Episode Review: 'Seals of Sytron' by UnpublishedWriter
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Seals of Sytron
Battle of the Planets, Episode Thirty-Nine
Gatchaman Episode #45, The Sea Lion Ninja Team in the Night Fog
DVD and Veoh episode #38

Review/Summary: Establishing shot, with the three fish. And the inevitable Zark: “Center Neptune is the hotline to outer space. We keep in constant touch with the entire universe down here.” [The entire universe, Zark? According to Wikipedia, the portion observable from Earth is 92 BILLION light years across. No matter which theory of the universe is correct, that’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of its size.]

Zark in his ready room, lying back on his little slab. “It’s steady, grueling work that demands great cybernetic skill. Of course, I do get a second or two for a breather now and again.” [Oh, good. We wouldn’t want you to strain a line or two of code, Zark.]

Wait: Susan’s calling. She sounded like a grown-up last episode, let’s see if she still does. [I’m still recovering from her sounding like a 10-year-old a few episodes back.]

Susan: “7. Zark. 7.”

Zark: “Center Neptune Control. Off duty.” [No giggling. No verbal stumbling about. No antenna erections. Umm, does he not want to talk to her?]

Susan: “I hate to bother you – when you’re resting.”

Zark [antennae poing]: “Susan! You never bother me. I mean, you always bother me. What I mean is, I like it.” [Back to the verbal fumbling.] “It’s nice to know you’re wanted, and needed.”

Susan: “You are. You’re wanted on monitor right away. There’s an emergency warning from the Cosmic Patrol, and they need your lightning-fast estimation of the danger.” [Because mere mortals can’t judge when the shit hits the fan. And what else is Zark ‘lightning fast’ at doing? Brain bleach!]

Zark: “That’s not exactly what I meant, but thank you, Susan.”

Susan: “Bye.”

Zark: “Her voice is so thrilling.” [A little too thrilling for the show’s age range, if you ask me. This flirting was supposed to be more acceptable than the original’s violence.] “It sends my audio receptors up a thousand decibels.” [Okay, I need to look up decibels, now, because I suspect that sentence makes no sense, even in context.]

(Zark is in his tube.) “When she turns on her tweeter, it just destroys my woofer.” [Never mind looking up decibels. The scriptwriters were just plugging in words as they went along. Guess there was no time for the sound guys to suggest script changes.]

He arrives in his Nerve Center, and flies to his favorite control panel.

“I wonder what the problem is this time.” [I thought you knew it all, Zark.] “It’s always something different. It always comes from the same old place: Planet Spectra.”

Lots of blinky stuff on the four monitors. “Yes, I’m beginning to get readings of alien invaders heading for Earth. And they seem to be targeted for an area in the South Pacific.”

At last. Gatchaman animation. A greenish-blue haze fills the screen, but as the camera moves in, we see the outlines of an island. “That island,” Zark tells us, “is named Sytron, a remote place inhabited only by seals. But, in the secret files of the Intergalactic Federation, it’s known as Project Zulu [‘Zulu’ is radio code for the letter ‘Z’], one of the most important areas on Earth.” As the camera now pans over a fog-shrouded beach covered with seals. “For this is where Earth’s total supply of galactite hydronium is mined and stored.”

And now we see an ominous-looking aircraft with a Spectra symbol on one wing overhead.

Inside are two goons, and the one with the binoculars doesn’t seem to be using them right. They aren’t up to his eyes.

Quick view of the jungle below, as seen through binoculars, then back to ground-level to watch the aircraft fly overhead.

Full missile-racks deploy rapidly. Looks like the Federation takes defending this place seriously.

As the missile batteries open fire (and miss), one goon says, “Zoltar was right: this is the place.”

They dodge the missiles, and come upon what looks like a mine entrance. “Let’s teach these Earthlings the lesson they need,” says one.

“It’s been a long search,” says the second. “I will enjoy this.” Although he doesn’t sound too happy. More lively than Ben Stein, but not much expression in his voice.

Guns now fire at the Spectra craft. It just seems to zip past the emplacement, and the weapons explode.

Grippers emerge from the bottom of the enemy plane. It swoops over something, breaking it, and snatching up a container. Then it flies off.

