Best. Swordfight. Ever.
No, seriously, take every bit of light saber play from the Star Wars prequels, roll it all up into one fifteen-minute-long fight sequence, multiply it by any random Errol Flynn movie, and you *still* don’t have half the awesome in the swordfight here.
And on top of awesome, it’s cool, too. (Those are separate things when done improperly)
PLAY BY PLAY
Once upon a time, shortly before this entire series began, Princess Illana is on a good will tour, dedicating a new school. She’s approached by a little girl who’s lost her pet, and Illana decides to blow off her schedule to climb down a well and rescue the xeno-kitty. “There’s always a well,” her bodyguard says. Evidently this happens a lot.
Meanwhile, on one of Galaluna’s indeterminate number of moons, a hostage situation is playing out. Lance’s squad is keeping watch on it. Lance wants to go in and resolve things, but his officious popinjay commander refuses. Lance goes in anyway, and finds the hostages are already dead. He overhears the “Bandits” (In fact, Mutradi) discussing plans to invade. Officious Popinjay leads the troops in, and finds Lance surrounded by dead bodies. He arrests the corporal, blaming him with insubordination which led to the deaths of the hostages.
Back on Galaluna, Lance is thrown in the dungeon again. He tries to explain what happened to the king - this is not the first infraction by a long shot - but the king has had enough, and turns his back on Lance.
The invasion starts. Illana and Hobbes, her bodyguard, make a desperate race back to the palace while the king fights a futile battle in the ruins. Lance escapes from jail and discovers the invasion is actually a coup headed by….the officious popinjay. Saw that coming, how ‘bout you? ‘Course ya’ did. Your mom and I have been watching you. You’re smart. Sure, some of the other parents think you smoke crack, but I know better.
Anyway, there follows a massive, gorgeous, astounding swordfight that I won’t even attempt to describe here because the mere attempt to express it in words would be an affront to pokey, stabby things everywhere.
Everyone gets to the palace just in time for the king to realize how wrong he was, and entrust his daughter to Lance. He gives them Octus, and puts them in the escape pod, and off they go.
The end (And of course also the beginning)
This is the second flashback story they’ve done, and unlike most shows there was no frame story to set it up. You could watch this episode immediately prior to the first episode, and it would work just as well. I kinda’ like that.
Wiki informs me that we’re still in the first season of this series, by the way.
Hobbes didn’t apparently die, though he was shot up pretty bad. The guards seemed more interested in getting the princess out than they were in saving her bodyguard, which, of course, makes sense. They just left him in the wreck. I wonder if we’ll see him again.
I like how the king (Who’s still unnamed) wasn’t about to give in gracefully. He’s there, surrounded by his men, big gun in hand, killing people and taking names. And he’s a fairly old man at that, but very brave, very noble, very inspiring, very stiff upper lip and Teutonic at the same time. I love Tartakovsky’s shot compositions in this sequence, it’s like a 1930s propaganda poster come to life. I love his style in general - though it never really completely grabbed me until this show - but this one particular sequence just raises something in you, you know? You don’t just see it, you feel it.
We finally get a glimmer of character development for Illana: she rescues strays. We’ll see where this goes. She was very close with her bodyguard, too. Now that he’s been retroactively introduced, I wonder if this will have more repercussions.
Lance’s face is unusually hyper expressive this time out. Generally he’s rather moody and stoical, even in fights, but here he’s all gee-gosh-wow, wild-eyed amazement, beaming smiles or shattering frowns, bing, bang, boom, one after another. I’m sure there’s a reason for this, but I’m not sure what it is. If I had to guess, I’d say it was probably to show how he was more emotionally open prior to the loss of his homeworld, or maybe just slightly younger and a lot more naïve. Either way, it was a bit distracting.
I thought the Mutradi ships looked like Warhammer vehicles, but my kids felt they looked like Shadow Hybrids from Crusade. I think that’s unlikely since it only showed up once, and no one ever watched Crusade anyway. Still, Genndy, if you’re out there, and this was an homage, let us know!
I liked Illana’s rocket and the escape pod, both were one part Flash Gordon and one part 18th century French filigree. I’d praise the visual design of the show, but, hey, Tartakovsky, right? That’s like saying “The sky is unusually full of air today.”
And that’s that. I presume Octus will eventually get a flashback episode of his own.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?
Aytche-eee-double-ell yes, we will! The concept of a good leader betrayed from within is written on all our fears, as is the strange nobility of the individual being the last chance of his people, and fighting a rearguard action against the death of hope itself.
And if you’re *REALLY* super-conservative, you’ll like it supporting monarchy.