let’s see how high that iron beast can fly,” thinks Ken, “As high as the God Phoenix? Even higher? If that’s the case, then we’re done for.”


 


“12,000, great balls of fire!” cries Ryu soon, and it looks like they're nearly out of the Earth’s atmosphere but the mecha is still in pursuit. Considering the breaches in the God Phoenix’s exterior from the grape missiles, I’m surprised they can go this high without loss of air pressurization, but what do I know? The sulfuric gas seems to have dispersed too.


 


But Jun looks at the radar screens and sees that all the glowing dots are disappearing now. And indeed, the mecha has given up the chase and is dropping back towards the Earth.


 


And Ryu is able to use the view screen too, as the intense bright light has also ceased.

“Great,” says Ken, “You can go on and level her off then.” So, Ryu ceases their ascent and holds them in position.

And we cut to a shot of Joe’s car parked beside a somewhat rundown looking building.


 


Joe has taken the woman home and now he’s giving her a back rub. Is it worth getting hit by a car in order to get a back rub from Joe? Quite possibly! But here, it’s clear that the vibe is very mother-son.


 


“So, do you have any relatives around here?” asks Joe.

“I have a son,” she replies, “But he hated being poor, so he left me.”

“Well that seems pretty cruel,” says Joe, looking indignant on her behalf.

A tear wells up in the woman’s eye and runs down her face.

“What’s the matter?” asks Joe, looking both concerned and a bit uncomfortable.

“You rub just like my son,” she says. This seems to rattle Joe, maybe because earlier he’d been thinking that this woman was like his mother would be if she were alive.

But after a pause, he returns to rubbing her back and casts about for something to say.

“Well, all right…”

“I got a letter from him recently,” she says next, “It sounds like he has an important job and he says he’ll make big money and come get me.”

A little toy train car slips off the bed from under the blanket beside her. Joe picks it up as the woman giggles.


 


“That’s my choo-choo that I play with when I feel lonely,” she says, “It was my son’s –gimme.” She reaches out and takes it from him.

Okay, I get that Joe and we viewers are supposed to feel bad for this woman, but that is really kind of pathetic.

“He’s loved tinkering with machines ever since he was a boy,” she continues, running the train back and forth on her hand.

Joe stares blankly, as if not sure what to make of this, or…

He suddenly grabs his forehead, gasping in pain.

“Is something the matter?” asks the woman, turning away from her choo-choo.

“No!” says Joe –with blatant dishonesty, staggering as he continues to clutch his head with one hand.


 



“I just feel a little dizzy,” he says, pulling his hand away and standing up straight again, “I’ll be all right in a minute.”

He goes outside to the landing, and takes hold of the stair railing with one hand. His eyes are closed and he’s breathing hard. He opens his eyes and looks down the stairs towards his car.

Everything is blurry and distorted.


 


“Something is weakening my body…” he thinks.


 


But now we cut to a Galactor base somewhere, where Berg Katse and another man are standing on a platform looking at the trilobite/sow bug mecha.


 


Katse is very pleased to note that, of all the Galactor mechas, “Grape Bomber is the first one to fight the God Phoenix and come back to us undamaged.”


 


“Just what I’d expect from Galactor’s Academy of Science and Technology’s best,” he concludes.

“It’s all thanks to you, Lord Katse,” says the young man with him –who looks sort of like what a son of Dr. Nambu would probably look like, if he had one.


 

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“If you hadn’t given your support to me,” he continues, “So that I can dedicate my life to scientific and technological research, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Okay he even sounds like Dr. Nambu –except, of course, for the fact that he’s working for Galactor!

“Please, please, don’t mention it, Mikhail,” says Katse, “Galactor’s academy of Sci-Tech exists for the underprivileged, such as yourself.”

Yup, this Mikhail was poor but now he has an “important job” working for Galactor. Hint, hint…

But now we cut to Dr. Nambu and he’s talking about this very same man.


 


“This is the man,” declares Dr. Nambu, “His name is Mikhail. He specialized in air pollution research. I want you to remember his face well. We’ve received information that he’s working for Galactor now.”

All the Team is listening –except the still-absent Joe.


 


Dr. Nambu goes on to explain “We’ve discovered large amounts of sulfuric acid on the damaged ship.”

He switches the image from Mikhail to that of the God Phoenix, and we get a good look at all the places where the metal exterior has been dissolved and eaten right through by the grape missiles' corrosive substance.

“The enemy’s bombs were designed to release a poisonous solution after exploding, capable of melting steel. The substance also included organo-chloric compounds.”

“Those are all air-pollutants,” notes Ryu –so there you go, the Owl knows his Chemistry- “Galactor’s a bunch of cheapskates, aren’t they?”

Ken wants to know if this means the mecha was designed by Mikhail. Dr. Nambu does explain that Mikhail had been working on recycling car and plane exhaust, which “completely saturate our atmosphere,” as solid fuels.

“He must have gone wrong somehow,” he concludes grimly, “Because he’s clearly ended up selling his intellect to Galactor and using it as a weapon of terror.”

“It’s a real shame, isn’t it?” remarks Ken, “What a waste of good talent.”

“Yes,” says Dr. Nambu, looking really grim, “I don’t want to repeat the same tragedy we had with Dr. Demon –I must try to reform him!”

(Nice bit of episode continuity there.)

The door opens now and it’s Joe, looking prepared to be chewed out for his absence but not looking very repentant.


 


He steps into the room but just leans against the wall, arms crossed, in his habitual pose, not saying anything.

“Hey, Joe’s here!” pipes up Jinpei, turning his head at the sound of the door closing.


 


Ken and Ryu are startled too.


 


“Joe! What have you been doing?” demands Dr. Nambu sternly.

Joe glowers at him and says “I haven’t been feeling very good,” in a not-at-all-sorry tone.

“Really?” Dr. Nambu frowns. “Don’t you realize the danger you put the Team in because of your absence? They were almost killed!”

Joe gasps and, for a second, he looks truly horrified as he says “But I-” but then he steels his face again and looks away.

Dr. Nambu continues to glare at him. “Well? What is it?”

“Doctor, let me talk to Joe about it,” says Ken, trying to intercede.

“No!” declares Dr. Nambu, “I won’t allow him to neglect a mission regardless of the reason. One failure could lead to disaster for all of us!”

“Disasters can happen whether I’m there or not,” retorts Joe.

Now Dr. Nambu really glares at Joe. “What?”

Ken’s looking quite alarmed at the way this seems to be going. “Joe!” he protests.

But Joe is determined to dig his hole deeper. “If we had a chance to win, I could do it by myself.” Then he sneers “Must be really easy to just sit behind a desk and give orders.”


 


Dr. Nambu stands up abruptly, planting a fist on his desk.


 


Everyone else goes “Oohh!” in shock and dismay.


 


“All right,” says a still-glaring Dr. Nambu, “Since you don’t need me to give you orders, Joe, feel free to take on this mission all by yourself this time!”

Without further ado, he stalks out of the room, ignoring Jun’s plea of “Doctor, wait!”


 


So Ken approaches Joe now, likely thinking that with the Doctor out of the room, Joe will be more forthcoming about what’s really going on.

“Joe, how could you say that?” he asks.

But nothing is coming forth from Joe except a defiant “I’ll show him!” Then he too stalks out of the room.


 


Now comes the scene that always kind of breaks my heart. Joe has to be confused and more than a little terrified about the strange affliction that’s suddenly come upon him, but he can’t let himself admit any weakness or vulnerability to anyone; it just comes out as hostility, driving away the very people he could, in fact, turn to for help –except that’s the very thing he’ll never do.

Joe’s sitting alone on a grassy slope beyond Dr. Nambu’s villa.


 


He examines his hand, as if it’s either numb or aching.


 

He’s looking worried and frightened, but Jun is walking up behind him now.

“Joe?” she calls, and maybe for a second he’s got that torn look on his face again.



 


But then his face hardens. Jun says “Joe?’ again. She’s probably hoping that whatever harsh or indifferent front Joe puts on before his male comrades, he’ll soften it for her.


 


“What happened in there?” she continues, “Everyone’s worried about you.”

He turns his face away from her.

“Please, say something. You’ve been acting strange lately.”

But there will be no softening, not even for Jun.

