Episode 13 Commentary

Fierce Attack! The Telezart Landing Operation!

By Arthur Painter (with notes from Tim Eldred)

Watch this episode now at these sources: Star Blazers on Hulu | Star Blazers on YouTube | Original version subtitled

During the top of the episode recap, the Star Blazers narrator says that Earth scientists would expect a natural comet to burn up in the atmosphere. Even the smallest natural comets are a few hundred meters wide, too large to burn up in the atmosphere. The script seems to be confusing comets with meteorites.

Production note: the opening recap of the Japanese version had a gaffe of its own; the defensive ring was missing from the cel of the Comet Empire. It must have been another tight deadline that week.

The Star Force is finally at Telezart. Sandor gives a brief report on the planet from his computer analysis. It is a hollow planet, much like the others in the area, with “an unusually large center cavity.” This is caused “by rapid and uneven cooling” as the planet formed. If there’s any life on Telezart, it must exist in the interior.

This is the second time a major planet in the Star Blazers/Yamato universe is revealed to be hollow, the first being Gamilon. Someone on the writing and planning staff must like the idea of hollow planets. Even Earth’s underground cities can fit into this theme of underground civilizations. The idea of these underground populations can perhaps be tied, either consciously or unconsciously, to the idea of bomb shelters.

Story note: the ship arrives at Telezart in the beginning of January, 2202. In Farewell to Yamato, Teresa was an antimatter being imprisoned on Telezart, a “colonial planet” of the Comet Empire. For Yamato 2, she was changed into a person of “supernatural power” with her own dark history.

Suddenly, an image of Trelaina appears in front of Telezart. Then they hear her voice, which seems to come out of the air itself. She tells them she is in a cave near the city. (Presumably, Telezart only has one city, or they’ll just instinctively know which one.) Her message ends abruptly. Although she wasn’t communicating by radio, her message is still capable of being jammed.

Sandor surmises that the Gamilons may have left a unit behind when they retreated. Wildstar orders the marines to prepare to move out. The marines gather in the hangar, ready for some action. Knox addresses his troops, telling them this is their chance to repay the Star Force for helping them out at Brumis.

Before the marines can be deployed, a crevasse opens up on Telezart, revealing several missile launcher emplacements. The following battle between the Argo and the Telezart defenses was lifted from Farewell to Yamato. While the movie featured an enemy squadron here, the TV version just has missile bases, although there is a landing strip. The Star Force takes them out while the marines are given their launch order.

The marines take off in a landing tank, destroying a few leftover missile silos as they descend. Entering the crevasse, the tank touches down and rolls forward on its treads. Despite being underground, Telezart’s interior is remarkably well-lit. Knox reports their touchdown, and Wildstar has Homer report it to EDF HQ.

Continuing to travel through the bottom of the crevasse, they come to an opening. The marines are amazed by what they find: the remnants of a large city. This scene is accompanied by an appropriately eerie piano piece that was unreleased until the Sound Almanac collection for Yamato 2 came out in March of 2013. In Yamato 2, the music was the only sound. The hardy soldiers are too stunned for words.

Interlude: Desslok and his forces are returning to the Comet Empire city. Talan is fretting about the situation, wondering why they were recalled on the cusp of victory. Desslok doesn’t offer any answers to his aide, just staring mutely ahead. Morta watches this scene from afar. This is Morta’s last appearance in the series.

The Gamilon fleet arrives at the Comet Empire. Rather than the stock “comet plows through several asteroids” shots, we’re treated to a few beautifully-rendered pans across the Comet Empire city, Gatlantis. From the size of it, it looks like the city could be home to millions of people.

