#They Don't Know About Us (Gundam Seed 17)
Treated as a giant robot show, this would be an awkward bridging episode: connecting up the plot is a necessity, but a whole week without action is a bit much. I don’t remember watching these episodes clearly (it was ten years ago now), but I remember having that kind of impression about this whole arc: too slow, too inconclusive.
As the romance fan I’ve now become, that’s less of an issue. The progressive tension between Sai, Flay and the others is handled wonderfully: what unfolds is tragedy in the classical sense, with disaster proceeding inevitably from the interaction of each character’s flaws, individually insignificant. Sai’s pride is excessive, but only slightly; Flay’s single-minded focus would be counted an asset in another series (or, one suspects, another sex). Kira’s problems seem shallow in the context of a war, but ultimately he’s a teenager forced into a war he didn’t want, against his own people, and isolated even from the friends he’s protecting. And if he’s possessive about Flay, well, she seems to appreciate his protection. If anything Kira shows a lot of maturity in the final scene (the screenshot above) - but I fear that will only serve to isolate him further.
That’s not to say this is a good episode. Flay’s actions are shown with a comically villainous slant - watching everything via screen in a darkened room, sheet around her head like a witch’s cowl - even if you dislike her character, this is lazy writing. The focus on Cagalli feels misplaced - the fateful emphasis on her “return” and meeting with Kira is something the audience simply doesn’t connect to, and I’m not even sure what it’s in aid of - I could understand forcing her into a romantic rivalry with Flay, but as far as I recall they don’t really play that angle. It all feels like there was supposed to be more backstory between them earlier, or maybe something in another medium, rather than the two-minute meeting right at the start of the series. The same problem extends to the eavesdropping scene - an overplayed device at the best of times, but why the hell should Cagalli care about which of these strangers are sleeping together? And why should we care what she thinks? The one part that’s done relatively well here is the foreshadowing of Cagalli’s own secret - again not the most original of devices, but it was enough that I cared about what she might have to hide. (I don’t remember anything from before - all I can think is that she might be a Coordinator too?)
On the whole the episode worked for me though, even as a weaker one. I appreciated the interleaving of the plotlines - it may seem odd to have Wartfeld’s attack on the town as the B plot, but it works. His moral position is an odd one - willing to attack civilians, but insisting on warning them first - but that kind of thing is ultimately going to be an ongoing theme for this show: we all draw our own lines in the sand. It’s what separates the interesting characters from, well, Deakka and Yzak.