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 — The Akatsuki
Orb is now harboring Djibril, which means Durandal is about to go after Orb. Cagalli decides she can’t sit idly by... so Kisaka and Erica Simmons decide it’s time for Cagalli to hear a secret message from her deceased father. As it turns out, Uzumi Nara Athha planned a defense should war come to Orb again. Although he hoped Cagalli would never have to use it, he built a mobile suit for her nonetheless — the Akatsuki Gundam, with blindingly golden armor.
Reaction as a fan: I quit Gundam. Never mind waiting to see what machine Athrun might get if he gets out of bed. I have a weakness for shiny gold things. I thought the Strike Freedom’s gold bits were cool, but this machine literally eclipses that by 100%. I don’t even have the wherewithal to abuse my caps lock key to express my fangirling. Clocking out to catch my drool.
Reaction as a writer: Cagalli has regained her status as an incredible badass. It was awesome enough that she and Athrun finally talked again recently and forgave each other for their prior idiocy (Cagalli’s wedding, Athrun’s dumping her, etc.). But now she gets a new machine and gets to barrel out there kicking butt and taking names! She reclaims her position as Orb’s leader, and the first order she rattles off is to have Yuna Roma Seiran arrested for treason. In other words, in a short amount of time, Gundam SEED Destiny is paying us in spades for all the uncomfortable crap we had to watch Cagalli deal with at the beginning of the show — for all the times we had to watch her being conflicted and helpless. They have returned our beloved Orb princess to us — but better! Upgraded! She made mistakes, she learned, she grew (like a good character does… like this show’s themes suggest people can do)... and now she’s a boss.
This is probably the least Destiny can give us right now, considering that I’m still frustrated with how they’ve dealt with Shinn’s character.
Take 2 — The Battle Is At Orb, And So Is Shinn
Earlier in the series, Athrun warned Shinn that if he didn’t calm his violence and anger, he’d end up being the same kind of murderer as the person that took out Shinn’s family. Now Shinn is at Orb, the place his family died, but this time he is the person in a mobile suit, about to engage in a battle that Orb’s civilians aren’t prepared for.
...And instead of reflect on the destruction he might cause, Shinn — newly FAITH minted — chooses to go out and fight gung-ho, thinking that if anyone is going to destroy Orb, then he wants it to be him.
Reaction as a fan: Well shit. I guess Shinn’s still holding that grudge against the Athhas... and is too blinded by it even now to remember Athrun’s warning. YOU ARE AN IDIOT, SHINN. HOW MANY MISTAKES MUST YOU MAKE BEFORE REALITY HITS YOU?
Reaction as a writer: I can’t think of a better place to put Shinn than here. It is in many ways a repeat of the battle that killed his family and started him on his path of vengeance, but this time he’s in the driver’s seat as the murdering pilot. Excellent storytelling juxtaposition. I assume this is where Shinn will have his reality check (and if not, the writers will have missed their opportunity). This is where Shinn will finally have to grow and change into someone better... or devolve into full-on villainy. The writers didn’t set up this parallel of him being at Orb like this by accident. It may seem heavy-handed, but face it — Shinn is really thick-headed; it’ll probably take him wrecking the memorial to his dead family before it hits him that what he’s doing might be wrong. In any case, I can’t wait to see what he’ll do. Will he wipe out all the innocent people at Orb in his quest to kill Djibril and “end the war?” Or will he finally realize the mess being made and become the hero protagonist this series keeps trying to insist he is?
I’m guessing Shinn will finally come around. His Butterfly Gundam has butterfly wings, yeah, but they also could be said to be angel wings, a sign of his ultimate innocence and good. Plus Rey woke him up from a nightmare in which Shinn was suffering over his having “killed” Athrun and Meyrin; Rey tells Shinn he’s too kind-hearted when Shinn launches back into conflict over the matter.
This all means our protagonist is back on track in terms of his character arc. I feel like the writers lost it for a while there, but now we seem to be good, so I’m happy.