Episode 15: Teresa, Cry for Dessler!
by Kathy Clarkson and Anton Mei Brandt
“28 Years Ago” is the time we are given, and we see nothing at first. We only hear the voice of Abelt Dessler. “Our blue blood, blue skin. In all the vastness of space, there is nothing like it.”
[KC]: Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! Are we getting a Garmillas flashback? We’re getting a Garmillas flashback!
[AMB]: And it’s been a long time coming! When writing for 2202, it was decided right from the outset to delve deeper into both Dessler and Garmillas’ past, at both director Habara and writer Fukui’s request. (See interview here.) This is the fruit of their labors.
The camera pans down and we see the planet Garmillas, but it is barely recognizable from the vibrant, green and yellow orb we are familiar with. This Garmillas is drenched in a crisp golden hue.
Abelt continues, speaking of how their unique genetic makeup led to a culture of pride in their blood, leading their race to maintain racial purity.
[KC]: Uhhhhhh … check, please.
[AMB]: While the mere mention of eugenics does ring some warning bells, we’re about to see just why the uniqueness of their blood is both a source of pride and a curse.
Next we see a tall, oddly-shaped structure standing stark against a turbulent sky. This is the former office of the Supreme Leader; Dessler Mansion.
[AMB]: Worth noting is that this mansion’s title doesn’t indicate whether or not Abelt himself has ever used it as his office, but rather that the Supreme Leaders of Garmillas (collectively) used this before Baleras Tower was constructed (the presidential office in 2199). Why a new office was constructed will be delved into later.
[KC]:”WELCOME, FOOLISH BARBARIANS, TO DESSLER MANSION.” Sorry about that. Just needed to break the tension of that gross Space Nazi garbage with a dumb joke.
[AMB]: You’re fine! On that topic, the visual makeup of Garmillas here isn’t how it actually looked in the past (as we’ll see in a bit), but a direction taken to depict Garmillas’ “golden days.” This is the same golden hue that surrounds Teresa, the image she held of Yamato last episode, and the outlines covering Abelt last time we saw him.
Last time, Teresa spoke of how Yamato – the “great harmony,” connects people through bonds, and that sometimes these bonds grow with pain. The golden outline surrounding Yamato was then passed on to Abelt, drenching this depiction of the past. It visually conveys how Dessler’s destiny has been guided toward Yamato in both past and present, an inescapable bond.
Then there’s the fact that the events depicted in this initial flashback sequence are ones which Abelt himself had no control over, events which transpired as a result of choices made by others; the slow death of Garmillas, the death of his brother and the construction of Baleras Tower which forced him to initially meet Starsha to discuss the future. We don’t know it yet, but we’re seeing all this through Teresa’s eyes. Later we’ll see that Abelt’s memories have natural coloring.
Inside the mansion, we hear dark and mournful music as we pan over a room that is almost certainly what inspired the future Throne Room of Abelt Dessler. There is no mural depicting he and Starsha yet, of course, but the familiar spiked symbol of his future Empire is present, and seven men sit below it around a conference table, discussing the fate of their home world. One man, identified as Archduke Erik Vam Dessler, informs them that their home world has 100 years at most in his estimation and they have yet to find another planet that will sustain them for long, seeing as their blood ties them to planet Garmillas.
[AMB]: Towering above the rest of Garmillas structures, this magnificent piece of architecture shows the pride Garmillas once had as a nation, undone by the events which transpired in 2199. The entrance to the conference room’s roof seems to depict Iskandar and Garmillas in symbiosis as planets, tugging at each other’s gravitational pull. The architecture is quite open as well, with many holes in the walls and roof cut in diamond shapes, reminiscent of Garmillas planetary state as grand but hollow. Abelt’s throne room filigree is seen adorning the walls, as well as a red carpet leading to Erik’s conference room.
[KC]: Generally the only design choice I think I disagree with when it comes to Garmillas is the jodhpurs.
[AMB]: I don’t see the Baleras throne room comparison, but I do see a stark similarity between this conference room and the one used by Garmillan officials in Baleras Tower in 2199. We’ll see a familiar Garmillan imperial guard official having recreated this room coming next episode, in fact. Also, what about the jodhpurs, Kathy?
[KC]: They pan over a bare wall that could be the same exact wall the mural of Abelt and Starsha winds up on. I didn’t think that mural was in the conference room, but I could be wrong. As for the jodhpurs, Garmillas doesn’t appear to have horses, so the design is only to remind us that they’re Fascist.
