Welcome to another Gundam SEED Destiny Doubletake! Each post, I dive into an episode or two of SEED Destiny and present two “takes” from it — two commentaries on plot or character points that stood out to me. I then explore each point from two perspectives — a fan’s perspective and a fiction writer’s perspective.
Frongi, Gundam DEE CORe... LAUNCHING!
Take 1 — Shinn’s Insubordination
The Minerva crew faces Phantom Pain, with Athrun in command of the mobile suits. The ZAFT side has a tough time of it... and toward the end of the battle, Shinn defies Athrun’s orders and takes matters into his own hands. First, Shinn blows apart the nearby (and still under-construction) Earth Forces base — after it’s already clear the base can’t defend itself. Then Shinn sets free the trapped civilians who were stuck on the base, being forced by the military to help build it.
Once Shinn returns to the Minerva, a furious Athrun Zala bitch-slaps him — twice. Athrun tells Shinn to stop acting on his feelings, and to use his power responsibly. Shinn is unrepentant, insisting that he did the right thing.
Reaction as a fan: First I was uncomfortable, because I noticed Shinn was screeching things like, “DIE,” during battle and being... fairly ruthless in eliminating enemies. After seeing everyone else strive so hard for peace and diplomacy, and especially after watching Kira meticulously blow away enemy suits’ limbs and guns but never once harm a cockpit.... Well, Shinn looks scary in comparison. I freaked out, thinking he must finally be going off the deep end... but then he saved the civilians. Of course he did. His own family died because a military involved them in a battle. So I relaxed again, relieved to see Shinn helping — with that cute smile on his face afterward.
When Athrun slapped him, I was fairly surprised. I know Shinn deserved it for refusing to follow his commander’s orders, and I can’t lie and say I didn’t yell “OHHHH,” or didn’t find Athrun Zala getting angry and landing blows... kinda... really hot (oops, my true personality again) — but I’m still not sure Shinn deserved so much abuse. Athrun says some sensible things. Yeah, fine. Athrun speaks from experience. But I’m... not convinced Shinn doesn’t have a sensible point, too. In short, I AM CONFLICTED.
Reaction as a writer: It would seem Shinn has been Bright Slapped. But I’m actually not sure. Is that the case? I’m... not sure Shinn needed a wake-up call along the lines Amuro famously did. What if Shinn’s the one already seeing clearly, and Athrun’s the person who still needs to get his shit figured out? It is genuinely difficult for me to pick a side, or to know who’s right — which either means I’m stupid or Destiny is doing an excellent job making me see the gray area of war (something Gundam is great at). Either way, I’m fine with it.
Take 2 — Shinn vs. Stella
We’re into the second opening theme now, and in both we see Shinn interacting with Stella. In this episode, the Impulse and the Gaia face each other in battle yet another time.
Reaction as a fan: These two keep meeting in mobile suits, but they haven’t actually MET yet (besides Shinn’s brief, accidental, basically-in-passing boob-grab in an early episode). What’s it gonna be when they do? Are we planning Romeo and Juliet, here?
Reaction as a writer: Stella has issues. SO many issues. When Shinn meets her for real (because it’s clear he will), I have no idea how it will affect his character arc; she’s too much of a loose cannon. I only have guesses. If Stella shows Shinn the side of herself that Auel and Sting fondly refer to as “airheaded,” then maybe Stella will serve as the cutesy, ditzy catalyst that will calm Mr. Angry down by making him fall for her. Maybe she’ll make a nice bridge Shinn can walk to cross the gap between Coordinators and Naturals. If not... I don’t know. I’m mostly wondering how long Destiny will make us wait to find out.