1. Chapter 1 by lborgia88
2. Chapter 2 by lborgia88
3. Chapter 3 by lborgia88
4. Chapter 4 by lborgia88
Gatchaman Episode 90: “Matangar, the Armored Iron Beast”
BOTP Episode: “The Awesome Armadillo”
This episode opens with a sinister-looking Berg Katse.
Katse is still and silent, but suddenly a barrage of bullets from a Gatling gun score gashes across his face –and he still doesn’t move. Immediately we see that the gun in use here is the one mounted inside Joe’s G-2.
Bullets continue to bombard this “Katse.”
And, at last, this “Katse” loses his head –quite literally. But now we see Joe, and he sighs in frustration and closes his eyes. He’s in his car, but now he pops open the top. Jinpei is standing there, looking a lot more cheerful.
“You the man, Joe!” enthuses Jinpei, “Ol’ Katse’s got nothing on us!”
“What are you talking about?” replies Joe glumly, “This isn’t good enough.”
Jinpei is surprised at Joe’s attitude. Joe jumps out of his car now and elaborates, as we see that Ryu is there too, along with Jinpei’s buggy (I’m guessing they’re in some sort of maintenance bay at the Crescent Coral base.)
“If you want to kill Katse,” he says, “Then you have to do it in one shot.”
Ken is here too, over by his G-1 jet, and this remark draws his attention.
And Jun, over by her motorcycle, looks up too.
Ryu ponders what Joe’s saying, and concurs that “he’s surprisingly quick, so we’ll have to hit him to kill.”
“And when it comes down to it,” adds Jinpei pensively, “That monster Leader X’ll show.”
“Exactly,” says Joe, a weary look on his face, “That’s why we have to hit him within a hundredth –no, probably a two-hundredth of a second.”
Ken doesn’t seem to like this discussion.
“That’s enough, Joe,” he says sternly, “We’re here to do maintenance on our G-Machines, not for shooting practice.”
This elicits a “huh?” from Ryu and Jinpei, and Joe growls “I am doing maintenance on my machine.”
Demonstrating, he jumps over his car to inspect the cylinder of his car’s Gatling gun more closely.
“Huh, looks like the cylinder could probably rotate faster if I buffed it,” he remarks.
“You don’t get it at all, man!” says Ken, a little heatedly, “I’m not telling you to R&R the weapons, all right?”
“For me, this is more important,” says Joe, in a steady but vehement voice, keeping his back to Ken.
Jun, clearly seeking to mediate the rising tension, now approaches Ken, who’s saying “I’m starting to think that we should have never equipped our machines with weapons.”
Well, Jun turns quickly to see Joe’s reaction to this.
“Give me a break!” he says, glaring at Ken now, “You’re the one who wanted them in the first place!”
“Yeah!” pipes up a wide-eyed Jinpei (who probably enjoys dropping those little round, black bombs out of his buggy onto mechas), pointing out that Ken had said they needed to do more than just outrun Galactor.
“You’re right,” says Ken more quietly, now closing his eyes as his shoulders droop, “But lately the idea of weapons kind of bothers me, Jinpei.”
Jinpei and Ryu exchange confused looks.
“Well then, you might as well give up your revenge for your father,” says Joe, standing up again and gesturing with one hand for emphasis, “And let me handle Katse for you.”
And it’s Ken’s turn to glare. But he doesn’t say anything –he throws his wrench on the floor and walks away in a huff, ignoring Jun’s call of “Ken…” in his wake.
“I wonder what’s wrong with Ken lately,” says Ryu, looking worriedly in the direction of Ken’s departure.
“He must be tired,” replies Joe, sounding a bit more conciliatory now, “He’ll be fine if he gets some rest, but I’ll still do it –a single shot right to that rat fink’s temple, and blammo!”
Aaand we cut suddenly to Berg Katse, who’s emitting a cry of pain and… clutching his temple. Hee!
But no, Joe has not miraculously managed to telepathically shoot Katse in the head. Nevertheless, a nearby goon asks him if he’s all right.
“My temples are killing me,” groans Katse.
“You haven’t slept for days, you must be exhausted,” replies the goon, who must be Katse’s personal aide-de-camp or something.
“Exactly,” despairs Katse, “My troops these days are dumber than dirt! Leader X is angry –everything sucks!”
“Isn’t it about time for you to retire?” says a new voice, with a hint of mockery.
Katse looks up from his head-clutching gloom to see that this new speaker is a bald, bearded man in a red and black uniform who is lounging against a wall, with a backdrop that looks like it could be a seaside Mediterranean villa. Katse at least has a pleasant setting in which to be depressed.
And, I cannot help it –every time I see Dr. Finger’s uniform, I think “Star Trek TNG.”
“Dr. Finger!” snaps Katse, “This is a private pity party!”
But Dr. Finger nonchalantly walks closer and explains that he was sent by Leader X himself. Katse declares suspiciously that he didn’t hear anything about this.
“I suppose not,” replies Dr. Finger, stroking his beard smugly, “It seems he’s finally ready to abandon you after your continued failures.”
Katse is about to break into an angry retort but Dr. Finger now plants himself casually on the corner of Katse’s desk and tells him to calm down, “I developed a powerful new mecha to beat that meddlesome Science Ninja Team and I told Leader X that I’d volunteer to play the lead role in defeating Gatchaman and the others, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let a person like you destroy the mecha I developed.”
Katse’s anger now gives way to anxiety, and he asks “What did Leader X say about that?”
Standing again, Dr. Finger smiles and says that Leader X trusts his scientific abilities (as Katse’s fists clench in frustration) and that he promised to let him take over Katse’s position (here he points dramatically) if he’s successful with his mecha.
Needless to say, Katse isn’t liking what he’s hearing. “No way he’d do that to me!” he protests. So, still stroking his beard, Dr. Finger points out that Katse could ask Leader X himself to confirm this, using the video phone in the very room they’re in.
Katse realizes he’s been outmaneuvered here, and with gloomy resignation, he tells Dr. Finger “I’m at your disposal.”
“Good,” replies Dr. Finger, who doesn’t waste a minute throwing his newly-acquired weight around, “Now, clean up this room first. It will be my office in a day or two…”
With that, he strolls out of the room, arms folded behind his back and chuckling to himself.
The instant he’s out of sight, Katse groans and once again, clutches his head.
“What are we to do, my Lord?” asks the goon aide-de-camp.
“He’s a fool,” mutters Katse bitterly, “who underestimates the Science Ninja Team. He thinks he can defeat them with just science and weaponry.”
Well, from what we see next, we also must assume he feels that motivational speaking is either a science or a weapon.
“Comrades,” announces Dr. Finger, “All of you are lacking the confidence that you can defeat the Science Ninja Team and that’s because somewhere in your hearts, you believe it can’t be accomplished. Be confident! Believe in me and the mecha I have developed for this purpose. Huzzah!”
As he’s saying this we see that he’s on a high balcony, addressing a large audience of goons as a mecha sits nearby –clearly these goons are Dr. Finger’s crew.
Now they all eagerly begin running up the gangway into Dr. Finger’s new mecha. I can’t help but wonder why the mecha needs a crew this numerous, but maybe Dr. Finger is trying to make a point to Katse.