Prince Zordar spends a relaxing moment gazing into a pool of water when Invidia informs him that Desslok has returned. He’s happy at first, assuming that the Gamilon has defeated the Star Force, but his happiness turns to anger when Invidia tells him he gave up and abandoned his position. Zordar is appropriately skeptical, believing that Desslok must have a reason for his actions. Invidia plays Zordar perfectly, suggesting that Desslok may have been scared off by Trelaina’s “mysterious powers” (adding that he wouldn’t be the first) and suggests that she talk to him. Invidia receives his permission, but Zordar insists that she question Desslok about his motives.

Desslok and Talan stand in the throne room, waiting for their audience with Zordar. As in the earlier scene, Desslok maintains his composure, leaving Talan to fret and demand answers from the two silent guards. After quieting his aide, Desslok gazes at Zordar’s empty throne. Yamato 2 was silent here, the empty chair emphasizing Zordar’s absence, but Star Blazers reveals Desslok’s thoughts: “Some day, that will be mine.” While Invidia is without a doubt conniving and duplicitous, that brief look into Desslok’s mind implies that her fears about him are not unfounded.

In a dark room, Invidia and Dyar meet to discuss the Desslok situation. Dyar is concerned that Zordar will find out about their subterfuge, but Invidia assures him that she will “protect” him if things go south. (I’m not sure if Dyar believes that.) While Invidia has some concerns about Desslok and his designs on the Comet Empire throne, she seems even more concerned about Trelaina. Using Comet Empire forces to fight his private war against the Star Force is one thing, but Invidia is afraid that Desslok will provoke Trelaina into action. “He is not a man who does things in a small way,” she says.

With Desslok removed from the Telezart area, the threat from Trelaina is reduced. As for the Star Force, General Skorch and his tank battalion were dispatched to take care of them. Invidia doesn’t seem to think Skorch has much chance of defeating them, especially if Trelaina sides with the Star Force, but she considers him and his forces expendable. Dyar reveals he has similar concerns about Desslok ascending to the throne. He seems appropriately horrified when Invidia points out that the two would not last long in Desslok’s regime. As they walk out to face Desslok, Invidia holds Dyar’s arm, suggesting that she’s not above using feminine wiles to promote her agenda.

As before, the comments about Desslok claiming the throne are only in Star Blazers. The dialogue in Yamato 2 was about how Sabella [Invidia] and Genitz [Dyar] are now working against a common enemy, despite their past differences. I’ve often wondered why the Star Blazers scriptwriters changed the Zordar/Invidia relationship from Prince and Consort to Father and Daughter. It’s interesting to note there are several references to Desslok being considered a possible heir, and Zordar even refers to him as “like a son” in a later scene. So in Star Blazers, this sets up Desslok and Invidia in a sort of sibling rivalry: the bratty daughter vs. the good son.

While Yamato often looked to historical references for character names, Star Blazers often went with names that doubled as adjectives, especially when it came to the villains. Bain/Bane, Krypt/Crypt, Volgar/Vulger, and Dyar/Dire are a few of the more notable examples. This is true for “Invidia” as well, which is Latin for “jealousy.” Star Blazers implies she’s jealous of the affection her father shows to Desslok.

On Telezart (specifically, the “Headquarters of General Zabaibal’s Tank Brigade” according to the Yamato 2 caption), General Skorch is informed that the Star Force has landed. He plans to wait until they are on the great barren plain, then surround them with tanks. Throughout this episode, there are several references to “robot tanks.” In Yamato 2 this is not the case.

Production note: in Farewell to Yamato, General Zabaibal had a scar near one eye. To make him stand out in Yamato 2, his body was beefed up and the scar was made more prominent on his cheek.

Knox and his group continue through the ruined city while the anxious crew on board the Argo waits for their next report. The discussion soon turns to whether Knox is responsible enough to make regular reports. In Yamato 2, the scene continues a bit longer as they begin talking about Dessler’s recent retreat. Shima [Venture] fears that since they’re dealing with a master strategist, it could be some kind of ruse.