He turns his head to glance at her but snaps “How about ‘Go away and leave me alone?’”

Jun gasps, dismayed and likely rather hurt by this curt dismissal.

And for a second, Joe sees that he’s hurt her and remorse registers on his face, but he quickly turns away from her again.

“Jun, I’m tired,” he says flatly but a bit less harshly, “Could you please just go?”

“All right,” says Jun, anxiety and concern all over her face but it’s apparent, after this rebuff, that she can’t think of anything more to do or say right now. “But if anything happens, we’re here for you,” she adds.

As she walks away, he glances back at her, looking like some part of him wants to call her back. Except, of course, he won’t.


 


“Sorry, Jun,” he thinks to himself, “I’m thankful for all the concern…”


 


He turns away again, eyes closed and holds his head with one hand, looking thoroughly miserable. “But how could I possibly explain why I couldn’t combine with everyone else?” he thinks, “It can’t be…” He stares at his hand again. “It can’t be!” he thinks again, as his hand shakes and his eyes widen.

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He gasps and turns suddenly to look at the flowers in the grass beside him, which for an instant are blurred and seem to loom too large in his vision


 


Crying out again, he whips his head to the other side and sees still more of the red flowers –a sight which seems almost to terrify him. He cries out again and makes a sudden sweep with one arm as if to ward it all away.

And then the sky is weirdly dark and we see a cascade of flower petals.


 


Joe seems to be, in that moment, suspended in a surreal, nightmare realm that’s filled with flowers and falling petals.


 


The thing is, this really reminds me of episode 78, “Mortal Combat! 10,000 Meters Beneath the Sea.” Then, when Joe was forced by Ken to stare into the fire, the first thing he remembered, before an explosion throwing him into the air to crash against the sand, was a cascade of flower petals against a surreal-looking sky.


 


What does this mean? That flowers and flower petals are linked to Joe’s deepest, subconscious terrors as they’re tied to the day that he lost his parents and to him finding out that he’s a son of Galactor? Is he carrying a deep sense of unworthiness that makes him feel, whatever’s wrong with him, that it’s fate punishing him for his tainted origins (Dr. Nambu’s theory as we shall see)? Or is he feeling that he’s just one who’s been chosen by fate to suffer, again and again? Or is this a hint by the writers that the origin of Joe’s physical affliction here goes all the way back to the day, more than ten years ago, when the Devil Star tried to kill him with a rose bomb (even though it’s generally assumed that the shrapnel in episode 20 is the culprit)?

Or is it a case of some animator at Tatsunoko thinking “Hey, let’s draw flowers!” and I’m reading way too much into this?


Commercial Break!


Well, now Ken walks up some stairs and we see Dr. Nambu sitting at a desk in a room with very slanted walls –I guess it’s in the tall, pointy upper part of the villa.

Ken knocks but then comes right in, asking “Doctor?”

“I knew you’d come over,” replies Dr. Nambu, sounding grouchy.

“Doctor,” protests Ken, shutting the door behind him, “It’s dangerous to have Joe handle the mission by himself.”

Dr. Nambu spins around his chair to face Ken fully. “You mean because he might kill Mikhail?” he asks pointedly.

“If you know that, then why?” asks Ken.

“Ken,” says Dr. Nambu, crossing his arms sternly, “Joe needs to be tested right now, and I’m just as worried about him as all of you are.”

“Think about it,” he adds, “This isn’t the first time Joe’s had a problem with his rebellious attitude.”


 


“And it’s no wonder, really,” he continues, waxing psychological, “When he found out his parents were secret agents working for Galactor, he started to hate himself. Now he’s trying to rid himself of that feeling by turning his hatred on Galactor. Joe must overcome the circumstances of his birth. He need a harsh test.”

“So you’re pitting him against Mikhail then?” asks Ken, still not liking this idea.

“Yes, if Joe can learn to appreciate how precious human life is, and reform Mikhail, he has the chance to grow.”

“But if he goes in the opposite direction, then?” says Ken.

“It will be your duty to watch over him,” says Dr. Nambu, “To see that doesn’t happen.”

Ken rests a hand on the wall, closing his eyes briefly, but he says “All right, Doctor, I’ll do my best,” and he leaves.

And we cut to the trilobite/sow bug mecha –okay, Grape Bomber- flying along through the sky somewhere.


 


This time it’s dropping its grape missiles all over a city, such that they explode in the air and create corrosive, sulfuric rain. Some people in the city react with alarm when they see this rain and we hear a babble of frightened voices.


 


And well they should be frightened, as soon people are engulfed in clouds of toxic gas.


 


People driving cars in the city are also overcome by the gas, leading to some nasty car accidents.

And still more grape missiles are exploding over the city…

“Grape Bomber has gone on a rampage once again,” says the narrator, “When the Science Ninja Team hears the news, they rush to the scene.” We see Ken on the bridge of the God Phoenix, looking confident and determined, but his expression changes fast when he sees what’s happened to the city.

Dead people are lying everywhere.

(I don’t think this will be in the BOTP version.)


 


In short, the city has been devastated.


 


“The plants have dried up and all the living creatures have died,” says Jun, sounding stunned as she studies her instruments. “The people, birds, dogs, cats.” She closes her eyes in grief.

“It’s horrible, how could they do this?” cries Jinpei.

“The radar’s picked up the Grape Bomber,” announces Joe.


 


“All right, follow it and maintain this distance until we’re ready,” says Ken, standing up from his chair and watching the Grape Bomber, far ahead of them, on the view screen, “Its special signals shouldn’t be able to reach us here.”

Ken calls Joe’s name but Joe’s already on his feet, saying “I’m on it.”

Jun looks up at him worriedly as he walks past her to leave the bridge, but she doesn’t say anything.


 


Ken is also staring intently in Joe’s wake but also not saying anything.

“Ken, are you sure we should be letting Joe go alone?” asks Ryu, but Ken doesn’t answer.

Joe jumps down to some lower level of the God Phoenix and he gets inside a large, round purple missile and takes a seat. He doesn’t look like he’s worried at all.


 


The missile’s door shuts and Joe, via his bracelet, tells Ken he’s ready. Ken gives Ryu the word and they head for Grape Bomber.

“Now hurry up and take aim before the enemy detects us,” instructs Ken, as they get closer to it.

But suddenly bright light starts shining at them from the mecha. “Ken, we’ve been spotted!” cries Ryu, “It’s that strange light beam!”

And the blindingly bright light hits the view screen just as Ken yells “Fire!”

And the missile is shot.


 


Joe cries out as he’s suddenly flung back in his seat inside it, and it hits and pierces the exterior of Grape bomber and then its white tail section drops away so it looks just like one of the mecha’s own grape missiles.


 


The God Phoenix then flies away, fast.

“Huh?” says a goon on the bridge of Grape Bomber, “The God Phoenix is running away.”

“Well, strange things happen,” says a second goon.

“I guess our last attack got ‘em good,” says a third goon smugly.

“What do we do? Do we go after them?” asks the second goon.

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“Let’s not. Leave ‘em be,” says the first goon, putting his feet up on his console, “The God Phoenix isn’t that easy to beat when they want to fight. We’ll just tell Lord Katse all the great stuff we did and-”


 


Suddenly Katse appears on screen demanding “Give me your report! Was it a success?”


All the goons hastily stand at attention and the first goon announces they’ve left the city of York in “flaming ruins.”

“And what about the God Phoenix?”

“Sire, they ran away in terror of our Grape Bomber,” reports the first goon, who’s still saluting.

“What? So did you follow them then?”

“Sire, we chased them and chased them,” lies the first goon, “And were just about to kill them…” he then finishes with unintelligible babble (though in the subs he’s saying “Oh, we were so close,” and “It’s really such a shame, it’s so frustrating,”) as he makes a mocking expression behind his hand so Katse can’t see.

“Well, if they got away, there’s nothing we can do,” says Katse, “Withdraw.”

“Yes Sir,” says the first goon before turning to grin at his companions and laugh, “See!”

But back at the secret base, Katse is musing “So the God Phoenix ran away,” skeptically, “I don’t get it. You’re plotting something, aren’t you, Gatchaman?”

But now Grape Bomber is entering the secret base, which appears to be hidden inside a mountain. It parks inside a massive interior room and a large “mouth” opens to reveal the Grape Bomber’s crew all standing in rows.