Yep. That’s it. That’s the ‘lesson’ those two taught us Earthlings. [Why do I have the feeling Skeletor did more damage on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe?]

Zarkover: “Galactite hydronium is the fuel that powers our spacecraft and holds our force fields together. Now Spectra has it all.” As the camera shows us much more damage than the Spectrans were shown inflicting.

[How can Spectra have it all? Did those two steal the last little bit that had been extracted? Then the Federation is screwed.]

And now for the Luminous One and Zoltar. His Purpleness holds a transparent container 18 – 24 inches long, with some sort of crystal-looking thing inside. “Earth’s galactite hydronium, Oh Spirit. It was where you said it would be.” [So, the LO told Zoltar, who then told his soldiers?]

“Well done, Zoltar. You shall be rewarded.”

“My reward is to serve you. Command.” Keep saying it, Zoltar. Don’t know what the Luminous One is, but it seems to me that any entity powerful enough to slow your planet’s demise is one to keep very, very happy.

“You hold the destruction of Earth in your hands, Zoltar. Use it.”

Zoltar looks a bit surprised, now. “This capsule?”

Exposition time, and instead of Zark, it’s the Luminous One. “Without this capsule of super-concentrated power, Earthlings are helpless. Their rocket ships will be grounded, their cities will be open to conquer. This is the moment we have awaited. First we shall take Earth, then the rest of the galaxy shall fall. And do not return until it is done.” [So, to explain the importance of this stuff, they made Zoltar look like an uninformed dolt.]

“As you say, O Luminous One.”

Cut to an undersea shot of submarine vehicles inspired by jellyfish. There’s a saucer-shaped upper part, with tentacles dangling downwards.

Now for fevered voice-over from Zark: “Is this the end of Earth? Spectra roaming our planet at will?” (To a shot of more aircraft.) “Are we destined to be conquered by an alien race?” [Stop the faux suspense already! Viewers already know the answer.] “The only thing that can save us is G-Force. But right now, unfortunately, they’re on another emergency mission to far outer space.” [Yep, without G-Force, the military might of the Federation might as well be kids with water pistols. Five teenagers are the only thing between us and conquest. Please.]

And after all that build-up, it turns out that G-Force is returning to Earth. Zark clears them for re-entry and tells them they must go to Sytron Island. The waters are teeming with alien submarines. And to make certain the audience gets it, he recaps what just happened (although in this case, it’s a necessary briefing for the team).

Yep. Zoltar has the only supply of galactite hydronium, and has thus effectively grounded Earth’s space-borne defenses, so where does he choose to start the invasion of Earth? At the same tiny little island in the Pacific from which they stole the last pound or so of the stuff. Not a nation’s capitol city, or a militarily strategic area, or even just carpet-bombing the planet. An island in the South Pacific. One that has no more value because its one resource is tapped out. If he was determined to attack an island, the Philippines are nearby. American military forces are stationed there. It would be a proper fight, at least.

Now for the Phoenix in flight. On a monitor screen inside, the team sees a half-dozen ships. Princess comments that they don’t look alien or strange. Mark tells her those are sub-chasers, sent out to find any alien submarines. [The U.S. Navy can track submarines. I can’t tell you how, because that’s classified. And guess who narrated one of the training videos the class watched?] Jason’s sure that Zoltar’s men are down there, doing their own searching.

[Those ‘sub-chasers’ don’t have so much as harpoon guns on board, and they have cranes on deck. In later shots, we see large cargo hatches between the cranes. These are not combat vessels. In the U.S. Navy, frigates chase submarines.]

Back to the jellyfish submarines. The way those tendrils are hanging down makes me wonder how quickly they can maneuver.

The leader of the submarine squadron is much better dressed than Typhon (of the previous episode), but still odd-looking. He wears what looks like a red-and-purple toque with wings on his head (in addition to a blue mask), a blue and red outfit, and some sort of pectoral (that, or he beat Flava Flav to the clock thing).

The submarines and the ships searching for them have just met. Torpedoes away.

I suspect editing for content.

Princess reports that the sub-chasers have been torpedoed. Mark orders a landing.

