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 — Reckoning With Kira Yamato, Or Trying To (To No Avail)
Just as Orb begins to launch its attack on ZAFT on behalf of the Earth Forces, the Archangel and its crew arrives on scene, prepared to stop the fight at any cost. Kira attacks both sides in his Freedom — killing absolutely no one, yet indisputably incapacitating them. It’s clear the Ultimate Coordinator intends to cease the whole battle with force, whether anybody else wants him to or not.
Reaction as a fan: AIN’T NO ONE CAN RECKON WITH THE ULTIMATE COORDINATOR!
Reaction as a writer: I don’t know how, but Kira Yamato in this episode has revealed himself to be a rock solid boss. I got irked that he sat quietly for the whole first half of this series, but apparently, that sitting quietly was actually him meditating himself to a higher state of moral being... or something. The good judgment Kira shows now is incredible — and on top of it, he doesn’t even bother being delicate or pulling his punches any more when he says things to set people straight. He knows exactly what should be done and what shouldn’t. He’s right, he knows he’s right, and he isn’t taking your shit any more.
Kira in this episode is what Destiny has needed — what viewers have needed. A confident, solid moral compass that we can trust to show us right and wrong. If we’ve been vacillating thus far, not knowing whose side to pick or who is ultimately right, well... worry no more, for here is Kira Yamato to tell us. Am I a little shocked to discover how indisputable he is, considering his angsty struggles in SEED and his inactive, old man approach up until maybe an episode ago in Destiny? Yeah, I am. So maybe the writing still could have been smoothed out. But I’m not gonna harp on that — because it makes SENSE to find Kira has learned from his past mistakes, plus I’m relieved to find him playing the role he is right now. I was ready for it. Like I’ve mentioned before, tension is great, but too much of it fatigues the viewers, and I was feeling fatigued. We all just want to know who we should root for. Now we do. Now it’s very clear that Kira is basically Jesus in a mobile suit; he is this world’s savior. (HE’S MAKING YOU LOOK BAD, ATHRUN ZALA.)
Take 2 — Heine Westenfluss
First we see only his Blaze ZAKU Phantom. Then he shows up as a member of FAITH, seems like a decent guy, joins the Minerva crew, and goes out to fight in a GOUF Ignited... where he immediately gets killed by Stella.
Reaction as a fan: He... just died. Wait, he just DIED? The man was present for a grand total of what, three episodes?! WHAT WAS THE POINT?
Reaction as a writer: Honestly, what was the point? Why take even the short amount of time they did to introduce Heine just to kill him off immediately? Did they need to feature TM Revolution’s voice again so badly? If they wanted to give TM Revolution another bit part, they should have stuck to the method they used for it in the first SEED series — by giving him a character at the show’s very beginning (like when he played Miguel, who died in the first battle at Heliopolis, before Kira even falls into his cockpit)... so we don’t have time to get invested in a nobody, then frustrated when we realize it’s a nobody. Thanks to the point and manner in which Heine shows up, he seems too important to be the throwaway sort that TM has voiced before — so I’m annoyed now finding out he was not actually important at all.
It’s also a dumb to have created a canon-fodder character who does not even do anything useful. If you’re going to introduce someone literally just to kill them, fine — but they still have to serve some purpose. Miguel was Athrun’s operation commander leading the Heliopolis mission; I’d call that serving a purpose. But what about Heine? Despite his cool mobile suit, he doesn’t do anything noteworthy. One could argue, I suppose, that Heine helps Athrun and the rest of the Minerva’s crew loosen up (with his casual attitude), but that’s really stretching to assign him purpose. Heine sort of reminds Athrun to keep his head in battle, a little like how Athrun reality-talks Shinn, I guess? But Heine’s speech doesn’t shine much in the grand scheme (or at least it didn’t for me), so it doesn’t stick or strike us in any meaningful way. Heine has built no rapport with viewers, either — unlike say, Nicol or Tolle did before they were killed. There was simply no time provided for him to do so.
I feel Destiny screwed up badly here. They present a character with an amazing machine, a cool background story (if you read up on that separately, once you realized it existed but wasn't explored in the show), a FAITH membership, and make it look like Heine has a ton of potential... but then don’t deliver on that potential — either because they don’t give the guy enough screen time or because they don’t develop his character well. Everything Heine Westenfluss-related falls short and is a disappointment.