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[One last time, thank you, Saturn, for the screen caps! Huggles Quite the journey it’s been…]


Gatchaman Episode 104: “The Evil Grand Black Hole Operation”

BOTP Episode: N/A


 


This episode picks up immediately where episode 103 left off. The God Phoenix is still struggling in the clutches of the Catfisherra mecha, gripped by its tentacle-like whiskers as the mecha attempts to blast it with laser beams.


 


Fortunately, the laser beams are missing, but the surrounding explosions from the beams hitting the seafloor are enough to rattle the God Phoenix and its four occupants.


 


Ken, not looking at all happy about their current predicament, orders Ryu to get them free (as if Ryu isn’t trying to do just that?)

Ryu, endeavoring to no avail to yank the throttle, tells Ken the mecha’s “damned whiskers” are making escape impossible. Indeed, the whiskers are gripping the nose of the God Phoenix and one of its wings so tightly that cracks are forming in the God Phoenix’s exterior. However, we are given a visual reminder that Joe’s G-2 car is in the nose (as Joe had instructed Ken to take it on board with them in episode 103) though cracks are seen spreading across the interior walls around it.


 


On the bridge, Jun and Jinpei are hanging onto each other as the God Phoenix shakes and pitches.

“No Joe, so no bird missiles,” says Jinpei unhappily, “We’re in trouble!”

But Ken cuts in to remind them that they have the G-2 car with them and therefore can fire missiles. “But we can’t fire until we break free,” he adds, presumably because they’re too close to the mecha and would also be destroyed in the resulting explosion.

However, this reminder that missiles are an option gives Ryu encouragement.

“Then it’s sink or swim –I’m going to go for it,” he declares, gritting his teeth with a growl.

Catfisherra is readying its laser beam for another blast, but Ryu pushes a button on his console and then is able to swing the God Phoenix around, even as it’s in the grip of the whiskers, such that it smashes into and shatters a section of one of the whiskers.


 


And then in an added stroke of luck, the laser beam fires and hits the whisker that’s gripping onto the God Phoenix’s wing.

“Ryu the Owl, the greatest stick jockey in the world,” says Ryu in grim triumph as the God Phoenix is now free. Ken tells him to do a 180 turn.


 


Ryu turns the God Phoenix so sharply and fast, Jinpei tumbles out of his chair (and also looks like his stomach isn’t appreciating the sudden movement).

“Ryu forgets he has passengers sometimes, Sis,” says a somewhat ill-looking Jinpei aggrievedly.

So now the God Phoenix is heading for Catfisherra as Ryu (belatedly) tells everyone to “hang on tight!”


 


Ken tells him to “maintain course and heading” and gets ready to fire a super bird missile.


 


However, even as they’re closing in on the mecha, it suddenly fires a whole bunch of spike-shaped purple missiles at the God Phoenix. But Ryu is able to evade them and he yells “Distance 500, Ken!”

“Now!” yells Ken, and he slams his fist down on the shiny red button.


 

As goons go flying left and right, the super bird missile smashes right through Catfisherra and into a large room inside it, where it embeds in the floor.


 


Meanwhile, the God Phoenix speeds away, smashing through the mecha’s tail fin for good measure, and then breaks the surface of the sea to fly into the air.

And then the missile explodes. More goons go flying amidst the flames and water comes pouring into Catfisherra.


 


The entire mecha blows apart in a cascade of explosions, sending a massive burst of water and flames into the air above the sea’s surface.

The God Phoenix, however, is high in the air now. On the bridge, Dr. Nambu suddenly appears on-screen.


 


“Are you all right?” he asks, “Galactor had us completely fooled with its decoy operation.”

“Decoy operation?” says Ken, confused.

“You mean that mecha wasn’t causing the earthquakes?” asks an equally confused Ryu.

Dr. Nambu explains that the earthquakes are still occurring, “So that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.”

Jun wonders if this means there are other mechas out there still.

Everyone listens as Dr. Nambu explains:


 


“We believe that this was probably just subterfuge, to serve as cover. They’ve caused earthquakes many times before. We [who is ‘we’? Him and Director Anderson? The ISO?] believe this must be leading to something new.”

“Something new?” says Ken quietly.

Dr. Nambu closes his eyes, adding that he feels Galactor has something “more extreme in mind.”

“Find Joe,” he concludes, “I’ll update you as soon as I have more to report.”

And then we cut to Joe. First we see his face, eyes closed, as he lies on a floor.

“His strength exhausted, Joe has been taken to Galactor headquarters,” explains the narrator as the “camera” pans outward.


 


“Where his condition grows steadily worse,” continues the narrator, “The Condor is truly at death’s door.”

His gun has been taken from him and it and his damaged bracelet (complete with the little components that had fallen out of it) are lying on a nearby table.


 

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And then we cut to a big, red missile poised over a tunnel leading deep into the Earth…

“Meanwhile,” says the narrator, “Galactor’s final and ultimate plan, the Black Hole Operation is steadily progressing.”

We see a drill still tunneling deep underground.


 


And then we cut to an image of what appears to be the remnants of a destroyed planet, gradually fading away.


 


“In the vastness of space,” says the narrator, “A single celestial body’s light gradually faded into oblivion. Planet Selectol, once larger than the Earth, suddenly ceased to exist. It simply vanished.”

But we cut to a large telescope and a bunch of scientist-astronomers.


 


“But no one truly understood the significance of this phenomenon,” concludes the narrator.

Well, apparently Leader X understands. We cut to him now.

“Selectol has unexpectedly disappeared,” he’s saying.

“Oh Leader,” says Katse dismissively, standing before him in his usual audience chamber, “So what if a planet or two vanishes? One less to worry about!” He’s making lots of grand arm gestures as he says all this.