The first goon, the one who lied to Katse about chasing the God Phoenix, dashes forward towards a row of goons who are all saluting the mecha’s crew.

“Reporting, the first Grape Bomber platoon has successfully completed its mission,” he informs them, while saluting himself and then turning to dismiss the mecha’s crew.

“Excellent work,” says the goon he’s specifically addressing.

The formalities over with, we next see a small jeep drive up beneath the Grape Bomber and all the other goons seem to have dispersed.


 


“What’s that?” asks one of the goons in the jeep as it parks directly beneath the “grape” that came from the God Phoenix, “Is the Grape Bomber supposed to have a bomb there?” The goon stands up in the jeep to get a closer look, saying “Let’s check it out.”

But suddenly the grape’s door swings open suddenly, bashing into him. The second goon from the jeep looks up in alarm to see Joe standing there. Whatever he sees after that…


 


We cut to Mikhail, in a room somewhere else in the base, working at a drafting table. There’s a knock on his door, to which he responds with a “Come in,” and the door opens.

It’s a goon, and most likely the one who’d just encountered Joe, for he awkwardly begins to babble “Um, I thought I’d come over here and help you out, Sir.”

“Help me? I don’t remember asking for anyone’s help,” says Mikhail as the goon continues to clutch his head nervously.

“Oh well, you see,” begins the goon but then he cries out in pain and drops to the floor, revealing that Joe has been standing behind him this whole time.

“You’re part of the Science Ninja Team!” cries an alarmed Mikhail, hastily getting to his feet.

“And you’re Mikhail, who sold his soul to Galactor,” growls Joe, “Aren’t you?”

“Ha!” says Mikhail, “What I research and wear is my own business and other people have no right to complain about it.”


 


Well Joe certainly thinks he has the right, for he kicks Mikhail in the face and then does it again, making his mouth bleed. And then he kicks him in the stomach.


 


Mikhail collapses on the floor, gasping to catch his breath.


 


“Yes, so maybe it is your own business,” says Joe, “But what about all the people killed by the poison gas you made?

“How can you possibly understand, how can you know how miserable I felt when I couldn’t set foot in a school?”

“Just cry me a river,” sneers Joe, hauling Mikhail to his feet by his lapels and then shoving him back onto the floor and kicking him in the face hard enough to send him sliding across the floor towards a bookcase.

“Thanks to you and Galactor, more kids like me will be born in the city you ruined!” says Joe (and I wonder what he means by “kids like me” –kids obsessed with getting revenge, I guess.)

Mikhail staggers to his feet, and he’s still defiant. “That’s my revenge on society for turning their back on me,” he declares, “I grew up poor. No matter how great my research was, the government never supported me. The only person who funded me and let me pursue my research was Lord Katse.”

Mikhail glances over at the bookcase now, where there is a gun in a holster, sitting between two books.

“You really think Katse is that great?” demands Joe, who’s standing over near the door, “You’re coming with me so I can show you what he really is.”

Joe reaches for the door knob and Mikhail makes a grab for the gun on the bookcase. But before he can even pull it from the holster, he looks up to see that Joe has his own gun trained on him.

Mikhail trembles, hand still on the gun, uncertain whether to try to shoot Joe or not.

“Well, go ahead,” says Joe in a low, menacing voice, “I’ve been waiting for any excuse to kill you, and before, you were unarmed.”

Mikhail is still hesitating, hand on the gun in the holster.


 


“What’s wrong?” demands Joe, “Slide it on out, tough guy. But you’d better be sure of yourself. I’m not just any Science Ninja –I’m Condor Joe and a hell of a shot.”


 


It sure doesn’t look like Joe has any intention of appreciating how precious human life is and deciding to reform Mikhail –so much for Dr. Nambu’s psychological plan.

Mikhail’s eyes quaver but he doesn’t do anything. Joe begins lowering his own gun now… And sure enough, Mikhail perceives this as his chance and finally whips his gun from the holster, taking aim at Joe.

Joe’s eyes briefly gleam in triumph –he fully intends to shoot Mikhail- but sudden his eyes go wide and he gasps. For an instant he’s seeing double, two wavering images of Mikhail and then everything goes dark –and we hear a gun being fired.


Suddenly we see Joe cry out in pain and clutch his chest with one hand as he’s flung back against the floor behind him by the impact of… what? It sure looks like he’s just been shot by Mikhail.


 


But the room’s door is hanging open now. Joe struggles to get to his feet but gives up and spins around suddenly, still sitting on the floor but with his gun pointed in the direction where Mikhail had been.

Mikhail is still there, but now, so is Ken. But, say, what happened to that goon Joe used to get in the room? His body seems nowhere in sight.


 


“Joe!” yells Ken. Joe gasps, seeing him, and doesn’t shoot.

“Sorry, man, but we had to follow you here,” says Ken.

Joe stands up again. “Why?’ he snaps.

“I apologize for knocking you down,” says Ken, still holding Mikhail pinned, “But there’s no way I could let you kill this man!”

“You actually think he’s going to reform?” sneers Joe, tapping his gun pointedly at the bullet hole in the wall left by the shot Mikhail had just fired at Joe (which might have hit its target if Ken hadn’t knocked the target down), “That’s naïve.”


 


“If that’s so,” says Ken, wrenching the gun from Mikhail’s hand while also pushing him against the bookcase, “Then why didn’t you just pull the trigger?”

Joe gasps, eyes widening as he realizes what Ken’s thinking.

“If you killed him,” continues Ken, pulling the ammo clip out of Mikhail’s gun, “That would satisfy you, right? But I know you’d regret it later. Both you and I have had enough of that for a lifetime.” He begins emptying the clip’s bullets on to the floor.


 


Don’t be so sure of that, Ken…

“That’s not it, Ken! That’s not it!” thinks Joe, staring intently at his own gun, “I couldn’t pull the trigger because-”

Joe’s face twists in anguish and he shoves his gun back in his holster.

But suddenly an armored panel drops down, sealing the exit out of the room. Joe throws himself against it but it does no good.


 

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“I knew you would come, Science Ninja Team!” says Katse’s voice, laughing. Joe gasps and looks up.

Mikhail turns away from the bookcase, hopeful at hearing Katse’s voice.

“Katse!” he cries but what he, Ken and Joe are seeing is more of that toxic yellow gas now pouring into the room from a vent in the ceiling. “You’re going to go to hell right along with them, Mikhail!” declares Katse’s voice, “With the very poison gas that you created.”


 


“But you can’t! Lord Katse, I’m with you!” cries Mikhail, as Ken folds his arms defiantly and closes his eyes.

“Not anymore, Mikhail,” continues Katse, “You did research for your own purposes –oh yeah, and for the money.”

Mikhail drops to his knees in despair.


 


“And now that your research is complete, and I have what I want –I have no use for you!”

We see just where Katse’s voice is coming from –he’s already taken off from the base in an escape rocket.


 


“It sounds like the Science Ninja Team will be happy to lead you to hell. Life’s a gas, ain’t it, boys? So long, gentlemen!”
Mikhail looks utterly devastated by this treachery. “So this is my reward?” he gasps, “Damn!”

Ken is glaring at him. “Now do you understand how Katse works? So many have given their allegiance only to be killed after he’s done with them.”

So Mikhail starts begging Ken to save him (I think he’s figured out it’s no good asking Joe for help!)


 


“I don’t want to die! I have an old mother living-”

Ken gives him a kick.


 


“We’ll help you!” snaps Ken, “But just remember this –you’re the one who created this poison gas and tens of thousands of people have already been sacrificed because of it! You will live the rest of your live atoning for this sin! I dare you to even think of doing something like this again!”

“All right, Joe, take Mikhail to Dr. Nambu,” says Ken.

“Huh?” says Joe, now staring in Ken in some confusion –as if he’s been lost in his own thoughts and not listening. “Yeah,” he nods.

“Good,” says Ken, grabbing Mikhail, “Open the shutter.”

Much to Joe’s surprise, when he goes to lift the shutter that’s sealing the door, it lifts right up.

“I had Jun sneak into the generator room,” explains Ken, herding Mikhail into the hallway, “After all, Katse uses the same ploy every time.”

Heh, but it’s sure taken you long enough to get wise to it.