“I’m not a man who will run away at the last moment like Lord Katse,” says Dr. Finger, now entering the mecha last, as the door closes up behind him. Heh, he does seem to know the right things to say to his crew. “Trust me and follow me!” he concludes.
Now sea water floods into the vast chamber that’s housing this mecha, and it extends its neck and head out from the main body. It, to me, rather resembles an aquatic turtle of some kind.
Its engines fire up now and it glides out of the base and on its way, as Katse watches from a window.
“Yeah, just do whatever the hell you want to,” mutters Katse sourly, “I’ve got paid vacation coming.”
But now we cut to a setting of green hills bordering a sea coast where there is a cemetery with many flowers and a small town visible in the distance. Sad music is playing.
As we focus in on a tombstone with an image of a jet plane on it, Ken’s leg and foot come into view. He’s come to visit his father’s memorial. He gazes at it for moment, and then walks closer.
“It’s me, Dad,” he says, tracing a finger over the image of the jet plane, adding “I might not be able to avenge your death now.”
He huddles up for a moment, overcome by emotion.
Composing himself, he looks up again, saying “I don’t understand it anymore. What is peace anyway? Will peace come if we defeat Galactor?” He closes his eyes.
“Men as terrible as Katse are everywhere in the world these days; even if Galactor is eradicated, I know some other evil organization will be born. Is peace really just some foolish dream?” He’s holding his hands together tightly as he says this.
“Will it all be worth it in the end?” he asks now, unfolding his hands to gaze at his palms. “My hands are stained with blood, Dad!” Sounding anguished, he grips the memorial with both hands now, “Blood!”
This is a really moving scene for me, that conveys so much about Ken. I think when Joe said Ken was tired, he was right, but Ken is tired in a greater sense than just needing a good night’s sleep. He’s getting tired of a seemingly-endless war and of all the killing that he has had to do –killing that he now doubts can be redeemed by achieving any lasting or meaningful peace. He’s been frustrated like this before, complaining back in episode 58 that all they did was react to Galactor attacks instead of actively hunting down and destroying Galactor, and then in following episodes he complained about their missiles’ and tactics’ increasing ineffectualness. I wouldn’t be surprised if, back in episode 67 when they got their new weapons for their vehicles and the super bird missiles, that he had believed that would help bring about a defeat of Galactor and peace –soon- but it still hasn’t happened. It’s not so surprising that Joe’s fixation with shooting Katse with his Gatling gun would set him off. Seemingly no closer to victory in episode 90 than he had been in episode 1, it has to be weighing heavily on him just how much he’s sacrificed and lost and just how high a body count he’s racked up. And Ken is the sort who, as leader, would take all the responsibility -for the killing and the failure to defeat Galactor yet- on to himself.
But now Jun is here, calling to Ken.
“I got no response, no matter how many times I tried to contact you on your bracelet,” she says.
(Yes, it’s telling that she’s the one who’s been trying to find him and I can’t help but wonder if part of Ken’s current gloom stems from the fact that he feels he can’t have the relationship he’d like to have with Jun until the war with Galactor is over –and it’s looking like it’ll never be over.)
“I thought you’d be here…” she adds.
“Is there an emergency or something?” asks Ken, standing up now and all-business.
And Jun tells him that there’s a new Galactor mecha, that’s just appeared at a port on Micron Island.
“Great,” says Ken grimly.
So now we cut to Micron Island, where massive waves are kicking up near the port, tossing a boat around. Then the mecha, Matangar, emerges from the water and bashes the boat with its head, smashing it apart. Then it climbs partly onto the port, smashing buildings with its head and by stepping on them with its front feet. As terrified townspeople are seen fleeing, Matangar moves past the town and heads up the side of a steep volcanic mountain that looms beyond the town.
Having reached the top, the mecha proceeds to retract its four legs and its head inside its body.
And we cut to the Crescent Coral base and the happy, swimming fish.
Dr. Nambu is showing an aerial view of Micron Island, explaining that the mountain, which is in the center of the island, is a dormant volcano. Around it is a city, divided into seven districts. Dr. Nambu now shows some images from the various districts, pointing out that the volcano is visible from anywhere on the island, and that Matangar is now sitting atop the volcano.
“So then, what are they after, Doc?” asks Joe who, in his characteristic manner, is leaning against a wall with his arms crossed.
“A challenge for the Science Ninja Team,” is the reply he gets, as Dr. Nambu shuts down the screen –the slide show apparently over.
Joe concludes that Katse, once again, must be trying to lure them into a trap.
“No, it’s not Katse this time,” says Dr. Nambu, causing Ken to look up in surprise.
“This is a tape, delivered to the ISO,” explains Dr. Nambu, pressing “play.”
“Greetings, Dr. Nambu,” says Dr. Finger’s voice, “And members of the Science Ninja Team. I am Dr. Finger of Galactor.” Everyone is listening attentively.
Our view changes to that of the mecha itself, as Dr. Finger’s voice continues to explain that by the time they listen to the tape, Matangar will have taken over Micron Island.
“Every twelve hours,” continues his voice, as we see Dr. Finger himself now, “we’ll destroy one of the seven districts on the island.”
“If you are truly dedicated to justice, and want to save the people of Micron Island,” continues the message, as we now see busy goons at work aboard the mecha, “You will surrender your own lives in exchange for theirs.”
One goon in particular is fiddling with a small panel of switches and outlets into which he’s plugging a spiraling wire.
“This is not negotiable,” concludes Dr. Finger’s message, “I expect a response immediately.”
And we’re back at the Crescent Coral base, where none of the Ninjas seem to know quite what to say. Finally, Ryu remarks “He seems pretty confident.”
“A lot more than Katse,” adds Jinpei, looking nervous.
Jun asks when Dr. Nambu received the tape. “This morning,” is his reply, which leads Joe to comment that that means “They’ll be launching their first attack soon.”
And indeed they are. It’s night on Micron Island, but Matangar now extends its long neck and head out of its body again
“Ready to attack, Sire,” reports a goon in Matangar’s control room.
“Very good, fire on my mark,” says Dr. Finger, looking at his wrist watch. He counts down from ten, and as he’s doing so, we see the tense faces of the Ninjas and Dr. Nambu at the Crescent Coral base.
Countdown over, Dr. Finger yells “Fire!” and a laser beam from the mecha’s head blasts one of the island’s seven districts, creating explosions that shatter windows and send flames pouring through the streets and even ignite and destroy ships docked at port.
We don’t actually see any people dying (though that doesn’t mean there aren’t any) but I’d think that anyone who could would have fled the island as soon as the mecha arrived and perched on top of the volcano. I’m rather surprised there are ships at the dock –you’d think they’d have left ASAP. Sadly, it was probably assumed that the Science Ninja Team would show up and save the day, so no need to evacuate…
Now we see Ken’s tense face, as he says “This just proves that Galactor is full of evil men just like Katse. Damn!” He stands up, looking angry. Everyone else gets to their feet too.
“So Doctor?” asks Ken, looking grim.
“Go and launch the God Phoenix!” says Dr. Nambu (and about time, too.)
So, we get the usual stock footage of the God Phoenix departing the Crescent Coral base to fly through the skies above (except it’s night time).
Meanwhile, Matangar is still perched on top of the volcano. Inside, a goon announces “Here it comes –it’s the God Phoenix,” as he sees it approaching.
