“What They Wish For” might be the strongest episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury to date. The threats to Suletta and her friends are greater than ever, and the episode has so many significant moments, it’s hard to know where to even begin. Between Shaddiq’s latest power play, Sophie and Norea’s attack on Asticassia, Prospera’s grand scheme, and the revelation of the Aerial Gundam’s true nature, Episode 14 grabs the viewer’s attention and refuses to let go. If the previous episode heavily implied things were not okay, this week’s outing hammers it home with a vengeance.
Picking up right where “Envoys from the Earth” left off, “What They Wish For” opens with Prospera giving Miorine more details about the “Quiet Zero” project. Essentially, it harnesses the “data storms” produced by Gundam technology—information overloads that cause serious physical and mental harm to pilots linked to a Gundam—and converts them into a network capable of controlling other technological systems. The Aerial Gundam is the prototype for the concept, and also the trigger for the far larger and more powerful Quiet Zero. Prospera’s primary reason for sending Suletta to Asticassia was to have her test and refine the technology, which Prospera ultimately wants to use to “rewrite” the world and eliminate war.
Prospera has always been a person who seemed to be hiding something sinister under her “kind, supportive mother” exterior—even her old colleague Belmeria had her worries back in Season 1. The revelations in “What They Wish For” confirm the worst, though, fully showing the manipulative, ambitious, and dangerous side of the character. She may not be the first masked Gundam villain with designs on changing humanity, but she certainly may rank among the most chilling examples after this episode. And disturbingly, her use of her daughter Suletta to advance her plans might not even be the worst thing she’s done. More on that later…
Back at Asticassia, more immediate problems emerge during the school’s Open Campus festival for prospective students. Shaddiq finally moves to usurp his father Sarius, distracting everyone by having Sophie and Norea attack an exhibition duel between a dozen or so mobile suits. Part of the power of this scene lies in how quickly it goes from “exciting robot rumble” to “chaotic, real-life warzone” once Sophie and Norea show up. So many details here have a visceral impact, from the horrified reactions of the spectators to Felsi’s desperate cries for help when Lauda is seriously wounded. Chuchu’s traumatic flashback to the Quetta attack and Lilique’s nervous breakdown upon seeing the violence also reinforce the brutal reality of the situation. As harrowing as it is on its own, this sequence is a watershed moment for the series, as well, since it’s the first time the insulated safety of Asticassia has truly been shattered. A real war has finally arrived, and there’s no turning back for anyone at the school now.
Even after all of this, the final conflict between Suletta and Sophie manages to ratchet things up even further, as Sophie activates a squad of automated mobile suits (much like the “Mobile Dolls” from Gundam Wing) and assaults Suletta and her allies. While the whole sequence succeeds as a gripping mobile suit battle, it’s also amazing how much Sophie’s character is developed here. She truly steals the scene as she pushes herself past her limits in a desperate, futile search for happiness and meaning through combat, and credit to her voice actress Shiori Izawa for an excellent performance. This might be the most I’ve ever felt for a character on this show since Elan back in Episode 6, and considering what happened to him then, that’s really saying something.
Everything ultimately leads to the big revelation in an episode full of them, as Prospera tells Belmeria that the Aerial Gundam is not just a mobile suit or an AI, but a conscious being. The machine actually contains the mind of Eri, Prospera’s young daughter from the Prologue, which can work perfectly in tandem with Suletta, manipulate the Aerial’s data storm, and protect Suletta from its adverse effects. Prospera’s satisfaction with her creation is matched only by Belmeria’s (and presumably the audience’s) horror.
This moment certainly qualifies as a “shocking reveal,” but thankfully, it’s so much more than that, and it carries enormous significance for the main characters. It certainly raises several questions: why did Prospera do this, how did she achieve it, and what are her ultimate goals? Additionally, how is Suletta related to Eri? Siblings, a clone, or something else? We also have to ask why Sophie can sense Eri’s presence inside the Aerial. She even hints at “the thrill from that day” when she feels Eri’s consciousness, which suggests she has some connection to Eri or the Gundam experiments. While there is obviously much more to learn, the finale of “What They Wish For” is a fantastic example of how to hook the audience with a major revelation. It gives us a big piece of information, but it also opens up a whole new set of issues that keeps us watching and wondering how it all might pan out.
Just two episodes into the season, “What They Wish For” has already raised the stakes and introduced several new conflicts that are bound to have enormous consequences for everyone. It delivers an intensity and emotional impact that has only occasionally been seen in this show so far, and virtually every scene is substantial. It’s an episode that makes you care about the fate of every character, including the antagonists, and by the final credits, you’re left breathless as you try to process everything that’s happened. If the rest of Season 2 can be as strong as “What They Wish For,” then The Witch From Mercury might just be a contender for the best Gundam series since Turn-A.
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