Welcome to another Gundam SEED Destiny Doubletake! Each post, I dive into an episode or two of SEED Destiny and present two “takes” from it — two commentaries on plot or character points that stood out to me. I then explore each point from two perspectives — a fan’s perspective and a fiction writer’s perspective.
Frongi, Gundam DEE CORe… LAUNCHING!
Take 1 — The Ring For Cagalli
Athrun, prompted in part by his dislike of Yuna (the sleazy purple-haired guy on the Orb council who apparently likes to hit on Cagalli), presents Cagalli with an engagement ring before he heads off to the PLANTs. They both blush their faces off.
Reaction as a fan: ADORABLE. They kiss too?! EEEEE~! I’m so happy!
Reaction as a writer: Their relationship is screwed. Something terrible is going to happen. Story is about conflict; things being perfect means there isn’t any conflict. Hence, if something seems apparently perfect, or like a “happy ending,” yet you know you aren’t near the story’s end… then it’s either a false happy moment, or bad writing. I don’t think this is bad writing; I think Destiny included this engagement here specifically to take it away — because taking it away (especially after it was so sweet) would create tremendous plot-moving power and drama. And that is what good writers want. Conflict, drama, plot-movement. Am I questioning the decision the creators seem to be making about tearing an iconic couple apart? Of course. But let’s see how they execute it. (Maybe the two will get back together in the end, after some amazing arguments.)
Take 2 — Shinn meets Kira
Shinn disembarks the Minerva to visit the place where his family died. He runs into Kira Yamato at the memorial there.
Reaction as a fan: Ohhhh shit, he’s talking to Kira — HERE — and KIRA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF HIS— oh this is bad, this is so bad.
Reaction as a writer: I’m not sure why this meeting is occurring, because Shinn neither makes a solid connection with Kira, nor learns who Kira really is. If Shinn had learned who Kira was and what Kira had done, this scene could have helped fuel Shinn’s anger, thus causing Shinn (and Kira) to make decisions, face their pasts, etc. — great character stuff. The plot could have moved. But that’s not what happens.
Rightfully so, though I think — because if it had happened, I would have felt it was too soon. But then, that still leaves us with the question of what was this meeting about, what purpose it served. If Shinn and Kira had, say, chatted for realsies (they don’t; they talk distantly, in passing only), or started otherwise relating to or liking each other, I could have said the writers were gearing up to make it hurt extra once Shinn DOES learn who Kira is. But that’s not what seems to happen either…. So, what was the point of their meeting, again? If just a chance encounter, why so important that viewers are made to witness it? And why in this episode? Were we supposed to be focusing on Kira instead of Shinn? Was this scene trying to set up something for him? If so, Kira didn’t come across as prominent enough. Kira’s been so quiet lately I don’t know what I’m supposed to think he’s going through. He felt like backdrop for Shinn’s moment of angst and no more. Also, we didn’t need Shinn’s moment of angst here; it’s already been made extremely clear that his feelings about his family remain potent, fresh. (We learn this from plenty of repetitive flashbacks.)
Long story short, this scene seems largely pointless and/or like wasted dramatic potential.
Take 1 — Djibril’s Operations Are Confusing
Djibril — the purple-lipsticked Blue Cosmos guy almost always spotted creepily stroking his cat — has the Atlantic Federation’s president wrapped around his pinky finger. This makes it clear he’s a large-scale villain with power at his fingertips. But he keeps tossing out words, phrases, and references that as of yet have no clear context, such as “Phantom Pain,” and “Logos.”
Reaction as a fan: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE THINGS MEAN, AND IT’S GETTING REAL ANNOYING NOW.
Reaction as a writer: I understand it’s difficult to introduce new elements, organizations and etc. to an already complex canon. But literally all I can gather so far is that Djibril is extremist and trying to kill Coordinators. Maybe that’s all I NEED to know now. Fine. But if it is… why is it necessary to throw in so many names without context? Just leave details out. “Phantom Pain” and “Logos” being present makes me feel like I’m SUPPOSED to understand what they are… yet instead I’m left guessing. Is Phantom Pain a person, group, or secret operation? Is Logos an organization? Who is involved, and how does it connect to Phantom Pain? If the information was already covered, I missed it — and that isn’t good, either. That means you threw it at me too fast when there was already too much else I was attempting to register and digest, Destiny.
And now I will play Devil’s Advocate. What if the idea is to make viewers exactly as curious to know more as I am right now, and the writers are holding out for suspense reasons? Couldn’t that be possible?
I mean, yeah. But sorry, that doesn’t work either — at least not in my case — because Destiny hasn’t made me care enough about Djibril at this point to chomp at the bit in a good way while waiting for clarification. There are five hundred other things I’m more invested in that take priority for me. You’re losing me, Destiny, which shows me your writing isn’t smooth enough regarding Djibril’s nefarious plotting.
Take 2 — Lacus in the PLANTs?
Athrun leaves Kira and Lacus on Earth, arrives at the PLANTs, and finds Lacus also at the PLANTs. (Wait, what?)
Reaction as a fan: I— what?
Reaction as a writer: What?! And yet, if I analyze the scene, Lacus is clearly acting strange. Is she under mind control? Is it even actually her? Is she a clone like Le Creuset? Has she been living a double life all this time? Regardless of the answers, I think this means we’re supposed to take Lacus here more like “Lacus” in quotes, with a dose of skepticism. Something is fishy — but at this point, I have no idea what, or what such a plot twist might be trying to accomplish.