This time around, Ms. Ann has decided to break with tradition and write up a review of an episode of Gatchaman that never got hacked up by the American censors and turned into an episode of Battle of the Planets. For this auspicious occasion, Ms. Ann has decided to review the infamous Puppy Episode a.k.a A Critical Moment for the Science Ninja Team. While this is not the first episode chronologically to not get made into an episode of BoTP, it's one of the more famous ones within the fan community. And the fact that it revolves around a certain Condor that makes all the Fan Girls go squishy might have something to do with it, too.
This episode opens with no narrator. Instead, it cuts right to the chase with Galactor inspired mayhem and destruction. This week's mecha is a large mechanical mole monster with a ginormous drill bit for a nose and some nasty claws. Galactor's mole mecha starts underground, trashing the subway trains and then digs its way up to the surface. This mole has some nasty claws. It grabs onto buildings and crushes them.
Then we cut to the inside of Galactor's Mole Mecha to see our Commander of the Week. This week's commander is dressed as a mole. How original. I guess it makes sense, though, since he's commanding a mole mecha. Berg Katse donned an ant costume for Episode Ten, The Giant Underground Monsters, and those featured robotic ants that wreaked havoc and caused mayhem.
By the way, in the ADV dub of that episode, it's not clear that the ant is actually Katse, and the CotW has kind of a gay lisp, which is really funny with the goofy Shakespearean ant costume.
In the Japanese subtitled version, Commander Mole has a very gravelly voice. In the ADV dub, Commander Mole sounds like a cross between Strong Bad (of Homestar Runner fame) doing "Teen Girl Squad" and the Taco Bell Chihuahua. He also refers to the Science Ninja Team as "Science Team Neenja". I kid you not. ¿Yo quiero, Commander of the Week?
Anyway, Commander Mole informs Berg Katse (aka The Purple Doberman on Speed, which is another phrase I think is funny and I'm also a teensy bit jealous that I didn't think of it first) that all is going according to plan and then he wonders if all the havoc they are causing will draw out the Science Ninja Team, or Kagaku Ninja Tai (which is the Japanese for Science Ninja Team and KNT is what I sometimes use to refer to them). Katse thinks so and then tells Commander Mole that he should rampage as much as he wants to lure them in. Commander Mole says, "Yes, sir". Then we cut to more mole rampaging.
The Concorde, or something that looks like the Concorde, flies over and of course, the Evil Baddies destroy that by tossing it aside and making it crash into a train. There's destruction the freeway and people die and all sorts of bad things like that. The Mole Mech shoots lasers from its eyes and blows things up.
Nambu Hakase, or Dr. Nambu to us English speaking people, is watching all of this and he, of course, summons the SNT. He calls Ken, fills him in on the situation, orders him to "Gather and launch the GodPhoenix immediately". Of course, Ken says "Roger", and does the "Bird Go" thing and transforms into Owashio no Ken or Ken the Eagle.
Then we cut back to more Mole Destruction. The GodPhoenix comes flying over the horizon with its wings in the downward position and the front nosecone is missing. This state of the GP is known as "gathering" because Ryu is coming to pick up the other members of the team. Right now, the GP is trying to pick up Joe, who at this point has already transformed because the G-2 looks like a Formula One race car rather than a stock car, so that means that Joe isn't just Joe, but he's Kondoru no Joe , or Joe the Condor, the second, the one with the vendetta, the one with the coolest vehicle, and the ones that all the Fan Girls drool over, and one of the reasons why I watch this show in the first place....
Anyway, we cut to the inside of the G-2 and Joe says, "Ken, sorry I'm late." Late? I wonder what Joe was doing that would make him late? Ms. Ann can only speculate...;-)
This is one of those episodes, besides being infamous, is a Condorphile's dream come true because it revolves around Our Guy and G-2 gets plenty of screen time.
(Ms Ann gets up and does the Happy Dance)
Okay. Anyway, Ken says, "Okay, I understand. Let's do it!"
The GP prepares to pick up Joe and his bitchin' car. Have I mentioned that I love that car? However, Joe's attention is distracted by something he sees on the side of the road. And what is that he sees?
A puppy. Not just a puppy by itself, but a puppy with its mother. Except the momma dog is lying down and the puppy is trying to wake up its mother. The puppy is whining, but its mother doesn't respond.
