Recap / Gundam Seed Ep 16 Burning Sandstorm

At night in the desert, a ZAFT officer stands with his subordinate, observing the Archangel from a distance from behind a sand dune. The officer sips from a mug he's carrying; the subordinate asks what he thinks of the situation, and the officer replies that he's experimenting with a new blend of coffee and he's pleased with the results. At the bottom of the dune is a ZAFT encampment; the ZAFT commander informs the assembled soldiers that they're going to attack the Archangel, reminding them that the Le Creuset Team already tried and failed to destroy them, and Halberton's 8th Fleet sacrificed themselves to ensure its survival, so they shouldn't take it lightly. As his men move to their vehicles, he boards a jeep with his subordinate, remarking that when the coffee is done well, so is everything else.

On the Archangel, Murdoch and Mu decide to call it a night after staying up late to prepare the Skygrasper for combat. Miri and Tolle prepare for their shift on the bridge, but overhear Sai trying to speak to Flay, whose bunk is dark with the curtains drawn. They discuss the situation as they walk to the bridge; about how Flay and Sai were nearly engaged before the war, and how Kira used to talk about how cute Flay was on the infrequent occasions that they crossed paths. Both agree that hopefully the situation won't turn ugly. Alone in her quarters, Murrue looks at a locket before turning over and trying to sleep. On the bridge, one of the OMNI regulars explains to Kuzzey how to keep the Archangel cooled down in order to evade infrared scanners (their biggest threat, since radar is unreliable due to the N-Jammers). Miri and Tolle arrive, and are reprimanded by the pilot for being late, while Kuzzey asks why they don't just get rid of the N-Jammers. It's explained that when ZAFT deployed the N-Jammers they were fired deep underground, and since they don't even know their exact number or location, removing them is impossible. Natarle arrives on the bridge and asks the pilot if he has the measurements on the damage Archangel sustained during reentry, and he replies that it seems to be within acceptable limits. While he's talking, he drops a water bottle in midair, where it falls to the floor; Natarle tells him to remember that they're not in zero gravity anymore. Looking at the gravitational fields, she notes that the local underground features are causing irregularities. When Tolle asks what that means, the pilot replies that things like abandoned mines, oil fields, and mineral deposits mean that the ground is unstable and could collapse under the Archangel's weight. When Tolle asks if the spot they're on now is safe, she pointedly fails to answer.

An alarm goes off, and the bridge crewman working with Kuzzey confirms that the ship is being targeted by laser designators. The Archangel sounds the alarm for battle stations, and the crew run to man their posts. Sai, still trying to talk to Flay, tells her that they'll have to talk later. Kira, awakened by the alarm, jumps out of bed and hurries to the hanger, saying that he won't let anyone else die. Flay, still lying naked in his bunk after he's gone, tells him to get rid of all their enemies before laughing manically. The Archangel counters a missile attack with its point defenses, while Murrue orders the ship activated and for Mu and Kira to stand by for launch. The ZAFT commander orders his helicopters to attack; the Archangel detects their approach just as Mu discovers that the Skygrasper cannot launch since there's no time to load ammo. The helicopters launch missiles and hide behind nearby dunes, preventing the Archangel from targeting. Kira calls the bridge and demands to launch, but Natarle tells him to wait until they know more about the enemy force. Kira insists that he doesn't care and wants to launch immediately, and Murrue allows it despite Kira's bad attitude. The Launcher Strike launches, and immediately has trouble with the gravity and the desert sand. The ZAFT commander notices his launch, and orders the BuCUEs to attack in order to see the Strike's reaction.

The BuCUEs, ZAFT's quadruped mobile suits, attack the Strike, pinning it down despite Kira's attempts at counterattacking. Natarle orders the Archangel to attack with missiles despite the fact that they'll hit the Strike as well, knowing that its phase shift armor will protect it. The BuCUEs avoid the missiles, but Kira does not; the ZAFT commander remarks that the Archangel's commander either doesn't care what happens to Strike's pilot or else has faith in his abilities. Kira trades shots with the BuCUEs while modifying the Strike's OS to take the desert conditions into account. Its movement notably improves, and he immediately damages one BuCUE and destroys another. The ZAFT commander notices this sudden improvement and orders his ship, the Lesseps, to fire its main cannon. The two remaining BuCUEs fire a missile swarm at the Strike, but Kira shoots them down with the Launcher's gatling gun. Mu reports the Skygrasper ready to launch just as the Archangel detects the incoming cannon fire. Murrue orders the ship to take off, managing to avoid the worst of the blast. They estimate the position of the enemy fire and realize that it's out of their range, but Mu volunteers to find it and mark it with a laser designator. He launches, warning the Archangel not to let themselves get taken out in the meantime. The ZAFT commander watches the Skygrasper, remarking that it wasn't mentioned in the report he received.

Archangel's sensors detect more incoming cannon fire and realize they can't avoid it this time. Kira, still facing two BuCUEs, sees the approaching shots and immediately has the exploding-seed vision again. He fires his gatling into the nearby sand, deliberately kicking up a huge dust cloud, and leaps into the air. One of the BuCUEs jumps up to intercept him, but he punches it in midair, knocking it into the path of the incoming cannon shots and causing it to be destroyed by friendly fire. Then he uses the Launcher's beam cannon to destroy the remaining cannon shells in midair. Flay, still lying on Kira's bed (though now half-dressed) remarks to herself that Kira is doing his best to protect the Archangel specifically in order to protect her.

Additional BuCUEs attack the Strike, which is now low on power. Kira berates himself for using his beam cannon too much, while the ZAFT commander reviews the data he has on the Strike, commenting that it should be almost out of power and they'll have to destroy it for killing his men. As the BuCUEs and helicopters surround the Strike, Murrue orders the Archangel forward to cover it, but Natarle says that they can't risk hitting the Strike when its power is already low. Before they can decide what to do, however, one of the helicopters is destroyed. Both the Archangel and ZAFT look in the direction of the attack, finding a force of jeeps equipped with machine guns and missile launchers attacking. A teenage blonde girl in one of the jeeps approaches the Strike, firing a Grappling-Hook Pistol at it and using it to transmit data to Kira. She gives him the location of a trap they've set up, and tells him to lure the BuCUEs there.

The ZAFT commander's subordinate informs him that the men in jeeps are the Desert Dawn, a local resistance movement, and he speculates that they must have decided to help save the Strike. Kira leads the ZAFT forces to the indicated spot, and the blonde girl detonates buried explosives, destroying three BuCUEs. The Strike's phase shift deactivates just as the explosion subsides, and the ZAFT commander has his troops withdraw, saying that they've accomplished their main objective in this battle. Mu sends a message to the Archangel, identifying the enemy ship as the Lesseps and saying he's returning to the Archangel rather than attacking. Murrue identifies the Lesseps as the ship commanded by Andrew Waltfeld, the infamous Desert Tiger.

Tropes used in this episode:

  • Badass Nickname: Andrew Waltfeld; aka the Desert Tiger.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The resistance fighters when the Strike was about to take a serious pummeling.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Used almost word for word when the resistance fighters help out the Strike: "if you want to live, do exactly as I say".
  • Evil Laugh: Flay gets a good one when contemplating Kira fighting and killing other Coordinators.
  • La Résistance: The Desert Dawn.
  • Lecture as Exposition: The point of the conversation Kuzzey has regarding the N-Jammers on Earth.
  • Oh, Crap!: Murrue's reaction when she receives the message that their enemy is the Lesseps.
  • Shoot the Bullet: How Kira protects the Archangel from the Lesseps' second cannon barrage.