“Good, don’t do anything yet,” says Dr. Finger, looking pleased and stroking his beard, “Let’s see what they do first.”
On the bridge of the God Phoenix, Ken is instructing Ryu to get some aerial photographs of Matangar –which isn’t something I’ve ever seen Ken request before. So, the God Phoenix flies a circle around the mecha, and then flies away.
Joe is appalled at this passivity, and has taken up position directly behind Ken’s shoulder. “What do you think you’re doing, Ken? Why aren’t we attacking? One super bird missile would take care of everything!”
“Are you blind?” retorts Ken, “Do you think we can do anything to something so solid?”
“Well,” snaps Joe, “We won’t know unless we give it a shot!”
Ryu reminds Ken that they can control the amount of explosive effect that a super bird missile has, and that Joe’s idea has merit.
“He’s right!” adds Jinpei, “The enemy’s sitting there doing nothing –it’s our chance, Big Bro!”
(Note that Jun is the only one not criticizing Ken here.)
Ken closes his eyes, as if seeking inner endurance. When he opens them again, he looks to Ryu and instructs him to return them to the Crescent Coral base.
Now Joe is outraged. “No way!”
“You heard me,” replies Ken coldly, “I gave you a direct order and I’m not saying it again!”
With an angry sweep of his arm, Joe tosses his cape back, but then folds his arms stubbornly, still glaring at Ken (who is pointedly not looking at him).
“Listen –I’m not convinced. Tell me what’s going on. Why do we have to withdraw?”
It’s interesting that Joe is prepared to accept Ken’s orders here –as long as Ken has a good explanation for them!
Ken turns his head and looks at Joe now. “Because I’m worried. Because the man named Finger inside this iron beast is different.”
“Do what you’re told, Ryu!” barks Ken now, “Head back to the reef now!”
If Joe continues to dispute this, we don’t get to see it. Apparently Ryu does not though, as next we are back at Crescent Coral base, where the fish are still swimming happily.
Joe, however, is not happy at all.
“This is just ridiculous, Dr. Nambu!” Joe is complaining.
Ooh, Joe has gone over Ken’s head to complain directly to Dr. Nambu. That’s not something we see very often, but then, it must be very rare for Joe to not be on the same page as Ken and to think that Dr. Nambu might back him instead of Ken.
“I have no idea what in the hell Ken is thinking here!” continues Joe.
Dr. Nambu seems very subdued –perhaps confused to be on the receiving end of a rant by Joe about Ken. And Joe is leaning over his desk in a very “Do something about this!” manner –perhaps Nambu is trying to exude a calming influence as he pauses to contemplate the situation.
“Where is Ken now?” is all Dr. Nambu says.
It’s Jun, who is across the room looking out one of the undersea windows, that replies.
“He’s in the dark room, developing the pictures that we took.”
And we see that she is indeed correct. Ken is in a room dimly lit with red light, looking at numerous prints of Matangar that he’s put up on the wall, while strips of film negatives dangle nearby (and I pause for a brief nostalgic moment, recalling the days when people actually used film for photos.)
“Dr. Finger, you are far more cunning and dangerous than Berg Katse ever was!” he growls. Then he punches his fist against one of the photos. “Damn it!”
Now we’re back at Micron Island, and Matangar is once again extending its neck and head.
“All right, begin attack on the second district!” orders Dr. Finger to his crew, and we see a goon fiddling at the little panel of switches and outlets. Matangar’s head turns now, presumably to face the unfortunate district that is next in line for attack.
Back at the Crescent Coral base, a phone on Dr. Nambu’s desk starts ringing.
“Nambu speaking,” he says, answering it. Apparently it’s Joe’s turn to brood and stare out the window now, as he turns from contemplating fish to look at Dr. Nambu. Everyone else clusters near his desk. Ken is presumably still in the dark room.
“Yes, I understand. Thank you,” says Dr. Nambu calmly, hanging up.
“What is it?” asks Jun.
“Iron Beast Matangar attacked the second district,” replies Dr. Nambu gravely.
“Damn it!” yells Joe, and he instantly goes dashing out the door, ignoring Jun’s cry of “Joe!”
Next we see the door of the dark room get shoved open abruptly, and there stands Joe, looking belligerent.
Hands on his hips and glaring, he informs Ken that “Matangar has just begun its second attack.”
“I see… Is it that time already,” says Ken quietly, not even turning around to look at Joe.
This is not the sort of response Joe wants to hear. He raises a fist, demands “Is that all you have to say about it?” and lunges for Ken.
But Jun is there now, and she grabs him. “Come on, Joe!” she says, trying to reason with him, or at least keep him from trying to deck Ken.
“Let me go, Jun,” says Joe, pausing, as her influence apparently is enough to keep him from just yanking his arm away from her grip, “I understand how you feel about it [By “it,” does Joe mean dissension within the Team, or Ken getting punched?] but the people on Micron Island are in danger.” Well, Jun lets go of his arm.
And we abruptly cut to Micron Island, where the second of the seven districts is being blasted with Matangar’s laser beam, and explosions and flames are everywhere. And this time, we see an explosion erupt beneath the feet of two people in a street, who cry out in terror as flames burst out around them. In what looks like a train tunnel, flames come rushing along and engulf three more townspeople.
Okay, I can understand why the first district might have been caught off guard, but really, I can’t help but wonder why the ISO hasn’t, by now, airlifted or ferried the rest of the population off the island or at least told them not to go strolling about while Matangar is perched on their volcano, ready to blast them.
(They could almost use a Zark here. Almost.)
Now we’re back to the dark room again, and this time everyone’s here (and it seems that Joe has not yet attempted to pummel Ken.)
Now it’s Jinpei who wants to know “What’s really going on? What’s making you wimp out all of a sudden?”
Ken is still staring at the wall –or the photos- and not saying anything.
“He’s chickened out,” says Joe disgustedly, “I can’t believe we’ve been calling him our leader!” Aaand the fist is raised once again, but Jun is still right there to try to prevent him from using it.
“Wait!” implores Jun, even as Ryu steps in front of Joe and tells him to cool out –and gets a dirty look in return.
“You don’t know how to talk to people,” continues Ryu, “See, you have to be more relaxed about it.” He walks up behind Ken now, who is sitting in a chair, still facing the wall and staring at the photos, and still not saying anything.
“Come on now, Ken,” he says in a kindly tone, “Just let us know what’s bothering you, okay? You ought to be running out the door right now, so how come this time you’re being so… prudent or –I mean-“ And now he too is glaring at Ken.
“Are you too good to talk to us now?” he demands, getting heated, “I’ll kick your ass!-”
But now Jun come rushing up to stop Ryu from hitting Ken. Sheesh, I hope that, on some level, Ken is appreciative of her efforts to keep his teammates from trying to clobber him!
“Take a look at these pictures!” snaps Ken suddenly, finally speaking and turning to look at Ryu and the others.
From his vantage by the door, Joe frowns and looks expectantly at Ken.
“In order to blow through solid iron,” continues Ken, looking now to Jun, “What size warhead do we need in a super bird missile? Tell me!”
“Let me see… I’m sure it would have to be at least one megaton,” is the assessment of the Team’s demolitions expert.