Condor Joe, the one who is supposed to be cold, who is supposed to not care, who is only focused on one thing and that is his vendetta against Galactor, gets this look on his face. Yeah, that look. That "oh I just saw something that really tugged at my heart even though I'm the macho anti hero bad boy type and shouldn't be affected by such things as puppies but I am so to hell with what you think" look.
Then he's all business again, as the Mole Mech is doing it's thing and the GP is trying to pick him up. The gripper arms come out from the GP to get Joe and his car, but Joe suddenly makes a sharp turn and evades the GodPhoenix.
Ken, suddenly stands up, and says, "Joe, Stop! What are you trying to do?"
Joe says, "Don't mind me. I'm going to save the puppy."
All together now...Awwwwww...
The guy that wants to always shoot the Bird Missiles wants to save a puppy. Who would have thought such a thing? ;-)
Anyway, Jun says, "Joe, it's too dangerous! Come back!" But Joe ignores her. Ken gives the order to "give Joe some cover". I guess even he knows that it's probably futile to try and talk Joe out of this, so they might as well help him.
Now we cut between shots of the Mole Mecha, Joe driving the G-2, and the puppy, which is going to become a Puppy Pancake if Joe doesn't hurry up and save him or the puppy doesn't get the heck out of the way.
Then Joe stops the G-2, jumps out, and goes running towards the puppy, who looks kind of upset, which I guess I would be if my mom died and I was about to get squished by a giant mechanical mole monster. Then Commander Mole notices "G-2 from the Science Ninja Team" running towards the puppy. Commander Mole gives the order to "kill him".
But Joe manages to get the puppy away safely before the Mole Mecha steps on it and Joe runs away with the puppy. Then the Mole Mech goes after the GP, which is helpless because Joe isn't on the ship and because he isn't there and the G-2 isn't docked in the front, all the GodPhoenix can do is try and evade the Mole Mech because without Joe and the G-2, it can't do the Kagaku Ninpo Hinotori nor Bird Missiles can be fired.
Remember this, kiddies, because this is something that we auteurs refer to as a Major Plot Point.
Maybe it's just me, but I would see that as a major flaw in the design. You should be able to defend yourself against your enemy no matter what.
The Mole Mech, is chasing after Joe, who is running away with the puppy. Joe manages to evade the lasers and stuff, but then the Mole Mech shoots at some ruins of something, and things go flying and Joe takes cover, but then he gets hit with some shrapnel, grabs his head, goes "My head!" and rolls around in pain.
That noise you hear is the collective gasping of Condor Fan Girls everywhere. Condor Joe is hurt! Oh no!
Joe stops rolling and I assume that he passed out and then the shot zooms in on his helmet, but since Joe's helmet is black, Ms. Ann doesn't see any evidence of any damage to the helmet, so maybe Condor Joe just got a nasty bump on the head.
A Fan Girl can hope, can't she? ;-)
On board the GP, Ryu goes, "It looks like they got Joe!" Ken doesn't like that, and even sounds a bit surprised to hear that, but he orders Ryu to turn the GP around and go back for their teammate. So they do and when they get closer, and see him lying on the ground, everyone goes "Joe!" at the same time. And they're all shocked to see him down. On the ground, the puppy tries giving Joe some medical attention, but since the puppy is a canine and not a human with medical training, all the puppy can do is lick Joe's cape. Then we cut back to the GP and the rest of the KNT look stunned to see what they are seeing. I don't know if they are stunned because Joe got hurt or if they're stunned that Condor Joe, the Biggest Bad Ass of the KNT, the one who seems the coldest, felt the need to forget going after Galactor and save a puppy.
Ken gives Ryu the order to land, but they have to dodge the Mole Mech first. The Mole Mech's eye lasers shoot at and hit one of the GP's wings. Ken yells at Ryu to watch where he's going, and they evade the next few shots, but then they get hit in the rear and it's enough to jar them. And someone is probably grumbling to themselves that none of this would have happened if Joe hadn't decided to stop and save a puppy.
Then Commander Mole cackles like the Evil Baddie he is and says "Behold! The Power of the Mole Tank!" Which I suppose is better than saying, "Behold! The Power of Cheese!" Then Commander Mole gets cocky and says that the KNT are done for.
Not so fast. One of the Greenies points out that the sun is rising and apparently this is the Mole Mech's one flaw. Daylight is bad, mm'kay? So Commander Mole takes his Mole Mech and his goons and goes underground.
