Heartbreaking. Jaw-dropping. Traumatic. Blissful. 86-Eighty Six episode 9 hit the fans with such a wide range of emotions it’s almost hard to comprehend what we just witnessed. When we talk about episodes that could define a series, this is one of those.
And define the series it did.
The battle begins. As Shin pursues Rei, the rest are already in trouble fighting off other Legion. The squadron starts running low on ammo but Anju tries to positively reassure that they just have to keep pushing them back… Until even more show up.
They start to see the sky glow red and yellow as if hell itself was about to unleash onto the battlefield. At first, it seems as if the Legion launched an aerial attack similar to the one we saw in Episode 7.
“The Republic doesn’t play by any sane rules,” says Lena over the para-RAID. “So there’s no reason for me to, either. I should’ve done this a long time ago.” Lena starts launching mortars that begin to take out Legion reinforcements.
These are the same mortars that Jerome forbade Lena from using before.
Meanwhile, things don’t look so bright with Shin.
Rei tosses his juggernaut into the air knocking Shin unconscious. As Rei starts to approach Shin’s juggernaut, everyone in the spearhead squadron starts yelling for Shin to wake up.
She asks Kurena to pinpoint Rei’s location exactly so she can send in more artillery. Despite everyone worried she’ll hit Shin, Lena assures that she wants him to survive as well.
Before the airstrike is called in, this transition from when Rei held Shin as a little kid to now with his shepherd’s extended hands ready to kill him is just sinister and beautifully done at the same time.
Bravo, A-1 Pictures.
The squadron quickly rushes in and latches onto Rei’s body to hold him in place. He notices the mortars coming from above and thinks they’re taking Shin down with him. But, in an incredibly intelligent move, Lena sent down dud-mortars that didn’t explode on impact. But they were just enough to knock Rei off-guard.
Lena lets out one final yell… “SHIN!”
He wakes up. Epic music starts to play. And 86 fans everywhere scream “Let’s go!” in unison (probably). Shin manages to lodge his juggernaut’s cannon inside Rei’s armor and yet another gorgeous transition shot between Rei and Shin appears.
Right before the cannon fires, Shin hears Rei speak his last words…
The ending theme for 86-Eighty Six (Avid by Sawano Hiroyuki) begins to play as Shin, and every 86 fan, begins to bawl their eyes out.
The hundreds of friends Shin has lost, and the number of comrades he had to end up shooting himself, to get to this point – putting his brother to rest – is finally over. The weight of the world is gone for just a slight moment and Shin lets all the pain out.
As the scene flips to Lena’s side, she turns around in her chair revealing none other than Annette sitting behind her.
Lena showed up at Annette’s doorsteps before the mission demanding that Annette helps her get access to the mortar control system in order to assist the squadron. “Of course not,” says Annette. “It’s not my problem.”
Lena responds, “You will. No matter what it takes.”
She finally pieced it together and realized that Shin was the boy Annette was childhood friends with. Lena proceeds to let Annette know that Shin is indeed the Undertaker that she’s heard of.
Annette begins to worry and the following dialogue shows a side of Lena we have never seen before.
Annette: “Is he still mad at me?”
Lena: “What do you care? It’s not your problem… You abandoned him twice. Are you going to do it a third time?”
Annette: “You’re the devil.”
Lena: “That’s right, Officer Penrose. I am, and so are you.”
The cold look in Lena’s eyes says it all. She no longer sees Annette as a friend and she’s no longer playing by the Republics’ rules.
The battle is won. Lena talks to the squadron casually, but she soon realizes that they’re heading to the edge of the Republic’s control limits.
Lena begins to panic and storms out of her station and starts running to, what we’re guessing, is where they are. As Lena is running towards them, the music starts building up.
The squadron starts noticing the red flowers around them that are prominent in 86, as seen at the end of the opening theme. She knows they’re getting close and panics more. Lena reaches the bridge and realizes she’s too late.
“We’re going forward, Major”, says Shin in one last goodbye.
Five birds, metaphorically representing the five left in the squadron, soar over Lena’s head. She begins tearing up as the music builds to a climax. Right before it does, the music cuts off and Lena lets out an agonizing scream of pain.
As we all cry with Lena, the camera immediately cuts to the flowers on the side of the bridge blowing in the breeze. The ending is rather bittersweet. We’re shown each of the birds flapping their wings one last time as the day goes by and they fade into nothingness.
The very last seconds of the episode show each of their juggernauts on the screen at Lena’s station. One by one, just like the birds in the sky, their status turns to “No signal.”
Will we see the Spearhead Squadron again? What do you think happened to them? How do you think Lena is gonna handle what she just went through? Let me know down in the comments!
If you thought 86-Eighty Six episode 9 was the best of the week, vote for it in our weekly poll! Episode 10 will air next Saturday, June 12, on Crunchyroll.
All images via Crunchyroll