[AMB]: Fair enough! And it’s not in the conference room just as you’ve surmised, but since the pan shot is done outside the room I think it indicates that while the bare wall seen is probably used as base for Abelt’s mural in the future, this is not its final resting place.
A couple of the other men at the table express their shock at this news. A third, identified as Sir Mattheus, is a young man who addresses the Archduke as “Uncle” and insists that they must find a new home for the survival of their people at once. Someone questions the feasibility of finding a planet for billions with the same atmosphere necessary to sustain Garmillans, seeing as the “Sun of Salezar” is very special. Another suggests that they leave their “Second Class Citizens” behind, to which young Mattheus reacts very angrily.
[AMB]: Then we have the reveal of Archduke Erik, Abelt’s uncle. He’s voiced by seiyuu legend Kazuhiko Inoue, voice of Dusty Attenborough in LoGH and Kakashi from Naruto. His title reveals something curious about Garmillas’ past as an Archduchy, with Archduke (in layman’s terms) referring to “son of the former emperor.” Delving into the character profiles, we see that it’s thanks to Erik that Garmillas became united as a planetary nation (though perhaps not yet), something Abelt later expands into a galactic empire. This is expanded upon later in this episode.
[KC]: I want to know the family names of those men in his cabinet or whoever they are.
[AMB]: As do I… Anyhow, not only is Garmillan blood unique, their sun and atmosphere is as well. To fully recreate their environment, they’d probably have to move pieces from their planet to another, artificially recreate their sun and… Oh, the Jupiter floating continent. The Garmillas plants on Earth in 2199. The 11th planet and its artificial sun which Yamato blew up. Ouch…
The older men begin expressing their disbelief and disgust over the idea of mixing and diluting their blood and skin color with folks who aren’t blue, or getting help from Iscandar, but Mattheus isn’t listening anymore. He has noticed someone spying on the meeting, and leaves the table to check behind the heavy drapes along a far wall. He draws them back roughly to reveal a small boy, and Mattheus breathes his name in surprise: “Abelt.”
[AMB]: In 2199, Vice-Commander Hyss mentions that Garmillas is celebrating the 100-year rule of the Dessler family. If we go by the fact that Abelt was around 32 Earth years old in 2199, this means that 28 years before 2203 (reminder that we’ve passed into 2203) he was 7 years old. Applying Occam’s razor, we can reasonably assume that Abelt is the 3rd generation of Dessler rulers, with Mattheus originally meant to have taken his place.
[KC]: MIND BLOWN. Honestly, he has no business being that adorable. And interesting to note in the American subbed version is that the Garmillas seem concerned that if they go to Iscandar for help they will be made slaves? What is THAT all about? Okay, back to Baby Dessler!
[AMB]: Indeed! As we all know, Iscandar is a nation which abides by strict pacificm as early as 18 years ago (a much welcome timestamp we’ll get in a bit), with their help probably coming at the cost of certain freedoms or political autonomy, such as the right to engage violently if need be with the rest of the cosmos. The slave comment is probably not meant to be literal, but to exclaim fear of submission, that they’ll be beholden to Iscandar for the rest of time.
Then again, maybe the Iscandarian race has yet to perish by self-immolation at this point, with their tyrannical usage of Wave-Motion Energy (as described in 2199) still going strong? It’s unclear until further notice, though I subscribe to my first idea.
Little Abelt looks terrified, and well he should as the men around the table voice their outrage over the guards’ failure to stop him from sneaking in. After some apprehension, one of the old men (let’s just call him Baron Monocle) reminds Erik that one who has not made “the pledge of blood” cannot become involved in these matters. Another man seconds this, imploring the Archduke to uphold the laws, even if Abelt is a relative. After a moment of silent introspection, Erik rises from his seat and approaches Abelt, his intent clear. Abelt falls to his knees with a strangled cry.
[AMB]: Based on what we see of Erik in 2202 he appears to be a strong leader, true to his word and honor-bound. Nepotism isn’t on his agenda either, even going so far as coldly moving to execute his nephew for the sake of the future. In his quest to unite all of Garmillas, there have surely been countless sacrifices made and more to come.
On another note, the purposeful decision to present this scene with cold and oppressive sound design in lieu of Yamato’s incredible music is one I deeply appreciate, giving the audience complete rights of interpretation since there’s no melody or bombastic tune to sway our heartstrings. Silence permeates scenes of great importance going forward, and we’re asked to make up our own mind. Fukui spoke of the importance of silence in a recent concert interview from last year:
“Music can be used to enhance people’s emotions. The original work was good at not only using music, but also using silence. At the moment Captain Okita dies, Dr. Sado just takes a breath. It’s something we’ve forgotten in modern productions, where we’re obsessed with music. It made me feel that it’s also important not to use music sometimes.”