“Good job!” sneers Ken, looking towards Joe now, gesturing with one arm for emphasis, “That’d blow up the entire island!”
“Ah…” says Jun, clearly not sure what to say to that.
“So then we should use a smaller charge,” counters Joe, “You said we can do that with a super bird missile.”
“If we did that,” says Ken, with restrained vehemence, “Super bird missiles would bounce off its shell and land in the town.”
“But isn’t there some kind of way to blow up just Matangar then?” asks Jinpei hopefully.
Ken leans his forehead towards the wall, seething in frustration.
“Hey,” says Ryu, “What if we tried it from inside? You know –infiltrate.”
Ken turns his head just enough to glare over his shoulder. “But from where?” he demands, “The head withdraws into its shell –where is there an opening for us?”
Ryu doesn’t have an answer to this one.
“Dr. Finger has thoroughly analyzed Katse’s failures,” continues Ken, still glaring over his shoulder, “And knows exactly how we play our cards.”
Joe looks like he's thinking “Shit, he’s right,” fists clenched but at his sides now.
“What are we supposed to do now, Big Bro?” asks a distressed Jinpei, “What do we do?”
“I don’t know!” yells Ken, slamming a hand against one of the photos.
But suddenly Ken grabs the photo beneath his hand, pointing and muttering “What are these white things?”
Ken tosses the photo aside and grabs one of the strips of negatives. “Jun, help me blow this up,” he says impatiently, “Come on, quit standing around!”
Well I guess bossy Ken is better than staring-at-the-wall-not-speaking Ken.
Next we see Jun’s enlargements, as she says “Okay, I can’t make it any bigger than this. The white things you saw in the picture are light leaking out from inside the iron beast, I think.”
“They’re air vents that supply the mecha’s interior,” says Ken, in an “Ah, I get it now” tone.
“I don’t think we can fit in there,” remarks Ryu, deadpan, as they all look.
Jinpei notes that it depends how big the gaps are. “Only big enough for a bullet,” says Ken. This grabs Joe’s attention and he stares at Ken.
Ken then addressed Dr. Nambu, “I need a special bullet.”
“Mmm?” says Dr. Nambu, clearly not sure what Ken has in mind.
“What’s up?” asks Joe, walking closer to Ken –yes, Ken had him as soon as he started talking about bullets…
Ken explains that they have to get Matangar to move, and that if they can lure it into the ocean, “we can destroy it.”
But in the meantime, it’s Matangar that’s doing the destroying.
“The iron beast Matangar,” says the narrator, “Destroyed every twelve hours, without fail. When the townspeople learned that Galactor’s objective was to challenge the Science Ninja Team, their anger shifted towards the Science Ninja Team who seemed reluctant to come to their rescue no matter how long they waited.”
At the Crescent Coral base, a door opens and in comes Dr. Nambu. He approaches Ken, who’s standing in front of an aerial image of Micron Island and hands him a box, informing Ken that “It’s completed.”
“But, there’s only one,” he adds as Ken takes the box from him and opens it to look at the “special” bullet inside.
“A single shot,” says Ken, then he looks at Joe, “Joe, this is your job –do you think you can shoot this bullet into the iron beast through one of its air vents?”
Joe has been over by the window, contemplating the fish, but now he turns to Ken.
“Just one shot?”
“Don’t think of it as an air vent –think of it as Katse’s black heart,” says Ken, clearly thinking of Joe’s target practice the episode’s beginning.
Meanwhile, on Matangar, Dr. Finger is gloating “What’s the big deal about this Science Ninja Team? They haven’t had the courage to even come back.”
Some goons are listening, and one says “We never could have imagined things would go so smoothly either.” Heh –a dig at Katse, I suppose.
So, Dr. Finger brags that “strategizing is the key,” and claims that Katse “runs around haphazardly.”
Now we see Katse, still at his Mediterranean villa-like place. He’s pacing around the room.
“Damn it, what the hell are those Ninja birds doing anyway? They always attack whenever I’m in charge –why aren’t they going after Finger?”
“Um, Lord Katse,” says his aide-de-camp nervously, “Exactly what side are you on anyway?” Hee –I love this part.
“You be quiet!” snarls Katse, “What side are you on? Dr. Finger’s?”
The goon says nothing, and Katse mutters “Damn it,” again and resumes his pacing…
Back to Dr. Finger, he is announcing that it’s time to attack the fifth district. (I guess in the time it took for Dr. Nambu to make the bullet, districts three and four got hit.)
However, this time the crew gets a visitor.
“Dr. Finger! The God Phoenix approaches!” cries a goon.
The God Phoenix’s nose cover retracts to reveal Joe’s G-2 car as, on the bridge, Ken murmurs “We’re counting on you, Joe,” as Jun looks on worriedly, “We’ve only got one shot.”
But wind is whipping around, causing the God Phoenix –and more importantly, the G-2- to bob up and down slightly.
“Come on, man! Would you hold her steady, for crying out loud,” Joe is saying into his bracelet. Ryu insists he’s trying, but points out that there’s high wind.
Ken asks Jun for a weather briefing and she tells him there’s southeast winds at 25 knots.
Ken notes that this isn’t good for what Joe’s trying to do. Ryu suggests changing the firing angle.
“This is the only vantage point that’ll give him a shot at the air vents,” says a Ken, now glowering apprehensively.
We get a close-up look at the air vents in question, and then Joe begins targeting.
Ken is telling him now to delay the shot, as the weather conditions are “too volatile.”
“No, Ken, if we can’t nail anything under any conditions, we’ll never defeat Katse. Just let me do it!”
All is silent on the bridge, but then Ken says “All right, let’s do it.”
On Matangar, they’re staring at the God Phoenix, and one goon nervously says “It looks like they’re aiming at the vent shafts.”
Dr. Finger insists his opponents are crazy, with the wind so strong and that target only one centimeter wide. “Even if they manage to blast the ventilation, there’d be no effect on us whatsoever,” he says, seating himself again with a confident laugh.
Now we hear a beat that sounds rather like a human heart, as Joe concentrates and waits for the right moment to shoot. On the bridge, Ken looks tense and grim. Joe continues to target, and to wait…
And then he shoots.
The bullet strikes… something.
As the “camera” pulls back, we see that Joe has succeeded and that that bullet has indeed struck inside the air vents. But as everyone on the bridge sits frozen, waiting to see what’s happened, at first it doesn’t look like anything is happening.
Joe’s head droops and his eyes close, though it’s not clear if this is relief or if he thinks he’s missed.
But suddenly, smoke and fire come pouring out of the bullet hole and flames begin spreading inside the air vents.
Anxious goons come running up to Dr. Finger now, telling him that flames are spreading from the vent shafts and heading towards the engine room.
“Impossible!” cries Dr. Finger, “What in the hell did they shoot at us with?”
“It seems to be some sort of chemical that ignites the hydrogen in the air,” replies a goon, even as flames come pouring into the very room they’re all in.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” says Dr. Finger.
And we cut to the God Phoenix, where Joe is back on the bridge and Ken is explaining the special bullet and congratulating Joe.
Ryu now alerts Ken to the fact that Matangar has started moving.
Matangar has extended its head and feet and risen into the air, but on board, terrified goons are running down a corridor that’s being engulfed in flames, screaming and dying.