Next shot is all the ships but one in flames, and the Phoenix floating nearby. G-Force is on the ship. The dialogue implies that the team somehow saved this last ship from being sunk. All the crews of the other ships are on this one. [Yeah, right. Never say die unless there’s no way around it.]

More dumb dialogue about stopping Spectra or Earth is finished. WE GET IT, OKAY?

Nobody calls for reinforcements, or reports what’s happened. We don’t even have Zark reassuring us that help is on the way. Does Galaxy Security operate on the cheap?

The Phoenix is flying escort for the surviving ship. The aerial view clearly shows large cargo doors on the deck, something not found on combat vessels.

Next view is the Phoenix in flight, and the camera pans upwards into the clouds to reveal a dragonfly mecha surrounded by a number of Spectra attack fighters. The mecha has its high-beams on.

Where is all-seeing, all-knowing Zark? Why hasn’t he alerted G-Force? Are there any reinforcements coming?

Zoltar is on the mecha, and gloating about the Great Spirit’s kindness in handing him G-Force, followed by reminding us that with the team out of the way, there’s nothing to prevent the conquest of Earth. [So that means the Cosmic Patrol and any military forces are just a bunch of useless drains on taxpayers? No good at all except to get killed?] “Prepare to attack.”

Oh, good, Princess was watching her sensors. She reports ‘aliens upstairs, not transmitting Solar System code.” [So what is this code? Some sort of transponder signal that identifies friendlies?]

Mark deduces that it’s Zoltar. Come on. With only a few questionable exceptions, it’s always Zoltar (if you consider ‘Zoltar’ to equal ‘Spectra’). He orders Tiny to activate the repellor screen. [And is that some sort of deflector shield that we’ll only ever see in this episode?]

The nose panels retract, revealing Jason’s car and two nozzles. An orangish mist sprays around them and the ship. Interesting definition of ‘screen’, there.

We have a shot of a surprised goon looking at a radar screen with several blobs on it, then a sudden cut (to judge by the music change) to a Spectra attack fighter firing missiles. The missiles go haywire, and one chases a plane.

A goon reports the missiles are attacking their own ships, and says that ‘G-Force must have fouled up the heat sensors.’

Zoltar orders them out of range before the missiles can destroy them all. [Missiles and torpedoes do have fuses set to destroy them if they travel too long without hitting a target. The idea is to reduce the chances of hitting an unintended target in the case of a miss.]

Mark says the Spectrans are going for another run on Sytron. Keyop mentions the miners. Princess says they can’t leave the ship below undefended: that could be what Zoltar wants. [Since, in the BotP universe, sub-chasers look like cargo ships, I understand completely.]

Wait: when did this become a rescue mission? Or had it been one from the beginning? Zark didn’t say so. Just talk about alien submarines.

Jason suggests that one of them go to the island in the mini-sub.

Keyop volunteers, and does not mention his size as a qualification. Mark’s not certain.

After checking a chart, Jason says that once Keyop passes the Mindanao Trench, he should have a straight run to Sytron. [According to Wikipedia, this is also known as the Philippine Trench, and is east of the Philippine Islands. It’s the result of the collision of tectonic plates. Since the line is about passing the Trench, they could actually be north or south of the Trench itself, and to the east or west of it. Given that the island is in the South Pacific, there are still many possibilities for its location.]

Now Keyop humiliates himself by bragging of his strength and hurting himself trying to make a muscle. Although if you blink, you’ll miss the wince.

Next shot is Keyop’s Star Buggy being lowered from its bay. [So it’s now a mini-sub?]

The treads on the Star Buggy move when it’s under water. Huh?

Those Spectran jellyfish-like subs move in, firing missiles and grabbing him with their tentacles. He dodges the missiles and uses the blade attachment to cut the tentacles. [Why doesn’t the Star Buggy fill with water? Hell, where does all that fit in there?] He loses them by burrowing into the seafloor. Using a saw blade. Not even the drill, which makes more sense.

Meanwhile, the dragonfly mecha and the planes have reached Sytron Island. Zoltar orders every human driven underground and captured [because dying is not an option on children’s shows in America].

Beams from the mecha’s ‘eyes’ burn circles of jungle. The planes attack the automated weapons systems. The resident seals (largely unseen until now) flee into the water.

Zoltar orders another attack, and to make certain nothing escapes.