“Nothing was more important to me than that planet, Katse,” retorts Leader X ominously as we see his “face” close up.

Katse still tries to assure him that “It’s nothing to be concerned about, is it?”

“If the Black Hole Operation is successful,” Katse continues, clenching his fists before him in anticipated triumph, “The Earth shall be yours instead, Leader.”

“If Selectol has vanished,” replies Leader X, “Then along with it have my great aspirations.”


 


We get a close up of Leader X again. “Nevertheless, I will see this command through.”

His “face” briefly flashes with haywire patterns of jagged lines.

“To the very end!”

“Leader,” says Katse, still not comprehending why Selectol matters or too fixated on the Black Hole Operation’s goals to care, “We’re getting so close to victory. The drilling machine will soon reach the Earth’s mantle. [more grand arm gestures] Just give me your orders, Sire.”

Katse bows.

“Destroy the Earth,” declares Leader X, “It too shall perish just as Selectol did!”

Katse snaps his head back up in dismay.

“But that’s not what our plan was!” he cries.

“I’m aware of that,” says Leader X, back-pedaling some, “If this mission succeeds, then Earth will surely submit to us, after which you shall be its ruler. Now set the destructive mechanism within the Earth’s mantle.”

Katse, seemingly relieved that Leader X isn’t serious about destroying the planet on which Katse himself resides and is still on board with the whole conquest thing, bows again and says “Yes Sire, right away!”

With that, Katse turns and leaves.

But with Katse out of earshot, Leader X begins to laugh a very sinister laugh.

“Fool,” he says, “The Earth belongs to no one. I shall personally wipe it from the universe, forever.”

His eyes turn an evil-looking red.


 


Seems that Katse is being deceived…

Meanwhile, in the control room for the Black Hole Operation, four goons are sitting at a long row of consoles, informing Katse that everything is ready.

“Good,” says Katse, who gets a special chair –larger and more cushy than the goons’ and accompanied by a little table holding a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket. He takes a sip from a glass, but it looks like he’s not sharing with the goons.

He snaps his fingers and then a little glass-domed pedestal rises up from the floor in front of his chair. The dome retracts to reveal a large yellow button with the red Galactor symbol on it. Katse cracks his knuckles in preparation for initiating the Black Hole Operation.

“Now at long last, the Earth shall be completely mine,” he says, relishing the full significance of what’s about to happen. “Oh, how eagerly I’ve waited for this very moment!” he cries, leaning over the button, trembling and rather overcome with emotion.


 


Tears well up in his eyes and splash onto the pedestal.


 

 



“Long live…”

He smashes his fist down on the button. “Galactor!”

(Rather similar to how Ken fires missiles.)


 


And with that, lights and buttons begin blinking all over the goons’ panels and consoles, and we see a countdown meter, one that reads 4321F. A missile is conveyed along an elevated track and into a slot on a rotating launch platform that spins until the missile is in place over the deep, deep tunnel to the Earth’s mantle that is now complete and is even lined with guiderails to convey the missiles to their destination.


 


And the missile is released and sent on its way, as Katse and the goons watch its progress as a glowing dot on a sort of radar screen.


 


And then we cut to Director Anderson, who is in his office, smoking a cigar and speaking to someone on a telephone.


 


“Director of the Information Bureau and you still can’t find the Red Impulse Squad?” he’s saying angrily into the receiver, while stubbing out his cigar in an ash tray.

“Over a week and no word!” he adds crossly, “I’m convinced something’s wrong; I want search teams scrambled.”

Then he sighs in weary exasperation and hangs up the phone.

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Now we see one of Galactor’s drills deep underground and it has just broken through the Earth’s crust to reach the glowing, molten magma of the mantle.


 


It is immediately followed by the first of the missiles. The missile, now fully in the mantle, detonates in a massive nuclear explosion.

We see a mountainous region of the Earth’s surface, presumably Karakoram, and the ground shakes and magma suddenly bursts forth from the ground and sprays into the air.

Next we see a seismograph, inside the Karakoram base, registering an earthquake as alarmed goons cringe while the whole place shakes and bits of debris fall from the ceiling.


 


“Lord Katse, we’ve recorded a magnitude 5 earthquake!” cries one of the frightened goons.

“Keep your shirt on!” orders Katse, “This headquarters can withstand a magnitude 9 and a mecha is working ahead of the drill to absorb the quake vibrations!” He swings a fist and snarls “Shut up and carry on!”

And we cut to a scientist of some sort talking on a telephone.


 


He’s saying nervously “Seismographs and magmameters around the world are now detecting what appears to be the initial stage of a neutron reaction.”

We see a device that’s detecting this.


 


“A neutron reaction?” gasps a horrified Director Anderson –presumably on the other end of the line with the scientist.


 


As Director Anderson anxiously clutches some papers on his desk with one hand, the scientist tells him that they believe someone has detonated a nuclear device deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

“I’m on my way! Damn…” says Director Anderson and he hastily hangs up and departs his office. Through the large window of his office though, we see the God Phoenix fly past the sky scrapers of what is probably Amegapolis, where the ISO headquarters are.

On the bridge of the God Phoenix, everyone looks worried and depressed.


 


“Something must have happened to him if we still haven’t heard from him yet,” Ken is saying, like one whose hope is giving way to resignation.

Jun emits an anxious sob, clutching her helmet with her hands. “Joe, please answer us! Where are you?” she cries into her bracelet.


 


Jinpei looks up to stare sadly at Joe’s empty chair over by the radar screens.


 


So does Ryu, who then sighs and rubs his nose.

“He can be a real hot tamale,” he says, “But I do kind of miss him, now he’s MIA.”

Now Jinpei rallies and declares they ought to give the search one more try. “We’ll use our G-machines!”