In the control room, a cluster of other goons have surrounded Dr. Finger, all insisting they can’t put out the fire and that they all need to evacuate.
“Stop that whining!” barks Dr. Finger, “Imagine what would happen if we report back to Leader X right now –we’re not giving up until the last second!”
(Actually, Dr. Finger, Leader X is probably quite used to getting such reports –but then, you are trying not to be like Katse… The goons should take heart at least somewhat here, as Dr. Finger hasn’t ditched them to leave in an escape pod.)
So, Matangar now overtakes the God Phoenix and proceeds to clutch hold of it with its four legs, and then it goes into a dive. It’s the classic “If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me” tactic!
So tightly is Matangar gripping the God Phoenix to its belly, we see that the dome on top of the God Phoenix has been crushed flat against it.
On the bridge, Ken and Ryu are staring up at Matangar’s head, which is looming in the view screen. “It’s got us in a flying death grip!” cries Ken.
Well, not flying now –Matangar plunges into the sea, taking the God Phoenix along with it.
“So, they’re going to take us on a suicide plunge,” realizes Ken, “They’re trying to crush us with water pressure!”
And now the narrator explains that water pressure increases by one atmosphere, every ten meters below the surface and that the God Phoenix’s limit is 200 atmospheres –or a depth of 2000 meters.
“Ryu, open the top dome!” instructs Ken.
Ryu points out that water will come rushing in if they do that but Ken insists that Matangar is pressing tightly enough against them that that won’t happen. Ryu nervously complies.
And Ken proves to be correct.
“Jun,” orders Ken next, “Go over and get the Jun rocket from G-3.”
Jun wants to what the plan is, so Ken explains that Matangar appears to be less armored on its belly. “We can blast it!”
“Maybe it only appears that way,” says Joe, peering skeptically up at the exposed bit of Matangar that’s over the dome, “If it’s made from the same material used for its back, the rocket could bounce off.”
“Either Matangar gets destroyed or the God Phoenix gets crushed into pieces,” says Ken, looking side to side at everyone, “Fifty-fifty.”
Not the best odds.
They’re still plunging deeper, and Ryu notes that they’re at 1200 meters now. Ken says “Jun, hurry!” and she runs to get her rocket.
In Matangar’s control room, flames are burning as Dr. Finger continues to sit in his chair. We get a view of goons strewn about the room’s floor, either dead or overcome by the heat and lack of air.
Dr. Finger, like Ken, is telling himself that the odds are even –either Matangar will burn up or the God Phoenix will be crushed. However, Matangar is doomed in either of these cases so Dr. Finger has clearly resigned himself to “going down with his ship.”
“Damn it’s hot in here,” mutters Dr. Finger, as he waits for the God Phoenix to get crushed, and as we see the Ninjas hastily positioning Jun’s rocket beneath the dome.
And then, the heat becomes too much for Dr. Finger, and he suddenly snaps and cries out “Son of a-”
And, he undergoes some exaggerated contortions in the brief instant he’s doing this –which make for some amusing screen caps!
“Open fire,” says Ken quietly, and we see the Jun rocket firing…
And then we’re suddenly above the sea’s surface, and there’s a pretty sunset going on. All is quiet and still. Did the God Phoenix survive?
A massive explosion now break’s the sea’s surface.
It continues to burn, and waves toss against the sunset background,
But then the God Phoenix comes bursting forth from the sea! Needless to say, Matangar does not.
I can’t help but wonder how they got the dome shut after blowing away Matangar with the rocket quickly enough to prevent a massive influx of sea water –especially with the pressure that high! I guess that’s why we viewers got taken to the surface to wait in suspense and didn’t get to see exactly what happened down there.
So, the God Phoenix flies victoriously into the sunset and, hey, there are still three out of seven surviving districts on Micron Island.
On the bridge, Ken looks very relieved. “We won the gamble,” he says quietly. It seems that he’s dealing with the despair that he was feeling earlier about whether peace can ever be possible and about the “blood” on his hands, and is okay again –at least for now.
“It was indeed a life or death moment,” says the narrator, “Ken called it a gamble but the Science Ninja Team managed to survive their greatest crisis, because of the level-headed judgement of their leader, Gatchaman, who is quick to see their chance and seize it!”
And don’t forget Joe’s excellent aim, narrator!
Battle of the Planets Episode: The Awesome Armadillo
“It’s so nice and peaceful down here at Center Neptune,” says Zark, as we see it and some peacefully-swimming fish, “When planet Spectra isn’t invading the galaxy somewhere.”
Zark is reclining in his 10-second oil break chair, explaining that “In slack times like this, I keep my multi-linear electron circuits in prime condition by working crossword puzzles in this book.” 1-Rover-1 is nearby, silent and unmoving.
Oh dear –I love doing crosswords; this means that I have something in common with Zark…
“I can solve a puzzle in a split micro-second,” brags Zark, “So I do them backwards, to make them more of a challenge.”
What the heck does that mean –how do you do a crossword backwards?
“And I don’t use a pencil,” continues Zark, “I do them in my fosdic.”
Yuck! I don’t want to know what that means!
“What you’d call your head,” says Zark, explaining anyway.
But Zark now claims that he has a more difficult puzzle on his hands.
“It concerns the behavior of Mark, the young Commander of G-Force. He hasn’t been himself lately and that could seriously hinder the effectiveness of G-Force. Humans are so complex and difficult to figure out. I think I’ll check on my monitor and see how the Team is doing.”
In other words: spy on them.
“It’s target practice time for Jason,” says Zark, as we see at Zoltar-shaped target, “With the new space weapon I invented.”
Oh of course, Zark is a genius so he invents weapons on the side.
Well, the weapon works –the Zoltar figure is shot to pieces. Jason grimaces though.
He opens the top of his car as Keyop, who is standing nearby, says “Better… this time.”
“I cut off a tenth of a second,” says Jason, looking gloomy, adding “I’ll improve as I get the feel of the trigger,” as he jumps out of his car.
Mark is there too, over by his jet and he looks over at Jason. Princess is also here, working on her motorcycle.
“I don’t know what we’re waiting for,” continues Jason, “That new freeze ray weapon should be standard equipment on the Phoenix right now.”
What “freeze ray weapon” is he talking about? Is this something else Zark has invented because the weapon he was just using sure didn’t look like it was freezing anything.
“Look, Jason,” says Mark, “As Commander of the Phoenix, “I’ll make that decision.”
“Yes, Sir, Mr. Commander,” replies Jason with a hint of resentment. Princess walks closer to Mark now, who is frowning.
“We work as a team,” says Mark pointedly, “But every team needs a leader.”
“A team needs a leader who leads,” retorts Jason. The rest of G-Force is watching this exchange intently.
“Ooh… our team needs… umpire,” remarks a wide-eyed Keyop.
Mark closes his eyes. “You could both be right,” he says, “Maybe the time is right for resignation.”
What? Zark is right –something’s wrong with Mark.
Keyop and Tiny exchange bewildered looks.
“That’s something for you to decide, Commander,” says a less-bewildered Jason, gesturing with one arm, “But don’t make me the big bad heavy.”
Ooh, isn’t everyone just being pissy today.
Mark’s eyes narrow, but he doesn’t say anything. He does, however, throw his wrench on the floor and stalk off in a huff, ignoring Princess’ call of “Mark!”