The next shot is men in blue outfits huddling in a tunnel. One drops to his knees. His mouth moves, but we don’t hear any words.

A foggy beach. The Star Buggy comes out of the water and Keyop gets out. He looks around, and sees nothing but odd-shaped rocks. As he creeps forward, he puts a hand on a seal. Still unable to see, he feels it, and realizes it’s an animal, not a goon or a rock.

For their part, the seals neither attack nor flee in panic (both plausible reactions under the circumstances). One taps him on the shoulder with a flipper, and he realizes he’s surrounded. Then some lick him with their tongues. He’s briefly distracted, then remembers the miners and heads off.

Commercial break.

And Zark at his favorite console. He tells us that Keyop took on a big job by himself, and will be a real genius if he can figure out how to get the miners to safety. [What? No claim to have devised a plan to do that, Zark? Are you malfunctioning?]

Back on the island, Keyop finds the mine entrance. A man armed with a rifle mistakes him for a Spectran (it is dark and foggy). With many noises, Keyop tells them he’s G-Force, to their understandable surprise.

He calls Mark with a report (and for some reason, he feels he has to hide that he’s doing this), and Mark warns him that Zoltar’s on his way back. He gets an idea.

Zoltar, on the dragonfly mecha, says this will be the last attack before they land. Launch rockets on his command.

The dragonfly breaks up into self-propelled segments. An incredible number of bombs drop from each one (given the size of the bombs, each segment should hold only about two to four – if we want room for the controls, flight engines, and fuel). They carpet-bomb the island.

Seals leave the island. The automated defenses open fire.

Next shot is a line of armed goons, with Zoltar, in front of the now-landed mecha.

Goon search parties discover that the defenses are unmanned and there’s nobody on the island. Zoltar orders another search.

The seals in the ocean. Below them and hanging on, wearing swim briefs and scuba gear, are the miners.

And, just in case we haven’t figured it out, Zark comes on to praise Keyop’s ingenuity and to explain that the seals are allowing the humans to swim beneath them.

In his Star Buggy, Keyop has a pinniped guest.

Zoltar is pissed. The Luminous One punishes failure. Humans must be found. If not the miners, then others. [Do we want to know why? Really?]

At the ship, the seals are all bobbing in the water, barking up at a line of waving shadows along the rail.

On the wing of the Phoenix, Princess also praises Keyop’s idea, and Jason teases that they’ll have to live with a genius.

Keyop hugs his seal buddy and says, “Partners.”

Mark says they have to escort the ship home before Zoltar comes back.

We all know that it’s too late to avoid Zoltar, and the proof comes as the dragonfly mecha takes off from Sytron Island and reconstitutes.

The ship starts moving, and the rescued miners wave again to the happy seals who bark farewell.

Aboard the Phoenix, Princess goes to Keyop, who’s hiding in his seat. As she sympathizes with him about missing the seal, she discovers that it didn’t join the others in the ocean. [This is Keyop, Princess. You should have expected this.]

Keyop swears the seal followed him. Princess tells him that the first chance they get, he’s going back to his mother.

Surrounded by the spray-like ‘repellor shield’, the ship and the Phoenix head for home.

And the Spectrans are right behind them. Zoltar utters some technobabble about laser search beams. A goon reports a ship with aerial escort, projecting a repellor screen. Zoltar wonders if they can repel their submarines.

Underwater we go, for a shot of the jellyfish subs.

We aren’t told how Mark knows to do this, but he orders Tiny to submerge. They stop spraying repellor, seal up the nose, and take the fight to the submarines. [Leaving the sub chaser vulnerable to aerial attack.]

Between firing missiles and just bulling through the formations, G-Force destroys the submarines.

They surface to find the rescue ship in enemy hands.

Zoltar demands their surrender – unless they want to see the ship completely destroyed. They will come out unarmed.

Mark tells his comrades to be ready for anything, and they head up to the dome. The seal is with them.

A brief shot of the team, with their weapons in front of them on the elevator of the Phoenix.

Zoltar does some gloating, and tells them they shall feel the wrath of the Great Spirit.

We see guns aimed at the team.

The rescuees look on in horror.

G-Force glares defiantly. Keyop nudges the seal, who dives over the side.