Jun stands up, adding “That’s it! That’ll expand the area we can cover!”

Ken concurs. He too stands up and with a look of grim determination says “We’re going to hunt down Joe the Condor even to the ends of the Earth!” (He sort of makes Joe sound like a villain here!)

But before they can begin this plan, Dr. Nambu appears on-screen and orders them to return to base and report to him immediately.

“What? Yes, Sir,” says Ken, a bit confused, adding “But we still haven’t found Joe.”

“Forget about Joe for now, Ken,” says Dr. Nambu, causing Ken’s eyes to widen in dismayed surprise. Everyone is similarly unhappy to hear this.

“Something more important has come up,” says Dr. Nambu by way of explanation, “We have a serious issue developing.”

Not a very good explanation though. Ken stands up, one fist clenched and he declares hotly “For us, finding Joe is a serious issue!”


 


“Damn straight!” adds Ryu.

“This is not just about one man,” replies Dr. Nambu, “But the survival of humanity!”

Oh, well, when you put it that way…

Ken stares, indignation giving way to alarm. “Fill us in, Doc. What’s happening down there? What’s so urgent?”

“I can’t explain now, but even though Joe is faced with his own crisis, I believe he knows how to find his way out of it. Trust in his abilities and return at once!”

With that, Dr. Nambu is gone.

Ken sits back down in his chair, not looking at anyone, and tells Ryu to set course, “Northwest. We’re going back,” he says, his voice sounding curt and flat.

“But then Joe will be alone!” protests Ryu. “Ken!” chimes in Jun.

“Just follow my orders, okay?” says Ken, sounding less stiff now as he looks towards them, “Wherever Joe may be, he’ll be all right.” He stares ahead again. “All we can do is pray for him.”

And now we cut to Joe, but he doesn’t seem to be “all right” at all! In fact, his head is being hoisted up by Katse, who’s grasped hold of his hair.

“Come on now,” jeers Katse, smacking Joe’s face repeatedly with his free hand, “What’s the matter, you sniveling maggot? Come on, Condor Joe, or whatever your piddley friends call you.”

Joe’s being propped up by two goons who are holding the barrels of their machine guns under his armpits, and now Katse is using his grasp on Joe’s hair to shake his head up and down.


 


“Oh why the long face?” he mocks, “Where’s that defiance we all know and love?”

Then he lets go of Joe and stalks away in disgust –clearly he’d been hoping for more sport from his victim.

“You really put us through the wringer, and now you’re almost a corpse,” he complains, “Of course it wouldn’t be much fun if we take your miserable life too quickly.”

He glares at Joe now. “You’re going to suffer for it! Take him to the lab!” Katse points dramatically, and immediately the goons who are propping up Joe convey him towards the exit as the rest of the goons jeer and shout insults.

As soon as Joe has been taken away, two of the goons rush up to Katse. One has a small beard and he does the talking, telling Katse “Me and the guys were wondering if we could have his weapon.” The goon glances at his companion, who nods in concurrence.

“And what do you plan to do with this piece of trash?” asks Katse.


 


The bearded goon explains they want to keep it around as a trophy. Katse is agreeable to this, telling the goon to take Joe’s gun away. “It pains me to even look at it,” he declares, tossing it contemptuously onto the table as he walks away.

The bearded goon thanks Katse as he and his friend both bow.


 


Then, they quickly pick up both the gun and Joe’s bracelet (along with the little loose components that had fallen out).


 


The bearded goon twirls the gun in his hand happily, and he and the other goon (who has Joe’s bracelet) exchange a significant look.

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Now we see the 4321F countdown meter for the Black Hole Operation, and the time has gone past the 4 and is inching towards the 3…

Katse is back in his fancy chair in the Operation’s control room. “I trust the Black Hole Operation is progressing smoothly?” he asks the four goons at their consoles.

“Yes,” one goon tells him, saying they’re about to perform the third detonation. He turns on a view screen, revealing a city with a smoking volcano looming beyond it.


 


Then we see the volcano close up and it’s erupting violently now. Lava is spraying into the air and pouring down its sides and a great flood of it is heading directly for the city. In the streets of the city, terrified people are running about in a panic and hot ash and flaming rocks are falling from the air around them.

Then we see a massive flood of water rushing through the streets (not sure if this is the same city with the volcano or a different city) sweeping away cars and people, and causing buildings and elevated roads to collapse.

“This just in,” says a news broadcaster, “From the AP Newswire. Even in the country of
Imalia, a volcano has violently erupted without giving any advance warning. There appear to be a large number of casualties. Up to now, that makes-”


 


We cut suddenly to an office where Dr. Nambu has just turned off the TV on which he and the Ninjas were watching the broadcast.


 


Dr. Nambu is explaining that this is proof that someone is setting off nuclear explosions within the Earth’s mantle.

“Still, I can’t believe ordinary nuclear explosions could cause something like this,” Jun is saying as Dr. Nambu walks towards them and a screen showing the Earth with a section cut away is lowered down on the wall for them all to watch.


 

“We believe the cause is a neutron reaction,” says Dr. Nambu gravely.

“Neutron reaction?” says Jinpei –clearly confused- and he looks over at Ryu as if to see if he is confused too.

“Do you know what that is?” asks Ryu in mock contempt (as I don’t think he does either).

“Well, I know who ‘Newton’ is…” begins Jinpei apprehensively.

“Dork!” declares Ryu.

“The Earth’s mantle,” continues Dr. Nambu, launching into his exposition now that this bit of comic relief is done, “And parts of its interior are primarily composed of iron and nickel.” He gestures towards the image of the Earth on the screen.

Then we see a close up of what is presumably the Earth’s core or mantle at the atomic level. “There are neutral particles called neutrinos within these elements,” continues Dr. Nambu as we see a neutrino moving through the other atomic particles and then exploding.