So now we cut to Zoltar –the real Zoltar. He is groaning and clutching his head.
“Impossible, I can’t believe it, Sir,” says a nearby Spectran soldier.
“They’ve relieved me of my command,” groans Zoltar.
“I’m certain the Great Spirit will reconsider, Sir.”
“No, I am no longer wanted,” says Zoltar, still clutching his head.
Wow, it’s a pity party all around so far in this episode.
“After all my years of devoted service to Spectra,” continues Zoltar, “I am discarded!”
“Don’t be so worried, Zoltar,” says a new voice –a voice which turns out to belong to a bald and bearded man in a red and black uniform who is lounging near a wall, against a background of what sure looks like a Mediterranean seaside villa –who knew they had that sort of thing on Spectra?
The man laughs.
“Colonel Tu, so you’re my replacement,” says Zoltar, looking up at him. (Thank you, G-Force: Animated for letting me know how to spell his name.)
“Replacement? Let’s merely say I’ve been brought in for a special mission.”
“But I have a perfect, new plan for conquering Earth,” retorts Zoltar.
But Colonel Tu now informs him smugly that the Luminous One has studied –and rejected- Zoltar’s plan.
Zoltar is not happy to hear this, and clenches his fists.
“Instead, I have been placed in charge of the next invasion of Earth,” says Colonel Tu (though for some reason, he points at Zoltar as he says this), “Operation Windfire.”
He strokes his beard.
So Zoltar wants to know what he’s supposed to do, and if he’s a prisoner here.
“Patience, Zoltar, we shall find tasks for you,” smirks Colonel Tu and he walks out of the room, “I’m sure.” He laughs nastily.
Once he’s gone, Zoltar slumps and clutches his head again.
“They will change their minds, Sir,” says the Spectran soldier soothingly.
“Only if Colonel Tu fails,” says Zoltar, “Then, the Luminous One will beg me to take back my command!”
But in the meantime, Colonel Tu is addressing the troops –his troops now- from a high balcony.
“The moment has come for the historic invasion of planet Earth!” he says.
Hmm, you guys try to invade Earth all the time. It’ll only be “historic” if you succeed, Tu. He’s not lacking in confidence, all right.
He explains that the operation is named “Windfire.” With our new weapon, it will be as though wind and fire have swept over Earth!”
Um, that sounds dramatic, but it’s not very specific.
“On to victory!” he concludes grandly, “Now!”
All the troops begin to run on board the large ship that’s parked nearby. Last to board is Colonel Tu himself.
“You know your assignments –see that you carry them out! Launch the attack!”
And the ship –now suddenly under water- ignites its engines and departs.
Zoltar, from an underwater window, is watching it leave and muttering “Bad luck on Earth, Colonel Tu. My future depends on your misfortune.”
And now we get a view of space, as nebulae and stars go by, and we hear Susan saying “Calling 7-Zark-7, at Center Neptune. This is Susan on planet Pluto. I have an early warning alert. Come in, Zark.”
And now we hear Zark’s voice replying, as stars and nebulae continue to go by, “This is 7-Zark-7, I read you, Susan. What is it?”
“It” is that “some sort of missile or spacecraft” has been launched by planet Spectra and is leaving the Crab Nebulae [sic].
And now we’re seeing a little dot of light moving through space.
Zark agrees that this “sounds like trouble heading our way again.”
Susan next tells him that the “unidentified object” has gone into time warp (the stars are zipping past the dot of light faster now) and that it’s “definitely heading for the Milky Way.”
I resist the urge to yell “The Crab Nebula –get it right, damn it- is IN the Milky Way –it can’t be ‘heading for’ it!”
Now we’re seeing the planet Saturn, as Zark says he’s located it on his sensors and “You’re right, Susan.”
He notes that it’s passing Saturn and “zooming straight for Earth.”
Susan breathily wishes him good luck, and Zark thanks her for the “prompt warning.” He will notify Security, and G-Force, -at once!
“I’m afraid we’re in for it,” he sighs, as we see a view of Earth, getting larger as the intruder draws closer.
And now we cut suddenly to a cemetery on a pretty, flower-covered hillside, with a seaside town and green hills in the distance. Sad music is playing.
Mark is here, approaching one gravesite in particular. He kneels in front of it, staring at the image of a jet that’s on it.
“Brother,” he says, running a finger over the jet, “I come to you because I have no one to turn to.”
Hmm, not even Princess? And just who is (or was, really) this brother you’re addressing, Mark?
Mark huddles up, head resting on his knees.
“Mark?” says Princess’ voice, and we see that she’s there now, standing some distance away.
“I know this is a bad time, Mark,” she says, “I’m here only because it’s really urgent, and we need you.”
Mark stands up again and turns to face her. “Tell me what’s happened.”
She tells him “Spectra has struck,” and asks if he’ll come back to Center Neptune.
“Yes,” says Mark.
And now we’re seeing big waves, and the ship from Spectra breaks the surface of a sea, somewhere on Earth, and smashes a ship (I’m sure those on board it have life preservers and will be just fine).
The ship now heads for shore, and the town there, as Zark voice-overs how glad he is that Susan gave him an alert about this attack, so that “I could order the town evacuated.”
“And I’m glad Mark didn’t resign his command,” adds Zark.
Yes, but we still haven’t found out what that was all about, or what the mysterious dead brother has to do with it.
The ship is now stalking across the town, smashing some buildings –but it’s okay because they’re all evacuated.
“We need him badly now,” continues Zark, as the ship now climbs up the side of steep mountain and perches on top, “We have a formidable challenge to peace on Earth.”
Atop the mountain, the ship now retracts its head and legs inside its body.
But back at Center Neptune, the fish are unperturbed by all of this.
But Chief Anderson is not. He’s showing G-Force images of Bantos Island, “The first objective of Spectra’s assault.”
It’s apparent from the image that the mountain is volcanic in origin, and that it’s right in the center of the island.
“They spared nothing,” says Anderson, as we see images of a church and then other buildings that, according to him, were destroyed.
“And this is the armadillo’s home base,” says Chief Anderson, pointing to the top of the mountain in one image.
Yes, an armadillo. Does it look like one? You be the judge:
Personally, I think it looks a whole lot closer to something like this:
But, hey, what do I know?
“From this position,” continues Anderson, “It commands all the city below.”
“Why don’t we just knock it out?” asks Jason, arms folded.
Anderson says that wouldn’t be as easy as it looks. Jason insists it’s “perched up there like a sitting duck,” but Anderson counters “A sitting fortress.”
“Listen to how secure their commander feels,” continues Anderson, and he plays a tape recording for them all.
“We have a weapon to annihilate you,” Tu’s voice informs the “Leaders of Earth.” He insists that what they’ve seen “is only the beginning,” and declares they must surrender or be destroyed.
Tiny notes that at least this keeps their choices simple. Keyop adds there is no second choice.
“What do we do, Chief?” asks Princess, “Besides surrender.”
“That’s our second choice,” declares Jason, “Let them wipe us out.”
Now we’re seeing the armadillo ship, atop its mountain, as Zark explains that the Spectrans are so confident of their superiority, they’re issuing evacuation orders to “our people.”