Now we see a shot of the empty G-2. Then we pan over to the KNT, who are standing over the Out Cold Condor Joe and this puppy who is trying to save the man who saved its life. The puppy is barking at Joe, who doesn't respond. The puppy doesn't try to do CPR, since it can't, but it just keeps barking. Everyone else just stares at Joe.
Um, your teammate took something to the head and you're just going to leave his medical care to a dog? Shouldn't you be getting this guy to a hospital or something?
Apparently not, because they're still standing over Condor Joe. Jun and Ken look like they're about to cry. Ken's eyes do this weird wiggly thing like he's going to start shedding tears. Jinpei, though, is crying and he says, "I can't believe that big brother Joe is dead."
Um, have you checked for a pulse, kid?
Then Jun goes "Joe!" and turns around and starts crying.
Uh, could someone please check Condor Joe for a pulse?
The puppy is trying it's darndest to help, but all the puppy can do is lick Joe's cape.
Jinpei, though, gets angry and blames Joe's condition on the puppy. He takes a stick in his hand and he's going to start beating on the puppy. Ken manages to stop Jinpei.
Um, would someone please take a moment and try and give Joe some MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR HIS HEAD INJURY????????
Ryu agrees with Jinpei and blames the puppy.
Excuse me, but YOUR TEAMMATE IS LYING ON THE GROUND WITH A HEAD INJURY AND THE ONLY ONE WHO SEEMS TO BE GIVING HIM ANY MEDICAL ATTENTION IS A PUPPY! COULD SOMEONE PLEASE LOOK AT JOE AND SEE IF HE'S ALL RIGHT?
Ken says that the puppy isn't the guilty party here, which, is true. I mean, the puppy didn't force Joe to risk his life to save it. Joe made that choice himself. Ken says that he knows how Joe felt.
Apparently Jinpei and Ryu are just as confused as I am because they are giving Ken the blankest of stares.
Ken goes on to explain that Galactor killed Joe's parents, just like they killed the puppy's parents.
Joe's parents killed that puppy's parents?
Oh, wait. Nevermind.
Anyway, Ken says that this orphaned puppy reminded Joe of Joe...
Ken goes onto say that the puppy is a shadow of Joe's past. Ken doesn't get the chance to explain further because Jun picks that moment to throw herself on top the injured Joe and start crying hysterically.
Ms Ann wonders how long it's been from the time Joe got hit with the shrapnel to this point they are at now. It seems that the first few minutes after an injury occurs is the most critical and I would think that someone would have called an ambulance or taken Joe on the GP and gotten him to a hospital or something like that so a trained medical professional could take a look at his head and do something to help him. But noo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o! They're just standing around and wringing their hands and thinking Joe might be dead, when he probably isn't, but he probably is now because THE REST OF THE KNT ARE STANDING AROUND AND TALKING AND NOT GETTING THEIR TEAMMATE THE MEDICAL ATTENTION HE NEEDS AND WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE GET THIS MAN SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK????
There. I feel better now.
Fortunately for them, and the Condor Joe Estrogen Brigade, Joe moves. Ken gives the order "carry him together". Ken asks Joe if he's okay. Jinpei asks what they're going to do with the puppy, who is looking at the KNT with big puppy dog eyes. Ken says to leave him, but Joe says, "Puppy" in this weak voice. Then Ken looks at the puppy, remarks that the puppy is now an orphan, too, and the puppy gives Ken this sad, puppy dog look, and then Ken's eyes get all wiggly like he's going to cry. So of course, the puppy gets to go along.
Next, we see Joe out of uniform, but fully dressed and lying in bed. The rest of the team is still in uniform, and they beg Dr. Nambu to save Joe. Nambu shows the others Joe's head x-ray or MRI or CAT scan or whatever, and says that the metal fragment is touching the "most sensitive part of Joe's brain", which I'm not sure exactly what part of Joe's brain that would be. I'm guessing it's the vendettal oblongata. Nambu goes on to say that it can't be removed by normal surgery.
I smell a plot point coming on.
Ken says, "So there's nothing we can do."
Nambu says that there's just "one thing" they can do for Joe.
That plot point's getting rather fragrant now. And it doesn't smell like flowers, either.
Ken goes, "What's that?"
Nambu replies, "We can gamble on the high-speed centrifuge from the Space Research Facility to remove the fragment from his head."