“And if explosives trigger them to react, then they could detonate within the mantle, thus magnifying those explosions.”

And we see multiple, cascading explosions of neutrinos happening…

“If the process is repeated in rapid succession, the subterranean motion would lead to disaster.”

He bows his head gravely, eyes closed.


 


“What would happen, Doc?” asks Ken.

“The Earth would be obliterated,” is the grim reply he receives. Everyone is horrified.


 

 


With that dramatic pronouncement, we cut suddenly to an image of Earth in space beginning to disintegrate…


 


“The pressure on the Earth’s interior would increase so much,” explains Dr. Nambu, holding his hands before him in an “Earth” shape to emphasize his meaning, “That the planet would ultimately collapse in on itself.” He clenches his hands together.

We see a cloud of dust in space.

“Only an area of high gravity would remain, a so-called black hole, a vacuumless void, a pit in space.”


 


“That doesn’t make any sense!” laughs Jinpei, suddenly breaking the serious mood, “Now the Doc’s talking nutty!” He looks to Ryu (who’s not laughing) saying “How can you have a big pit in the middle of outer space?”

“This ain’t nothing to laugh at, monkey face!” retorts Ryu, not playing along with the comic relief this time and giving Jinpei’s head a shove. (Well, okay –akin to slapstick. He’s sort of playing along.)

“I thought you’d find it incredible,” concedes Dr. Nambu, eyes closed. Then he holds up one finger and looks at them all. “Understand, when I say pit, I actually mean an area where only tremendous gravitational pull remains.”

We see a black region of space now, pulling a passing meteor or comet towards it.

“Meteors and objects which come within its proximity are swallowed up. Dr. Einstein believes in their existence.”

Ken looks stricken. “Then the planet Selectol, which recently vanished…”

“If there is a connection,” replies Dr. Nambu, “This could be the greatest crisis Earth has ever faced!”

With that, he goes over to the couch and sits, slumped forward and holding his head in his hands.


 


“Only Galactor could carry out such a sinister scheme,” he concludes.

Ken’s eyes quiver in rage now as we see his face close up. “Damn Galactor, how dare you do this to Mother Earth!”


Commercial Break!

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Another of Galactor’s nuclear missile detonates deep with the mantle and inside the Karakoram headquarters, the place is shaking and more bits of ceiling are falling to the floor as goons in the Black Hole Operation control room look up anxiously. One goon notes that this earthquake is a magnitude 6.

“Hey, are we going to be all right?” asks one goon. “It’s getting freakier by the minute, ain’t it, Pauly?” replies another goon.

We see the 4321F countdown meter again, and now time is going past the 3 and towards the 2.


 


In a barracks room somewhere else in the base, small pieces of ceiling are also falling as the room shakes. Some off-duty goons, drinking and playing cards, are equally nervous.


 


One notes “It’s really shaking hard,” as another wonders if they should evacuate.

“Chill out,” says another goon (holding a drink), “Katse’s not running.”

That line always makes me laugh –the goons are certainly familiar with their leader’s ways by now!

But over in a far corner of the barracks (beyond a goon who seems to be eschewing cards and booze in favor of reading) are the two goons who took Joe’s gun and bracelet.

Rather than using the bracelet as a trophy, they’re attempting to repair it.


 

It’s the one without the beard who’s working on it.


 


“Listen up,” says the bearded goon, putting his hand on the other’s shoulder, “This one’s got to count, understand?” The other goon [perhaps I should put it as “goon” as it ought to be pretty clear by now even to someone seeing this episode for the first time just who the bearded goon and his apparently mute companion really are… Well, at least if you’d seen the “Bracelets Exposed” episode] nods and goes back to his repair work.

Back at the ISO headquarters, Dr. Nambu slams his fist down on his desk. He’s on the phone and Ken, Jun, Ryu and Jinpei are listening though clearly Ken is restless –he’s standing over by the window while the others sit.


 


Dr. Nambu is trying to get more specific data on the locations of the nuclear blasts. “Haven’t you figured it out yet?” he demands. “Extrapolate them in the computer right away,” he orders whoever it is he’s talking to.

Whoever it is must be asking for more time, as Dr. Nambu then snaps “If we’re too late, who’s going to apologize to humanity, huh?”

All the Ninjas stare in alarm at this uncharacteristic show of temper. Clearly the stress is taking a toll on Dr. Nambu.

Dr. Nambu has hung up the phone. Ken turns back to the window, banging a fist against it in frustration.

Joe, we need you! thinks Ken.

And then we cut to Joe, in a well-crafted image that puts his face behind the liquid that’s being injected into his arm, making Joe an ominous shade of red.


 


“Sucks to be you,” says the medical goon who’s wielding the syringe, “This will restore your energy for a while, mate [in the dub, he’s Australian], but when the medicine’s worn off, your symptoms will come back worse than before.”

We see Joe’s face close up now and his eyes are closed and he’s not moving –he’s definitely in bad shape.

“And you’ll die in agony,” concludes the medical goon (who, somewhat interestingly, is the only person of a medical or quasi-medical persuasion that we see in Galactor, I think. I suppose, as goons are regarded as expendable, health care isn’t a big priority!)

Whatever the drug is, it takes effect quickly. Joe’s eyes flutter now and then he opens them fully. He stares up at the light over the table that he’s lying on but it’s all blurred –his vision is still messed up.

But then it clears and Joe suddenly seems to snap to alertness, crying out in horror and sitting up suddenly.

Instantly, the two goons who’d brought him to the lab brandish their machine guns at him.

“Easy there –don’t you move,” warns one of them.

“That worked like a charm,” concludes the medical goon, closing up a case of drug supplies, “Take him back to Lord Katse.”