[KC]: So, some random initial thoughts. Archduke Erik Vam Dessler kinda looks like Original Dessler got some facial hair, a ginger dye job and a Kaiser’s uniform. Also, you only get a good shot of four of the other five guys at that table. One of them could easily be related to Goer and Baron Monocle looks kind of like a Deitz, maybe?
[AMB]: Checks out with me. Then there’s the one who unremorsefully pushes for maintaining their “noble blood,” likely a relative of Herm Zoellick, leader of the pure-blood xenophobic military faction in 2199. Based on Erik’s looks, it seems like Herm might have fashioned his appearance to resemble Archduke Erik’s in order to raise the public’s opinion of him, similar to how Job Trunicht in LoGH styled himself as the founder of the FPA [Free Planets Alliance], Ahle Heinessen.
Readings into motive vary, as some might argue both of these characters (Herm and Job) chose to resemble their respective predecessors, believing themselves to be their second coming… Wait, how is Fukui managing to create a more morally ambiguous take of 2199’s Garmillas plot? I’ll let the man explain:
“In the previous work 2199, there were many voices who didn’t understand why Dessler took his actions, so I’ve tried to solve it. I’m sure it was something meaningful to him. That part is strongly depicted. For that reason, I’m doing big things like shaking the Garmillas concept at its core. I hope you’ll see what happens next.” (Read the full interview here.)
Erik starts to draw his sword when Mattheus steps in front of him, shielding Abelt, and demands that he wait. After a staredown with his uncle, Mattheus turns and kneels, asking Abelt if he will pledge to keep this terrible secret and spend the rest of his life seeking a new place to immigrate to, preventing their extinction. With smiles and words of encouragement, Mattheus draws a dagger. “You can do it. It’s a promise,” he says.
Abelt trembles for a moment, then nods and offers up his hand, which Mattheus takes, drawing the blade across the boy’s thumb as the Archduke and his advisors look on. A single drop of purple blood falls and everything goes white.
[AMB]: From seeing Erik’s sad yet stern determination to bloodily (see what I did there?) maintain the secret to hearing Mattheus’s VA Takeshi Kusao (voice of Trunks from Dragonball, Capricorn Shura from Saint Seiya and Kyoichi Saionji from Revolutionary Girl Utena) so emotionally protecting his younger brother at the price of Abelt’s future… it’s some real stellar direction, unafraid to take its time. We also hear Abelt referring to his brother as “nii-sama,” the “nii” meaning “brother” and sama being an honorific reserved for people of great stature or respect.
[KC]: If they think I am just going to start sympathizing with Abelt because he was a cute, sweet, brave little boy, well … we’ll see. It’s starting to look like the motivations of Abelt Dessler are no longer as far off from his original counterpart as I was led to believe in 2199. Also, wow. Kill a little kid for eavesdropping? Racial purity? Sure, Abelt dropped a floating city on his own Capital, but these guys are straight up garbage.
[AMB]: There’s a lot more to it than just the eavesdropping, namely the fact that if this secret were ever to leak it would cause mass hysteria among the people. Revealing that your race genetically has an expiration date could turn people into animals, and is a cross which only the chosen few of Garmillas (after some serious vetting) seem to bear. It’s a secret which a certain ex-leader of the Garmillas secret police has known all along, as we’ll find out in the next episode.
This scene might also retroactively explain some of the Garmillas people’s absurd fascination with their “pure blood” in 2199, since it’s what keeps them tied to their homeworld in the long term. The purer the blood, the less you can sustain yourself without the Salezar sun, meaning that “second-class citizens” take space that is biologically needed for pure bloods. It’s a fascinating take on eugenics that goes beyond our own human bigotry and propaganda.
[KC]: I am going out on a limb and suggesting that they put it in there to have a sympathetic out for human bigotry and propaganda.
[AMB]: Perhaps this unfortunate necessity is part of why Abelt makes the “why do we cling to this planet?” statement in 2199’s Episode 19? And why he allows Gimleh’s imperial guard to clear the planet of people through less than desirable means? On one hand, Abelt is a symbol of hope for second-class Garmillans as we see in the eyes of Hilde Schultz and Celestella, but on the other he gives Gimleh the go-ahead to forcefully deport his own people – blue skins from the lower classes – to keep Garmillas alive. It’s quite a retroactive eye opener.