 


Next we see the God Phoenix taking off from the secret base. On the bridge, Ken calls to Jun (who seems to have guard duty over Mikhail as he’s been planted on the floor right in front of her) asking “Is it ready?”

“I planted just enough explosives to destroy the Grape Bomber, just like you said, Ken.”

Does this mean that the base’s personnel might survive? Wow, is this Ken –or Mark? Actually, I think this is Ken-who-has-had-enough-killing-for-a-lifetime.



 


And next we see a whole bunch of explosions ripping through Grape Bomber, but the goons all running away in a panic seem to be relatively unscathed.

“There was an accident with the Grape Bomber,” explains one of the goons from its crew to the crew’s leader-goon as more goons run around panicking in the background.

“Where’s Lord Katse and Dr. Mikhail?” demands the leader-goon.


 


“Neither are here!” he’s told, as another explosion breaks out on Grape Bomber, obliterating it for good.


“The operation to rescue Mikhail, the scientist used by Galactor for evil, was a great success,” says the narrator as we see the God Phoenix flying through the sky. But then we see Joe’s car parked once again at the apartment of the woman he hit with his car. “And Joe had kept his secret that something horrible was happening to his body.”


The woman is sitting on a rocking chair, reading a letter, when Joe knocks and comes in.

“Why it’s you again,” says the woman happily –and she should be, as Joe has brought her flowers. (Just don’t start scattering any petals around.)


 


“It looks like you’re doing a lot better,” says Joe, handing them to her.


 


“Oh, how beautiful,” she exclaims, “Thank you so much, Joe. Were you worried about me?”

Joe looks uncomfortable at this question. “I was busy at work before,” he says, rubbing his head, “I just wanted to… check up on you.”

“You’ll never believe,” she says, “I got a letter from my son!”


 


“He says he’s doing very well and has found someone who understands him,” she continues.

Joe’s still fidgeting, rubbing his head, but now he says “That’s nice to hear.”

“I’ve been having nightmares,” she says, a tear running from her eye, “About him getting killed so I’ve been mortified. I’m glad he’ll be coming home soon.”

Joe stares at her, still looking uncomfortable. I'm thinking that maybe Joe knows now that she’s Mikhail’s mother, or maybe it’s that being around her reminds him of the fact that he hit her with his car, which reminds him of why he hit her with his car.

“Forgive me, Joe,” she says, wiping the tear with her hand.

“I don’t mind it,” says Joe, but suddenly his bracelet starts beeping. He presses it and says “Galactor again?”


 


The woman looks quite confused by this. “Who?” she asks.

“Uh, nothing,” says Joe quickly, and he adds a hasty “I’ll come back soon,” before heading out the door.

Clearly he does not want to miss another mission, or be late.

But outside on the landing, he stares down the stairs, just as he had the first time he was there, and this time his vision is fine.

“It wasn’t the sickness weakening his body that Joe was afraid of,” says the narrator as Joe now examines his hand, “He was afraid that Ken and the others would notice there was something wrong, forcing him off the Science Ninja Team for good.”


 


Whatever pain or numbness had afflicted Joe’s hand before, it must be gone for now. He smiles and starts walking down the stairs to his car.

“But for Joe, who lives for the hope of revenge, such would be an agony worse than death.”

Inside the apartment, the woman laughs to herself, saying “To be young and vivacious…”

And then she pulls out a photo that came with her letter.


 


It should surprise no one to see that her son is Mikhail.


 


It’s probably just as well that she doesn’t know that the nice young man who helped her and brought her flowers also wanted to kill her son –a son who is more or less responsible for the death of thousands of people. But Joe’s kindness to the woman does show that, for all his obsession with revenge, Joe can also still appreciate that life is precious.

The End.

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Battle of the Planets Episode: “G-Force Defector”

“What a lazy, do-nothing day this is here at Center Neptune,” we hear Zark say as we see Center Neptune, “Not the slightest sign of alien invaders anywhere in the galaxy. It’s so peaceful… that I’m beginning to worry.”

Yes, Zark will find a reason to worry, no matter what.

And now we see Zark himself, accompanied by 1-Rover-1.

“Chief Anderson’s given the G-Force Team a well-deserved day off,” explains Zark, “So I hope things stay nice and quiet. I might even treat myself to an extra oil break today. I could use…”

He pauses.

“Uh oh, I spoke too soon.” He flaps his cape and flies over to his monitors. It occurs to me that he resembles nothing so much as a beetle when he’s flying. Once there, he announces “It looks like Zoltar’s at it again.” How could he tell from where he’d been standing before? It’s not like Susan even called him or anything.

“An alien space craft in sector A-15,” he announces, “I’ll notify Chief Anderson right away and then contact each member of the G-Force Team. I have all of their radio frequencies right here at my digit-tips. In the meantime, I can have the Phoenix prepared for blast off.”

So now we see a dial registering an outgoing signal as we hear Zark calling “7-Zark-7 to G-Force, red alert! Contact!”

“Okay, Zark,” says Mark’s voice as we see a #1 button light up, “I read you, heading back.”

And we see his transmuted jet flying through the sky.

“I’m on my way,” says Princess’ voice as we see the #3 button light up, and then see her, also transmuted and on her motorcycle.

“Gotcha!” says Keyop as the #4 button lights up and we see his space buggy flying the sky too.

“Big ten!” says Tiny’s voice as the #5 button lights up, and we see the Phoenix itself flying over the sea. I guess even on a “day off,” Tiny gets to use the Phoenix as his mode of transportation, unless he was spending his day off at Center Neptune and is just leaving there now to pick up the others.

“Coming in,” says Jason’s voice, last of all, and the #2 button lights up.

We see Jason’s car now and he alone hasn’t transmuted yet but then, he is driving in the midst of a city and he’d hardly be inconspicuous. He's going along a street that’s lined on either side with street lights.

“That light!” we hear him say, as light from the street lights shines at him, and a beam catches him right in the eyes, “Again!”

Now more light hits him in the face and he looks wide-eyed and aghast. He rapidly turns the steering wheel and takes his car right over a guardrail and into a park that borders the street he was on. Cranking the steering wheel again, he gets his car onto a road that goes through the park itself but he’s going pretty fast and sunlight is shining at him from amidst the tree branches above him. More light shines in his face, making him gasp and stare blankly. And, a woman looms suddenly in front of his car as Jason slams on his brakes.

Next we see, his car is stopped but its horn is blaring because, inside, Jason is slumped over the steering wheel (setting a bad example by not wearing a seat belt). Slowly he sits up slightly, eyes still closed, and the horn ceases its noise.

No voices are coming over his bracelet, demanding “Where are you?” or anything like that.

But there’s a woman lying in the road. “Oh no!” says Jason’s voice as we see her, and then we see Jason’s stricken face. Hastily he gets out of his car and rushes over to her.

“Are you all right?” he asks, leaning over her and she begins to get up.

“It was my fault, I stepped right in front of your car,” she says, turning her head to look at Jason. She’s not young –clearly more middle-aged. “I’m just a little shaken.”

Jason looks very relieved to hear this. “If you’re sure you’re okay…” He turns and starts to walk away but then the woman gasps and drops back to her hands and knees. Jason looks back at her, torn as to what to do.

“Jason, come in, please!” says Zark’s voice from his wrist communicator. Jason turns it off, having made up his mind. He goes back over to the woman and picks her up, saying “You need help.”

Gazing at her, he thinks “There’s something about her… I don’t know -she looks familiar.”

Next we see the Phoenix flying through the sky and past a strange Spectran spacecraft as Zark voice-overs “Meanwhile, the Phoenix has had to respond to Zoltar’s attack without Jason’s participation.”

They fly directly underneath the Spectran ship, which is designed to resemble either a trilobite or a sow bug –I’m not sure which.

The Spectran ship comes around at them again, and this time it starts bombarding them with blindingly bright light. Tiny cringes, saying “That light is blinding!” and indeed the whole Phoenix is awash with it.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Mark, standing up and shielding his eyes with one arm and the light seems to stop though I don’t know why since it’s not like he just told Tiny to turn off the view screen or anything like that.

“Princess, see what you can pick up on the radar” he adds, turning her way.

