We open to a very interesting scene. Alto appears to have grappled the purple Valkyrie and is holding it steady in order for Michael to snipe it. Michael, though, seems to be having a hard time committing to the shot. And in between them is Klan in her badly damaged Queadluun that appears to have its legs and arm ripped off and its front hatch blown away so we can see her exposed to space in her spacesuit!

After the opening, we cut back a few hours or days to a Sheryl promotional shoot that is annoying Alto by taking up his precious flying time. Michael, being the flirt that he always is, begins hitting on Grace who appears unsure how to handle it until Michael tell her his name. She stiffens up and then tells Michael that she is sorry for what happened to his sister. This surprises Michael and knocks him straight out of his flirtations. Later, on a mission, Alto is nagging on some of Michael’s recent decisions, but Michael is still caught up on Grace’s words about his sister.

When a Vajra attacks a transport that Alto, Michael, and Luca are flying escort for, the three fall back into their normal roles. Alto closes in to attack, Luca flies recon, and Michael sets up to snipe the enemy once Alto immobilizes it. Except this time, instead of being cool and confident, Michael still has Grace’s words about his sister ringing in his ears. He get preoccupied just for a moment and fires his shot too late. Instead of nailing the Vajra, he clips Alto’s Valkyrie instead. The two were already arguing with each other, and now, Alto straight up accuse Michael of hitting hitting him on purpose.

Back on Frontier, a meeting of military officials is taking place. They have discovered a Vajra nest ahead of Frontier’s planned route and organize a raiding party to destroy it before the Vajra can again attack the Frontier fleet. But, unknown to everyone at the meeting, Grace is watching in via the cameras on their laptops. She seems to be taking her hacking of government lines a lot farther than she first did back during episode 2.

After returning from their escort mission, Michael and Alto trade blows after Alto continues to demand answers about why Michael missed his shot. While patching up Alto after the fight, Canaria, SMS’s doctor, notes that like Alto, Michael has his own demons to fight and his own reasons for joining SMS. We cut to Michael outside the fleet in his Valkyrie practicing sniper shots. With every shot he takes we see a brief flashback of traumatic times in his past. A graveyard and him and his sister as little more than children standing in front of their parent’s grave. A still young Michael chasing after his sister after she had joined the military. His sister in trouble and on trial in a court room. And finally, his sister bleeding and possibly dead in a chair with what appear to be one or more gunshot wounds. Clearly, something very bad happened to her!

When Michael goes to reload his sniper rifle he notices that Klan in her large form has come out in a spacesuit to talk to him. He is annoyed that she is there and teases her about the physical immaturity of her smaller form to which she pulls back and slaps the heck out of his Valkyrie before angrily pushing off into space leaving Michael to himself once more.

We get a brief, amusing scene of Alto talking on the phone with Sheryl. Later, while Alto is inspecting the damage to his Valkyrie, Klan approaches him in order to talk about what is bothering Michael.

Elsewhere, Ranka is handing out physical copies of her first original song “Cat Diary” at a fancy street side booth. Elmo is nearby with Bobby, Macross Quarter’s pilot, who apparently helped design the booth. Bobby wonders why Ranka is being promoted in such a low tech fashion. Elmo replies that all of the normal, high tech things they’ve tried like websites have gotten hacked almost immediately. Across the way, Ranka spots that mysterious Valkyrie pilot once more, but he takes a call and quickly disappears from view.

Back in space, SMS appears to be leading that raiding force designated to clear out the Vajra nest. Alto and Michael are still at odds with each other, but Ozma pairs them together anyway to try and force them to get over it. We also see the mysterious Valkyrie pilot launch from Frontier and get orders under the callsign “Purple 1.” He is assigned to destroy the nest as well, but is also given orders to prevent SMS from retrieving any Vajra samples. The voice addressing him is female and sounds somewhat familiar.

Klan spots the Vajra nesting in an abandoned N.U.N.S. warship and SMS moves to attack. Before they can fully engage, Purple 1 swoops in and shoots down most of the defending Vajra before engaging Klan in combat. It’s almost as if he is toying with her. Klan puts up a good fight and very nearly takes out the purple Valkyrie but an unluckily blocked shot from her heavy cannon saves the enemy Valkyrie. Purple 1 reengages Klan and nearly takes her out before Alto and Michael can intervene.

As usual, Alto charges in to close quarters combat while Michael sets up to snipe. Like with the Vajra earlier, Alto manages to pin the purple Valkyrie. He lets Michael know he knows what happened to Michael’s sister and he urges Michael to surpass his sister and carry on her legacy of never missing a shot. We flash back to Klan telling Alto about what happened to Jessica. Apparently she had been having an affair with her superior officer but on the day he called off their affair she slipped up and accidentally killed him in a bout of friendly fire. She was court marshaled for it, but took her own life before a verdict could be delivered.

