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"Countdown"
The Macross Saga, Episode 02
Mid-air minmei
Air date 5 March, 1985
Written by Steve Kramer
Directed by Robert V. Barron
Adaptations
Adapted From "Countdown"
Comic adaptation(s) Robotech: The Macross Saga 2: Countdown
Novel adaptation(s) Genesis
Adapted Into Robotech: Book and Recording: Countdown
Episode Guide
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"Boobytrap"
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"Space Fold"

"Countdown" is the second episode of Robotech: The Macross Saga.

Summary

The earth's SDF-1 Battle Fortress prepare to lift off into a space battle with the alien invaders.[1]

Synopsis

Aboard the SDF-1, Vanessa reports to Captain Gloval that twenty-four unidentified objects are touching down just offshore. Gloval asks why they weren't detected earlier, and Vanessa tells him the energy drain from the firing of the main gun knocked out their radar. "Those scout ships were just a decoy," Gloval muses. "Very clever strategy." He asks Lisa to recall Lt. Comm. Fokker's forces, but with the Veritechs still busy fighting off the first wave, Gloval instead orders the carrier Prometheus to send out reconnaissance choppers. Lisa says she's already called for them, and they should arrive in five minutes.

Back in Macross City, the crash-landed VF-1D Veritech Battloid piloted by Rick Hunter lurches forward. The townspeople worry that it might be some sort of alien invader, and young Lynn Minmei and her little cousin Jason go upstairs to her room to get a better look at it.

Offshore, the “Sea Sergeant” recon helicopters from the Prometheus fly over the target area and report no sign of the enemy craft. Lisa warns them that they are suspected to be submerged in the ocean, and indeed, a number of enemy battle machines rise to the surface and turn their laser cannons on the two choppers. Both are quickly destroyed.

On the bridge, Lisa breaks the bad news to Gloval just as Senator Russo enters. "Well, Captain, it's lucky for us that we got this ship ready in time to fight off the invaders," he remarks. "When do you take off? You are ready, aren't you? Why haven't you taken off? What are you waiting for?" Russo demands. Gloval insists that he can't take an untested ship into space with a crew of raw recruits who've never been into space before, but Russo won't hear it. "It sounds to me like you have no confidence in your crew; is that what you're telling me, Captain?" Russo asks. Gloval assures him that's not the problem, but Russo wonders then what the problem is. "We spent a fortune on this Robotech ship, and I don't want to see it destroyed on the ground," he says. He won't have any excuses. The SDF-1 is ordered to take off, despite Gloval's objections.

In the city, Lynn Minmei opens her window and gets an eyeful of the Veritech Battloid. The towering battle machine's head swings down, and an empty chair rises up out of its back. Her cousin Jason assumes that nobody's running the machine, but soon the pilot's chair rises up and a confused-looking Rick Hunter walks from it and looks down from the Battloid's shoulder. He asks the nearest onlookers what his craft looks like to them. "Some kind of robot, I think," Minmei tells him. "Oh great. When I got into this thing it was an aircraft," he replies. "I thought I'd gone nuts." Minmei asks him if he's joking, but Rick tells her he's as puzzled as anyone--after all, he's not a military pilot, just an amateur. "What? How'd you get that robot?" Minmei asks him. Rick tells her it's a mistake, that he's not supposed to have it. Jason accuses him of being an enemy spy, but Rick tells them that it was the army's idea for him to take it, not his. It's only then that he notices all the damage he's caused, and Minmei asks him if he'll have to pay for it all. "Me? I hope not," he says sheepishly. Just then, a car horn is heard from below. A military supply truck wants to get through, and the robot is blocking its way. While he doesn't know how it works, Rick figures he can at least try to move the thing out of the way. Minmei wishes him luck as he returns to his seat and it lowers back into the Veritech. As the head rises back into place, Rick looks over his controls and tries to figure out what they do. A few pulled levers later, the Veritech begins to fall backwards to the ground. To compensate, Rick pushes some pedals and ends up firing the thrusters in the robot's backpack, sending it flailing towards Minmei's home. She and Jason manage to run to the other end of the room just in time as the Battloid smashes through the wall, its head coming to a halt right over them. Rick uncovers his eyes and asks them if they're all right. Thankfully, they are.

Back at the SDF-1, preparations are made for the ship's liftoff. Vanessa informs Gloval that Armor-1 has fully recovered and is preparing to rendezvous with Armor-10. He thanks her then asks Claudia to check the Reflex Furnace to see if they've recovered full power. They have, so he orders the anti-gravity system to full thrust. The countdown begins, and at zero the anti-gravity control system is activated. The SDF-1 begins to rise, but after a moment it begins to stagger violently in mid-air. Lisa points out the problem--the gravity pods are breaking away from the ship instead of lifting it! One by one, they fly into the sky, leaving the fortress behind to drop back onto its supports with a crash. After making sure everyone is all right, Gloval asks for a full damage report. "They'll never let me hear the end of this," he grumbles. Lisa tells him he shouldn't blame himself, but he can't help but feel responsible. "I am the captain," he says as he falls into his seat.