“Roger,” says Princess from where she’s sitting, in front of the radar screen. She gasps and her eyes widen and then we see why –the radar screens are becoming filled with dozens of glowing dots. “Look,” she says, “The sky must be full of them.”

Mark and Keyop both come over to see for themselves.

“Another of Zoltar’s tricks,” surmises Mark, “Some kind of optical illusion.”

“My own eyes… who can I believe?” burbles Keyop, staring.

We see a kaleidoscope-like image of several identical Spectran ships.

“It’s meant to confuse us,” says Mark, resting a hand against the wall, “So we can’t tell where the real one is.”

“I think we should get out of here!” says Princess, overlooking the fact that one glowing dot on the radar screens is moving purposefully in a straight line.

“You got my vote,” says Mark. “Yeah,” agrees Tiny but just as “Run away!” becomes the order of the day, the whole Phoenix starts shaking and Mark hangs on to the wall to keep from falling over.

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The Phoenix is shaking because it’s passing underneath the Spectran ship and banging repeatedly against its underside. But soon it’s clear though. Now the Spectran ship comes at them and strikes the Phoenix with its whip-like antennae, making it shake again and requiring Mark to keep hanging on to the wall for balance (and Keyop to cling to a chair’s back).

“Can you hold it level, Tiny?” asks Mark, frowning, “We’re losing speed and altitude!”

Well, whatever Tiny does or doesn’t do, the Spectran ship begins dropping a bunch purple, grape-like bombs that line its underside onto the Phoenix, where they explode into flaming clouds.

“We’ve been hit!” says Mark, still holding on to the wall. More grape-bombs fall from the Spectran ship, making it shake even more.

“We’re in trouble, Team –they’re going to give us everything they’ve got!” yells Mark.

“Can we take it?” asks Keyop, looking to Tiny.

“I’m flying blind as a bat,” declares Tiny and indeed the blindingly bright light seems to have suddenly returned to the view screen, “I don’t know where I’m going!”

“The missiles –they’re gas!” says Mark in alarm as he sees a toxic-looking, yellowish gas seeping into the bridge, “Could be poisonous!” He covers his mouth with his hand and heads for his chair.

We see the exterior of the Phoenix now and the grape bombs have deposited some highly corrosive substance on it that seems to be eating its way through the metal.

“Oh!” cries Princess, turning away and covering her mouth with her hands too as the gas starts seeping in through the vents on the wall above her.

The Spectran ship drops still more grape bombs and now we see the corrosive substance leaking into the Phoenix and dripping all over Mark’s jet, emitting more clouds of the yellowish gas.

“We can’t take much more of this,” says Tiny grimly.

“There won’t be anything left of the Phoenix,” says Princess anxiously.

“Yeah,” agrees Tiny, as Mark takes the seat beside him, “And not much of us!”

“Just try to hang in there,” says Mark, looking determined, but meanwhile a grape bomb hits one of the wing pods and now the corrosive substance is leaking all over Keyop’s space buggy, and releasing still more of the gas.

The gas is pouring into the bridge from all around the edges of the main door. Keyop sees this and declares “Need a gas mask!”

“Tiny,” says a frowning Mark, “Take her up straight, full power! Let’s go!”

Tiny does just that, taking them into a very steep ascent.

“Suppose they can follow us up? Then what?” asks Tiny as everyone struggles against the force of their sudden ascent and the Phoenix shakes.

No one answers.

“If Jason were here, we’d have a better chance of getting out of this,” thinks Mark. Yes, I guess Jason is suddenly the only one who can fire missiles as no one here seems to have thought of trying to do that. “What happened to him? He’s not the Jason I know.”

The Phoenix is so high now they look like they could be nearly in orbit, but the Spectran ship is still following them –hey, why wouldn’t it? It came from outer space so it’s not like it can’t handle being there.

“Maybe being in the stratosphere will slow ‘em,” says Tiny, but Princess sees the glowing dots disappearing from the radar screens and says “Something’s happening!”

In fact, the Spectran ship has dropped away and is heading back to Earth. And the blindingly bright light disappears from the view screen too.

“They can’t use their weapons at this altitude,” concludes Tiny happily.

“Yeah, but we’ve got to limp home empty-handed,” says Mark, less happily.

And we cut to Zark.

“While G-Force was operating without him, Jason was involved in a near-fatal accident which gave him a chance to utilize his paramedic skills to relax the jangled nerves of Mrs. Wade.”

Wait –Mrs. Who?

But we cut to a shot of Jason’s car parked beside a somewhat rundown-looking building. Apparently Jason’s paramedic skills extend to massage, for inside an apartment in the building, he’s giving “Mrs. Wade” a back rub.

“I’ve just realized why you look familiar,” he tells her.

“Really? Have we met before?’ she asks him.

“I once knew your son,” says Jason, his tone a bit stiffer now.

Mrs. Wade looks sad and a tear wells up in her eye to trickle down her face.

“What’s wrong, Mrs Wade?” asks Jason as she wipes the tear away.

“Forgive me, please,” she says, I don’t know where he is,” and Jason looks startled and briefly stops with the back rub.

“I haven’t seen him in a long time,” she continues.

“How long has it been?” asks Jason, starting to rub her back again.

“He disappeared right after he resigned from the G-Force Team,” she replies, and Jason looks stricken to hear this and he’s stepped away from her, “That’s almost two years now and not one word.”

Jason’s staring blankly at her in consternation, but then he gasps in pain and clutches his forehead with one hand, staggering back.

Now it’s her turn to ask “What’s wrong?”

“It’s… it’s nothing,” replies Jason, pulling his hand away and standing up straight again, “I need some air.”

He goes outside onto the landing and leans an arm against the stairs’ railing, eyes closed and breathing harder than he ought to be. He opens his eyes and looks down the stairs towards his car, and he’s got double vision –everything is shifting and blurry.

“It’s starting again,” he thinks, looking truly anxious, eyes contorting, “What good am I to G-Force this way?”

He continues to stand there, and then we cut to Zoltar and another man standing on a high platform overlooking the Spectran ship that we just saw attacking the Phoenix.

“I must tell you how pleased I am with your ooze bombs, Wade. If our caterpillar could have followed the Phoenix into the stratosphere, that would have been the end of those G-Force meddlers. Next time they will not escape!”

So now we know where Mrs. Wade’s missing son has gone. But the Spectran ship hardly looks like a caterpillar –it’s segmented, has an exoskeleton and is clearly not remotely larval in form. The sins this show has committed against zoology… (Not to mention astronomy!)

“All we need is a boost in the caterpillar’s power supply,” replies Wade, in a rather high and crafty-sounding voice, “That will be difficult but not impossible. Yes, next time, we’ll finish the job, and G-Force!”

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“It’s so refreshing to find someone who hates G-Force as much as I do,” says a smiling Zoltar, “You’ll go a long way, my boy –your heart is in the right place.”

With these words, we cut to an image of Wade on a screen that Chief Anderson is standing in front of, saying “This may come as a shock, but it seems a former member of our G-Force Team, Donald Wade, has defected to Spectra.”

“His knowledge of G-Force operations makes him dangerous,” continues Anderson, as the Team, sans Jason, listen intently. “Wade is a genius in Chemistry. At the time he left G-Force, he was perfecting a formula for a universal solvent. Look how the exposed metal on the Phoenix is eaten away [here the image switches from Wade to the areas of the Phoenix that were hit with grape bombs]. The bombs that struck it had to be carrying a payload of Wade’s formula.”

He turns to face the Team, adding “It’s his –I’ve had it tested. Now it’s Zoltar’s.”

“He’s a guy that I never could get close to,” says Mark, looking worried, “A real loner. And he and Jason just couldn’t hit it off at all.”

“Speaking of Jason,” says Anderson grimly, “He’s missed a mission and now a briefing –he’d better have a good explanation.”

Yes, Zark –who knows all about Jason’s “near fatal” accident (near fatal for Mrs. Wade, that is)- has apparently not bothered to pass on this explanation to anyone else, including Chief Anderson or Mark! Pretty damned negligent if you ask me, or does that robot want Jason to get into trouble?

But just then, the door slides open and Jason is standing there, arms folded and eyes closed. He walks into the room and immediately leans against the wall, looking like he knows he’s in trouble but intends to stay unrepentant.

“Hey, look who’s here!” says Keyop, spotting him first.