 


We cut to a city somewhere that’s in the throes of an earthquake. Cracks are widening into chasms and buildings are collapsing into them and toppling over to smash into other buildings as panicking people run in terror in the streets and inside the buildings. And to make things even worse, great bursts of lava now come shooting out of the ground too and chunks of rocks and debris go flying everywhere and one unfortunate man in the street gets flattened by a large boulder (the same footage used during the volcanic eruption in episode 96 actually but it’s no less grim with repetition). Another chasm is ripped open in the ground and terrified people plummet into it and are engulfed in lava.

All this destruction, we see now, is being observed on-screen by goons back at the Karakoram headquarters.


 


The audience is most appreciative –they’re all waving triumphant fists and cheering this harbinger of Galactor’s world domination.

In the barracks room, a party is in full swing now. No one is reading –everyone is drinking and carousing. “I’m so getting wasted!” says a goon’s voice as we see two others dancing around on the table, drinks in hand.

But there are two goons who are no fun at all –the two “goons” who are repairing Joe’s bracelet. They’re still huddled over in a far corner with their backs to the rest of the room.


 


This time, it’s the bearded “goon” who’s working on the bracelet so it’s his mute companion who sees Joe –once again being propped up the machine gun barrels under his arms- being conveyed down the corridor just outside the barracks room’s door by the two goons who had taken him to the lab.

The mute “goon” puts a hand on the other’s shoulder and his bearded companion looks up from his repair work and also sees Joe.

But he’s finished the repairs. He wipes his face, saying “Man, I sure hope this works,” and he closes up the bracelet and begins attempting to transmit a signal, tapping the bracelet’s face repeatedly.


 

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And then we cut to Ken, who is still standing by the window in Dr. Nambu’s office at the ISO headquarters. He’s startled when his bracelet suddenly begins to chime.

“Doctor, and incoming signal!” he cries, “And it’s from Joe!”

Everyone gasps and goes running over to Ken.


 


“I… have… discovered… Galactor’s… primary… headquarters!” says Ken, but then adding “It’s in conventional Morse code, Doc,” in a puzzled tone.


 


Dr. Nambu thinks it’s strange for Joe to use Morse code, especially for such an important message. Jinpei notes that it could be a Galactor trap.

But Ken points out that if his bracelet is responding to the transmission, then it must be coming from Joe’s bracelet.

He immediately turns to Dr. Nambu, demanding that they be allowed to mobilize. “Joe just might be on to something!”

Dr. Nambu is holding his chin, pondering. He thinks Jinpei’s “trap” theory very likely too.

Ken counters that if they go in with “eyes peeled and ears on, this could be our best chance ever to defeat those Galactor terrorists once and for all!”

“Darn tootin!” concurs Jinpei, waving a fist, “We’re not afraid of their traps at all!”

Dr. Nambu agrees they can go, but warns them to use “extreme caution.” Then he closes his eyes and adds “Joe will not have much strength and must be given some manner of respite.”

Ken and the others are alert and vital, now that they have somewhere to go and something to do, and are all lined up and at attention.

“Understood,” says Ken before giving a rousing call of “Let’s do this thing, Team! Come on!” to the others. They all shout “Yeah!” and dash from the room.

Next we see the God Phoenix flying though the sky and below are the mountains of Karakoram.

On the bridge, Ken instructs Jun to “Get a lock on Joe’s signal and don’t dare lose it.” She’s at the radar screens, tuning it in.


 


Meanwhile, the two “goons” in the barracks room are still transmitting, the bearded one still tapping the bracelet’s face in Morse code. Unfortunately they don’t realize that there are hidden cameras in the barracks and that two security goons are now observing them and exchanging a look of mutual suspicion.


 


Joe, meanwhile, has been conveyed from the lab and back to the Black Hole Operation control room. His two goon escorts, just as before, are propping him up with the barrels of their machine guns, though Joe’s head is slumped forward.

Katse is laughing nastily as he sits in his fancy chair. “It appears that you somehow continue to survive, Condor Joe. Hang around a little longer so we can keep the Science Ninja Team at bay.”

Joe’s eyes are closed and he appears listless but he does lift his head now as Katse speaks and attempts to open his eyes.

Not sure what Katse means by using Joe to “keep the Science Ninja Team at bay” unless he means using him as a bargaining chip should the Team create some interference.

“Plus, there’s something I want you to see now,” continues Katse, “While the medicine’s still working.”

Joe opens his eyes now, but all he sees is an extremely blurred vision of Katse in his chair.

“Listen well, Condor Joe,” Katse is saying, “The world will be Galactor’s very soon!”

Joe is struggling to see clearly.

“But we’ll leave a grassy little plot for you and your friends to rest in.”

Joe gasps in horror, his eyes widening, as Katse’s words sink in, but his vision is still a distorted mess.

But then, suddenly, he sees Katse clearly.

“Take a gander at our Black Hole device,” Katse is saying, “It’s the heart of our operation.”

“Did you just say ‘Black Hole’?” demands Joe, who’s gasping with some effort as he speaks.

Katse stands up and gestures grandly at the 4321F countdown meter. “Guess what this is?” he says, “Oh, but perhaps I should give a simpleton like you a little hint.”

The meter, we see now, is moving past the 2 towards the 1…


 


“When this meter reaches zero,” explains Katse gloatingly, “The Earth sinks into oblivion.”

“No!” cries Joe, horrified, “You madman!”


 


And we cut to the God Phoenix, flying low now over the mountains and through bands of thick fog.

“Ken, the signal is coming from under Karakoram Cross,” says Jun.


 


Ken instructs Ryu to land.

“Down in this fog?” says Ryu.