Next we get some relief from all the drama with a pair of light-hearted scenes. First up, Nova picks flowers in the hydroponic garden. She’s soon joined by Doctor Sane who reminisces about younger days, talking with his girlfriend in flowery fields. He eventually became allergic to the flowers, but has since outgrown it. He asks Nova who the flowers are for. She answers they’re for Trelaina.

In Yamato 2, Dr. Sado also reminisces about a girl, but instead of talking about flowers and allergies, he talks about the sake she brought him. Yuki notes that he seems to remember the sake more fondly than the girl.

Our second light-hearted scene has Royster spiffing himself up with hair gel so he can look his best when he (presumptively) meets Trelaina. IQ-9 comes over to mock him. Royster gets defensive, saying that women don’t always go for the big, brawny types. (He’s right, especially when you consider that even Dr. Sane once had a girlfriend.) IQ “helps” Royster, grabbing a handful of hair and mussing it up. He wheels away, leaving Royster an unkempt, whimpering mess. Moreso than usual, that is.

Homer finally gets a response from Knox. Brushing off a mild tongue-lashing from Wildstar, Knox relays images from the ruined city. He describes the area he’s in as a former town square. He says it’s quiet, no sign of enemy activity. Speaking in hushed, reverent tones, the bridge crew wonders what could have caused such a catastrophe. Sandor observes that the Telezart civilization must have been more advanced than Earth’s, and the type of destruction indicates it was caused by a war. When Wildstar asks Sandor for an estimate on when it may have happened, the science chief sounds a bit surly; “I’m sorry I can’t give you a date just from a video picture,” but then he opines that it must have been pretty recent. Wildstar guesses that the Comet Empire might have been the cause, due to Trelaina’s warnings. Venture says that instead of theorizing, they need to find Trelaina and ask her directly.

The marine ship exits the city and travels out onto a remote, barren plane. The sky has a perpetual orange glow, like it’s stuck in a never-ending sunset, but no source of light is revealed. The Marines decide to stop for lunch. Knox describes the terrain as looking “like Mars before we improved it.” I always thought this meant some terraforming had been done on Mars, which would possibly explain the snowfall we saw in Series 1. Telezart’s atmosphere is breathable, allowing the marines to remove their protective helmets. They pick a place with a good view of their surroundings and unpack the food. One of the marines had told “Cookie” that they were going to be gone for a couple of days, so they have a surplus which they heartily devour amid light-hearted banter.

Suddenly, a marine hears something. There are a few seconds here (removed from Star Blazers) showing a marine scoping out the surroundings with high-tech binoculars. Soon, they spot a flag over the ridge. A moment later, a dust cloud heralds the arrival of Skorch and a battalion of tanks.

Additional note from Matt Murray: The scene of the marine with the binoculars and the accompanying dialogue were present when the series was broadcast on television, but were for unknown reasons eliminated from the home release, a phenomenon which will be seen several more times in the upcoming episodes.

Most tanks have double-barreled turrets, but Skorch has a special triple-barreled command tank. Knox somehow knows that these tanks, like the ones encountered at Brumis, are manned by robots. Skorch’s forces begin firing and several marines fall before the onslaught, shown explicitly in Yamato 2. A follow-up attack demolishes their landing craft. Knox calls out for reinforcements.

Wildstar immediately heads out, taking Sandor along to form the second landing group. The group turns out to be only them and IQ-9.

Meanwhile, the marines continue to struggle against the tanks. Knox has them pull back to their landing craft, only to discover it’s a burning wreck. They have no choice but to hold out until help arrives.

In Zordar’s throne room, Talan notes the obvious to Desslok: something appears amiss.

This is a great episode, and a favorite of mine even as a young fan. We only get a smattering of action, but after several episodes of the Yamato facing its crisis of the day, they are finally at Telezart. Plus, Invida and Dyar continue in their perfidious schemes. I remember as a boy being amazed that Desslok, a black-hat villain (albeit one with a sense of panache) has reached a point where we’re actually able to sympathize with him.

Continue to Episode 14

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