「離ればなれの訓練」 (Hanarebanare no Kunren)
Well, I might be right, but I sure don’t feel happy being right. Although easy to guess things wouldn’t go swimmingly for Irina as her date with space approaches, it’s something else seeing the potential results in action and knowing no matter what nothing will change when it comes to shooting her into the stars. Lev may not fully realize it yet, but he’s about to be forced into making a decision.
Much as Tsuki to Laika is fantasized fiction, it’s doing quite a good job of showing both how dangerous the Space Race was and how far the USSR in particular was willing to go for victory. Spacecraft failing their missions? Test animals/pilots dying from deliberate actions on the part of ground control? Putting the lives (often literal ones) of all involved on the line to ensure you eke out the most effort possible? All minor consequences for a political rulership reliant on smoke, mirrors, and fear to retain control. It’s easy to see the charade going on here, as besides fear and concern desperately being kept quiet in the face of overwhelming opposition you also have some who want out before being faced with the consequences. Everyone knows what’s coming, yet they all remain because the first one off the train will garner all the blame – and because there’s no guarantee the train rocket will actually crash.
And that then leads into what Lev and Irina will do next. While I’m somewhat surprised to get crushing coming up this fast between the two (I’d expect a couple more episodes of blissful ignorance personally), it certainly fits considering how ready Irina is (more or less) to now do the mission and how Lev is very quickly learning that Irina will very likely die. All his effort, all his training, it might save her should she successfully descend back to Earth, but there’s nothing saying she won’t disappear after that point; the girl, regardless of differences, is effectively human, and the longer everyone remains involved with her and grows closer the more likely such attachment will conflict with duty. Lev isn’t far off from that point already after all, all he needs is a small push and he’ll be openly doing what he can to make sure Irina stays safe.
What that push will be is anyone’s guess, but rest assured the moment for it is rapidly approaching.