“I’m fully aware of the danger,” says Ken, staring at the main view screen, “But Joe’s waiting and his time’s ticking away.”

This has an effect on Ryu. “All right, then just leave it to me,” he says with determination, spitting on his glove for emphasis as he grasps the throttle.

They begin to descend and soon, even through the fog, they can make out the same “Leader X” outline on the floor of the valley that Joe himself had seen upon his arrival at Karakoram.

“Whoa!” says Ryu at the strange sight, “What are those? Some kind of crop circles?”

“Some kind of magic symbols,” speculates Jinpei.

“Then this sure looks like the right place to me,” says Ken, staring at images on the view screen of all the strange statues that are in the valley.


 


“Galactor headquarters, after all this time…” says Ken, his expression grim and intense.

We cut back to Joe, still in bad shape and still in Katse’s presence. He’s trembling even as the two goons continue to prop him up and Katse is laughing.

“Oh no, is our little plan pushing you over the edge, Joe?” asks Katse mockingly.

Joe struggles but manages to raise his head and stare at Katse.

“That’s just great, Katse,” he says, his voice thick with effort, “To have allowed yourself to sink this low puts you in a class all your own.” He gasps and chokes then, looking as if he’s about to pass out, or puke.


 

“I’m afraid your drug’s about to wear off, Joe,” concludes Katse, “Well, don’t fear the reaper, kid.” He laughs and walks away with a sweep of his cape, towards the room’s control panels.

In his wake, Joe manages to lift his head again and he glares murderously at the retreating Katse who now has his back to Joe as he watches the countdown meter.

We get a close up of Joe’s enraged eyes, and then he somehow rallies and finds the strength to grasp the two gun barrels that are holding him on his feet, flip himself over such that he kicks one of his escort goons in the head and then seizes the other with his legs and send him hurling towards Katse.


 


The hurled goon collides with Katse and knocks him down even as Joe, who’s now sitting on the floor, reaches into the pocket on the leg of his jeans (the amazing pocket that never shows a bulge even if his gun and dozens of shuriken are inside it) and pulls out a shuriken.


 

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He hurls it at Katse, who has just gotten back on his feet, but for the first time (I think) in the entire first series, Joe misses. The shuriken strikes the countdown meter instead.


 


Seeing this, Joe slumps to the floor, overcome with disappointment and his strength depleted by his efforts.

Katse grasps the shuriken, snarling “I’m too good to be killed by a wounded bird and his fallen feathers,” but the shuriken slips through his grasp and is sucked into the machinery behind the control panel.


 


“Give him a little scare, boys! Make him dance!” yells an irate Katse when he sees what’s happened.

The goons all turn on Joe with their machine guns and open fire. Even if there’s no blood shown, you know that Joe’s taking hits. His face says it all.


 


He falls back against the wall behind him (now riddled with bullet holes) and then, as the goons stop firing, he slowly sinks to the floor.

“How do you like that?” jeers one goon, adding “And one through your heart for good measure,” as he brandishes his gun to finish off Joe for good.

“Relax,” snaps Katse, stepping forward and stopping him from firing, “There’s no point wasting bullets on a guy who’s going to die anyway.” I suspect a desire to prolong Joe’s suffering rather than “put him out of his misery” is more Katse’s motivation here than conservation of ammo.

It’s not clear what Joe thinks of this decision, as he gasps in pain and slowly topples over sideways.


 


“Lord Katse, the God Phoenix is approaching!” cries a goon’s voice, and then Joe’s eyes open again suddenly.

“Impossible! How could they have found out about this place?” snarls Katse.

Joe somehow finds it within himself to rally once again and attempt to stand up, using the wall behind him for support but he barely makes it to a crouch, gasping in pain and effort, before he collapses onto his back.

But then we see, with Joe’s upside down perspective, the God Phoenix flying through the foggy air outside.

“Curses!” Katse is yelling, “Here they come to ruin our plans again! Knock them out of the sky with our missiles.”

Okay this part of this episode, watching Joe’s suffering and valiant attempts to fight on and resist despair always has a big emotional effect on me, and now, when Joe looks up at the view screen and smiles (and this is a guy who hardly ever smiles) in the realization that, by some miracle, his friends have found him and that all is not lost after all, I just melt.


 



Sniff. I love you, Joe –I don’t care if you’re fictional. Wah!!! Crying6

But meanwhile, outside, a barrage of small missiles fired out of the mouths of the statues is targeting the God Phoenix as it attempts to land.

Most of the missiles miss or don’t do damage but one strikes and destroys the landing gear on one side of the God Phoenix and it lands roughly, with a lurch, on the ground, pitched unevenly.

On the bridge, everyone is shaken by the impact and Jinpei falls out of his chair. Wasting no time, Ken orders “Abandon ship!” and they all run for the dome.

Explosions are erupting all around the God Phoenix as missiles continue to target it but the Ninjas manage nevertheless to leap from the dome and take refuge in the fog, behind a stone pillar.

 


The missile fire has stopped now and in the eerie silence, nothing is visible except fog and dozens of the sinister-looking statues.

Ken decides they need to get moving and search for an entrance into the base they know must be here. He takes off running and the others follow him.

But now, goons inside the statues are firing bullets at them.


 


The Ninjas are running as fast as they can, so when the stone-paved ground beneath Ken’s feet suddenly drops open in a trap door, they all fall in before there’s a chance to react.


 


The trap door snaps shut again above them and they are briefly in total darkness, but then a bright light appears in the distance, rapidly drawing closer, and its light is enough to reveal that the Ninjas are in some kind of underground corridor that is clearly of modern construction –they are inside the base.

The bright light is accompanied by the sound of running feet. Ken and the others are hunkered down, waiting…


 


Ken pulls out his boomerang, clearly expecting an imminent fight.

