RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Macross: “Blind Game” (Episode 10) AND: Robotech: “Blind Game” (Episode 10)

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Very shortly after the Miss Macross contest in the previous episode, the three alien spies - Konda, Rico, and Bron - are reporting in to Bretai and Exidor aboard the enemy flagship. (As is my custom, I’m going with the Robotech versions of these character’s names, as they’re more commonly known.) They yammer and argue and debate what’s going on, and they keep coming back to the beauty pageant’s contestant’s “Tiny Military Uniforms” (Swimsuits) which are obviously affecting them in some odd, new way that they can’t quite figure. This comes to blows between the spies, so Bretai calls them all idiots and tells them to get lost.

Since the spy’s data recorder was lost in the battle with Rick, they debate sending out yet another recon ship, but Exidore suggests it would probably be more useful to them at this point to have actual prisoners, though catching them will entail treating the humans more roughly than they’d previously planned. “’Roughly’ sounds promising,” Bretai says with a smile.

On the SDF-1/Macross, Captain Gloval realizes there’s no point in trying to hide since the enemy always knows where they are anyway, so he starts broadcasting reports to earth. At roughly the same time, Bretai orders them to stop jamming the human’s transmissions *From* earth, so they can listen in on the conversations, and maybe get some intel that way. The ship gets a message from headquarters that says, in essence, ’we’re building guns, keep ’em distracted from us as long as you can, given that they haven’t killed you yet, they can’t be as tough as you’re making them out to be.’ Understandably, this doesn’t go over well with the bridge crew.

Rick, Max, and Ben are in yet another of the endless fighter skirmishes with the enemy. Max takes a minor hit, and Rick wants to return to the ship for repairs, and gets into an argument with Lisa, which quickly turns scathing. Roy backs up Rick - “He’s right this time” - but chides his kohai for his insubordination. Chastened, they go back to the barn. Sometime later, in the park, Minmei stands him up, while the Bridge Bunnies tease him.

Khyron is given orders to fire a warning shot past the SDF-1, but in typical bloodthirsty insubordination, he decides to “Accidentally” shoot them instead. The attack begins with them blowing up an asteroid, then firing a barrage of blasts through the rubble field at the ship. All the shots miss, but even near misses do a lot of minor damage (MASERs, perhaps?) and the ship bucks like crazy. Then Khyron actually hit’s the command tower, and does a world of damage. Shortly after this, the asteroid fragments pommel the ship.

The ship drifts along with the fragments, debating what to do next. Lisa sees a fighter with an obviously dead pilot in the cockpit, and freaks out for a moment, thinking it’s Rick. With long-range radar destroyed in the attack, Gloval decides to send Lisa out in command of a recon mission. She’ll be in one of the cool-looking Catseye recon planes, while Rick’s team flies support.

They get attacked almost immediately, and herded towards Bretai’s ship. Attempting to get away, the Catseye is whacked by a massive asteroid fragment that kills the pilot and knocks Lisa out. She comes to as they’re being dragged into the alien vessel, and warns Rick to abandon her. Rick and company charge in to save her just the same, and they’re doing pretty good until Bretai storms in, and knocks Rick’s battleoid over with one whack. Max puts Bretai in a sleeper hold, and has Ben blast a hole in the hull, then he kicks the huge alien out. Lisa orders them to attempt to burn through the airlock so they can escape, but it’s taking quite a while.

Bretai’s not dead, however: He merely scurries along the hull of his ship until he gets to an airlock, then comes back in. Wow, he’s strong! He then scampers back to the room he got thrown out of, jumps down through the ceiling, and wails on Ben’s fighter….

To Be Continued….

OBSERVATIONS

- Why didn’t Lisa, Rick, and them just go out through the whole they’d already blown through the hull, rather than dorking around with the airlock? If, for whatever reason, they couldn’t do that, why not just blow *another* hole through the hull?

- Obviously, we’re supposed to believe that Khyron is insane, but he’s very cleverly insane, and it seems like his insanity and contempt for orders *Generally* end up furthering his people’s cause, whatever that may be. For instance, he blatantly defied an order here, but it ended up helping Bretai’s larger purpose.

- Seriously, man, Bretai is way strong! He takes on a 50-foot robot in hand to hand, and very nearly wins, gets thrown out into space, survives several minutes in vacuum while still fully functional, and then comes back fighting without any apparent incapacitation. It’s worth noting that Bretai is quite a bit taller, and evidently quite a bit stronger than any other alien we’ve seen in the show, and quite a bit more introspective as well. Conversely, his advisor, Exidore, is the shortest, weakest, and clearly the smartest one we’ve seen. I’m wondering if this will be explained later on. I know it isn’t in Robotech, but I’m wondering if Macross will throw us a bone.

- Khyron is seen drinking what looks like a glass of wine, though I don’t know how that’s possible, given what we later find out about their culture.

- Ten episodes in to the Macross original, we’ve finally been given the name of the enemy: “Zentradi.”

