In England, Koko leads a HCLI bid for Predator UAV sales to “Country B.” She’s up against Euro Group, represented by the accomplished former actress and heiress Amalia Tolokohovsky. Amalia gets a head start on Koko, closing deals with nearly every potential client. Annoyed but undefeated, Koko holes up in her hotel room and orchestrates numerous deals at the 25th hour that flip all of Amalia’s customers. The tables now turned, Koko meets with Amalia. Third-party snipers by angered clients are neutralized by Lutz. Amalia announces Euro Group will pull out of negotiations, and then agrees to a buyback at a 5% premium. Koko is victorious.
Arms dealing is simple business: show your wares to the customer, they buy some, and you go on your merry way, right? Well, not exactly. With past episodes focusing on the prowess of the bodyguards Koko surrounds herself with, all of them were bystanders for her not-so-little UAV war with Amalia, who started it by getting greedy and trying to outmaneuver Koko. That was enough to fire Koko up for some serious laptop-piloting and junk food-munching. Arms dealing at this level is less a simple transaciton and more an intricate Swiss watch with millions of moving pieces, and she simply manipulates those pieces better than Amalia this week, and at the right times.
It’s fun to watch her initially get stood up at client meeting after meeting, and then see her bear down and do the hard work that’s necessary to defeat one’s adversary. She utilized her new CIA friend Chocolade, kept her eye on the prize, and showed former actress Amalia that she’s a pretty fine actress herself, when she needs to be. Her efforts result in pulling a stunning, absolute victory from the initial jaws of defeat, and nobody is hurt or killed in the processs. It’s no wonder why everyone seems to love working for the “princess”. This episode aptly demonstrated what happens when she harnesses her potential.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Car Cameos: Lots – this series doesn’t skimp on recognizable vehicle models. Team HCLI seems to have adopted the Volkswagen Touareg as their go-to car, though they also ride in a Mitsubishi Montero. In one scene a Toyota HiAce drives alongside the ‘Reg. Amalia travels in a white Mercedes-Benz S-Class (a W221). There are also lots of recognizable cars in the airport parking lot: A Subaru Forester and Legacy wagon, a Peugeot 406, Toyota Prius, Lancia Delta, Mitsubishi Montero and Lancer Evolution, Toyota Progres and a Volvo C70.
Valmer breaks formation and goes straight after Karen; the two duel in the snow with guns and knives. In the meantime, Jonah suggests they stay quiet until their inexperienced foes come out of hiding so they can pick them off. In the city, Koko enjoys a Chinese dinner with Chang, while Hugo has her back and both Scarecrow and his sidekick Chocolade eavesdrop. Chang asks Koko to join forces; she refuses. When Valmer is finished with Karen, all of Chang’s men are dead, and they phone it in. Koko tells Chocolade about a trap waiting for them. In exchange for her warning, Scarecrow lets Koko and Hugo escape with them. In the end, Doctor Miami gives Koko the slip once more.
We like Sophia Valmer. She’s a complicated lass; simultaneously infatuated with her beautiful young boss Koko and haunted by voices and images from her bloody past. In a way, she reminds us of Roberta from Black Lagoon, only before she went totally apeshit crazy. She makes surprisingly quick work of Karen, who’d we’d only seen in action against small fries, and whose gunblades proved ineffective against her older, wiser, stronger opponent. Valmer didn’t get a lot out of Karen, but she did see a little of her younger self in her, and gained a new enemy who will try to kill her when next they meet. Let’s face it, you can never have enough off them!