The blood drop becomes an explosion and the sounds of artillery and combat can be heard. It is now 22 years ago, or 6 years later. An image of Mattheus turns to smile at us over his shoulder and then vanishes. The explosion is replaced by heavy clouds and pouring rain. A coffin laden with bouquets.
Now a young man, Abelt stands beside the mourning Archduke and his council as a woman brushes roughly past him, clearly distraught. This is Abelt’s mother Adelcia, who is also the mother of Mattheus who is in the coffin. She throws herself against it, sobbing in denail and despair, begging Mattheus to return.
[AMB]: The way this entire flashback sequence is directed, from Abelt’s occasional narration to the golden hue and the purple pure blood piercing through Garmillas golden past to the tune of A dictator’s anguish (a melancholic version of the Garmillas national anthem) is expertly crafted, turning our focus from their politics to their blood. Every scene has a natural transition, every moment has importance. And it doesn’t belittle 2199, instead choosing to reinforce its already strong foundation.
[KC]: I should be nothing but grateful for this backstory, but I find myself greedy for more. I wonder if we will be provided with any more details about how Mattheus lived and died.
[AMB]: Mattheus could have perished in many ways. The most reasonable ones I can come up with is that he either lost his life in combat against some alien nation while searching for a new planet, perhaps even Iscandar as they were before their age of pacifism. Or maybe the great unification of Garmillas as talked about in both series had yet to be fully achieved, with Mattheus losing his life at the hands of insurrectionists.
The gunfire indicates a bloody death, but perhaps the karma of taking part in the great unification war got to his blood, perishing due to disease or bleeding out far beyond the reaches of the Salezar Sun. In any case, this leaves things very open for 2205 to explore, without feeling like a loose end.
As Abelt looks on, distraught, people around him begin to talk about how Mattheus was a hero in the War of Unification and how his death came so suddenly. How his wife Eliza, who is seen briefly, only recently learned that she was pregnant. How the House of Dessler is cursed. And all the ways that Abelt is not the man his brother was, and never will be, since “inborn talent can’t be outdone by hard work.”
“If Mattheus was the light, his brother is the dark,” they say.
[AMB]: Abelt’s mother Adelcia is voiced by Masako Ikeda. She delivers a tearful performance, truly tapping into the overwhelming sadness of a grieving mother. Masako Ikeda’s name should be familiar to fans of Leiji Matsumoto’s work Galaxy Express 999, a show where she famously played the female lead Maetel. Like the rest of the Dessler family, her voice actress was hand-picked for this role by director Habara.
In fact, all the Dessler family voice actors were handpicked by him, something he thought would be an unreasonable request possibly due to their big name status in the Japanese entertainment industry when measured against these small roles and definitely the show’s budget. But contrary to his belief, they got each and every one. You can read more about it here.
[KC]: First of all, fans should note that Mattheus’ widow looks more than a little like Best Girl Akira Yamamoto. Just leaving that there for now. Second, if they think that I am going to accept Abelt because his Mommy didn’t love him and everybody hated him they are probably right, dammit. I am such a sucker for this stuff.
[AMB]: A tragic tale. The more you tell someone they’re bad – or in this case, “the dark to contrast the light,” the more you push them into exactly that. Bearing the secrets of Garmillas, receiving no familial affection, being a shadow of greater men… he led a hard life. Worth pointing out in this scene is that the graves shown are much larger in size than the ones seen in 2199, indicating that this is either a royal graveyard or one meant for war heroes.
Quick note on Eliza (Mattheus’ wife): It’s been hinted at in 2199 and made clear in Ark that there exists genetic doppelgangers across the universe based on the original seeds of humanity spread across the galaxy by Akerius. Yabu = Gantz, Melia = Mikage, Yurisha = Yuki and now (potentially) Eliza = Akira = Melda (?).
If we take Yurisha’s quote “Goodbye, my other self” (referring to Yuki) from 2199 Episode 24 and Lerelai’s explanation of Akerius seeding the universe in Ark, perhaps there was an experiment to see if people could learn to trust and understand one another in spite of their different upbringings or skin color; the irony of “aliens” being just like us in both appearance and genetics becomes very relevant to modern day troubles that haunt us.
Abelt muses to himself as his mother continues to sob over the coffin. Now he will not be in the shadow of his older brother any longer. Their mother is led away, seemingly delirious. Abelt laments his brother’s passing then, that he would take their mother’s heart with him to the grave. He remembers his promise and chafes at the unfairness of the burden he is left with. A drop of water rolls down his cheek and it is not necessarily the rain.
