The ''Archangel'' and the 8th Fleet prepare for battle while the ZAFT forces attack. Rau reminds his forces to concentrate on the ''Archangel'' as [=GINNs=] battle the Earth Alliance's Mobius mobile armors. On the ''Archangel'', Flay waits in the locker room, staring at Kira's pilot suit. When he comes in, she rushes over to hug him. She explains that since she was the first to volunteer to stay with the Earth Alliance, she wanted to fight. Kira sees his locker open, and realizes that she was considering taking out the Strike. He tells her not to be foolish; there's no way she could pilot a mobile suit, so he promises to fight for the both of them. He tells her that he's taken her words to heart; he'll fight to end the war as well. Flay tells him that she intends to protect him as well, and kisses him without warning.
As the battle continues, Rau notes that Halberton is determined to get the ''Archangel'' to Earth no matter what; he's put it in the protected rear of the formation, where it can't contribute to the fight. Ades points out that that helps ZAFT, since it means they won't be deploying the Strike. Rau compliments Halberton, saying that he's realized the Earth Alliance can't defeat ZAFT with warships and mobile armors anymore. Rau says he intends to prove that by demonstration.
Halberton and Hoffman are stunned as the ZAFT Gundams tear through the fleet, destroying four ships in only six minutes. Rau destroys several damaged ships as they attempt to retreat, saying that he finds Athrun and Nichol too soft in situations like that; if you leave an enemy alive, they'll simply return to attack again later. On the ''Archangel'', Mu calls the bridge and demands to know why he hasn't been told to launch yet; Murrue tells him that the Admiral hasn't given them the order to join the battle. She calls the Halberton and requests permission to begin the reentry sequence immediately. Although they won't make it to Alaska, they should be able to land in Earth Alliance territory, and if they don't begin the descent now, the entire 8th Fleet will be destroyed. Admiral Halberton gives his permission.
The ''Archangel'' begins its descent, and the 8th Fleet reorganizes to protect it. Rau recognizes what they're doing immediately and has his forces concentrate on breaking through. The ZAFT Gundams lead the attack, quickly engaging the ''Menelaos'', the last line of defense before the ''Archangel'' itself. Mu requests permission to launch again, and Kira points out that the Strike is rated to go through reentry. Natarle gives them permission to launch, but orders them to return before phase three of reentry. Murrue yells at her for exceeding her authority, but Natarle says that if they don't escape, then the 8th Fleet's sacrifice will be in vain.
The Strike and Mobius Zero launch. Kira attacks the Duel, while Mu engages Dearka. The ''Gamow'' moves in, launching a suicide attack in order to ensure the ''Menelaos''' destruction and Halberton's death. Rau orders Nichol and Athrun to return, saying there's no point in pursuing any further. Halberton orders the refugee reentry shuttle to launch in order to prevent ZAFT from destroying it. The ''Archangel'' prepares for phase three of reentry, ordering the Strike and Mobius Zero to return. Mu manages to make it back by launching an anchor at the ''Archangel'' and reeling himself in. The Buster attempts to return to the ZAFT ships, but has gone too far and can't avoid reentry. The ''Menelaos'' manages to destroy the ''Gamow'', but is seriously damaged itself, and is destroyed by the reentry forces. The ''Archangel'' reaches phase three and deploys ablative gel to allow it to reenter the atmosphere safely. Yzak continues attacking Kira, even though they're both already reentering. Kira rams into him, first slamming the Duel with his shield and then kicking him away. Yzak struggles to aim at the Strike, but the refugee shuttle launched by the ''Menelaos'', also in the middle of reentry, descends between them. Yzak, furious at being unable to hit the Strike and believing the shuttle to be full of fleeing soldiers, targets it instead. Kira sees his aim shift and tries to block the shot, but he's unable to get there in time. The shuttle explodes, and Kira is thrown away by the blast.
!!Tropes used in this episode:
* AbandonShip: Halberton has the refugee shuttle launch when it becomes clear that the ''Menelaos'' is doomed.
* CurbStompBattle: The 8th Fleet eats it ''hard''.
* KickTheDog: Yzak destroying the shuttle is the main one, but Rau targetting retreating ships counts too.
* GrapplingHookPistol: The anchor that Mu uses to return to the ''Archangel'' acts as a SpaceFighter-sized version.
* RammingAlwaysWorks: DoubleSubverted; the ''Menelaos'' manages to destroy the ''Gamow'' before it hits them, but they're destroyed by the damage they take in the process anyway.