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 — Time For A Humor Break
The Archangel docks at Copernicus on the moon, and Athrun, Kira, Lacus, and Meyrin go out into the city for shopping shenanigans.
Reaction as a fan: Of all the bad-fashion civilian outfits Athrun Zala has ever worn, I think this one must be the least offensive. What would I do in life without bad Gundam fashion to make fun of? Wait, WOW though, okay, the girls are looking cute! Lacus in that dressing room in those outfits, aaaah! That black mini-dress with the red jacket? I have a figurine of that! I guess this scene is where it came from....
Reaction as a writer: We already knew the climax was coming because this is episode 46 of 50. But in case any viewers were still oblivious, this episode says “Hi, we’re being funny right now — like, extra funny — because this is the last humor you’ll ever get. After this point, everything is going to the dogs, and more people will die and you’re going to cry, because after this we are not messing around. GET YOUR LAUGHS WHILE YOU CAN, SUCKERS.” It’s a dead giveaway in an overall serious story when suddenly things get overly amusing or ridiculous; it means doom. The humor is designed to throw you off so you don’t see it coming when they hurt you, and also to create a bigger juxtaposition for maximum feeling intensity. (Don’t lie. We are all in anime for the feels.)
Take 2 — Meer’s Death (What did I just tell you?)
Durandal’s goonies are still trying to assassinate the real Lacus, and they’ve decided to use Meer to do it. Athrun & Co. go to meet Meer despite knowing the situation is a trap. Things go well at first — Lacus delivers a kindhearted motivational speech to Meer, then protects and comforts her during the following firefight — but just when the crew thinks they are in the clear, a bullet sails for Lacus... and Meer jumps in the way of it. And dies.
Reaction as a fan: I KNEW THIS MUST BE COMING — BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT HURTS ME ANY LESS. And now that Cagalli ditched Athrun again... Athrun doesn’t even get to have Meer? He and Kira could have dated two pink-headed songstresses! WHY MUST MEER DIE?!
Reaction as a writer. This is a case of the Destiny writers doing everything well in my book. Meer was a fascinating character who served a purpose, had a clear struggle, and developed in a clear arc. They even redeemed her nicely in the end by having her die to save the real Lacus. And with that said, I need to go cry more.
This was a recap episode by about three quarters.
Yes, you heard me correctly — a largely, mostly recap episode. The fourth to last episode. Was a recap.
(Am I annoyed? I’m annoyed.)
But it was titled “Meer,” and it was told from the perspective of her diary, to its credit.
Reaction as a fan: It’s called “Meer?” But Meer just died! What’s left to say about her? OH MY GOD, LOOK AT ATHRUN CARRY HER CORPSE BRIDAL-STYLE THROUGH THE ARCHANGEL WHILE FLANKED BY SOLDIERS! I can’t handle this. Poor girl. Her diary is adorable. She is so, so, so tragic! I’m crying forever.
Reaction as a writer: We did not need a recap episode. We also did not need to hear everything rehashed from the perspective of Meer’s diary to understand her character arc or the thoughts she had and decisions she made while alive — or at least, I didn’t need it, because I was paying attention to her from the start, hence this episode felt needless. Why was it here?! Were the Destiny writers assuming most viewers must have hated Meer or not paid attention to her? Did they throw this episode in post-Meer to convince us, “See, see — she was really a sweet, good, tragic person, so you don’t have to dislike her?” To tell us, “Oh hey, if you were writing her off when you were watching, she was actually really cool, see, see?” Why didn’t the writers just include Meer’s little funeral, Athrun’s regret, and Lacus’s righteous fury over Meer’s death in part of an actual episode, instead of creating a whole recap for it?
But honestly, I’m still torn. From the writing side of things, this episode seemed highly unnecessary, but from the fan side of things, I’m grateful Meer got a memorial episode to honor her, because I adored her. Maybe in the end, the Destiny writers were just attempting to milk the arc of the one character they wrote incredibly well? Maybe they knew they had a piece of gold in Meer, so they chose to dwell on her a little more. “Look at the brilliant character we created, everyone! Highlight of the show!” Maybe.
Either way, Durandal just exposed his plan to take over the world by analyzing everybody’s genes, so... uh. Please, Destiny, let’s move into the final stages now and stop looking back with recaps. (Don’t screw it up, don’t screw it up....)