[KC]: Great, he’s crying now.
[AMB]: For this scene, Kouichi Yamadera (voice of Abelt) somehow managed to change his rainbow voice to sound like a 13 year old boy, leaving director Habara and the audience equally stunned. The practice of letting voice actors in anime do both the child and adult parts is fairly uncommon today, in the past resulting from budgetary constraints. This could be a nod to LoGH on Yamadera’s part, where one of its two lead characters (the aspiring blonde space dictator, Reinhard von Lohengramm…) was voiced by Ryo Horikawa as both a child and an adult. Read more about Yamadera’s performance here.
“18 Years Ago.” Boots click on familiar green marble and Abelt, now grown but with longish hair and a flight suit instead of his more familiar look, gazes out over the construction of Baleras Tower, then up at their sister planet.
“Iscandar,” he says. “Starsha.”
[AMB]: 18 years ago a plan was set in motion to save Garmillas. To decrease the chances of confusion going forward, let’s discuss it here at its inception before it gets convoluted.
Baleras Tower, the new supreme leader’s office in 2199, began construction as a launching pad housing a secret weapon (meant to extort Iscandar) in 2181 under Erik’s administration. If the supreme leader ever deems it necessary to force Iscandar to give Garmillas the Cosmo Reverse System, the tower would be used.
Abelt’s hair and suit match what we see him wearing when he’s saving the space witches in a 2199 flashback, along with his first and only visit to Starsha. This effectively timestamps both events as having taken place 18 years ago, his final two words implying that he’s just about to go make that fateful visit where he promises Starsha peace in the universe.
Perhaps he originally goes with the intention of threatening her with Baleras Tower to make her give up the CRS (Cosmo Reverse System). As we’ll come to know, he forsakes this idea once he meets her in person, succumbing to her dream of peace in exchange for her love. This scene expands the world-building and hints at tons of upcoming developments in such quick succession, I’m honestly impressed.
[KC]: Do we really think that was his first and only visit? Love at first sight is certainly a common trope, and it makes for a good story, I just always presumed they had more interactions.
[AMB]: I always assumed that was part of the deal he made with Starsha, that only when he’d “brought peace to the planets” was he allowed to see her in person again. The only other times we see them interact is through telephone and hologram calls initiated by Starsha, with Abelt in their final call stating “every time you come here it’s just to complain.”
This interpretation is a huge part of my take on what ultimately drove Abelt over the edge in 2199, that being how close he was to finally reuniting with Starsha only for Yamato to squander these plans. “The Great Unification of Garmillas and Iscandar is at hand,” he said, only to fail right at the finish line.
[KC]: Wait until he finds out about the other Kodai.
SIDEBAR: The theatrical program book for 2202 Chapter 5 contained a handy chart that put a timeline on the flashbacks we’ve just seen. Its content reads as follows…
The hidden fate of Garmillas
Located in the Salezar star system, the life expectancy of Planet Garmillas is about 70 more years. This fact was shared only among the few people who exchanged a “blood oath,” including Dessler.
The harsh history of Garmillas
First year of the Dessler Era (106 years ago): The land was in turmoil due to the rule of several lords and nobles. Erik Vam Dessler, head of the Dessler family and one of the leading aristocrats, sets out to unify the Garmillans.
74th year (32 years ago): At the end of the “Unification War,” Erik achieves unification and becomes the Grand Duke of Garmillas. However, tensions between nobles repeatedly heat up and cool down and things remain unstable. Abelt is 3 years old.
78th year: It is revealed that the life span of Planet Garmillas will be exhausted in just over 100 years. Abelt makes his “blood oath” at the age of 8.
84th year: Mattheus’ unfortunate death. Abelt is 14.
88th year: With the death of Erik, civil war intensifies over rights of inheritance. There is a crisis of collapse for the Garmillas Grand Duchy. Abelt stands up for reunification at 18 years old.
92nd year (14 years ago): Abelt achieves reunification, becoming head of state and president for life at the age of 22. In accord with the “Dessler Doctrine,” an invasion of neighboring star systems begins with the goal of unifying the large and small Magellanic Galaxies. The “Dessler Era” is established to have begun 93 years earlier when the family set out for unification.
95th year: Planet Terron (Earth) is located in a frontier star system in the Milky Way Galaxy, and is decided upon as a candidate for migration. A state of war erupts in Earth year 2191.
