Gjallerhorn troops surround Tekkadan’s base, hopelessly outnumbering everyone. Zack and the other dropouts find their way out blocked, realizing they’re stuck until the bitter end. The populations of two worlds watch as Rustal moves to control the narrative, making Tekkadan look as upstarts who will never surrender, and thus must be beaten by force for the sake of peace and order. McGillis is oddly optimistic, pointing out winning the battle here will settle things quickly, AND not so subtly trying to get people to bring up his new jacket. Little does he know that Tekkadan has become numb to his attention-craving fashion sense for some time now. I mean, if they didn’t bring up his wearing a grey wig and weird mask back in the first season, this isn’t even trying.
The boys try to come up with a plan, knowing they can’t get the word out and they’re surrounded on all sides. Some still want to fight, but the game has changed now, as has the goal. As long as they can all get out alive, that’s a win, and they’ll burn down the base, the Mobile Suits, and even the name Tekkadan to make that happen. Everyone else seems on board with this move, along with getting Makanai’s help to forge them new identities, but McGillis’ seems confused, as this wasn’t the team of ambitious underdogs he signed up for. For Orga, though, he and his team staying among the living is all the victory he needs. So, even though this mutual partnership is all but at its end, McGillis decides to act as a distraction for Orga, Ride, Chad, Kudelia, and Atra to get to the Admoss Company and get the word out. But it’s not like he WANTS them to survive, b-b-b-baka!
Before heading out, McGillis has one last talk with Mikazuki, mourning the loss of what he thinks what Tekkadan could’ve been under his own leadership when this was all they amounted to. Orga looks back on all of the “Kings of Mars” business, and how he met Mikazuki. So, in lieu of having the Barbatos to protect him, Orga decides to take Mika’s gun, on the condition that he brings it back. McGillis leads the distraction in Bael, charging headlong into the waves of suits lead by Iok. And of course, keeping in character for SUPER GENIUS IOK, he can’t go two seconds without screwing up and charges right back. Naturally, he’s beaten down in two hits, but at least this causes the battle to start up and allow Orga’s group to get away, and they make it to Admoss in no time at all.
Rustal isn’t the least bit phased by this, controlling the media with Nobliss Gordon’s help and controlling all of Gjallerhorn in his own grip. What slips by him is Orga’s call to Makanai, who decides to grant them their request as long as they make it to Earth. Turns out Takaki is also over there, having gained a job under him, and Azee and Echo are managing the remaining Turbines to smuggle them out and give them a chance to survive. Everyone they’ve ever helped is coming together to pay them back, and it’ll all be decided on the place they finished their very first job as Tekkadan: transporting Kudelia to Earth. After seeing Atra and Kudelia off and remembering the good times, the boys head to the car. Looks like everything’s finally going to work out, with even the streets weirdly deserted so they can head back without any-
…I let my guard down. As soon as they step outside, a car slides up and thugs open fire. Chad is nailed in the shoulder, while Orga shields Ride and take several shots in the back before firing back and knocking off a couple of the assailants, forcing them away. Orga, unaware he’s losing blood, stands up and proudly steps forward, using his last breath to tell everyone to never stop.
GOD. DAMMIT. I’ve been watching anime for most of my life and I can almost always see a death coming a mile away, but this…goddammit.
Being a mecha fan, when I first started watching this show, I couldn’t help but see some resemblance between the dynamic of Orga and Mikazuki to that of Kamina and Simon from Gurren Lagann, at least on a superficial level. So, I snarkily mused over the first few episodes when Orga would bite the big one, forcing Mika to take on the leadership role and accept his destiny as main character protagonist. But then, the episodes kept going and Orga kept not dying. Other people, like Biscuit and Naze and Shino eventually got theirs, but Orga remained a big part of the story, with everyone always hanging on every word and order, and usually leading them to victory. I guess I should’ve noticed the signs when they had so many scenes of remembering how everything started, and even Mika lending his gun, but I was so invested I just couldn’t see it. It probably helped that Orga never got a definitive love interest or that probably would’ve sent the alarms blaring, but I’m not kidding when I say I think his relationship with Mika might’ve been the closest to it. I have to wonder if they were written as some sort of dark reflection of Kamina and Simon if Kamina never died, and Simon was really bad at processing emotions, but that might be a bit of reach.
Though the bleakness of the situation is really beginning to put a choke hold on things. In all of the Gundam shows I’ve seen (or at least in the more recent serious shows not counting Build Fighters) the last batch of episodes was always about rallying for the last battle, drawing a clear line between good and evil (even if they tried to make it seem ambiguous and failed at that), giving every main mecha pilot an enemy to fight, navel gazing at the potential of humanity and togetherness and peace and accepting each other, and having one final blow out battle in space to wrap things up.
With Iron-Blooded Orphans, we have a slow, sad, unfair, and cruel end to some poor kids who just wanted to live peacefully, but were warped and corrupted by the world before being turned on and made to be the targets by the corrupt wannabe demagouges that manipulated them to this point in the first place.
And I guess I wouldn’t want it any other way. Two episodes left. Make peace with your gods.