Moments from defeat, Yuuya is bailed out by Latrova and the Zhar battalion, who wipe out the Beta surrounding him. The Soviet bombers start bombing the base, killing five of Latrova’s Eishis. Laser-Class Betas take out the bombers, saving Zhar. Latrova orders Kayl and Tonya to escort Yuuya to safety. She pursues an unknown signal while the rest of her battalion attempt to destroy the Laser-Classes. Just as Argos is about to pull out of the USSR, ending their joint exercises, Yuuya hobbles home, to everyone’s joy and relief. Later, news comes that Zhar Battalion was victorious in holding the front, but were was lost in the process. A new “Second Phase” Shiranui is unveiled.
Numerous times while conversing, Latrova mocks Yuuya’s Soviet conspiracy theories as not only stupid, but irrelevant. He and she are Eishis – the only remotely effective weapon against the Beta. They have neither the time nor the inclination to worry about politics. She has a point – it’s a strenuous job without worrying about the moral implications. But she also shows her softer side in voicing her belief that Eishis have a unique power to protect those things closest to them. Fikatsia Latrova lost her husband and son because she lost sight of her primary duty, and perhaps shared Yuuya’s suspicions. Now she has a new family with Zhar Battalion, and she intends to protect them to the end.
To do so, she covers their rear by going after a lightning-fast, mysterious TSF that’s shadowing her, but we never see the result. But she knew that both she and her battalion probably weren’t coming out of this alive. When she sends two of her comrades off with Yuuya with orders not to return, she’s actually saving their lives by excluding them from the impending battle. Of course, they disobey and return after dropping Yuuya off, likely joining their commander’s fate. But much to Yui’s relief, Yuuya returns, with Shiranui in almost one piece, and the unveiling of its replacement marks the end of the Soviet arc and the start of the next chapter in humanity’s struggle against the vile Beta.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Bridges returns to congratulations from his friends and more scorn and mocking from Latrova’s men. He sits out the victory party, and begs Yui to let him go on a close-range melee sortie, she tells him she’ll do what she can. During his 36 hours of standby, Latrova approaches him, telling him to cut ties with those who “spoil him”. He participates in the mopping-up of the remnants of the Beta, but another, larger surprise force suddenly approaches the base – from underground.
The humans in this series are in a tough spot. They now possess a weapon that can quickly obliterate an entire charging army of Beta in one shot (Yuuya kills more than 3,000 of them). But there’s only one Type 99 rifle, and the Japanese don’t want to share the technology. Also, being a new and highly secrative piece of kit, it’s fussy; shutting down without warning and unable to be reactivated. Those who could fix it are in Japan, and aren’t coming. The Beta may be the humans’ ultimate undoing, but all their distrust of one another isn’t helping matters.
Yuuya shows more growth in this episode, letting all the sarcastic remarks slide, being respectful to Lt. Takamura, and even agreeing with her when she suggests he sit out a sortie. He’s caught the interest of Cmdr Latrova (much to her unit’s unease), who insists if he’s going to continue growing, he has to stop blaming others and hanging out with those who let him. Ironically, this commander of a group of grunts from conquered nations is Russian, the nationality they despise. We also learn she’s fighting for her kid, whom she had to give away, and for all the children of her country. With a surprise Beta attack on the base imminent, it will be all hands on deck – and Yuuya will likely get the close-range combat experience he’s itching for.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Cmdr. Latrova briefs her Zhar Battalion and the three test flights, including Argos, that will participate in the operation against the Beta. She has a low opinion of Argos, and warns them to stay out of the way. Yuuya breaks up another scuffle between the Zhar pilots and Scarlet Twins, but Cryska doesn’t want his help. The day of the battle arrives, and there aren’t enough tanks to hold back the waves of Beta. Yuuya begs Latrova to withdraw her forces so he can get an open shot with the EM cannon. They eventually do, and he wipes out the entire Beta force with one shot. The mission successful, Takamura orders him back to base.
Finally, an actual battle! Though, because of Argos Flight’s position (in the back of the front line, not actually on it), Yuuya doesn’t quite experience the Eight Minutes of Death. He kinda just holds his position the whole time while everyone else supports him. This doesn’t ingratiate him with the Zhar Patch Kids, but then they’re just stupid punk kids. Unfortunately only one of them gets killed off. Frankly, we were hoping they’d get more comeuppance for ganging up on Inia a second time. Instead, Yuuya takes the high ground (literally and figuratively).
He beats the rotten odds set up by the Soviets, who seemed intent on not allowing the weapon test, even though that’s the whole reason Argos and Yuuya are there. Thanks to a moment of common sense by Latrova, he gets his chance, and the railgun makes quite the statement. Give every Eishi one of those cannons and adequate time to set it up (whic is a bit of an ordeal), and the Beta don’t stand a chance. Victorious, Takamura offers heartfelt thanks to Yuuya, and he thanks her in return. Not letting himself get provoked by kids; not sabotaging the mission by acting selfishly; being nice to Yui – who is this kid, and what have they done with the real Yuuya Bridges? :)
Rating: 6 (Good)
Argos Flight is sent to Kamchatka, Russia for TSF testing in a real battle environment. Yui and Yuuya’s truce continues, as Yui shows him the new experimental weapon he’ll be using. While looking for barracks, Yuuya comes across Cryska and Inia being ganged up on by young Far East eishis. Before they have to fight, their commanding officer shows up. In a later briefing, a massive coastal landing of Beta is announced, and Argos Flight will be paired with the elite Zhar Battalion, led by Cmdr. Fikatsia Latrova.
Finally the series stops messing around with beaches and swimsuits and puts everyone on the front line. Predictably, both Argos Flight and the Scarlet twins get no love from the locals, who resent their elite status, fancy toys, and how they’ve been back in safe Alaska while they’ve watched friends die. In this hostile, tense environment, Yui and Yuuya are civil, cordial, and even a little chummy in their interactions. Yuuya concedes that he’s still green when it comes to real anti-Beta combat, defers to Yui’s council, and promises not to underestimate the Beta, while coming back with his TSF – and body – in one piece.
There’s a new element of inter-ethnic tensions this week, as the cosmopolitan, entitled Russians Cryska and Inia are derided by soldiers at the base who are Kazakh or Georgian. They laugh at Cryska’s insistance they’re all “comrades”. Whether they were actually going to go through with stripping and gang-raping the twins(!), these grunts don’t give two shits about the “Motherland”, and answer to one person only: the mysterious “Thunder God” Commander Latrova, who is revered like a god, with special lighting for her arrival and everything. With Yui’s hard exterior softened considerably in recent episodes, Latrova looks to give her a run for her money in the badass department.
Rating: 6 (Good)