103rd year: The Garmillas 1000-Year Empire is proclaimed. It is Earth year 2199. Space Battleship Yamato invades Garmillas and Abelt Dessler disappears after a fierce battle. Peace with Earth is established that same year.
106th year: It is Earth year 2202. Tensions continue between the Dessler regime and pro-democracy factions of the interim government, which is rushing to rebuild.
The Salezar sun hides behind Iscandar as another tear rolls down a cheek, but we fade to black and when we come back we see that perhaps it was not that Abelt who has shed it, but the one that we left standing with Kodai, Sanada and Saito before Teresa and he does not look very happy at all.
“What did you do to me?” He asks Teresa. “Did you read my memories, or did touching an entity that knows everything make me recall them?”
[AMB]: The fact that the Salezar sun supports life on Iscandar as well tells me that Starsha and Yurisha can’t leave Iscandar for too long either. Perhaps Abelt realised this fateful symbiosis and reached out to his neighbour, falling for her. And to answer Abelt’s question, I believe the answer lies in the tear that fades away from his cheek rather than falling completely. The golden hue which covered the memories might have been there to show us how Teresa was projecting them to Abelt, not too far off from what he will later describe as “emotional manipulation.”
[KC]: Yes, aside from providing exposition for the viewer, she is putting him in the right frame of mind.
[AMB]: I must say, she’s a pretty terrific director if she set up that sequence of events for Abelt. My interpretation aside, it seems Teresa’s lack of response is urging the viewer and Abelt to find the answer themselves, reinforcing the idea that if she intervenes then fate will take an unfavorable direction.
Kodai addresses him, but he is still focused on Teresa. “Well, so be it,” he says with a sidelong glance down the corridor he came from, where a number of Needle Slaves are approaching. These are blue rather than green, indicating they are part of the mechanized forces supplied to Dessler by Zordar.
“What do you wish for?” Teresa asks Dessler.
Abelt observes that he shouldn’t have to tell her, because as the Goddess of Telezart she should already know.
[KC]: Okay, things are definitely looking up for me and my opinion of Abelt Dessler.
[AMB]: We’ve mentioned this before, but the four years since 2199 really made Abelt a lot more handsome. The intricately detailed facial expressions do him many favors, thanks to Character Designer Nobuteru Yuki’s increased involvement with the layout art. According to the staff it seems Abelt, Kodai and Yuki are the hardest characters to maintain visual consistency for when not drawn by him.
Teresa takes the wind out of his sails when she makes it clear that indeed she does know, but his reluctance to say it out loud will keep the other people in the room from understanding. Whatever it is they are meant to understand, the idea of that seems to annoy Abelt to no end. True to form, he draws his sidearm and aims it at the metaphysical entity, exclaiming that it’s truly unpleasant to face an entity who’s capable of seeing through everything. Kodai yells at him to stop.
[AMB]: I’m going to gloat in my corner about how Teresa’s supporting my view that Abelt has been carrying some mental baggage that he keeps to himself, even if it hurts him in the long run. And the moment Teresa dares mention his emotional fragility, he holds her at gunpoint.
[KC]: LMAO! Yeah, this guy is really growing on me.
[AMB]: The whole “pointing a gun at God” thing always gets me. To use an unflattering remark, this man’s got a lot of balls and no effs. In front of him stands the being he deems guilty for his fate. It’s almost like Fukui’s self-inserting himself as Teresa in this scene, pushing and prodding at the emotionally-distant Abelt and revealing his soft Dessler insides.
Above in the atmosphere the Neu Deusuler holds the Telezarium hostage as Dessler’s fleet is in a standoff with Yamato. General Talan is on the bridge of his red Gelvadez-class combat carrier, staring out at the Earth vessel, his thoughts unknown.
[AMB]: Something we neglected to mention back in Episode 11 was the fact that the red Gelvadez-class carrier which Talan commandeered is the same battle carrier Dessler uses as his flagship in the original New Voyage TV Movie. The blue ships sport the same color scheme as Garmillas imperial guard from 2199, something that will become infinitely more relevant… next episode.
[KC]: Talan’s probably thinking, “Hey, that’s the ship that saved my life and the lives of everyone in the palace. This is awkward.”
[AMB]: Comedic delivery aside, I think you’re right on the money. Having believed in Dessler for four years since his disappearance, dedicating those years to finding and saving his supreme leader in spite of everything, he faces the ship which brought chaos to the Garmillas empire.
Yet at the same time, it saved his and many other Garmillan lives. It’s quick and short, but I’ll always appreciate how it gives such a minor character a chance for introspection, leaving his thoughts open for interpretation. Really looking forward to seeing what they do with him in the future.