Um, hello? You're going to put a man with a metal fragment in his brain in a centrifuge??? A big thingy that spins you around very, very fast, and then the G-Forces keep you pressed down and you can't lift your head?
Geez, Nambu, are you trying to kill him? I thought you were going to save him.
Apparently the KNT feel the same way, because their only reply to Nambu are stares.
Then Nambu says that there's the chance that if something goes wrong, Joe's body could be torn to pieces. Jun points out that Joe will die if they don't do something.
Um, maybe if someone would have done something as soon as they found Joe instead of leaving his medical care to a dog, Joe might not be in the mess he is in now. Just thought I'd point that out.
Then we go from the KNT to Nambu to Joe's x-ray. I think this is supposed to be high tension moment, but I can't help but wonder that if someone had gotten Joe some medical attention right away, they wouldn't have to put Joe in a souped-up salad spinner to get that shrapnel out of his head.
Then Ken goes, "The members of the KNT train our bodies regularly. We won't die from a small shock or two. But if Joe dies, we won't be able to use the full strength of the GodPhoenix." Not to mention that they'll have to go through the process of finding a replacement, which could mess up the whole team dynamic, and then they would have to go through the process of training this person, which could take awhile, and then it would be just a mess...
If only someone had gotten Joe some medical attention instead of leaving his care to a puppy...
Ken begs Nambu to take the chance on the centrifuge. So, of course, Nambu does.
Then we go to commercial.
When we return, the Narrator drops in and explains that the high speed centrifuge is a simulation device used to train astronauts to be able to withstand the gravitational pull that occurs when leaving Earth's atmosphere. Or in other words, G-Forces. *g*
Hey, even though this one didn't make it into Battle of the Planets, there's still some space stuff in there!
As the Narrator explains this, we see the device in question, so I guess this means that everyone is now at Cape Canaveral or the Johnson Space Center in Houston or this show's equivalent to that. The Narrator tells those of us who have tuned in late, that the KNT begged Nambu to use this simulation training device as a means to perform a delicate brain operation on Joe, because he's got shrapnel in his head.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this. Joe needs to get this piece of metal out of his noggin. Dr. Nambu, who somehow perfected or harnessed the technology to use radio waves to cause people to change into bird suits when the magic words are said and have a ship that can both fly and go under water and turn into a firebird, can't do brain surgery to extract a piece of metal from someone's head, so he decides to toss Joe into a centrifuge, hoping that it might work????
Some guys are bringing Joe in, and now he's got a bandage wrapped around his head, but his hair still looks nice and not matted with blood or dirt or goop or anything you might have your hair matted with if you took shrapnel to your head. So they can stand around him and talk and not get him help, but they somehow manage to wash the blood and whatever fleshy bits might have gotten stuck in Joe's hair.
How's that for priorities...
The guys strap Joe down to this table thing, and then a light blinks at him, and then this glass cover shuts over him and then someone pulls a lever and Joe starts spinning around. Nothing is happening, so Nambu orders the guy running the whirly thing to ramp up the centrifugal force to six times what it is now. So the guys do what Nambu asks, and then Nambu orders him kick up the centrifugal force ten notches. The guy says that's crazy and if they do it anymore, Joe's body could be torn to pieces. Nambu tells him to do it anyway.
The guy does it and the whirly thing whirls faster and it's actually making me dizzy watching it and ticking me off a bit because I can't get a good screen shot of Joe spinning around in this thing, since not only did they wrap a bandage around his head, but also around his eyes, too. Maybe that's to keep his eyeballs from popping out of his skull. I'm really surprised that blood hasn't started coming out of the head wound and the other orifices in Joe's body and I'm also surprised that we don't see brains oozing out of the guy's head.
Is it too late for a second opinion?
The other members of the KNT are watching this in shock and eventually they can't watch anymore and they have to turn away. Nambu is working up quite the sweat. An alarm goes off, and someone has the sense to turn off the damn centrifuge and put poor Joe out of his misery (and I don't mean like that! ).
The others run up to Nambu and go "Hakase!"
Then there's a dramatic pause as we see Nambu's back.
Then there's another dramatic pause as we see the KNT.
Then there's another dramatic pause as we cut back to Nambu.
And another pause. KNT.
Finally, we cut the tension when Nambu turns around and says that putting Joe in the Gravitron as an alternative to brain surgery did not work.
You know, maybe this could have been avoided if someone had GOTTEN CONDOR JOE SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION RIGHT AWAY!
