As the Dai-Gurren proceeds through the desert, Nia finds Simon is resting on the deck, and he comments on how her image has changed, though he likes the new look. Nia then reveals that she wants to work because she can’t stand not doing anything while everyone else is so busy. Before Simon can suggest anything, Yoko interrupts their conversation to lecture Simon for not eating breakfast again. She feels that eating is part of his job since he’s the only pilot of the Lagann, and that gives Nia an idea about what she can do: cook. She heads to the kitchen and starts cooking for the eager crew, but before they can eat, the ship’s warning alarms go off. Cytomander has arrived on his flying aircraft carrier, the Dai-Gunten, and he launches a fleet of bombers into battle. The Dai-Gurren crew prepares to fight, but since Rossiu happens to be sick from an unknown cause, Yoko will be piloting the Gurren today. Inside the cockpit, however, she notices the Gurren Brigade symbol on the seat and is reminded of Kamina. Boota helps her move forward, and the Gurren quickly accepts her as its pilot. When the bombing runs begin and ravage the Dai-Gurren, Cytomander quickly gets the impression that he’s too strong.
In order to fight, Simon has the Dai-Gurren throw the Gurren Lagann into the air and then uses long-ranged drills to swing from enemy aircraft to enemy aircraft, destroying each one in the process. One of the planes manages to dodge the drill and dives at the Gurren Lagann, but Simon avoids it and sends drills out the back of the Gurren Lagann to impale the aircraft. Yoko then alerts Simon to the fact that they can combine with it, giving them the ability to fly. With their allies returning fire now and the battle really heating up, the Enkidu suddenly strikes against the Gurren Lagann. Simon recognizes the pilot to be Viral, and since he’s having trouble fighting in the air, Yoko opens her cockpit and fires her gun directly at Viral. An angry Viral responds by having the Enkidu punch the Gurren Lagann out from under Yoko, sending her into free fall. Simon rushes the Gurren Lagann to catch her and crashes into the Dai-Gunten, with Viral following close behind. When Simon checks Yoko, she’s still alive and talking, but she has clearly hurt her arm.
The Enkidu soon lands beside them, and Viral demands to know where Kamina is, so Simon finally reveals that Kamina is dead. Viral is shocked to find out what happened back in the battle with Thymilph and quickly realizes that he’s been losing to Simon all this time. He then asks for Simon’s name, and after giving it, Simon heads off to fight by himself, vowing to protect Yoko. Their subsequent battle damages the Dai-Gunten from within and thus gets Cytomander quite pissed off. However, the Enkidu is still unable to best the Gurren Lagann, and this causes Viral to start questioning why he’s losing to a human child. As she watches the fight, Yoko sees that Simon really can fight by himself like he always says he can. Things change suddenly when Cytomander himself shows up and pins Yoko against the wall with his Shuzakk Gunmen. With Yoko as his hostage, Cytomander orders Viral to finish off the Gurren Lagann, but Simon calls this cowardly. Realizing that Simon is right, Viral puts away the Enkidu’s weapon, which pisses off Cytomander even more.
Meanwhile, the team is pushing the Dai-Gurren to the point where it can run up the side of a rock structure and jump right at the Dai-Gunten. The Dai-Gurren manages to land several devastating kicks, one of which causes an explosion that hits Cytomander’s Shuzakk inside the Dai-Gunten, giving Simon the opportunity to grab Yoko and escape. Leeron also recognizes the part of the Dai-Gunten that lets it fly, and so he has the Dai-Gurren grab it so that it can land safely. Now on the ground, Simon watches the Dai-Gunten retreat, and Yoko stares wide-eyed at him until she finally decides to ask him if he knew that she liked Kamina, which he indeed had known. In the aftermath, Nia visits Yoko’s infirmary room and hears Simon’s stomach growling, so she suggests that they go eat with everyone. Once those two leave, Rossiu suddenly bursts out of his infirmary bed and rushes to the bathroom. He explains afterwards that he got sick from sampling Nia’s cooking, but he couldn’t tell her how bad it was since she had been so happy in making it. Leeron and Yoko then realize that this is bad because the rest of the crew is about to taste that very same cooking, but it’s already too late. To everyone’s shock, Simon and Boota are the only ones able to eat the food with no side effects, and Simon even finds it delicious.
Viral meanwhile is brought in front of the Helix King by Cytomander for punishment, but before taking any, Viral first has something that he must know: are humans really inferior beings compared to beastmen? With Viral demanding to know what exactly humans are, the Helix King dismisses Cytomander and takes Viral to a room where the walls and floor are lined with beastmen specimens. He then explains that beastmen are imperfect beings, and in order to preserve the tough body, they have to go into a death-like deep sleep. Cell revival is thus essential, and if you wake them forcibly, the entire body’s cells would undergo necrosis. This causes Viral to question why the Helix King created the beastmen with such bodies, and the Helix King responds by creating a small model of a drill in his hand as he asks if Viral really wants to know the answer to what humans are. Viral simply answers yes.
As I watched this, I was surprised at how small a part Nia played in this episode and how much bigger roles Viral and Yoko got. Viral finally found out that Kamina is dead and that it’s been Simon piloting all along, which leads him to confront the Helix King about what humans are. We get cliffhanged in the end, but I think this shows that we’re finally to the point where we start to learn more of the back story of the Helix King and the humans there. It also seems to suggest again that Viral is an important character who will be around for a while yet. At the very least, I like that he’s shown that he has a sense of honor, though that very well may be what gets him in the end.
Yoko also finally admits to Simon that she had feelings for Kamina in one of the most smoothly animated scenes (wind blowing through hair) all episode. She’s like his older sister now with the way she scolds him about eating, though I still question what is ultimately going to happen to her character. Yoko was blushing after Simon said that he’ll protect her, but I have my doubts about if that really means anything. Anyway, the preview for next week shows that our heroes are finally within sight the capital, and it looks like they’ll have to fight Cytomander again.