In the days following the attempted coup, Marina addresses her people to calm them, but, despite having Union help, they still don’t know where Massoud Rachmadi is. Shirin privately feels that the situation is pretty bad because the receiving antenna has been destroyed, the UN engineers have withdrawn, and even Celestial Being is intervening. She knows that to get through all this, they have to protect Rachmadi. Meanwhile, Lockon is telling Wang Liu-Mei that there’s a third party at work here in addition to them and Union. When she asks him what he’s basing this on, Lockon explains that the missile strike on the receiving antenna site was probably by a mobile suit, though he has no idea why an organization that has mobile suits is doing this. That’s why he’s sent Setsuna out to investigate, and Setsuna is at that moment looking around the area where the missiles were launched. As it turns out, Graham and Billy are at the same place, and even when Setsuna tries to hide, Graham spots him. Setsuna comes out with his hands up in the air, and Billy assumes he’s a local kid, so he warns Setsuna that this place is dangerous. Playing along, Setsuna excuses himself and tries to leave.
Before Setsuna can go though, Graham stops him by questioning what he thinks about the internal strife in this country and who he supports. Setsuna, however, doesn’t take sides and instead emphasizes the fact that a lot of people are dying from all this. Graham then asks if Setsuna feels that Union is intruding, and Setsuna answers that more soldiers means increased damage. To Setsuna’s surprise, Graham accuses him of fighting too and wonders what Setsuna is hiding behind his back. Setsuna is holding his pistol behind him, but he doesn’t bring it out and instead stares down Graham for a moment. Graham eventually turns back to Billy and discusses how it was one of AEU’s latest Enacts that attacked the receiving antenna site. Before letting Setsuna go, he also notes that the mobile suit was taken from Moralia’s PMC, reminding Setsuna of Ali Al Sarshes. Back in the city, terrorist bombs continue going off, and Marina feels powerless in the face of all this. Even one of her own attendants turns on her and tries to assassinate her, but this woman is shot dead by Marina’s guards before she can pull the trigger.
As for Setsuna, he reports back to Lockon and Wang Liu-Mei about his own suspicions of where Rachmadi is based on what he now knows about Ali Al Sarshes’s involvement. Both he and Lockon launch in their respective Gundams for the rescue mission, and Lockon brings along Hong Long on Wang Liu-Mei’s suggestion. When the Exia arrives at the town, Ali Al Sarshes flies his custom Enact out to distract the Gundam while his men move Rachmadi. He figures out that the Exia’s pilot must be from the Kurdish Republic if he knows about this place, and his suspicions are confirmed when Setsuna angrily questions why he’s here. Ali Al Sarshes feels that he has no obligation to answer, and he manages to tackle the Exia to the ground. Before the Enact can pry open the Exia’s cockpit though, the Exia cuts off the Enact’s right arm, forcing Ali Al Sarshes to retreat. His men meanwhile have gotten away with Rachmadi, but they don’t make it very far before Lockon appears with the Dynames. It is actually Hong Long who emerges to knock out some of the guards, though Lockon has to do some sniping to pick off the remaining men around Rachmadi. Shortly after Hong Long reveals to Rachmadi that they are part of Celestial Being, the Exia arrives to pick Rachmadi up.
Up in space, Tieria is voicing his opposition to the current operation because of what could happen to the Exia if they screw up. Sumeragi insists that this is the best way, and Allelujah voices his support for her plan because he feels that it’s necessary to show Celestial Being’s desire to the world. Back in Azadistan, Marina receives a message from Celestial Being about them bringing Rachmadi to the royal palace, and they want her to put together an immediate cease-fire. Though she doesn’t agree with Celestial Being’s actions and knows that this could be a trap, Marina wants to believe, so she goes through with it. The next day, an angry mob of people who had heard the news gathers at the royal palace, and leaders around the world watch the live broadcast. When the Exia flies in, Graham is surprised to see that it’s unarmed, and Marina orders her men not to attack. That doesn’t stop some of the angry mob from pulling out their rifles and firing, but Setsuna ignores them and slowly starts walking towards the palace. The mobile suits guarding the palace react by raising their guns and demanding that the hostage be released, but even after they fire a round on the Exia, it still doesn’t respond and continues moving forward.
The mobile suits eventually allow the Exia to pass, and after it kneels down, Rachmadi emerges from the cockpit with Setsuna, though Setsuna has his helmet on to prevent being identified. After successfully turning Rachmadi over to Marina’s men, Setsuna is about to get back into the Exia’s cockpit, but Marina stops him by calling out his name and asking if it’s really him. Setsuna responds by saying that what happens from now on determines if Celestial Being comes again or not, and his last words to her before departing urge her to fight for the god she believes in. Turning off the broadcast in their shuttle, Lockon wonders to Wang Liu-Mei if all this will resolve this problem, and she suggests that it likely won’t. Still, she feels that people can compromise in order to stop strife. In the aftermath, Marina and Rachmadi issue a joint statement calling for an end to the civil war and terrorist activities. However, the internal troubles of Azadistan remain.
First things first, there was no new OP/ED this week – those will probably come next week. As for the episode itself, I kept thinking whenever they showed Rachmadi that someone was going to shoot him in the head, and everything would subsequently come crashing down around Marina, but that never happened, and the episode ended on a relatively good note. The narrator makes it a point to say at the very end that the internal strife of Azadistan continues, so we’ll be seeing more of Marina eventually, but I doubt we’ll be returning focus to there anytime soon.
I guess my main issue with all these Azadistan episodes – and the series so far in general – is that, although some elements (such as Ali Al Sarshes’s involvement) contribute to the greater story, it ends up feeling rather episodic in nature. I don’t think any of what happened really impacts the main plot in a significant way, and the series so far hasn’t really been structured for that. I bring this up because I tend to enjoy shows more when they are more serial in their storytelling, and I suspect that’s why I haven’t fully embraced this series despite its unique political flavor combined with Gundams. Of course, I’ll still keep watching because the show has a lot to offer, and we’ve only just gotten through the first fourth of it.