Whoever’s coming –and we can see now that it’s two sets of legs- is even closer now and the Ninjas back up to the sides of the narrow corridor –Ken and Ryu on one side and Jun and Jinpei on the other.

The feet come to an abrupt halt. “Gatchaman, at last!” says a voice –a voice we’ve already heard before.

The Ninjas stay hunkered down, ready to spring into combat and not saying anything.

Then the bearer of the light –who is also the one speaking- shines the light on himself and his companion and reveals that they are Masaki and Oniishi, now out of their goon disguises (surely most people have realized at this point in the episode who the “goons” are, but this confirms it) and back in their Red Impulse uniforms.

“It’s us, Masaki and Oniishi,” says Masaki, “See.”


 


“The Red Impulse Squad!” cries Ken, staring in amazement, “What are you doing down here?”

Masaki explains that they were “also able to track down and infiltrate this base.”


 


“Oh, I dig it,” says Ken, “So you guys were the ones who let us in, huh?”

“Right,” says Masaki, “We’re also the ones who sent you the Morse code message, but more importantly, your teammate has been captured by Katse.”

Everyone stares, at these words.

“They’ve got Joe?” say Ken and Jun as one, “He’s been here all this time?”

“No wonder we couldn’t find him,” adds Jinpei and Ryu, “So is he all right then at least?”

“I don’t know,” says Masaki, gesturing up the corridor in the direction whence they came, “There’s no time. Let’s move!”

He and Oniishi take off at a run, and the Ninjas follow, also running.

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But once again, they’re being observed via a hidden camera and this time the observer is Katse himself.


 


“Ohhh!” rants Katse, shaking clenched fists, “I thought this was strange [What was strange? A report that two goons were observed signaling from the Condor’s repaired bracelet, I guess] and I now I find the Red Impulse Squad here!”

Katse grabs a microphone and barks into it “Sniper Team, I want Red Impulse taken out!”

Katse’s eyes quiver in anger as he mutters to himself “Now that you’ve entered Galactor’s headquarters, you’ll never get out alive!”

Next we see a door at the end of a corridor, with a red Galactor symbol on it, but then the “door” seems to slide off to the side as if it’s part of a large, shifting panel inside the wall and a new door (also with a red Galactor symbol) takes the place of the previous one.

Hmm, a change has been made…

I think this door is at the end of the corridor that the Red Impulse guys and the Ninjas have been running down, as next we see an aerial view of a circular room whose perimeter is lined with multiple, identical doors and they all enter the room through one of the doors.


 


“That’s strange, I could have sworn they were going to bring him to this room,” says Masaki as he and Oniishi quickly survey the empty room, guns out, and the Ninjas come in behind them.

But they keep looking around and there’s no one here and and all the other doors are shut. And the door they came in from shuts behind them now. Before anyone can react, a bullet suddenly hits Masaki right between the eyes, shattering his visor.


 


As Masaki topples over backwards, Oniishi rushes forward and throws himself over his comrade to protect him and starts firing his gun up into the air as a hail of bullets from above strike him.


 


“Damn it, it’s a trap!” yells Ken as Oniishi collapses and the ceiling high above retracts to reveal dozens of armed goons looking down at them.

The goons, for some reason, don’t immediately do anything and Ken and the others drag Masaki and Oniishi over to the slightly more sheltered edge of the room.


 


“He’s dead, Ken,” says Ryu quietly, and indeed Masaki is dead.

“Rest in peace,” says Ken softly, closing Masaki’s eyes.


 


But Jun is holding Oniishi’s hand and she cries “Ken, I’m getting a pulse –Oniishi is still alive!”

Oniishi, of course, can’t say anything but now he takes Jun’s hand and starts tracing words on her palm with his finger.


 


“He’s saying ‘Now… I… can… go… see… the commander. You’ll… have… to… take… care… of… the… rest… Farewell-’”

Jun’s eyes well up with tears.


 


“‘-to the Science Ninja Team,’” she finishes, “Bye.”


Oniishi shudders and then goes still.


 


Now Ken looks up angrily. “Show yourself, you sick coward Berg Katse!” he yells.

So, a second, higher ceiling now retracts and Katse is there, looking down on the tier of armed goons and, further below, the Ninjas.

He laughs, and says “Finished saying your last goodbyes, Gatchaman? The Red Impulse Team has been eradicated –it’s your turn next!”


 


“And if you’re trying to stop our Black Hole Operation,” continues Katse as the Ninjas all glare up at him, “Then you’re too late. Someone go get those pine boxes out back –now open fire!” Katse swings his arm dramatically and all the goons now take aim…

And Ken and the others all pull the pins from hand grenades, toss them up into the air and start running, even as a barrage of bullets comes their way.


 

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A smoking grenade lands near the feet of some of the goons –much to their consternation. They all stop firing and back away from it anxiously.

“You idiots, pick them up and toss them back at them!” yells Katse, seeing the grenades.


 


The goons want nothing to do with that plan –one even retorts “That’s easy for you to say!” but just as he leans forward to shove a grenade over the edge of the balcony with his gun, it explodes. In fact, all four grenades explode.


 


Needless to say, the goons do not fare well.

“Noo!!” yells Katse, “Nobody ever listens!” but then he too disappears behind a wall of flames.

The door opens now behind the Ninjas (perhaps the explosions have damaged its mechanism) and they rush out of the room just as massive explosions completely obliterate it. We see them running frantically, and somehow they’re back outside the base again (perhaps via the trap door they’d originally fallen in through?)


 


However, there’s no way they can go back the way they came and get inside again as a huge explosion breaks out behind them, surely destroying the underground corridor that had given them access.

They stop running now and stare at the flames burning in their wake.

