Sousuke arrives on Merida Island and reports to Tessa. She knows that he wants to talk about Kaname, however she tells him to let the Intelligence department handle it and that his focus should be on the Arbalest. Sousuke takes a hard line against her, and the raised tensions eventually leads to Tessa breaking down crying and yelling at Sousuke for wanting to stay with Kaname. The situation is interrupted when Tessa’s next appointment, the newly arrived Lieutenant Clouzot, shows up. At a local bar, Sousuke confesses to Kurz about what happened, and Kurz tries his best to cheer Sousuke up. Clouzot walks up to the bar and sits down on a reserved seat, the seat of the former (now deceased) Wurz 1, Captain Gail McAllen. Kurz attempts to explain that to Clouzot, but the lieutenant calls McAllen a coward. Wanting to protect the honor of a fallen comrade, Kurz tries to punch Clouzot, but gets hammered into the ground instead. Alarmed, Sousuke stands up, but Clouzot challenges him to a game instead. After they board their ASes for a close combat fight, Sousuke realizes that Clouzot is piloting the black M9 that saved them back in Sicily. The skirmish begins, but goes poorly for Sousuke as he can only try to keep up with the lieutenant’s movements. Clouzot tells Sousuke that while he has skill, he lacks art. Up against a corner, Sousuke realizes that the only thing he can use is the Lambda Driver. In the next clash, Clouzot hits the Arbalest square in the torso, knocking it and Sousuke out. On a screen inside the base, Tessa and Mardukas watch. The real objective of this game is to gather information about the Arbalest and to get Sousuke to activate the Lambda Drivers (which in this case wasn’t successful). Waking up in the infirmary, Sousuke realizes that he is completely outclassed by his new superior officer. Clouzot tells him that part of the reason he lost is because he hates the Arbalest. Shortly after returning to his own room, the lieutenant finds Melissa standing at the door. Already acquainted, they briefly discuss McAllen’s death and Sousuke’s future. Meanwhile at the command center, Mardukas informs Tessa of an emergency situation in Hong Kong: an AS is on a rampage.
The return of FMP! TSR is finally here!
The final arc is almost upon us (see below), but this episode is basically about Sousuke feeling depressed and getting some sense knocked into him. He’s understandably angry about being forced away from Chidori, and his problems get compounded after he fails to start up the Lambda Drivers and Clouzot so easily defeats him. Clouzot’s conclusion that Sousuke hates the Arbalest is one of the underlying problems that Sousuke will have to face in the coming episodes (amid all of the coming chaos).
Like the last few episodes, this one followed the novels fairly well, stuffing as much as it could into one episode in order to stay on track. I wish they kept in the part of the infirmary scene where Clouzot leans over Sousuke and taps Sousuke’s chest as he explains how ASes should be an extension of the body. It epitomizes how small Sousuke feels at that instant, and would have been very fitting for this episode. Still, all of what is included is done quite well, particularly the scene between Tessa and Sousuke where Nogami Yukana delivers a great performance. I wasn’t as impressed with the Black M9 vs. Arbalest battle as I have been with some of the previous fights, but I admit that’s probably just because it didn’t feature any flashy projectiles. Clouzot has quite a bit of skill though, so it is fun to watch his fluid movements.
Since WOWOW’s Schedule page is saying that this series ends at episode 13, I think we can safely assume that Hong Kong will be the final arc. But don’t fret, there’s quite a bit of action and story still to be had. Xia Yu Lan and Xia Yu Fang are setting up what will be two separate encounters, one for Sousuke and one for Chidori, the latter of which will occur next episode. And you can be sure that Amalgam won’t sit idly by while this goes on. Big things are coming next episode…
Closing Thought: I laughed when I heard the gigolo comment Kurz makes in the bar scene not so much because it is funny, but more because they choose to keep that line in.