This distracts the Spectrans a split-second, long enough for G-Force to grab their weapons and deliver a righteous (if edited) ass-kicking. Zoltar, as always, runs away, and jumps into an escape ship which had formed the tip of the dragonfly’s tail, just avoiding Mark’s boomerang.

He orders the other aircraft to attack ‘Spectra Unit Six Nine.’ The mecha. Which has a numerical designation that would invite humor if I could think of anything.

The others attack. G-Force ducks into the mecha, and Tiny has a hell of a time figuring out the controls. At one point, he causes the segments to separate. He does manage to fly the winged section, but can’t find the weapons. Strangely, the Spectrans’ own missiles have no effect on the mecha. Finally, he spots a rather obvious Red Button, and presses it.

The same beam that burned the jungle now takes out the Spectra attack fighters. Free of the stress, Tiny reconstitutes the mecha.

Next scene is the ship, and the Phoenix towing the mecha. Yes, they have an intact Spectran mecha to study, now. And the seal frolics in the ocean.

For some reason, the seal’s now aboard the Phoenix. Keyop asks about a medal for the beastie, and Princess agrees he earned it. Mark agrees.

Zark has to put in his two cents in the voice-over. The entire team deserves medals. They defeated Zoltar and captured his spaceship and crew, and recovered the galactite hydronium. [When did they do that? I thought it had all been stolen in that first attack. It’s on Spectra. I thought. Did Zoltar bring it with him to Earth?]

Now for Zark and Rover. And Zark burbled on: G-Force had rescued the miners and the ship and crew, and Keyop has ‘an adorable new pet.’ [Bad message to send, Zark: seals are wild animals and wild animals do not make good pets. The scriptwriters could not have had him say they returned the seal to the ocean?]

Rover yarps. Zark assures him that he’s adorable too, and Zark’s kind of pet. Then Zark wonders if Rover could learn to swim like a seal. [Not without major body work, Z.] Followed by a promise not to let Zark try until he’s completely rust-proof.

Fic Alert: Are there any other sources of galactite hydronium? If so, where?

Why were the seals so cooperative?

Science Question: Zoltar holds what must be barely a pound of the stuff, and Zark tells us it’s the entire supply. Just what characteristics would be necessary for so little of it to fuel a fleet of spacecraft?

I don’t think seals would be that cooperative, especially after terrifying attacks.

Bizarreness Alert: If all the galactite hydronium had been stolen in that first attack, why attack Sytron again? Why not attack Earth in force, and attack more valuable locations?

Gatchaman Plot: On Sea Lion Island, a coral island in the North Sea (rare, but such do exist), the ISO has mined a substance called kaenine, which yields more power than uranium. Galactor finds out about it, and attacks the mining operation, stealing some of the kaenine. The miners are in trouble.

Unknown to Galactor, the mining is finished. Dr. Nambu is concerned with rescuing the miners and dispatches rescue ships, with the Science Ninja Team as guards. Playing minder annoys the team, and they aren’t as vigilant as they could be. The Galactor attack catches them by surprise, so they’re only able to save one ship.

Now giving it their ‘A’ game, the team sprays chaff to fool Galactor missiles into attacking Galactor craft, and sends Jinpei to get the miners off the island. He befriends the sea lions (the reason for the island’s name) and then finds the miners. He’s pissed when they mistake him for Spectra. At first, he can’t figure out how to get them off, then Ken reminds him of the sea lions. Using the animals as cover, the miners swim away during the attack.

Galactor carpet-bombs the island and when the troops land, they find the weapons are all automatic.

Berg Katse is not happy to find the island deserted. When one of his men reports the sea lions leaving, he realizes what happened, and orders an attack on the remaining rescue ship.

To some extent, the BotP episode has followed the Gatch plot, except for the ‘Spectra invasion of Earth’ element and terminology changes (and the refusal to admit anyone died). It’s much the same with the ending.

The main difference is the sea lion’s fate. Jinpei wants to keep the sea lion, but Ken says it would be better off in a zoo. Where Jinpei promises to visit it every day. In the ADV dub, G4’s voice actor, Luci Christian, gives a shout-out to Keyop: during Jinpei’s dance around the sea-lion, she has him make nonsense noises.
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