We liked the A/B stories running in tandem, cutting from the cold night in the mountains to the warm, luxurious restaurant in the city. Koko and Chang are really only sitting back and waiting to see whose team will be left standing. We like the addition of Chocolade to provide a pragmatic voice to Scarecrow, and Koko’s little meeting with her in the toilet stall was pretty funny way to confide. We also like how Hugo had to keep an eye on how much Koko had to drink. As for Doctor Miami, she was able to stay a step ahead of all the arms dealers for another day; at least in this two-parter, she was merely a McGuffin.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
After successfully repelling pirates, Koko’s freighter makes it to South Africa. Her aim is to meet with the eccentric roboticist Amada Minami AKA Doctor Miami at the DIESA weapons expo. Miami’s a no-show, but they get the GPS of the location where she’s searching for rare butterflies (probably in the Drakensberg). Koko runs into Curry & Co., who plans to pull out of Southern Africa. She also meets Chang of the Daxinghai Group, who invites her to dinner. Her team heads to the mountains to retrieve Miami, but Chang has sent a force ahead of them, led by his lieutenant, Karen, who wields the same gunblades (though not the same wielder) that took Valmer’s eye.
One criticism that can never be leveled against Jormungand is that it lacks strong female characters. In most cases, they’re stronger than their male counterparts. The only problem is, most of them are also a little nuts. After this episode, we can add Karen Luo (Lo? Low?) to the already healthy roster of badass hot chicks with guns. Not only can she bring down Scarecrow’s massive bodyguard with her bare hands (and garterbelted legs), she also reprimands underlings who give away their positions by killing them herself. This lady isn’t going to tolerate incompetence, and if she has to do the job herself, she seems willing.
Karen wants revenge for friends killed in the past under Koko’s brother’s orders…starting with Doctor Miami. If Koko’s guard gets in the way, she aims to sweep them aside. While there’s certainly a personal side to this job, she’s also working on orders from Chang, who is polite and kind to Koko, but probably has not-so-savory plans in store for her if Karen can wipe out her aegis. That makes us wonder just what Kasper would do (if anything) if an enemy indeed captured his cute little sis. Also, we’re in Africa, so far better known as “The Place Where Valmer Lost Her Eye and Endured Other Hardships.” When she sees those gunblades in Karen’s hands, she drops her rifle. That can’t be good.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameo: Most of Koko’s team piles into a Volkswagen Touareg 2.
Tsubaki attends Hayakawa’s school festival pretending to be her boyfriend, but is quickly spotted by Oka, who is there with Ueno. She follows them to an unused classroom where Hayakawa gives Tsubaki leave to hug her and taste her drool. He hesitates, and Urabe arrives wearing a cardboard robot suit and nothing else. She proposes a rock-paper-scissors duel, which she wins, so Tsubaki tastes her drool first and has a nosebleed. Hayakawa strips down, but tears well up before she gives Tsubaki her drool, indicating her heart is wavering. Urabe tastes her drool instead, and tells her she’ll find someone eventually. Urabe forgives a contrite Tsubaki.
All’s well that ends well in Tsubaki’s Hayakawa Adventure Part 2, as he and Urabe clear another hurdle in a relationship that’s still full of firsts. This constituted his first – and hopefully last – big deception. To his credit, when the time comes to remember his loyalty, he stands his ground against Hayakawa’s advances. He also proves through and through that he is an incurable Guy; someone who can’t fight off a big gaping grin at the sudden sight of two naked girls before him, or the thought of a first kiss with Urabe, or for that matter, allowing himself to be led along by a former unrequited crush, almost to his doom.
Of course, this episode wasn’t perfect. We have no problems with sustained nudity, but felt there was too much of it on a show that isn’t allowed to show it. They had to compromise with goofy, awkward shadows that made no sense from a lighting perspective. Oka’s presence wasn’t all that consequential, as Urabe was tailing Hayakawa and Tsubaki all along. We’re also not quite sure why Hayakawa invited Urabe at all – all she did was increase the chances of her gambit with Tsubaki being interrupted or foiled by 100%. In the end though, Urabe’s forgiveness makes sense and fits her character – now there’s no doubt that next time Tsubaki has the choice to do something that may hurt her, he’ll think about how he’d feel if she did that to him.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
P.S. In their Rock-Paper-Scissors game, Urabe amazingly doesn’t choose Scissors…you’d think she’d ALWAYS choose Scissors!