We’re back to the start of the episode now, and Michale is finally able to line up a good shot. He scores a near direct hit on the purple Valkyrie which flees, but not before accomplishing its mission of destroying the Vajra nest. Back on Frontier, Michael pays respects to his sister at her grave, then he and Alto set aside their differences and head to class as friends thanks to Klan’s intervention.

Specific Scenes I Loved:

  • Michael and Klan’s encounter outside of Frontier while Michael is practicing sniping. That his crass teasing of Klan is met with the mother of all giant slaps is just awesome. It’s also apparent in that scene that some of what Michael said about being with Klan got to her a bit. Maybe she actually has some feelings for him that she is not easily able to act on? The tears coming from her eyes as she pushed away certainly seems to back that up.
  • Alto’s brief phone call with Sheryl. Alto gets in a couple of good zingers as he makes light of Sheryl not having attended much school before. I got an even bigger laugh when she asks him if her promotion as a Valkyrie pilot taking up arms for her homeland would have impact to which he replies with something like “Yeah… for its stupidity.” The best part is Sheryl takes his comment in stride. She doesn’t quite agree with him in a “fair enough” manner, but she also doesn’t argue the point much, either.
  • Klan and Alto’s battles with Purple 1. Klan almost gets in a good, clever shot and we see that Alto has improved a lot from his training days when Klan could easily fight him to a standstill. Alto even manages to shoot off one of Purple 1’s legs using the smoke from his missile barrage to cover his attack!

Episode Impressions:

This episode was a nice return to form. Ranka didn’t get a whole lot of screen time, but the conflict between Alto and Michael had some real weight behind it once we were finally told what happened. Also, Alto and Michael have been bickering quite a bit over the last few episodes. I’m hopeful they’ll tone it down now thanks to Michael working this out of his system.

It’s nice that the mystery of the purple Valkyrie is being revealed fairly quickly. I was a little afraid it and its pilot would remain in the shadows for several more episodes, but we’ve already seem some limited part of his objectives and have even heard the person sending him orders. That voice sounded a bit like Grace to me, but I don’t think there’s any real way to confirm that yet.

Finally, the combat was really good once again. There were a couple of reused shots, but most of it was new animation that was easy to follow and that looked really impressive.

Grace appears to be increasingly brazen in her hacking of Frontier’s military channels. She seems demure when interacting with everyone in real life, but is now listening in on private military meetings while in her digital space? Does she have a split personality? Or, is she putting up a timid front to everyone while secretly being far more sinister than we’ve realized up until this point? 

Someone is giving Purple 1 orders, and Grace is one of the few people who knew of SMS’s mission thanks to her spying. The voice ordering Purple 1 even sounds like Grace. If it really is her, then she’s been involved a lot more heavily in things than we’ve been lead to believe so far given that Purple 1 first appeared back in episode 7. 

At the same time, it seems like someone is trying to prevent Ranka from becoming widely known. It could be Grace again, given all her hacking, but we’ve also seen Leon take a oddly high amount of interest in Ranka. Could the Frontier government itself, through Leon’s actions, be the one hacking Ranka’s Internet sites? Or, maybe it’s Grace working to keep Sheryl as the top galactic idol? 

Moment to Moment Notes: 

6:50 – What is Sheryl’s manager doing watching in on (hacking into?) a meeting of the Macross Frontier government? It’s one thing to watch live military operations, but another to spy on a government?! Or is it? Did we all give Grace a pass because her previous hackings all the way back to episode 2 were in support of Sheryl?

7:57 – It’s funny that a fearsome Zentradi warrior like the pink-haired Nene Rora would hide behind Klan during Alto and Michael’s fight. 

8:16 – Here we see Klan transitioning from her small size to her large size. I don’t think we ever hear much about the energy requirements or limitations of this process. It was mentioned in SDF Macross that part of the agreement between humanity and the newly cultured Zentradi after the war ended is that they would have free access to these kinds of facilities. 

11:47 – There is a famous full on slap that occurs in Do You Remember Love? when Hikaru is trying to convince Lynn Minmay to stop thinking solely of herself and sing for the sake of saving humanity. Frontier, likewise, has at least three big notable slaps with this being the first of them. 

12:29 – “Yeah, for its stupidity.”  I love Alto for his straightforwardness here. The light verbal sparing between Sheryl and Alto is kinda fun in that they can both talk to each other openly instead of having to hide behind their public roles. 

14:16 – I think Ranka’s sites being hacked has something to do with Leon taking an odd interest in her. Government interference maybe? But why? Or could it be Grace? It’s not like she isn’t hacking everything else in sight…

15:38 – So “Purple 1” is based at Frontier and is getting orders to interfere with official military operations?

Next Episode: Legend of Zero

Once again, it’s somewhat hard to tell what’s going on based on the scenes alone, but the name and narration gives everything way. It appears that the Frontier fleet is shooting a movie recreation of Macross Zero, the previous entry in the Macross franchise that, in real life, first debuted about six years before Macross Frontier. This should be good! (Or terrible! We’ll see!)