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 — Athrun Is Being Kinda Dumb
After the Freedom and the Archangel stop the battle between ZAFT and Orb, Athrun grows frustrated with Kira. He expresses that he has no idea what Kira was thinking, intervening like he did. According to Athrun, Kira’s actions resulted in unnecessary battlefield chaos, which then resulted in unnecessary deaths.
Reaction as a fan: ARE YOU AN IDIOT, ZALA? You can’t TELL why Kira intervened?! (How many facepalms must I do for you?) He intervened because the rest of you are losing sight of what you’re fighting for again! Kira Yamato wants to stop war and keep history from repeating itself. Is Kira overly idealistic and hopeful? Probably. But Athrun — HE WANTS THE SAME THING YOU SAID YOU WANTED. PEACE, YOU IDIOT. AN END TO THE FIGHTING. And obviously he’s working toward that in a far more effective way than you are! He’s out there doing YOUR JOB, the job of steering the world right (“Savior,” hello?) — and he doesn’t even need special FAITH agency and orders from the top to do it; Kira just KNOWS when people are going wrong and will take initiative on his own. He’s making you look inept, but worse, now you’re making yourself look inept. How dare you blame Kira’s choices for the battlefield deaths? Did you NOT NOTICE that Kira didn’t kill a single person? The Gaia killed Heine, and your own ZAFT forces killed people, and the Earth Forces killed people! Not Kira.
Reaction as a writer: After expressing his doubt about Kira’s choices, Athrun says he wants to go talk to Kira. Talking things out is good; it’s an improvement over the last war when Kira and Athrun never actually discussed anything (and thus further compounded their tensions) — so I’m grateful that character progress is occurring. But I feel like Athrun acted unnecessarily frustrated and confused here — and there was no lampshade on it to ease my skepticism. Usually when a character stops making sense and/or seeming dumb, it means the writing has fallen short. This feels to me like a case of the writers putting plot before character specifically. Like they went, “We need Athrun to make contact with Kira so ZAFT and Durandal can learn the real Lacus’s location,” or something. Then, because they were trying so hard to force said plot-happening, they forgot to pay attention to what would really be going through Athrun’s head, resulting in bumps and strange inconsistencies like Athrun getting frustrated when he had no reason to get frustrated.
Take 2 — It All Comes Down To Durandal
Athrun and Kira talk. They don’t agree with each other’s viewpoints. But as they exchange information and argue, one thing becomes clear. It is ultimately Durandal’s motives that prevent the two childhood friends from fighting on the same side. Athrun thinks the Chairman is sincere in his efforts toward peace. Kira, on the other hand, isn’t drinking a drop of Durandal’s Kool-Aid.
Reaction as a fan: I WAS RIGHT; SO MUCH COMES DOWN TO DURANDAL. I don’t know how much longer I can handle not knowing whether he’s a good or bad guy! THIS IS SO STRESSFUL.
Reaction as a writer: Literally everything is hinging on Durandal, now. If we couldn’t confirm that before, now we absolutely can — which means the writers have to make the true Durandal clear to us soon or we’ll go nuts. I think the show is gearing up for it. Rey’s total freakout at the end of this episode seems to suggest we’re about to get some big important plot point dropped on us. Let’s hope it gives us the solid lead on Durandal’s deal that we’ve needed.
Bonus Take — Lunamaria’s Stalking
We catch Lunamaria watching Athrun through binoculars, then tailing him to his meeting with Kira and eavesdropping on the discourse.
Reaction as a fan: WOMAN, WHAT THE HECK? Can’t you mind your own business? Are you a FAITH member? YOU’RE NOT — so how are you getting away with this shit? (Maybe you got ordered to tail Athrun, but we haven’t seen that. I just think you’re obsessed.) Do you really want in Athrun’s pants SO BADLY that you’ll stalk him? Using... what, the excuse that you followed him because you were suspicious of his loyalty to ZAFT? JUST STOP; YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTHS YOU JUST EAVESDROPPED ON.