- Assuming they’re in the asteroid belt, which the episode implies but doesn’t state, then they’re further away from earth now than they were four episodes ago.

- It’s interesting to see that not only have the Zentradi been holding back for some as-yet-unstated reason, but they’re quite frustrated by it.

- The scenes of the command tower getting hit are really cool.

- Nice character bit: when the bridge bunnies find Rick in the park, they tease the hell out of him about being on a date and getting stood up, and ‘how pretty is she?’ and stuff, then, when they realize he actually *is* being stood up, they slink away quietly to avoid embarrassing him.

- There’s a number of animation errors in this episode, all of ‘em aboard the Zentradi flagship: The figthers go into guardian mode. When they go through the door, they’re in fighter mode, then in the next scene they’re instantly in guardian again. Max’s plane randomly changes back and forth between blue trim and a kind of odd salmony red color. When Bretai’s getting thrown out of his ship, he’s sleeves change color almost every other frame. Oh, and back in the park scene, Kim’s vest randomly changes color on the right side to match her sleeve, then back again.

- The robot videophone Rick chats on in the park is a “Boll” telephone. Ha!

- The Zentradi can now fully understand English.

- Thus far in the series, our heroes have managed to either win small victories, stalemate the enemy, or at least avoid flat-out defeat (Frequently by their own unpredictable ineptitude). This is the first episode in which the good guys have clearly lost.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE MACROSS AND ROBOTECH VERSIONS

The differences aren’t so pronounced this time out, though a couple are particularly interesting:

- In the Robotech Version, Khyron basically says he ain’t gonna’ follow orders, and he’ll just say it’s a mistake. In the Macross version, he concocts a clever little scheme to do what he wants, and then pin it on an older warrior due for retirement. (And what does ‘Retirement’ mean for a Zentradi? It really can’t be good, can it?)

- In Macross, they blow up “The asteroid Pamir,” (Which is fictional). In Robotech, they keep on refering to it as “The planet Pamir.” So, evidently the solar system goes (or went) Mercury, Venus, Earth, Pamir, Mars, Asteroids…. Sigh. That’s a joke, son. Yer ‘sposed t’ laugh!

-The attack on the control tower shows three crewmen getting incinerated. This is cut from the Robotech version, as is a closeup of the clearly-dead pilot of the Catseye, though a very brief flash of this is visible in the episode due to sloppy editing. To be honest, I don’t think the Robotech producers were all that interested in keeping dead people out of the show - we see two in this episode anyway - but they’re clearly trying to remove all shots of people dying. Likewise, the mention of all the Radar operators dying is gone from the Robotech version.

- The Hikaru/Misa relationship in Macross is quite a bit colder than the corresponding Rick/Lisa relationship in Robotech. They’re openly antagonistic in Macross, and Rick (The Japanese iteration of him, anyway) just tears in to her viciously on the radio in this ep. In Robotech, this exchange is much softer, and Lisa really takes no lasting umbrage from it. It’s not at all clear why Misa freaks out when she thinks Hikaru is dead, since she can’t stand him. On the other hand, in Robotech, Lisa grudgingly likes Rick, though there’s no real indication that it’s romantic yet. I think I prefer the Robotech version. Their relationship feels a bit more real, and they throw in lines like “Can you put me down, please? You can admire me later…” that are kind of teasingly funny without being too cloying, but that sort of stuff is absent in Macross thus far.

- Another thing that accidentally worked out better in Robotech than in Macross: When Misa is sent out in the Catseye, her name is written on the side of the cockpit like a pilots would be (“Lt. Misa Hayase”). This makes no sense - she’s clearly not a pilot, she’s clearly not got flight duty regularly, and she’s clearly just a passenger, so why would her name be painted on a plane? In Robotech, it still says “Lt. Misa Hayase,” but there’s no way us goofy kids in 1985 would have known Misa and Lisa are the same person. So it looks like they just stuck her in the first available seat, which was generally flown by someone else.

- Once again, there’s some rank differences between the shows. We’re told that “Commander Hayes” is “Lt. Hayase” in Macross, and that “Captain Gloval” is “Commodore Global.” In Robotech we’re repeatedly told that Lisa is the XO of the ship, but it appears in Macross that Lisa/Misa is merely the air traffic controller (And a rather green one at that), while Claudia is second in command under Global/Gloval.

- Once again, there’s some interesting use of sound in the hand-to-robot fighting scene. As the air leaks out, the soundtrack goes quiet, except for a kind of mechanical whine/grinding noise, and we don’t hear any of the engines fire, or the punches land for the remainder of that sequence, I guess to emphasize that they’re in a vacuum. It’s kind of neat, though not as effective as the silence-in-battle from the previous ep.

- “That walking skeleton with a bloated skull!” -- Khyron describing Exidore in the Macross version. Also in Macross, Exidore describes himself as “Archivist” for the expedition.

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