“What’s going on, Jason?” asks Anderson sternly.

Jason glares at him and says “That’s a good question.”

“And I’d like a good answer. Your behavior has been inexcusable. You deliberately disobeyed orders.”

“Maybe the best thing for me to do is resign,” replies Jason sullenly, still leaning against the wall, arms crossed.

“Resign?” says Anderson, frowning harder -he wasn’t expecting this, but then I guess Mark is the one who usually talks about resigning.

“What?” gasps Mark (thinking perhaps “Hey, that’s my line!”).

“Yeah,” says Jason flatly, “I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not cut out for G-Force anymore, if I ever was.”

Chief Anderson stands up, planting a fist on his desk.

“That’s not true and you know it, Jason,” he says.

Maybe Jason has realized that you can avoid being berated for screwing up if you declare you’re going to resign from the Team –then everyone forgets about scolding you and instead tries to persuade you to stay. Except I don’t think that’s what’s actually behind this.

“Jason, be sure you’re not making a decision you’ll regret later,” says Anderson, frowning, “Just be sure!”

With that, he leaves the room, oblivious to Princess’ call of “Chief, please!”

Mark walks over to Jason.

“Jason, what’s wrong?” he asks, sounding truly worried for a friend, “I’ll help.”

“Stay out of this!” snaps a scowling Jason and he too stalks out of the room.

Now we see that they’re all at Camp Parker and Jason is sitting alone on a grassy slope beyond the house.

“I just can’t figure out why my hand is so numb,” he thinks, holding one hand with the other as if examining it and staring anxiously.

“Jason,” says Princess, now walking up behind him.

He glances back at her, looking unhappy to see her.

“Jason, if you want somebody to talk to, I’m available,” she adds, eyes wide with concern.

Jason turns away from her, saying nothing.

“I thought we were friends,” she continues, “That we told each other our troubles.”

Jason looks at her again but says “I want to be left alone, okay?”

“No,” says Princess, looking hurt.

“Yes,” says Jason –looking, for a second, dismayed- but he adds “Don’t butt in where you’re not wanted, Princess,” and turns away from her again.

“I… I’m sorry if I bothered you, Jason,” says Princess, not sounding offended but clearly not knowing what else to say if he won’t talk to her, “I’ll leave you alone.” And she does, turning and walking away.

Jason looks miserable and he glances back at her, thinking “I’ve hurt her feelings and I didn’t want to.” But he turns forward again, putting a hand to his head, and looks thoroughly wretched. (But, he doesn’t have any surreal visions of cascading flower petals or anything like that.)

We cut to Zark the-withholder-of-important-information, who is ascending in his lift tube.

“Once in a while, even a robot has to get away from the pressures of the job,” he says, “And this is one of those times. At the moment, the giant caterpillar appears to be lying low but I don’t expect that to last for long.”

Now he’s out of his lift tube and in his own ready room. “The situation between Jason and Chief Anderson isn’t good at all,” says Zark now, “I’m very surprised to see Jason acting this way –it’s not like him.”

No explanation as to why he hasn’t informed anyone that Jason was involved in a car accident.

“Now for a short but refreshing rest,” he announces cheerfully, forgetting all about Jason and his problems, “If I’m in luck.” He reclines back on his little… chaise longue? Not sure what to call it.

Naturally, Susan calls.

“Center Neptune Control” answers Zark.

Whoa, it’s not Susan –it’s Chief Anderson. Now that I think about it, everything in this episode is happening on Earth so I guess there’d be no reason for Susan to contact him from Pluto.

“Chief Anderson,” says Anderson.

“There was quite a bit of damage to the Phoenix,” remarks Zark, “Have the repairs been completed?” What, Zark –don’t you already know?

“It’s ready to go,” says Anderson’s voice, “I need a short meeting with Mark and then they can blast off.”

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“I’ll get on it,” says Zark [Get on what? He didn’t ask you to do anything], “I’ll get right back to my console on the double.”

He stands upright again.

Back at Camp Parker (no explanation as to why everyone’s there and not at Center Neptune) Mark walks up some stairs to an office where Chief Anderson is sitting.

“Chief?” says Mark after knocking and being told to enter.

“Close the door, Mark,” says Anderson.

“If this is about Jason, I don’t have any answers. He’s keeping to himself.”

Zark might have some answers, but he’s keeping them to himself.

“I don’t like that at all,” says Anderson.

“Maybe if he were given a mission,” suggests Mark.

“That’s why you’re here,” replies Anderson, “Zoltar’s caterpillar has been spotted in Sector 10. I want it stopped before it does the terrible damage it can do, and that means that somebody from G-Force has to get aboard that caterpillar. I’ve made my decision, Mark –I want Jason to be that somebody.”

“I don’t know,” says Mark, looking worried, “I mean, under the circumstances…”

Anderson folds his arms, frowning.

“I think that Jason needs to prove something to himself,” says Anderson, “Let’s give him that chance.”

“Hmm,” says Mark, leaning a hand against the wall, “We’ll start right away, Chief.”

With that, Mark leaves the room.

Suddenly, he’s saying “Anyone for Sector 10?” to this shot of the rest of the Team.

Where is this footage from? It’s sure not from Gatch’s episode 98!


 


Everyone raises a fist and cheers “G-Force!” And then we see Mark bringing his arm up before his face and saying “Transmute!” as the light swirls around his wrist communicator. Okay, this is stock footage that’s been in many episodes, BOTP and Gatch (though not Gatch episode 98).

But next, we see everyone doing a cool action pose. Again, I’m not sure which Gatch episode this is from, but it’s not #98.


 

 

 

 


And finally we get the oft-used stock footage of them all running down a long corridor to the Phoenix… at Center Neptune.

They were all just at Camp Parker. When did they suddenly all head off to Center Neptune?

But they all jump up to the Phoenix’s dome, descend inside and then water fills the docking bay and they depart Center Neptune, head for the surface, and go zooming off into the sky with the ground visible far below.

Well, since this episode is Earth-bound, I guess they couldn’t use the usual filler of the Phoenix travelling through space as a glowing dot with lots of techno-babble voice-overing. And really, as filler, I prefer this to more Zark.

On bridge of the Phoenix (and back to ep. 98 footage), Jason is studying the radar screens and saying “Here it comes. It’s our giant caterpillar.”

There is indeed a glowing dot on the screen, and we cut to a shot of the caterpillar itself.

“All right,” says Mark, watching it on the view screen, ahead of them by quite a distance, “Prepare to make the transfer.” He stands up. “Tiny, level off. It’s all yours, Jason.”

No response.

“Jason!” says Mark, turning his head to look back at him.

“Whatever you say,” says Jason, sounding thoroughly unenthusiastic and sullen (though he sure looked chipper enough in all that filler we just saw).

Princess looks at him worriedly as he leaves the bridge, and Mark is staring intently in his wake. “Why don’t I stop this?” he thinks.

But Jason goes down to a lower level of the Phoenix and climbs inside the “grape”-shaped body of a missile and sits down in a chair, looking as if he’s bored or, at least, far from keen.

“Ready to go,” he says, rather, flatly, into his wrist communicator.

“Let’s go!” says Mark, on the bridge. “Closing in,” answers Tiny.

“Get in there tight and we’ll let him go,” says Mark as they draw nearer to the caterpillar.

The caterpillar starts flashing the blindingly bright light again, as Tiny says “I kind of get the feeling that they’re not glad to see us.” Mark puts his arm up in front of his face to block the light.

And the “grape”-shaped missile containing Jason is fired at the caterpillar, and Jason is shoved back in his seat by the acceleration, and then it sticks into the underside of the caterpillar and its tail section drops away, leaving just the “grape.”

The Phoenix then flies away quickly.

On board the caterpillar, a Spectran soldier remarks “It looks like G-Force learned their lesson –the Phoenix took off like a scared rabbit.”

“We won’t be seeing them again very soon,” agrees another soldier.

“It could be some kind of trick,” says a third, more cynical soldier.

“You’re always looking for tricks, Koboot [sp?],” says the first soldier, “Put your feet up, relax.” Indeed he himself already has his feet on this console. “Take it easy –you’ll live longer. But don’t tell Zoltar I said that.”

But he hits a button by mistake with his foot and suddenly Zoltar is right there on-screen.