“But then we have to leave our undefended cities to their mercy,” continues Zark as we get a look inside the armadillo’s control room, where a bunch of soldiers are targeting an unfortunate section of city (fortunately evacuated though).
For no apparent reason, an attack requires a ten second countdown from Colonel Tu, and as he’s doing this, we see a montage of images of the tense members of G-Force, and Anderson, at Center Neptune.
“Fire!” yells Tu at last, and the targeted city goes up in flames as it’s blasted by a laser beam from the armadillo’s head.
“We've got to find a way to stop them, or lost our cities one by one,” Mark is saying, frowning. He stands up, and so do all the others. “Well?” he demands of Chief Anderson.
“Take whatever course of action you think best,” is his response.
It seems that Mark thinks launching the Phoenix is best, because that’s what we see them doing next.
The armadillo is still perched on the mountain top, and in its control room, a soldier tells Colonel Tu that an aircraft is approaching. It’s the Phoenix, of course.
“Keep them in our sights but do nothing until I order,” says Tu, stroking his beard.
“Scoot around to their port side,” says Mark, on the Phoenix’s bridge. So the Phoenix circles once around the armadillo and we get a good view of its exterior. But then the Phoenix starts flying away.
“Why are we stalling?” demands Jason, standing behind Mark’s shoulder, “With a few good shots, I could knock that turtle right off the hill!”
See –Jason can tell that it’s a turtle, not an armadillo!
“I told you,” growls Mark, “That this is a reconnaissance mission –strictly for taking pictures!”
“Great, I’ll put them in my scrapbook,” says Jason witheringly.
“Why don’t you two bury the hatchet?” asks Tiny, “We’ve got enough problems as it is. We’re supposed to be a team, aren’t we?”
“Wanna be… traded?” asks Keyop (I’m not sure if he’s asking Mark, Jason or both of them.)
Marks closes his eyes unhappily. After a pause, he looks up again and says “We’ll follow my plan.”
“Check,” says Jason –a chess metaphor, I assume.
Mark insists there’ll be no attack on the armadillo until “I’m convinced we can beat it.”
Jason flings back his cape with one arm and folds his arms.
“Okay,” he concedes, “I still think you’re off base but you’re the boss.”
Mark looks at him, “That’s right. And I won’t risk lives with a reckless attack. That Spectra beast must have a weak spot somewhere and sooner or later, we’ll find it.”
So, we’re back at Center Neptune again.
And Jason, despite his earlier “You’re the boss,” remark, is complaining about Mark to Chief Anderson as Tiny, Keyop and Princess sit nearby. Mark isn’t here though.
“The armadillo was set to strike, and our commader is in the dark room developing snap shots!”
“That’s curious,” says Anderson blankly.
“I’m sure Mark has very good reasons,” insists Princess, who is over by the undersea window, looking out at the water.
So now we see Mark, in a red-lit dark room, studying photos of the armadillo. “I won’t give up,” he mutters, “Somewhere there must be a chink in the armadillo’s armor.” He punches one of the photos in frustration.
And then we cut to Zark, who is pacing. “I’m trying to keep my cool but it’s really uptight time here at Center Neptune. The Spectra space monster keeps destroying our cities, and Mark hasn’t figured out how to stop it yet.”
He pauses in his pacing.
“And, as if it weren’t enough trouble, tension between Mark and Jason is really mounting. Jason is very independent and the best marksman on the G-Force team, but he has to learn to follow orders.”
Yes, bad, bad Jason… ;-)
Zark flies over to his monitors now. “I hope Mark can figure out a plan of action soon, and that Jason’s patient enough to follow it.”
And now we see the armadillo extending its head from its body. Inside, Colonel Tu is ordering the soldiers “Man your stations! Prepare to attack!”
One soldier we see is fiddling with a small panel of switches and outlets –not sure what they’re for though.
Targeting, most likely –the armadillo’s head turns towards a new section of not-yet-destroyed town.
Back at Center Neptune (we’re really seeing a lot of that place in this episode), Chief Anderson gets a phone call. Everyone except Mark (who’s not there) looks attentively at him.
“Trouble?” asks Princess.
“Zark says the armadillo attacked again,” replies Anderson and, with that, Jason is barreling for the door, ignoring Princess as she calls after him.
At the dark room, Jason flings open the door and glares inside. But Mark is seated with his back to the door, still staring at the photos apparently, and doesn’t speak or even turn to look.
“Mark, it’s time to act, Commander!” declares Jason, hands on his hips. Princess is coming up behind him now.
“There’s just got to be a weakness,” says Mark, but it sounds like he’s talking to himself.
“If there is, it’s in your head!” says Jason, making a fist and lunging for Mark.
But Princess grabs his arm, crying “Jason!”
“While he’s practicing photography, the armadillo is destroying our cities!” snaps Jason. Princess lets go of his arm…
But we suddenly cut to city currently being destroyed, as buildings explode and flames spread through its streets.
“Jason is right,” voice-overs Zark. Wow, I’ll bet Zark doesn’t say that very often. “We have terror everywhere.”
So we’re back to the dark room and now everyone is there.
“Mark… remember us?” asks Keyop, as Mark continues to sit in front of his photos silently, his back to everyone.
“I could be busted, but someone has got to knock sense into his head!” says Jason, and he makes another fist and starts to move…
“Don’t!” cries Princess, grabbing Jason from behind.
“Let’s cool it,” says Tiny, getting in Jason’s way, “You’ve got to use a little tact or diplomacy if you want to get through to somebody.” Jason glares at him.
So Tiny approaches Mark’s chair. “Hey Mark, we know you’ve got a lot on your mind –all we ask is for you to share the problem with us.”
No response of any kind from Mark.
“After all,” continues Tiny, “We’re one family, like fingers on a hand, right? Uh?”
Now Tiny is scowling at Mark’s continued impassiveness. “Come on! I’m talking to you –don’t just sit there, answer me!”
Now Tiny raises a fist, muttering “I ought to give you one-” but Princess, as ever, is there to grab his arm and prevent Mark from being clobbered by his teammates.
“The key is here!” declares Mark suddenly, standing up to put his hand on one of the photos and turning his head to the others.
This gets Jason’s attention all right.
“I don’t know why,” Tiny says, “But that picture reminds me of something.”
Could it be, perhaps, a turtle, Tiny?
“Remember when Spectra shot a sand missile against us,” says Tiny, as Mark looks intently at him, “And no one knew how to knock it down?’
Tiny twiddles his fingers, as Mark continues to stare at him. “Not to brag, but I’m the one who noticed the soft spot near the deflector grid.”
“That’s it…” says Keyop, “Underbelly.”
Now Mark pulls down one of the photos to look at it more closely. “Of course!” he says, and reaches for a strip of negatives as Princess walks closer. “We found it, the chink in the armor!”
And now we see an enlarged image of some slits in some part of the armadillo.
“We were looking for an Achilles heel,” Princess is saying, “And we found it on the armadillo’s nose –that’s where it’s vulnerable.”
And we see the actual armadillo again, as Zark voice-overs “Meanwhile, the armadillo continues its dirty work.” Yes, the armadillo is busy destroying more cities. “While we’re still helpless, the monster is blowing up bridges, setting fire to cities. When the people return, they’ll have no homes to come to.”
