They lived until they died, carrying out their orders.
Episode 50 (or Episode 25 of Season 2) of Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans has aired. The final episode of the series. Time to see how it all ends.
The episode starts with the tunnel group finally breaking through, securing their means of escaping the battlefield, with Zack declaring that he’d be waiting for Hush to catch up to them. Hush is already dead, as we are reminded by the image of him lying in a pool of his own blood after being cut in half by a giant axe because his suit wasn’t adjusted for ground combat. As you can probably tell, I’m still salty there.
Mikazuki and Akihiro then sends the rest of the surviving pilots off to join them in escaping as they hold down the fort while preparing the explosives to blow the base up. So we have the two Gundam pilots versus everyone else, standing back-to-back. And they proceed to tear apart every mobile suit in their way and drive them back.
Iok, being a dumbass, hops back into a mobile suit only to be stopped by Julieta. She claims that they have a cause they must support, no matter how ruthless it seems, and seems to be waiting for something as Merribit arrives in the city and comforts Ride over Orga’s death. That turns out to be Rustal using Dainsliefs to perform an orbital strike on the two gundams and why they pulled out the news reporters beforehand.
The two of them survive the initial bombardment, but they’ve sustained serious wounds. Mikazuki then flashes back to the moment he met Orga, which he considers the day he was born, and gets right back up along with Akihiro. Since they’re both about to die from bleeding out, both pilots go all in and dedicate themselves fully.
And finally, finally, Akihiro kills Iok with the giant scissors after learning that he was the one who led to this clusterfuck. It gets him killed, but at least he feels satisfied that he can greet the others in Gundam Valhalla. You did well, Guts.
Mikazuki also fights on until he bleeds out and Barbatos collapses. Julieta impales the head and holds it up, making a speech saying that they finally slew the devil. Nevermind that it was an orbital bombardment that did most of the heavy work for them.
Then we get an info-dump on how Gjallarhorn regained all its social credibility by being the strongest around. The Seven Stars system was eliminated due to the fact that they’d lost more members and “changed into a more democratic” system, with Rustal became the leader of it. Mars then became independent from all economic blocs and essentially made Kudelia their leader thanks to Teiwaz, who managed to profit from the deal that they made with Rustal.
Kudelia and Rustal even sign a Human Debris abolishment treaty, set into place by Makanai before he died of presumably old age. Julieta serves as Rustal’s bodyguard and Eugene as Kudelia’s, and they briefly talk about how important it was to get the treaty into place. Kudelia drops plenty of hints that she knows it was them that killed the people she considered family, but her actions now are to do right by them.
Julieta then discusses with a wheelchair-bound Gaelio why Rustal allowed her to become the chairwoman of the Martian Union and suspects Teiwaz has something to do with it. Gaelio tells her that they’ve all got ulterior motives and that she’s getting to take over Gjallarhorn since she killed Barbatos. She and Gaelio give Tekkadan some belated praise before they decide to go on a date.
Kudelia then visits Makanai’s grave with Takaki in a position to become a parliament member and work with her in the future. She then returns to Mars where we see that the other Tekkadan members have integrated into new lives, with the exception of a few of them. One of these people is Ride, who assassinates Nobliss in the bathroom with the gun that Orga used to defend him.
We then get a look at Atra and her son, Akatsuki. He looks like a mini-Mikazuki with Atra’s hair, only much sweeter. The ending closes with Kudelia mentioning that even if history forgets Tekkadan, they fought for the future and everyone in it. We even see that that ending scene from all the previous episodes was a future shot of him looking at a picture of their group and his father.
Now for my review.
First off, I was mad when I got spoiled on the ending. This has to be the first Gundam series I’ve seen where the bad guy wins, and the people who didn’t deserve to live managed to do so. But then I took a moment to consider it overall.
It’s… it’s bittersweet. It’s bittersweet as hell, possibly the most bitter ending in Gundam because of how the writing got screwed up around the middle of the second season. Yes, the system changed. But to do so most, if not all, the characters we empathized with had to die.
Part of McGillis ideals were realized by Rustal. But only after the bastard got into the highest possible position after doing everything dirty in the book to get it (illegal weaponry and massacres) and McGillis was demonized in history with the incident named after him. He never pretended to be anything other than a man willing to do anything for power (unlike McGillis who hid it until Season 1’s end), and once he got it, he started making changes that made him look good PR-wise but also benefited Mars.
Gaelio wanted revenge more than anything else, to where he let all of this go on until he managed to kill McGillis. However, he lost the use of his legs and feels regret now that he’d done it, wondering if things could have changed if he’d understood McGillis just a little sooner. He probably would have remained loyal to McGillis like how Julieta remained to Rustal despite knowing he was corrupt. And I imagine his little sister doesn’t even talk to him anymore.
Julieta, quite frankly, should have died when she blocked Shino’s shot and got impaled on the end of the mace. But she survived and basically got that last victory handed to her and is now in a position to run Gjallarhorn. Since she had no noble-standing and is a woman, this could be seen as progressive movement on their part.
Nobliss got assassinated in an undignified manner, stopping him from further profiting off the deaths of innocent people, and Iok’s finally died in a gruesome manner for everything he’d done. But it would have been more cathartic if it was done much earlier.
I think that the writer was trying to point out how change comes at a heavy price, but this is where the writing gets clunky. You see, despite Tekkadan’s actions at the end of Season 1 being viewed as heroic because they were fighting against a frankly corrupt system, they made things worse for everyone else by showing the value of Child Soldiers and the amount of Human Debris increased. So to contrast this, they tried to show things improving for everyone else by killing Tekkadan off as a scapegoat through corrupt and illegal means.
Except sometimes the ends really don’t justify the means. To reach this conclusion, they gave Julieta and Iok far too much plot armor, having them survive things that should have killed them up to the very end. Julieta was meant to be a contrast to Iok, in that she came to sympathize with Tekkadan through their battles but do her duty as a soldier from common birth while Iok used his family name and pride as an excuse to do things that were quite frankly stupid and lethal to Naze and others. He didn’t change, so he died as a symbol of the Seven Stars also dying out, whereas Julieta is set to be the new face of the organization.
However, all the sympathizes in the world don’t change what they did. They still killed characters we loved. Characters who weren’t as privileged as them. It sends a message that only those in a position of power already can change the system for the better, while those who aren’t serve as the foundation by dying.
I won’t lie, I get what they were going for with Season 2. But its just not satisfying. It was clunky and there were too many needless deaths. I’m going to say that it was good up to the mid-point of the season and call it there.
That being said, it still beats the ending of Valvrave Season 2.