On Yamato, Hijikata is trying to contact Kodai to no avail and Nagakura can’t be located. He asks Lieutenant Keyman to compare the fleet’s identification signal against his own data, but Klaus already suspects something.
[AMB]: And suspect something he should! Seeing as he’s been in league with the Dessler remnants since before this mission started, your first thought might be, “he recognizes allies!” But as we’ll soon see, he’s probably taking more note of the blue color-coded ships of the former imperial guard, tipping him off about this fleet’s identity as one of lost deserters.
Back on Telezart, Sanada tries to reason with Leader Dessler on how Teresa can’t conveniently grant wishes, but Abelt cuts him off. He is already aware, he informs the Earthling, that those called by Teresa follow the future that is to be, and do what must be done. He is still, it should be noted, pointing his gun at her.
[AMB]: To “follow the future that is to be,” or in other words, paving the way toward the right future; another allusion to Fukui’s insistence of battling mankind’s path toward a “wrong” future, with Teresa praying that Yamato and its crew will keep on doing what they should in spite of what could result. It’s what Dessler himself tried doing his whole life, but…
“Since before we had the means to cross the sea of stars humans have received revelations from Teresa. We were manipulated, you could say. For this ‘Future that is to be’.“ As he continues to speak, images from his past return, this time without the golden hue. “Even I, who was not allowed to live my own life. Now, Teresa. Bestow your grace on these pitiful humans entranced by fate. You can do things that people cannot.”
[AMB]: Abelt’s turned into quite the poet! Seems he’ll no longer need a propaganda minister to write his speeches should he ever return to office. And the light touch of natural colors and grain on Abelt’s own recollection of his past adds more weight to the interpretation that Teresa was indeed emotionally manipulating him earlier with her “great harmony” glow.
[KC]: He wants to force her at gunpoint to save the Garmillas people? Yep. Sounds like Dessler to me.
[AMB]: Yamato kept going in 2199 because they had to, but in 2202 they went to Telezart of their own accord. But if we’re to believe Dessler, the only reason Yamato’s crew went was because she sent them her revelations, manipulated by fate. He can certainly sympathise, seeing as the circumstances of his youth put him in situations that never ended favorably, including his ultimate defeat at the hands of Yamato. He’s confronting what he believes to be a biased GM (Game Master), when Teresa herself is just… an observer. Don’t shoot the messenger, Dessler!
[KC]: His original predecessor had a terrible habit of doing exactly that.
[AMB]: With style!
Teresa gazes down at him and closes her eyes patiently. “Every life has its destiny,” she says. “But that destiny is the result of their own decisions.” As she speaks we see Jiro Tsurumi in Yamato’s med bay flatlining. Out in the hall, Yamamoto waits for news. Yuki comes out, eyes downcast, and shakes her head. He didn’t make it. Yamamoto struggles to compose herself as Teresa continues. “Even if it seems futile or unfair, I only show the way. The way changes with life’s choices. The future, too.” In a shower of golden light, the vision of Teresa retreats back into the orb, leaving Dessler pointing his pistol at nothing.
“Suspended between this world and the next, only able to watch the events of the human world unfold.” He lowers his weapon. “What powerless beings gods are.”
[KC]: Awwww, he looks so disappointed.
[AMB]: As he should. Because in essence, Teresa observes the flow of time and people’s destinies, guiding those whose destinies lead toward the right future. But at the end of the day, it’s always up to every individual whether or not they choose to follow that destiny, like Tsurumi did from Episodes 13-15. Knowing he could die unfairly, he still wanted to help pave the way toward the right future. He fulfilled a destiny he himself chose.
Dessler’s choices have always been his own, so if he wants someone to blame he should blame himself. The future isn’t rigid, humans shape it with their bonds and their ever-changing destinies, and so Teresa’s last words to Abelt about humans being capable of changing the future are hopeful ones accompanied by a smile. Am I making any sense?
[KC]: You are making perfect sense. Teresa has already established that she is not a being that exists in linear time. It is possible that she has experienced multiple scenarios to their conclusion. And while she cannot influence events directly, she knows the kind of people that she has drawn together here just need to be reminded what they’re capable of.
[AMB]: Whether or not you intended to, you just made an astoundingly brilliant observation which is immensely vital for understanding the last episode. The idea that this Teresa is the same as the original… curious.