Now either all the cities being attacked happen to have a mountain nearby, or the armadillo has been sitting on the same mountain on Bantos Island this entire time. Or does it leave Bantos Island to do its “dirty work” and then return there when it’s done? It’s not entirely clear.
Back at Center Neptune –again!- Chief Anderson enters a room, carrying a small box. He hands it to Mark, who is standing in front of a map of Bantos Island, so I will assume that the armadillo is there, at least at this moment.
Mark wants to see what’s in it, and Anderson asks him “Will it work?”
“It will if we make a direct hit,” says Mark, studying the colorful bullet that is inside the box, “First we must establish position, and then it’s up to Jason.”
Jason has been over by the window studying the fish, but this gets his attention.
“I’ll nail it,” he says confidently.
“It’s still a long shot,” says Mark, “But it’s our only shot.”
And we’re back with Colonel Tu, who is lounging in his chair. “So far, so good. The Earthlings seem confused,” he is saying, “And we must keep them that way.”
A nearby soldier wants to know if there’s another attack planned soon.
“We’ll give the enemy a chance to let his losses sink in,” says Tu, smiling smugly, “He may beg for peace.”
The Phoenix, meanwhile, is flying through the sky, and now a soldier informs Tu that there’s an “unidentified craft” approaching.
“G-Force!” gasps Tu, seeming surprised.
The Phoenix hovers a safe distance from the armadillo, and the nose cover pulls back to expose Jason’s car, and (I guess) its “new space weapon” that Zark invented.
“There’s that big turtle,” says Mark, standing on the bridge.
Come on, guys! If you all can tell it’s a turtle, then why is this episode called “The Awesome Armadillo”? What was wrong with “The Tyrannical Turtle” or “The Terrible Tortoise”?
At any rate, wind is blowing strongly around the… armadillo, and it’s also causing the Phoenix –and Jason’s car- to bob up and down.
“Steady, Tiny, just a hair to the left,” Jason is saying into his bracelet, from inside his car.
“Gotcha, buddy,” replies Tiny, “Keep in touch.”
“This time we’ll need luck,” says Mark, looking worried. “Jason will do it,” reassures Princess, “If anyone can.”
Mark acknowledges this, but is still worried about the “narrow margin for error” that Jason has here.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” says Tiny, “We going to turn that turtle into turtle soup!”
Why, oh why, did someone call this episode “The Awesome Armadillo?
“The question is, what’ll we do if we miss?” says Mark.
Inside his car, Jason is targeting the… armadillo now. “You’ve been a big talker, Jason ‘Ol Boy,” he says to himself, “But now’s the time to prove it wasn’t all hot air.”
“We’re in range,” says Mark to the others on the bridge.
In the armadillo’s control room, Tu says “Hold your fire. Let us see what they have in mind.” (Okay, that’s a mistake!) “Our craft was built to be impregnable. None of their weapons can pierce our armor –as they will discover!” He walks away from the view screen and back to his chair.
Now some very dramatic, almost Wagnerian, music is playing as Jason continues to ready himself to take his shot.
And he does. And it hits the target!
But everyone stares blankly, as they can’t tell. Even Jason looks uncertain whether he’s done it, as he slumps and closes his eyes.
But now flames break out inside the armadillo’s nose.
“Sir, we’ve been hit! Fire has broken out in the torpedo room!” cries one soldier and he, and several others, cluster anxiously around Colonel Tu now.
Tu asks him if he has a report on the damage yet. The soldier does not, “But the forward phaser banks are all in flames!”
Oh, and now flames are in the control room too.
“Man all fire stations!” orders Tu.
We cut to the Phoenix, on the move again. On the bridge, Mark is enthusing “You hit a bull’s eye!” to Jason, “If we figured it right, the armadillo should be in big trouble!”
Jason doesn’t say anything.
“Something’s happening over there,” remarks Tiny. What’s happening is that the armadillo has started its engines and is lifting off into the air.
In the control room, soldiers are informing Tu that the fire is spreading, “But we are ready to attack!”
“Prepare to abandon ship,” says Colonel Tu angrily, “We’ll turn on the robot controls and escape.”
And next we see the armadillo, it’s flying up to and overtaking the Phoenix, and then it grabs the Phoenix with its legs (breaking the dome on top).
The armadillo plunges into the sea. “We’re going under!” says Tiny, as the view screen becomes a view of dark water and the armadillo’s head. “Maybe we’ll be able to shake the thing off!”
But the armadillo is taking them deeper, straight down.
“From Center Neptune,” voice-overs Zark, “I can see what’s happening through my scanner. The armadillo is riding the Phoenix piggy-back to the bottom of the sea!”
And, they continue to descend…
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Mark asks Tiny.
“Got it. It’s hole in the ceiling time.”
“I’ve got a hunch,” replies Mark, “that armadillo’s underbelly is a soft touch.”
So Tiny opens the dome and the belly of the armadillo is pressed so tight against it that Keyop is able to say “No leak” as they all stare up at the circle of exposed underbelly.
Mark asks Princess if she thinks they could shoot a mini-torpedo up there, and she agrees.
“If we miss, we don’t even get back to the drawing board,” notes Mark.
Um, how could you miss? It’s right there.
“Shoot a torpedo up there, and blow us up!” says Jason though, not liking the thought of what could happen when they don’t miss. “It’s a crazy idea!” he concludes, but then adds “I like it!”
“Okay, Princess, get the hardware,” says Mark, glancing around at everyone, “If we blow it, we’re all wet.”
And the armadillo is still dragging them down deeper…
Tiny notes that “If we’re going to make our move, we’d better do it now.”
“Go!” says Mark to Princess. “Gone!” she replies, rushing from the bridge.
Next we see, she, Mark, Jason and Keyop are clustered beneath the dome, where Princess has readied a mini-torpedo.
“Fire!” cries Mark.
We cut to the surface of the sea, where a lovely sunset is in progress, and a now an explosion is bursting forth from the sea. However, even as its fire and smoke rise into the sky and the waves are churning, the Phoenix now breaks the surface and soars into the sky itself.
On the bridge, Mark bows his head in relief. “Team, it’s done,” he says.
And the Phoenix continues to fly on in triumph.
“That was close,” voice-overs Zark, “I have all the faith in the galaxy in my team, but for a while there, it looked like we were down and out of it. Jason made a super shot with that rocket [It was a rocket? An awfully tiny rocket] but it was Mark who discovered the only weak spot in the armadillo’s armor.”
As we get our last look at the pretty sky the Phoenix has flown off into, we cut to Zark at Center Neptune.
“Colonel Tu’s weapon was immobilized,” Zark tells us, “But he managed to limp back to Spectra, where I’m sure he was demoted, leaving Zoltar back in charge.”
“You’re right, 1-Rover-1,” says Zark, “Jason learned a valuable lesson from this experience. He must never forget that their success depends upon teamwork, and teamwork depends upon the ability of each G-Force member to follow orders. They say competition breeds excellence, so I guess I’ve got nothing to worry about with G-Force because Mark and Jason are certainly competitive. One thing I know –each of us gives our all for…”
And here, Zark salutes.
1-Rover-1 salutes (and yaps) too.
Okay, I wonder if Zark knows just how many Jason fans he probably created every time he held him up as an example to us kiddies in the late ‘70s of ‘what not to do’? ;-)