As the team prepares for a small-time job with the mafia, Valmer reaches a breaking point with her dreams and goes off on her own. Suspecting something like that might happen, Koko ordered Jonah to follow her. She is after Cheng Guo-Ming, Karen’s boss, who was the one who massacred her UN unit and took her eye in Africa. Meanwhile, a group of hitmen prepare to target Koko & Co., led by Dominique, who proposes they take out one of her men at a time, starting with Ugo. When the mafia deal goes sour, Koko shoots the boss and her men kill the rest. Afterwards Dominique, Gregoire and Liliane make their move at Koko’s hotel.
Just last episode we brought up the fact that Koko and her team have handily succeeded in pretty much every mission they’ve taken on, with no loss of men and minimal consequences. Well, scratch all that, because consequences come hard and fast in this episode, and a distracted Koko never sees it coming. Orchestra and Chinatsu weren’t very, uh, discreet in their attempted hit on Koko (they mostly just emptied clips in her general vicinity). Their brazenness was beated by the skill and discipline of Koko’s team. This time, the hitmen not only have their shit together, but are led by someone who isn’t going to make any rash mistakes. This time, people die. This time, Koko looks like she’s in some real trouble.
The first thing she says in this episode is that the 3-truck mafia thing is “no big deal”, but she’s fine with a small job since there’s a bigger missile deal on the horizon. We knew right then and there this wasn’t going to be the piece of cake she expected it to be. The loss of Valmer and Jonah meant a serious hit to her strength, while her decision to kill the mafia boss – who offered drugs instead of cash – led her men to momentarily question whether it was such a good idea. That, and the fact they exerted themselves that night, and their missing comrades made them ripe for an ambush, and that’s what Dominique gives them. Like we said, this is quite the pickle, and there will be lasting repercussions.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Car Cameo: There’s no clear shots of the whole car, but Team Kill Koko is definitely riding in a BMW 7-Series (F01), judjing by its headlamps and other styling cues.
Koko’s men take out the Dragon’s escort force without any difficulty, but Dragon manages to escape with the injured Dr. Riviere. The Dragon mobilizes more men to mount an antiaircraft assault on Koko’s plane, but they’re ready for it, with infrared jammers, flares, and a 122mm gun mounted to the back of the plane by Mao. After depositing the doctors near the refugee camp, Koko calls Scarecrow and Chocolade offering the Dragon for the $5 million international bounty, they agree. Lehm, Wiley and Mao ambush the Dragon’s convoy and retrieve Riviere, then leave the dragon tied up for the CIA to pick up.
One criticism that can be leveled against Jormungand thus far is that sometimes it feels like Koko’s band of merry men have it a bit too easy; that they’re a little too perfect, and that the outcome of any particular mission is never in serious doubt. Furthermore, all their success has led to an atmosphere of warm comraderie that has yet to feel the drama or sting of serious losses. It’s been ten episodes, and not one of Koko’s ten bodyguards have been killed, or even seriously wounded. So…DO they have it too easy? In our humble opinion, no. We’re having a blast watching them succeed. They succeed because they’re pretty much the best at what they do, and those they’re up against usually aren’t.
Take this week’s adversary: the “Dragon.” He’s just a spoiled little shit whose position was handed to him by his father. He has a militia of guys who likely fight for him to put food on their families’ tables and because they fear him. Meanwhile, Koko has a squad of elite special forces who fight for her because they love her, and (with a couple exceptions) simply love fighting, too. They’ve got the skill, resourcefulness, experience, and toughness to defeat just about anyone when they’re humming on all cylinders, and Koko makes sure they always are. The daring aerial escape was the perfect exclamation point on the notion that you do not fuck with Koko, unless you want to get burnt. She’s a Dragon too.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Car Cameo: The Dragon may command his own militia, but rather than splurge on an S-Class or A8 or hell, a camo’d Lambo, he has a relatively modest Mercedes C-Class (W203).
Koko is hired to smuggle by air a group of humanitarian NGO doctors called ODH into Republic T, Autonomous Region X, where a brutal, petulant militia general known as “The Dragon” holds sway. The Dragon arrives to inspect the cargo hold after the plane touches down, but Koko won’t allow it. Riviere, leader of the ODH, comes out to try to reason with the Dragon, but he is shot in the shoulder and cheek for his trouble. Koko orders her men to open fire on the Dragon’s militia.
A good arms dealer always has an escape plan in place just in case things go sour. Koko is good at dealing arms, which is why both she and her crew are weary of aerial missions. A plane can get to remote places with ease, but it needs time and space to take off and land, and these are resources that can all too easily be taken away. Koko, Lehm, and others continually mention how they have a bad feeling about this week’s doctor-smuggling mission…and they turn out to be absolutely right.
As Jonah has learned, for all her weariness about flying missions and shrewd business acumen, Koko is also a risk-taker who’s often reckless with her well-being, which explains why her force of bodyguards is so numerous and fierce. But far from just the military thugs they often go up against, many have a bit more nuance to them, like Mao, for instance, who even has a family back home he’s supporting. But when things indeed go sour and the country’s Number One Asshat shows and sticks his nose into Koko’s business, she isn’t the slightest bit cowed. She trusts her people to keep her safe, even if she sticks her head right into a dragon’s jaws.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Amata goes after Kagura; both union with themselves and fight as top halves of Aquarions. As they fight, Mikage moves Altair through a dimensional gate on a collision course with Vega to create a new world. Andy gets through to Mix, filling the holes in her memory and declaring his love for him/her. Crea appeals to Fudo to do something to stop Mikage, who transforms Zessica’s body and forces Mikono into union with him. After harnessing Ianthe, he also neutralizes Kagura and unions with him to form a Dark Aquarion. Amata unions with Yunoha and Cayenne to face him.
There was definitely a lot of mythology and side-switching to sift through, but now all the pieces just about where they need to be, and we’re all set up for the endgame. This week Amata finally, finally gets some fire in his belly and stands up to his bully of a counterpart. Unfortunately, they play rock-em-sock-em robots while their time could be better spent finding Mikono – the key to their victory. Instead, Mikage, who’s signed the lease to Zessica and revamped her decor, is able to snatch up Mikono. Which is bad news for anyone alive on either Altair or Vega.
We’ll refrain from speculating in too much detail how we see Aquarion Evol wrapping up, but we can tell you what we want. After a lengthy battle between Amata and Mikage, Amata eventually prevails, gets the girl, and saves the world – thereby successfully fighting back the fate he swore he would. We’re not saying a deviation from this plan will result in our writing off the series, but it’s been a long series full of will-they-won’t-they teasing. A nice, clear-cut, unambiguously happy ending would sure be a nice reward for sticking with it all these months.