Reaction as a writer: Reasons for stalking Athrun aside, Lunamaria now has some serious ammo in her arsenal. What will she use it for? The decisions she makes next will be important; they will have repercussions (otherwise the writers wouldn’t have gone out of their way to make her party to the information Kira and Athrun exchanged in the first place). At this point, Luna could either wreck Athrun’s life, or turn into one of his most convenient allies. Either way, that’s incredibly exciting; it gives her a chance to play a much bigger role. Whichever way the cookie crumbles, though, it’s all up to her — and if I had to guess, I’d say she’s gonna screw Athrun over. Whether it’ll be intentional or not, I don’t know. I just know that we’ve seen her get incredibly nosy and petty already, and those traits don’t mix well with keeping secrets, with keeping loyalty... with anything positive. MAY YOU PLEASANTLY SURPRISE ME, LUNA. I would love nothing more than if you proved me wrong.
Take 1 — “Some Things Are Unforgivable”
When Athrun leaves his meeting with Kira to return to ZAFT, Cagalli holds him back for a moment, assumedly to address the question of their relationship status. But Athrun makes it clear that their relationship is over. He can’t forgive Cagalli for letting Orb join the Earth Forces... or, it seems, for choosing to marry Yuna Roma Seiran.
Reaction as a fan: Ouch. I knew from the beginning of this show that their relationship was toast, but I’ll admit it — after Cagalli put Athrun’s ring back on and came around, I thought there might be hope for them again. Now Athrun is putting his foot down and refusing to forgive her for her mistakes, and... ouch. This sucks to watch. It’s a little mean of you, Athrun! YOU’RE the one that gave her the ring, despite being frustrated with her in the beginning of the show. You can’t overcome your frustration again for the sake of love, when Cagalli has clearly repented? That’s harsh. Perhaps the ladies are just not for Athrun Zala? Athrun Zala does not have time for That Business! (Does this mean I can slash him with Shinn or something? As a perfectly functioning Coordinator male, I’m sure Athrun still has urges to take care of.... Is his hand and the Savior’s cockpit REALLY enough for him? IS IT?!)
Reaction as a writer: This firmly establishes Athrun as “a soldier,” just like he stresses in this scene that he is. He’s a person who puts duty above all — above love — until the bitter end. He’s wired to fight and follow orders. We’re not going to see him settle down the way Kira and Lacus have. And that is a pretty firm position for Destiny to take on a beloved character. I’m not knocking it, but... I am skeptical. It’s fine if Destiny wants to make Athrun a lone wolf (versus keeping him somewhat susceptible to romantic feelings, like he was in SEED)... but they had better STICK to the decision now that they’ve made it. If they don’t, and Athrun goes and sleeps with Meer or Luna after this... he’s going to seem less like a man who simply wants to hold tight to his ideals and more like a complete asshole. It’s bad to make your protagonists look like assholes.
Take 2 — The Lab At Lodonia/The “Extendeds”
ZAFT finds a creepy science lab belonging to the Earth Forces. It’s revealed that Sting, Stella and Auel used to “live” there before they joined with Neo — that they’re known as “Extendeds” (the same as Orga, Shani, and Clotho from the first series). Extendeds are experimental, drugged or otherwise modified children manipulated into fighting machines — which is unnerving enough. But worse, it seems like Rey has ties to the place, or at least to the science the lab was using. We get a disturbing flashback — of what looks to be child Rey in a lab, standing between a younger Gilbert Durandal (who is wearing the typical PLANT Supreme Council garb)... and a person who looks to be young Rau Le Creuset (wearing an elite red ZAFT uniform).
Reaction as a fan: This is messed up. I’m kind of fangirling over how cute Durandal and Rau look as younger people, but... I’m sure whatever they’re getting up to in this flashback cannot be good.
Reaction as a writer: I get the feeling a lot of answers are about to fly at us thick and fast. Yeah, we might get more questions, too, but anything from this little debacle is bound to be game-changing. It’s therefore a bit too early for my critiques; I’m going to sit back and watch with popcorn instead, just trying to digest all the new info that’s here... because otherwise all I’ve got now is guesses. If I had to bet, I’d say it seems like Rau and/or Durandal could have been the one(s) to put the Naturals on the path of manipulating children in labs, though? Hooray villains.