“We can’t allow the Red Impulse Squad to have died in vain,” declares Ken solemnly, “We’ve got to find an entrance –fast!”

With a “Roger!” they all scatter and begin searching amid the fog and the statues.

But once again, they have been observed by a hidden camera.


 


A very singed and smoke-stained Katse, fists clenched in rage, is ranting “I’ll get every last one of them! Mankind will soon surrender to me! No one is getting in my way now!”


 


And now we see a last image of Masaki’s hat (slightly burned) and shattered visor lying on the floor of the room where he died.


 


“The brave Red Impulse Squad is completely eradicated,” says the narrator.”

Then we see Director Anderson and Dr. Nambu, in Director Anderson’s office.


 


“Dr. Nambu and Director Anderson, having lost their trump card, are out of answers.”

(Does this mean they’ve heard from the Ninjas as to what’s happened?)

And we see Joe, dragging himself across the floor with his arms, his face set with determination.


 


“And Joe fights with all his might against his impending death.”

And we see the 4321F countdown meter, and the time has edged past the 2 and is approaching the 1…


 


Another missile is sent on its way into the mantle.

“Faced with the Black Hole Operation,” continues the narrator, “The greatest crisis in the history of mankind, can Gatchaman and the Science Ninja Team save the Earth?”

We see a torrent of lava spraying out of a massive chasm that an earthquake has ripped in the ground.

“Subterranean explosions bring the planet closer to oblivion-”

We see the Earth itself now, from space.

“-with every tectonic tremor…”

Yes, this episode, I think, has the biggest cliffhanger ending. I can only imagine how people in Japan must have felt when it first aired in 1974 and how desperately they would have wanted to know what was going to happen next week in the finale –especially what was going to happen to Joe…

The End.

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Wow... this is such a suspenseful episode! You can really feel the despair of the Team, and of Nambu... and seeing what Joe is going through...

Somehow, Joe being tortured in his civilian clothes is that much more devastating. It's like he's been drained of all strength. There's nothing left for him. Of course, this makes it all the more heroic when he manages to throw a shuriken at Katse... even if he does miss.

The inclusion of the Red Impulse Team is interesting... we kind of forget about them in the second half of the series, save for that one episode where they rescue Ken after he is hit by the Meganizer. I seem to recall James mentioning that they were supposed to appear briefly in a few more episodes, to remind the viewers that they were still around, but somehow that slipped through the cracks. Still, by sending the signal from Joe's bracelet, allowing the rest of the Team to find Galactor Headquarters, they played a crucial role in the plot.

This certainly is an emotional and suspenseful setup for the finale!

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quote:
Originally posted by Transmute Jun
Wow... this is such a suspenseful episode! You can really feel the despair of the Team, and of Nambu... and seeing what Joe is going through...

This certainly is an emotional and suspenseful setup for the finale!


So true! And, LB has made it that emotional right from the very beginning of this recap by saying,"One last time, thank you, Saturn, for the screen caps! Quite the journey it’s been…"! Oh, LB, you've immediately brought tears to my eyes, even before seeing Joe's state, and before the death of the Red Impulse team! Thanks, once again, for your work! Now, I have to breathe some air! Such impending finales always have this effect on me!

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Yes, this is a captivating episode!!!

Although, you gave me a giggle with this line, LB...

quote:
Sniff. I love you, Joe –I don’t care if you’re fictional. Wah!!! Crying6


Thank you both (LB and Saturn) for all the hard work you've put into these episode reviews! And I'm looking forward to TJ's last review, too!

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No more reviews after next week's!! Crying1

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I'm glad I was able to post it -my internet's been really buggy last night and today. A problem at the ISP's end though so I can only wait...

Yeah, I'm sad that this is my last Gatch recap! I want to do some more BOTP ones yet, though, so I'm not totally done.

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I shall miss reading these every tuesday morning. Great work!

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quote:
Originally posted by Springie
Although, you gave me a giggle with this line, LB...

quote:
Sniff. I love you, Joe –I don’t care if you’re fictional. Wah!!! Crying6



Me too, Springie! But, I'm so very glad that I'm not the only one who has a crush on a fictional character!Blushing ... in my case, the Eagle, even if Joe would rightly be the next of kin! It's nice to remain kids inside!

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I too shall miss the reviews. They were a lot of fun to do, and even more fun to post!

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I guess we really need an extra large box of tissues to hand to each other!Crying6

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quote:
Originally posted by PalyNerd
I shall miss reading these every tuesday morning. Great work!


I agree. Thanks to all those involved with bringing these reviews to us. They've always brightened by workday.

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quote:
Originally posted by lborgia88
One last time, thank you, Saturn, for the screen caps! Quite the journey it’s been…]


LB,
It has been a truly wonderful collaboration with you, Huggles . I can hardly believe that it has been more than one and a half years of making screencaps for your great reviews, and to think that we live on different continents with different time zones. Ah, the wonder of technology, Big Grin

Eventhough I haven't been around here for quite a while, I still catched up with the episode review from time to time, and I was really happy that my screencaps could complement your excellent reviews. I am sorry that sometimes I could only provide you with limited number of images as you know, my hometown's outdated internet technology did not allow me to send anything more than 5 MB, Frown

I will also thank SJ_SwanJun for her earlier BOTP recaps and Shamrokchick for her earlier Gatchaman screencaps.

A big thumbsup2 for TJ for making Gatch and BOTP's recaps as well as the screencaps all by herself. You are definitely one truly dedicated Gatchamaniacs.

Well, with the end of the episode review, at least now my DH cannot nag me anymore for sleeping so late because the wee hour of the morning was the only available time for me to make the screencaps. I guess he didn't like to sleep alone, Winknudge

Oh yes, a great welcome to all the new members of Gatchamania. You have definitely come to a great place.

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