“You summoned me, Commander Blook [sp?]?” says Zoltar as all three soldiers on the bridge hastily stand at attention and salute.

“Uh, yes, your excellency, to… to report that all goes well!”

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“You have scarcely begun your mission,” points out Zoltar sternly.

“That’s true,” admits Commander Blook, still saluting, “But it’s a good beginning, wouldn’t you say?”

“I’d say that you’re wasting my time with this nonsense,” replies Zoltar testily, “Now, get on with it!”

“Yes, Sir,” says Commander Blook, and Zoltar is gone.

“That man acts like a fool,” says Zoltar, wherever he is, “I hope I haven’t made a big mistake trusting him with this mission.”

And now we see the caterpillar entering a secret base hidden inside some mountains.

It parks inside a massive room and the caterpillar’s crew all exit the ship. Commander Blook approaches and salutes a soldier standing at the head of a whole row of soldiers.

“I hope I can be as valuable to you as I have been to Zoltar,” he says. “We shall see," replies the soldier who is presumably this base’s Commander.

Commander Blooks turns and tells his crew they're dismissed.

Now the massive room the caterpillar is in seems empty, and we see Jason emerging from inside the fake “grape.”

We cut to Donald Wade, working at a drafting table in a room somewhere else on the base. There’s a knock at his door and he calls “Come in.”

“I don’t like interruptions,” he barks as soon as the door opens, but suddenly he gasps “Jason, is that you?”

Yup, Jason found Wade all by himself –he didn’t coerce a soldier to show him the way and then clobber him, or anything like that.

“You should be ashamed to look me in the face,” declares Jason coldly, “Traitor!”

“Call me what you like,” retorts Wade, backing up towards a bookcase, “But I’m important here! The Spectrans appreciate my work!”

(Jason kindly refrains from kicking him twice in the face and once in the stomach, yet oddly, there’s a trickle of blood on Wade’s mouth.)

“I’m going to take you back with me,” Jason informs him, “If you’re as smart as I think you are, you’ll come without a fuss.”

He moves to open the door, and suddenly Wade lunges for a gun that’s inside a holster, sitting on the bookcase. He turns towards Jason, ready to whip out the gun and shoot, but Jason is much faster. He’s already got his own gun trained on Wade.

Wade trembles, uncertain if he can manage to get a shot off without Jason shooting him –as well he should be uncertain!

“I don’t want to hurt you, mainly because of your mother,” says Jason sternly, “But that’s up to you.”

Wade is still trembling with indecision and fear.

“Put down your gun, Don. You’re breaking your mother’s heart –you know that, don’t you? That poor woman thinks you’re on a secret assignment for our government. She doesn’t know that you’re a defector.”

Wade’s eyes contort with fear or anger but then we see Jason –still aiming his gun at Wade- and suddenly we hear Jason thinking “My eyes! My eyes!” and he flinches abruptly and cries out as his view of Wade –now pointing his gun at Jason- goes all blurry with double vision and then Jason’s vision goes all dark.

Next we see, Wade is still pointing the gun and Jason has turned away and fallen down. Immediately, Jason –sitting rather than standing- spins around and take aim at Wade.

But suddenly Mark is here in the room, pinning Wade’s arms so that he can’t shoot or get away and telling Jason “Hold it!”

“Mark!” cries Jason, shocked to see him.

“I thought you might need a little help,” says Mark.

“But how-”

“We turned back and landed the Phoenix close to the base here,” explains Mark.

“If you hadn’t come back,” says Jason, tapping his gun against a bullet hole in the wall, “I’d be a goner.”

“You weren’t in any danger,” says Mark, “Not from this gun.” [He wrestles the gun from Wade’s grip and shoves him towards the bookcase.]

“What?” says Jason, looking shocked again.

“This gun is filled with harmless blanks,” says Mark, removing them from the ammo clip and tossing them onto the floor, “Even the Spectrans don’t trust a man who’s a traitor to his own planet.”

Jason doesn’t say anything, or think anything that we can hear though he might well be wondering where the bullet hole in the wall came from if not from Wade’s gun.

“Jason, we’ll leave this defector to the Spectrans,” says Mark as Jason puts his gun back in his holster.

Suddenly an armored panel drops down in the door out the room, trapping them inside. Jason futilely hurls himself against it as the sound of Zoltar’s laughter fills the room.

“Going someplace, my dear friends?” he asks mockingly.

“That’s Zoltar!” says Wade, and just then, the yellowish gas starts pouring into the room from a vent in the ceiling.

“Unfortunately, I cannot be with you,” says Zoltar, “But I have arranged this little surprise to help you wile away the time.”

“Please, you can’t leave me!” cries Wade, oddly appalled at this treachery. Mark doesn’t look the least bit surprised though.

“I regret that I must leave you behind, Mr. Wade,” continues Zoltar, “But these things are beyond my control.”

Wade sinks to his knees in despair.

“Since my plans for Earth have been so rudely interrupted by these wretched G-Force interlopers,” says Zoltar as he flies away in an escape rocket, “I am returning to Spectra at this very moment. I must bid you all good bye, forever!”

Wade is horrified.

“How does it feel,” demands Mark, “to know you’re about to be done in by your own invention? It would serve you right if we left you here. You made your bed and you ought to be left to lie in it but all human life deserves some respect –even yours.”

Actually, other than damaging the exterior of the Phoenix, Wade hasn’t really done anything too terrible aside from working for Spectra. It’s not like tens of thousands of people in a city were killed with his universal solvent or anything like that.

Wade makes no reply.

“I don’t know how you feel about it, Jason. What do you say?”

“Yeah, okay,” is all Jason says, and Mark goes and hauls Wade to his feet, telling Jason to try the door.

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Jason does, and this time the armored panel slides right up –no explanation why.

“If I know Zoltar,” says Mark, as he and Jason go down the corridor (with Mark herding Wade along in front of him), “This whole base is doomed –let’s get going!”

Next we see the Phoenix taking off from the base and flying away.

On the bridge of the Phoenix, Wade is sitting on the floor in front of Princess. I guess she has the job of clocking him on the head if he tries anything. He looks too depressed to do that though.

“Waiting for the big bang?” Mark asks her.

“It won’t be long,” says Princess, “If Zoltar can’t win, he destroys everything.”

Yes, so Zoltar blows up the caterpillar –which is what we now see happening. It’s completely destroyed yet somehow, in all this destruction, not a soldier is in sight. I guess they’ve all fled the base already, also being wise to Zoltar’s ways.

“Once again, G-Force has thwarted the evil plans of the Spectran invaders,” voice-overs Zark as the Phoenix flies along through the sky, “But there is still some very important unfinished business, as far as Jason is concerned.”

And we’re back at Mrs. Wade’s apartment, and Jason’s car is parked outside.

She’s in a rocking chair, reading a letter, when Jason knocks on the door. He comes in, carrying a bunch of flowers.

“How nice to see you again, Jason,” says Mrs. Wade.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you, Mrs. Wade.”

“What lovely flowers,” she says as Jason presents them to her, “The kind Donald would bring if he were here.”

Jason looks uncomfortable.

“Hey, you know, that’s incredible,” says Jason, rubbing his head, “You’ll see what I mean when you read the card.”

“You see, I was right,” she says, “He is on some kind of secret mission. Some day it will be finished and he’ll come back. Thank you, Jason, I’m the happiest mother in the world.”

She wipes away a tear as Jason stares, looking like he’s not sure what to say and unwilling or unable to tell her the truth.

“In the universe,” she adds.

“It’s getting late,” says Jason, “I’ve got to get going. See you!”

And he quickly leaves, but he pauses on the landing outside and stares down the stairs towards his car. No double vision this time.

“I’m sure Jason will soon discover,” voice-overs Zark cheerily as Jason now examines his hand and smiles in relief, “That both his double vision and the numbness in his hand have disappeared and he’ll realize that his imagination and concern magnified a temporary disorder –brought on by overwork- into a near tragedy.”

Jason walks back down the stairs towards his car.

“He reminds me so much of Donald,” sighs Mrs. Wade inside her apartment and she pulls out a photo of her son. “I’ll see you again, some day,” she says as she gazes at it.

And we cut to Zark and 1-Rover-1 at Center Neptune.