Anyway, of course, the KNT are sad, but then someone runs in and says that the Mole Mech has reappeared.
So, it was around dawn when Joe took the shrapnel to his head. It's now night time again, because we know that the Mole Mech doesn't like sunlight. I sure hope that it's winter where there are fewer hours of daylight and that it's not summer, because that's just way too long to wait to see to Joe's head injury.
Nambu gives the order to go and take care of the Mole Mech.
Jinpei refuses to do it because they have to leave Joe behind. Jun says she doesn't want to leave when Joe could die. Ken, bows his head, which to me, and maybe it's just me, isn't entirely in sadness, and if it is done in sadness, it isn't over Joe.
Ryu agrees that he doesn't want to leave Joe behind, either. Then they all wait for Ken to give his answer.
Ken doesn't give them the answer they were expecting or hoping for. Ken starts heading for the door. The others are all, "Ken!" and Ken says, "I'm going." And before anyone else can say anything, Ken points out that Joe probably wouldn't like it if he knew they were sitting around wringing their hands over him when they should be out trying to stop Galactor (as opposed to standing around, wringing their hands, and acting like he already died before bothering to get Joe some medical attention). And I really think that if Joe did die from this shrapnel in his head and he made it into the Hereafter, he'd be royally torqued off that his teammates didn't try and fulfill Joe's vendetta against Galactor for him since he died and couldn't do it himself.
Ken doesn't say that part of it, though, but I bet he's thinking it. Ryu and Jun realize that Ken is right and hang their heads. Jinpei, is still sitting down and being stubborn. Then Nambu, using a little negative reinforcement, says "Aren't you the Science Ninja Team?"
Ken heads for the door, and after a second, Jun and Ryu follow him. Jinpei is all "Fine, we'll go." He leaves. Nambu vows to save Joe no matter what. Then we cut back to the centrifuge and we see that Joe isn't out cold. He heard everything, and we know this because he lifts his head up.
And of course, the Mole Mech is wreaking havoc and the conventional military can't do squat. The KNT has trouble with the Mole Mech, too, since they're a member short and they can't fire the Bird Missiles because the G-2 is missing. Ryu says that they don't stand a chance. Ken tells Ryu that he's on crack. Well, not in those exact words, but the sentiment is the same. And as a good leader, or one that knows they don't stand a chance but needs to jack up the troops anyway, would do, he tells the others not to give up because Joe is absent. Ken says that they'll still win.
The others burst Ken's bubble. Jinpei points out that without Joe's G-2, they cannot fire the Bird Missiles or turn into the firebird. Jun asks Ken why he's trying to fight "this thing" which I guess means don't ignore the fact that because of this flaw in the design, they're up a small body of water consisting of human waste products sans paddle. Ken's eyes do that weird wiggly thing and his lips are trembling.
Then we cut to Joe, who has managed to unstrap himself from the centrifuge and is getting out without anyone looking. Since he's got a piece of metal lodged in his brain, Joe isn't walking too straight, but he manages to get himself out of that room and to the door. But before he makes it out the door, he falls and then he drags himself to the G-2, which is still transformed into the Formula One car it becomes when Joe is in uniform, even though Joe is not in uniform.
Huh? I thought one was tied to the other, except for the God Phoenix. Even Jinpei's tank gets a civilian mode.
Anyway, Ms. Ann's admiration for Condor Joe went up quite a bit. Stubborn young cuss, ain't he?
Then they pan to his face, which is covered in sweat and he says, "Damn..."
Back to the GP which is trying hard to evade the Mole Mecha. The Mole Mecha shoots lasers out of its eyes, which reminds me of an extremely cheesy movie I once saw on the Sci-Fi Channel that wasn't one of those craptacular Sci-Fi Pictures Originals. Ms Ann was so amused by it that she ordered a copy on Amazon.com and waited patiently while the movie was put on backorder until she could have it for her very own. This movie was called Starlight and it should have been a forgettable movie about aliens. Someone forgot to tell the producers that, because this movie had a memorable character that looked like a gay elderly alien whose uniform consisted of a backless jumpsuit made of silver lamé. The other memorable thing about this movie is that it also had Rae Dawn Chong in it, and she kept her clothes on throughout the entire film. But the most memorable thing about this movie was that it starred Willie Nelson (yes, that Willie Nelson) as a Native American (and he looks nothing like an American Indian at all), who opened a portal to another dimension to help save his grandson's Catatonic Mommy (who went Catatonic by having sex with the elderly gay alien in the silver lamé backless jumpsuit) by shooting lasers from his eyes at a totem pole. Ms. Ann thinks Willie got those powers by smoking some of that special weed, and now she wonders if maybe Galactor fuels this Mole Mech by burning marijuana in its fuel tank.
