We open with Martin DaCosta (remember him? Andy’s number two) digging through information in the Mendel colony. As he leaves, he’s spotted by a hidden scout. On the Eternal, Lacus is worried about Gilbert’s plans and the future since Heaven’s Base has now fallen. On Earth, we find that Jibril did indeed escape, and is headed to ORB, where Jona and his father are waiting to greet him. Shinn is angry that he got away and promises to crush his enemies. At their hidden base, Kira tells Murrue that he is afraid he can’t protect everyone, but she tells him to wait for Lacus to come back.
Athrun and Cagalli have a long chat in the sick bay. Cagalli mentions that Meyrin has a fever, but should be fine. They apologize to each other for what they’ve done (Cagalli almost getting married, what Athrun said when he met with Kira and Cagalli on the island). Cagalli worries about LOGOS and everything going on to which Athrun says it’s definately not the end yet.
Back on the Eternal, DaCosta arrives and shows Lacus and Andy a notebook he found with the words “Destiny Plan” in bright red. As they’re examining it, an alarm goes off when the scout from before destroys a perimeter camera. Andy is ready to go out in the Gaia, but Lacus orders the launch of the Eternal in order to protect the factory producing DOMs.
In the ArchAngel, Kira learns that the Eternal has launched. He immediately heads to the bridge and gets permission to launch in the Strike Rouge (outfitted in boosters) after Athrun relays a message through Mwu/Neo that Lacus must be protected at all costs.
The battle in space starts as the three ZAFT ships launch several mobile suits. Andy heads out in the red Gaia as Kira launches from Earth. The new Gaia is doing decently, but as Andy is being overwhelmed, Strike roars by. Lacus is more than happy to see Kira, who quickly dispatches several suits, but gets heavily damaged blocking a shot directed at the Eternal. Andy tells him quickly get to the Eternal.
Kira and Lacus embrace as they see each other for the first time in a while – no kiss, but lots of hugging. Lacus leads Kira to a hanger where his new gundam, Strike Freedom, is held. Kira is happy that he can fight again, and promises that afterwords they can join everyone.
Enter Strike Freedom. Not only does it have rail guns, and dual rifles, but it also comes equipped with the DRAGOON bit system. Using these, Kira disables all of the enemy mobile suits, and the three capital ships. He doesn’t go into SEED mode, but does have a newtype reaction when he uses the DRAGOON system on the Nazca ships. As the battle ends, Kira and Lacus smile in each others directions.
Strike Freedom is finally here! Based on earlier spoilers, I was afraid that we’d have to wait until episode 42 for it to shine, but that is clearly not the case. And as expected, Strike Freedom kicks many levels of ass. On the subject though, I wonder if the newtype thing is the next step in SEED evolution. They’ve been doing it more and more this season, and Kira didn’t go into SEED mode this fight, instead having that reaction. This has been speculated on before, and I think this episode offers a lot to that argument.
There are several little things that made this episode even more interesting. After the scene between the sickbay and bridge of the ArchAngel, Murrue comments that Mwu/Neo remembered the bridge codes. Afterwords, Athrun thanks him, but gets corrected after he says Mwu’s rank instead of Neo’s rank. In the new OP, Mwu/Neo is in an ORB uniform, so we can safely assume that he eventually joins them. He’ll probably regain his memories, and I hope that he doesn’t have to die a second time, cause that would really suck.
It seems like Cagalli and Athrun are reconciled now. It still feels like their relationship isn’t nearly as close as it used to be or as close as, say, Lacus and Kira. I would have preferred maybe some tears on both their parts and some hugged and kissing (yes I know that sounds cheesy), but I’ll have to settle for this.
I’ve been listening to 君は僕に似ている ever since MakubeX2 found the full version. I’m really starting to like this song, though probably not as much as I liked the fourth GS ending (Find the Way).
So next episode has ZAFT attacking ORB from the looks of it, probably to get Jibril. We got a brief shot of Cagalli’s new mobile suit in the preview, so I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.