“Mrs. Wade will see her son,” says Zark, “And it won’t be too long. Due to G-Force’s intervention, Donald Wade is being put on probation. Chief Anderson thinks –and I agree- that our young defector has learned his lesson. I don’t think we’ll have any more trouble out of him.”

Right, he probably won’t try to shoot Jason again.

“I wish I could say the same thing in the case of Zoltar,” sighs Zark, “Every time he’s defeated, he comes back with something worse! Well, they say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and vigilance… is my middle name!”

The end.

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Wow, Zark sure likes to tie everything up with a neat little bow, doesn't he? 'I'm sure Jason will realize that he's just fine! And then he will be!" Puke2

There are just a few too many plot holes in this BOTP episode for me. However, I do think that they had a really interesting idea, making Donald Wade a former member of G-Force. That gave us an interesting glimpse into the team dynamic... it wasn't always as it is now. How many other former G-Force members are there? Where are they? Was the Team bigger before, or is one of the current members Don't replacement? There's a lot of potential there (although AFAIK, only Cathrl has exploited that potential in her fanfic).

quote:
But the Spectran ship hardly looks like a caterpillar


Keep in mind that the Spectrans are from another planet... heck, another galaxy! Perhaps this is what caterpillars look like on Spectra?

The Gatchaman episode is an interesting one, not just because it shows the progression of Joe's 'illness', but also the idea of a pollution weapon (which had been explored a looooong time before when they encountered the 'thing with 1,000 eyes' ) is one that works well both with Galactor's motives and the pro-environmental theme of the series.

And yes, I've always wanted Joe to give me a back rub like that.... Wink

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And let's not forget a Sosai Tim Gatchafunny...

 

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What got me when I saw the BotP episode (back when I could still see it on Veoh) was the way they treated Don's treachery: as if it were a lapse in judgement on a par with choosing the wrong friend. The guy went to work for an enemy government. This wasn't a dumbass defection because a girl jilted him or he didn't get a promotion (real reasons some people went to Russia back in the day): he went to work for Zoltar.

Was Don given a cerebonic implant? If so, realistically, Spectran scientists should have opened him up and analyzed the hell out of it. And he should have given them all manner of information (such as the real names of the team members).

Fanfic fun.

As for Gatch: I'm trying to understand a few things in this show. Dr. Demon doesn't get a coveted position, and suddenly nobody will touch him or his research with a 10-foot pole. Mikhail is able to get enough of an education to become a researcher (with enough of a reputation that Nambu knows of him), but because he was a poor kid, nobody will touch him or his research with a 10-foot pole.

That's a surprising amount of snobbery for the scientific community. While individual scientists may be snooty assholes, most won't treat your bank balance or lack of a promotion as a reason to completely disregard or downplay your abilities or contributions. It's about the work itself.

I do feel for Mikhail's mother. He turned his back on her when he ran off, and she misses him terribly.

Anyone have any idea if red flowers have any significance in Japanese culture? I'm asking because I've seen roses used in other anime, and not in any romantic sense, but usually in a foreboding manner (but I can't remember the details).

There's a damn good reason red flowers would freak out Joe: rose bombs. He was almost killed by one.

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I never thought about the significance of the flower petals...not sure why...

Great recap! This was a very memorable episode for me, because it was my best friend's favorite episode. It really had us wondering what was wrong with Jason...and even as a kid, I never believed that he was just cured that fast!

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Love the "Idol" cartoon! Laugh1


quote:
Originally posted by Transmute Jun
There are just a few too many plot holes in this BOTP episode for me. However, I do think that they had a really interesting idea, making Donald Wade a former member of G-Force. That gave us an interesting glimpse into the team dynamic... it wasn't always as it is now. How many other former G-Force members are there? Where are they? Was the Team bigger before, or is one of the current members Don's replacement? There's a lot of potential there (although AFAIK, only Cathrl has exploited that potential in her fanfic).


Yes, I wish they'd answered some of the big, intriguing questions raised by suddenly introducing someone and saying they're a former member G-Force! Cathrl certainly came up with an excellent explanation, though her Don is never a willing traitor the way canon Don seems to be. It occurs to me that the BOTP writers could have further developed this idea a bit if they'd adapted Gatch episode 56 and presented Koji as another former member of G-Force who had left the Team.


quote:
Originally posted by UnpublishedWriter
Was Don given a cerebonic implant? If so, realistically, Spectran scientists should have opened him up and analyzed the hell out of it. And he should have given them all manner of information (such as the real names of the team members).


Yes, that's certainly a plot hole! If he knew so much and apparently hated G-Force, why didn't he tell it all to Zoltar?

Regarding Mikhail's complaints about not getting any support for his research except from Katse, I wonder if he's never attended a university and is completely self-taught. In the Gatch world, a lack of formal academic credentials could be an obstacle to getting grants and funding, even if one's theories seem promising. I know in academia, at least in History, there's a tendency to look down on "independent scholars" who dotheir research outside of the university system.

I agree that Don got off way too easy as well -collaborating with an enemy during time of war is a serious crime, punishable even by death, in nearly all places. And, he basically tried to murder Jason, though Mark showing up and grabbing him rather thwarted that (besides his gun being loaded with blanks -though Don didn't know about that).


quote:
Originally posted by Springie

It really had us wondering what was wrong with Jason...and even as a kid, I never believed that he was just cured that fast!


I can't remember seeing this episode, but I think I too would have been skeptical as well. It annoys me too that Zark condescendingly implies that Jason's "illness" was largely all in his head and that Jason himself made it worse than it was.

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Great recaps, LB!

... and, the angst begins! You're right ... the scene of Joe, sitting by himself, in front of the villa, is quite a heartbreaking one! I agree that what Joe must have been feeling was worse than death itself!

Regarding the rose petals ... I too have noticed that these are included, many a time, in Japanese anime! I always associate them with their giving a scene a romantic, or melodramatic, twist ... just a tinge of poetic effect! They might have another valid significance, which we all well know, for Joe, though!

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A couple other things about this episode:

BotP version: In the U.S., it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident. It would have been simple enough for the scriptwriters to have Zark mention that, and to say that he had contacted Anderson about it as a matter of procedure. They could have worked that into the dialogue, demonstrating the problems of secret identities as well as social responsibility.

Jason’s physical condition could have been explained as the result of the accident. Lights flashed in his eyes, and he over-corrected, then hit his head in the accident. He was worried about Ms. Wade, and didn’t even think about himself. Then, afterwards, Zark could tell us that Jason went to the doctor and got checked out and they fixed him up. It would have been a lot better than what they did write.

Gatch version: Joe doesn’t call for ambulances. You notice that? In The Plan to Assassinate Dr. Nambu, he leaves a burning car on the track and drives a young woman to work instead of the hospital. He’s justified in Death Girls Unite, since they’re in the middle of nowhere and Galactor robots had attacked. In the ‘Anglerfish’ episode, he doesn’t wait for police or an ambulance, and in this episode, he doesn’t call an ambulance.

That’s dangerous. Ambulances have sirens, and can get to the hospital faster than a regular vehicle. Nowadays, there are EMTs with the ambulances, but back then, I’m not sure how much training the attendants had. Even so, it was better than trying to do it yourself.

Both versions: Gas doesn’t work that way. It filled the room quickly, and in the Gatch original, it was caustic. They should have been incapacitated before Mikhail could grovel, and dead before Joe opened the door. Even if someone had rescued them before they died, they would be on disability for as long as their lives lasted afterwards. I’m not sure what BotP intended to imply, but most poisonous gases are dangerous just from skin contact (if you don’t wash carefully afterwards), and nerve gas is nasty whatever you do.

In Gatch, this is the start of Joe’s decline. At the time of the infamous ‘puppy episode’, there was no plan to kill off Joe (or so I deduce from what James has posted), so I think it’s fanon to blame the shrapnel for what happened to him later. In any case, we now know that something’s up with Joe, and he doesn’t want to be off the team.

In BotP, since it’s all out of order, this is temporary for Jason. We could put it down to the accident, or to a problem with his cerebonic implant, or some other cause. Fanfic fun.

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LB said : It occurs to me that the BOTP writers could have further developed this idea a bit if they'd adapted Gatch episode 56 and presented Koji as another former member of G-Force who had left the Team.


That would have been such a cool idea. Definite fanfic fodder!

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