Ms. Ann swears upon her giant 12" Medicom Figure of Condor Joe that she does not partake in the wacky weed like Willie Nelson does. Ms Ann does not take interesting medication, either. No kids, Ms. Ann is just weird like that. But weirdness, they say, leads to creativity...
Yes, I have a Condor Joe action figure. In fact, I have two of them. Three, if you count the Kubrick set of the Science Ninja Team and Nambu. The big one came with a gun, a replica G-2 in civilian mode, and a plastic feather shuriken. Two of them actually were labeled as "Jason" figures from Battle of the Planets, but they were originally sold as Condor Joe action figures in Japan, and no, nothing was censored (and I don't mean that in a perverted way, so minds outta the gutter!). They just changed the packaging.
Yes, Ms Ann O'Malley is a Fan Girl. Laugh if you must, but my Condor Joes kick your Precious Moments figurines asses any day!
And yes, that was digression. Anyway...
The eyebeam hits the GP in the exhaust and the then Commander Mole taunts the KNT, which never defeats them. I think it just inspires them to kick Galactor's collective ass twice as hard. "The end is near," cackles Commander Mole. "Say your prayers!"
Sorry. Couldn't resist!
So anyway, Ken is having none of that, because there is no way he is going to injure his pride and lose to someone who looks as silly as Commander Mole does. But then some doors open up on the Mole Mech, and this Mech starts shooting Mole Missiles out of its tracheotomy hole. And they hit the GodPhoenix.
Ken orders Ryu to go full speed ahead, but Ryu says it's impossible, which means the KNT are just heading further up that proverbial creek made from human waste and they still haven't found their paddle.
No pun intended.
The GodPhoenix is flying upside down but Ryu manages to reach some buttons and rights the ship. Then Jun tells Ken to have a look at this (the monitor), and what do we see but a certain blue Formula One race car.
Ken is all "Joe!" and he and Jun look at each other as if to say that Joe is one crazy M-F'er for risking his life and driving that car in his condition.
And Fan Girls everywhere are thinking how Brave Condor Joe is for doing this! *sigh*
Ken orders Ryu to switch on the TV screen, which proves my theory that Ryu and Tiny sit and watch movies and stuff like that when they're left behind and not napping (although I've never seen Tiny nap on the Phoenix).
Ryu switches it on and we see a bigger shot of the G-2 driving and then Nambu comes on the other screen to say that Joe has gone missing and that if he's still alive..."
If he's still alive? If he's not, then who in the hell is driving the G-2? Or maybe the G-2 is like KITT from Knight Rider? Hmmm...
Anyway, Nambu says, "If he's still alive, I'm sure he's headed your way, wringing out his last ounce of strength. When he gets there, I leave it up to you."
Ken replies, "I understand. Time to combine!"
Ryu says, "Roger" and then he begins to lower the gripper arms to pick up Joe. Joe, however, is driving erratically, which is understandable since he's got that head injury, so that makes it a little harder for Ryu to get him. But he does, and then the G-2 is raised up to its position in the nose of the ship and the nosecone shuts over it.
Then the Mole Mech pulls another Willie Nelson and hits the GP. Joe comes in through the sliding door, but he's not in uniform. He makes it out of the door, but he falls down, since he's got this piece of metal touching the most sensitive part of his brain and all.
Joe falls, and Ken and Jun manage to catch him. Ken tells Joe to hang in there. Jun says that at this rate, Joe will die. Joe says not to worry about him and that the KNT should destroy the Mole Mech by using the firebird. Ken says, no because Joe's body can't withstand the Firebird right now, which is true, because all of them can barely tolerate it when they're healthy.
Then Joe begins his Big Speech, that big speech a character gives when he or she knows that they are going to die and stuff like that. Joe says, "The fragment in my head won't come out. I know I am going to die. I don't want my death to be wasted."
Fan Girls everywhere are hoping, just hoping that Condor Joe makes it through this alive! We can't lose Our Hero® ! We can't!!!!!!
Then he says, "Ken."