[KC]: Well, later she is able to show Kodai some interesting images …
On Yamato’s bridge, Keyman has discovered that the ships of the Garmillas fleet before them were wiped from the Naval register. Defying their government when it democratized, they wandered through space for three years. He refers to them as “Pure Desslerists.”
[AMB]: “Desslerists” could be a reference to the terms “Leninist” or “Stalinist,” meaning that this group could be a cult of personality for Dessler rather than the system he led.
[KC]: So Talan either knows something that we don’t, or he’s loyal to a fault. (And it would be a fault; 2199’s Abelt doesn’t inspire much loyalty.)
[AMB]: Could be a political issue, with Talan having trouble seeing a democratic Garmillas after 100 years of Dessler family rule. It’s hard to change such a long-lasting political system in just three or four years, and there are sure to be people who’ve grown accustomed to letting “the chosen” make tough decisions for them. Garmillas is starting to look a lot like the post-dissolution Soviet Union. This whole situation reminds me a of Melda’s introspection in Episode 24 of 2199, where she mournfully looks up at Garmillas from Iscandar and asks “Where do we go now?” (Referring to Garmillas as a people, as a nation, etc…).
[KC]: Until I learn otherwise I am going to presume that both Talans, who are about a decade older than Dessler, promised their friend Mattheus that they would have Abelt’s back, no matter what.
[AMB]: In the final days of the Dessler regime (attempted capital-nuking aside) Abelt’s cabinet introduced reformations to their caste system, purged the xenophobic military wing, and mustered the largest naval review of their time. And as we saw, Dessler was as popular as ever in Episode 22 of 2199, even if he secretly didn’t care much for it internally. And that sweet hot take of yours? Sign me up.
[KC]: It is certainly true that even if he saw the liberation of Celestella and her sister as strategic, between having them in the highest levels of his government and being in love with Starsha of Iscandar, Abelt Dessler has no room for bigotry.
Communications Chief Yoshikazu Aihara happily observes that the rogue ships are unfamiliar with the radio channels used by the allied Earth and Garmillas forces. When Nanbu asks if he’s infiltrated them yet, Aihara responds that he has and they are completely unaware of his presence; rewriting their IFF signals will be a cinch. Keyman states that there will be about 30 seconds before their radar comes back online, and Shima questions if they can make it. “It won’t be a problem with the Czvarke,” Keyman grins.
Hijikata admits that this plan is the only way for Yamato to contact Kodai and the others. Once Keyman departs, Yamato will draw in the enemy fleet. Klaus accepts the task, but frowns to himself seemingly deep in thought.
[AMB]: Taking advantage of the confusion when rewriting the IFF tags, Yamato will act as a decoy while Keyman’s Garmillas craft sneaks out, blending in with the enemy. Simple yet brilliant. That last shot of Klaus might be confusing for first time viewers, but once we know that his task from the embassy is to unearth the leader of the Dessler remnants, we understand that his expression’s meant to convey that he’s begun to sniff out who their true mastermind could be. The Dessler cannon in Episode 11, the SMITE system… maybe he’s even entertaining the idea of Abelt actually being there.
Back on the surface, Kodai tries to question Leader Dessler on what he was there to ask Teresa for, but Dessler cuts him off.
“Legends are, in the end, only legends. However, Emperor Zordar has other ideas. The emperor is trying to seal Teresa’s power away. With Teresa in my hands, I am no longer their caged bird, but their negotiating partner. The ancient ruins of Akerius gave Gatlantis a disproportionate level of military and scientific prowess.”
[KC]: Or he’s just going to go ahead and tell the Earthlings everything. Wait, are those cellos I hear?
[AMB]: Another variation of Dessler’s bolero, one we first heard back in Episode 11! Music aside, hearing Dessler using the caged bird metaphor is not only funny in hindsight, but thematically relevant. In 2199 he intended to keep Yuki – his stand-in for Yurisha – as a caged bird of Garmillas, robbing her of her freedom. This time, he’s the caged bird, meant to do Gatlantis’s bidding lest he be killed for escaping the cage (something he so literally illustrated back in 2199, ironically enough). This scene also confirms two very important things.
1. Zordar is legitimately scared of what Teresa is capable of, as hinted back in Episode 10.
2. Dessler will use Telezart as a bargaining chip with Zordar, the only way for Abelt to even remotely play in the same ballpark as the unfairly-overpowered Gatlantis.
[KC]: This would be the perfect place for me to drop my million-and-first joke about what Abelt did with his pet bird, but now I’m starting to like him too much, dammit.
[AMB]: The literal nature of the karma he’s experiencing right now is hysterical though, I’ll admit.