# Nominative Determinism (Gundam Seed 02)
Despite the combat elements, this is a calmer episode; almost everything is an inevitable consequence of the events of last week, giving us time to relax (and enjoy the - still excellent - musical score). The one pivotal scene was one I'd entirely forgotten - not-yet-Captain Ramius taking her rescuers hostage at gunpoint, insisting that - despite all that's happened - they've seen a military secret and can't be allowed to walk free. It's farcical and grotesque and tragic all at once; Ramius can barely lift her own weapon, owes them her life, and is acting like a classic military antagonist, the officer too stupid to realise that this situation is beyond the rules.
What's most interesting on a second watch is how closely the students' position - that the Earth military shouldn't be here, they're neutral in a conflict that has nothing to do with them - mirrors that which our protagonists, Ramius included, will eventually adopt. *Gundam* is never shy about its politics, but I'm pleased by the balance it's showing here, introducing its themes and philosophies in a way that already paints them as ambiguous. Ramius shouts at the kids, calling them naïve, but that anger is at least partly because their arguments have struck home; she knows, just as we viewers do, that the Earth military is in the wrong. The series doesn't beat us over the heads with the historical parallels, or (as far as I know) retell a specific incident too closely, but it doesn't have to; for a British viewer, the comparisons to e.g. the *Lusitania* or the *Hydro* are obvious enough, because the same themes are applicable to so many different wars.
More awkward is Kira gradually accepting the role of Gundam pilot, which comes off as somewhat forced, despite the hints towards the Coordinator/Natural distinction; even if we accept this race of supermen, who are *just better* at reaction times and reprogramming computers alike, why is Kira the only one? Are there no coordinator traitors for Earth to recruit? No community-in-exile in ORB? (My reading of the flashback is that Athrun used to live here as well). Maybe Kira's family (does he even have a family?) were pacifists who refused to defend the homeland - but if so, that's a story that deserves to be told. In the meantime, declaring that our protagonist really *is* this unique raises more questions than it answers.
His motivation too comes off awkwardly (though the annoying next episode previews imply the series has given some thought to his emotional state); the simple desire to protect his friends can just about sustain his actions so far, but it's made less real knowing how little we'll see of these characters in the future (as even first-time viewers can see by their absence from the opening). And while I may be jumping the gun a bit here, it seems grossly implausible for Kira to join a foreign nation's military, even fighting against his childhood friend, once the students he leapt to protect are out of the picture.
Another weak spot is the Rau Le Creuset / Mu La Flaga dogfight; a bit of action is always welcome, especially between two equally matched worthy opponents (and no doubt a certain demographic is already putting them in a different kind of pairing). But though Rau and Mu evidently have a history together, it's one we're not part of; we viewers have no real investment in either side here. Worse, the series seems to know this is an irrelevance, and so sells it short; we know intellectually that Rau is on the way to help out his squad (so presumably to attack Kira), but it's all too remote, disconnected from everything else by more than the shell of a space colony.
Contrast this with how right the show gets the *Archangel*'s story. *Gundam*'s fundamental tension is recapitulated again; we see the shattered wreckage of the docking bay, bodies floating in spacesuits, a handful of junior officers barely able to process what has happened to them. And then Ensign Badgiruel steps up, fires up the engines and the cannons, and despite everything it's a high spot, we're willing this ship - built in violation of ORB's sovereignty, bearing a large portion of the responsibility for all the tragedy that's happened in these two episoes - to succeed.
And then the series steps it up a notch again, with *Archangel* bursting through the colony walls, shattering them like broken dreams of peace even as it speeds to Kira's rescue over the opening notes of that that beautiful, mournful ending. I've only just discovered that this is Kalafina, better know for the *Puella Magi Madoka Magica* ending (at least to me). Soundtrack dissonance is a cheap tactic, but its employment here is reasonably tasteful, and I find myself unwilling to complain.
Two episodes down, and I'm starting to think history has been distinctly unfair to *Gundam Seed*. We'll see how the remaining 47 go.
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