And then we cut to Ken, who has tears in his eyes and says, "Joe" . Ken can't hold back the tears and they fall and one of them lands on Joe's face. Then Jun starts crying, but none of her tears lands on Joe, because Joe says, "Jun! It hurts!" and he clutches his head. Jun is all "Joe!" and Joe says "It hurts!".
Then Ken says, "Joe, when we die, we die together, okay, but when he says it, he barks it out because it's an order. Ryu then says that he doesn't see the mole tank anywhere. Ken tells Ryu to lower his altitude and Ryu does and then the Mole Mech's mechanical hand/paw rises out of the ground. Ryu tries to get away, but the Mole Mech catches the GP in its paw. Ryu goes, "It's going to crush us!" and Ken says in Japanese "Shimatta" which means "Damn!" Then Ken and Ryu both have a hand on a big lever but nothing happens, since Commander Mole cackles at them and then Ryu says that they're only option now is the Bird Missiles. Jinpei says that they can't because they're too close.
Did someone say Bird Missiles?
Who should come dragging his dying self up to the Big Red Button but Joe. Ken, though, is wondering if Joe can take the force when the Bird Missile hits because they're so close to their target. Ken doesn't want to kill his friend. Then Ryu goes "Joe!" And then we see Joe, on the floor, reaching up to push the Big Red Button. Then Ken is all "Joe!" and Jinpei goes "Aniki!" and then Joe pushes the Big Red Button in this big dramatic moment, since he's dying and all that stuff. The missile hits the Mole Mech and the Mole Mech lets go of the GP and acts like it's choking before it blows up. The GodPhoenix goes spinning out of control from the force of the explosion.
Ken manages to right the ship, and then he turns around to see Jun hovering over Joe, who is lying on the ground and not looking too good, I might add. Ken goes running over to them, and he kicks something along the way and that something goes "ching!" Ken stops, picks it up, and realizes that it's the piece of shrapnel that was lodged in Joe's brain. He goes, "Joe, it's out!"
Then Jinpei does this cheer. In the meantime, Jun is trying to pick up Joe (physically, not the other way, you silly). Ken goes, "We were able to defeat the mole tank, thanks to you!"
Then Joe asks about the puppy he saved. Nambu says that's its fine and then we see Nambu holding the puppy. "So long as the fragment's out," Nambu says. "I can save Joe from the rest of his wounds."
And that noise you just heard was the collective sigh of relief heaved by the Condor Joe Estrogen Brigade. ;-)
And then Nambu reminds them and us, that the KNT can only show its true force when all five of them are together. "So don't forget the way you feel now," he tells the team. And the puppy barks happily, too.
Then we pan over the team. Ken and Jun are with Joe in the back of the GP's cockpit and Jinpei and Ryu are in the front. The narrator says "The monster attacks are growing worse and worse." Then they cut to Joe with his bandaged head. The Narrator continues, "But as long as the Science Ninja Team exists, Galactor's day will never come!" Then the GodPhoenix flies off into the sunset.
A Few Thoughts from Ms. Ann
This is the first non-BotP episode I've reviewed. When I say non-BoTP, I mean that there was never an episode of that show where G-Force did battle with a Horrifying Space Dachshund (even though it looks more rodent than canine, but then again Battle of the Planets was always funny that way about the animal names for the Spectran mechs) and Jason risked his life to save a puppy.
A lot of people think that this is a very stupid episode and I agree with them. Joe risking his life to save a puppy is the least stupid thing about it. The fact that the Science Ninja Team stood over Joe and went on and on and on about him being dead instead of getting him medical attention bothered me more than Joe saving the puppy (if you couldn't tell already). But the stupidest thing about this episode that bothered me more than both the puppy saving and the hand wringing is the whole bit with the centrifuge. GAH!
However, this is episode does not get the title of "Ms. Ann's Choice for Cheesiest Gatchaman Episode Ever". That honor goes to Episode #66 where the Science Ninja Team goes to some European-esque country whose chief exports are haute couture, a less violent form of roller derby, and the country's monarch goes by the name of Princess Flake.
The producers then did something sneaky (which they also did in #66). Amid all of the groan-inducing scenes and plot points and other things that make you want to bang your head against a brick wall, they manage to sneak in a very important point about the character that happens to be front and center of that particular episode. In this case, those sneaky producers remind us that Joe does experience feelings other than anger and vengeance and he is not a cold-hearted person.