Meanwhile, a pair of vans have been rigged to pull the Veritech out of Minmei's house. The drivers floor the accelerators and manage to get it upright for a moment, but then it just falls backwards, coming to rest after smashing into another building.

In the air, Fokker reports that he and his team have sent the enemy forces packing. Lisa commends him, and Claudia asks how many he shot down. "Only ten this time," he admits. She warns him that he's slipping, but Roy assures her that he'll make it up. "Do you have any word on the VT-102?" he asks Lisa. She tells him that he landed in Macross City and is doing more damage than the enemy. Roy laughs and thanks her for the update. Lisa asks who he is, but all Roy will say is that he knows him. After transferring command of the squad to Captain Kramer, Roy flies down to Macross City to check on Rick. He spots the Battloid and radios his old friend. "Had a busy day down there, I see," he remarks as he looks over all the damage. On the ground, onlookers flee as Roy's Veritech Fighter swoops down towards the city and begins its own transformation to Battloid mode. Rick, Minmei, and Jason cannot believe their eyes as the fighter plane mechamorphs into its humanoid configuration. Roy assures Rick that with a few small repairs he'll be able to take the Battloid back into action, but Rick seems resistant to the idea, noting that he's not even sure what this thing is, and he sure isn't qualified to operate it. However, Roy says that if he can fly a plane, he can operate a Battloid. The controls, he tells Rick, are fairly similar, and he can check Rick out on them as he makes the repairs. As manipulator arms from Roy's Battloid's arm repair circuitry within Rick's Battloid's chestplate, Roy explains that the Veritechs are classified top-secret, and there is a good reason for their existence. The manipulators retract, and Roy tells Rick to apply gentle pressure to the foot pedals. Rick does as he's told, and the Battloid stands up straight. Minmei is impressed by his quick learning, but has to bid Rick farewell, as the city is being evacuated.

This is with good reason, as just offshore, a horde of Zentraedi mecha--bipedal ostrich-like weapons called Battlepods--leap from their hiding place beneath the ocean and gather just outside Macross City. In orbit, Breetai is informed of their landing. He orders all gunners to prepare to give cover fire to the assault group.

On the island, Roy tells Rick that they'd better get moving, but Rick still feels unsure of himself with the Battloid. Roy suggests pulling the lever marked "G" and switching to Guardian mode. "What the heck is a Guardian?" Rick asks as he pulls the control. The Battloid's torso soon unfolds back into an airplane-like state, while the arms and legs remain deployed. Roy assures him that the controls are almost exactly like the fighter plane, meaning he should be able to fly it without any problems.

In the line for the shelters, Minmei realizes she left her diary behind, and tells her aunt and uncle that she has to go back and get it. Aunt Lina tells her not to be foolish, but Minmei figures it'll only take a minute, so despite Lina's objections she makes her way back for the city.

As Minmei skips merrily towards the city, the Zentraedi are ready to blast everything in the path of the Battlepod assault group into oblivion--except the SDF-1, which Breetai wants intact. The battlegroup fires every laser at their disposal at the small island, leveling buildings all around the reconstructed battle fortress. Within the smoking city, Roy remarks to Rick that it appears the civilians got out just in time. Rick tells him he hopes everyone got out okay. "If you're worried about your girlfriend, we might check on her," Roy tells him. The two Veritech Guardians dash away in search of Minmei.

On the SDF-1's bridge, Gloval asks if they have a fix on where the bombardment is coming from. Vanessa informs him that it's from a fleet of ships in lunar orbit, out of the range of their missiles. Lisa tells him an alien assault force is coming from the east, and they need air support. "Call for it!" Gloval tells her.

Zentraedi Battlepods advance towards the city, launching an attack on the SDF-1. Moments later, the Veritechs under Captain Kramer's command take off from the Prometheus to defend the fortress and the city. The fighting is heavy and furious, and in the middle of all the chaos, Lynn Minmei is nearly squashed by a Zentraedi Battlepod. However, Roy Fokker swiftly intercedes in Skull One, shooting the Battlepod's foot off. He orders Rick to take care of her while he holds off the attackers, switching his Veritech to Battloid. Despite Minmei's obvious objections, Rick picks her up with his Guardian's left hand and zips away as Roy covers their escape with round after round from his Veritech's autocannon. Still, with missiles in pursuit, Rick realizes that he'll have to find a way to get Minmei into the fighter's cockpit. At that moment, a Battlepod pops up right in front of him and launches another barrage of missiles. Rick pulls up, taking his Veritech straight into the sky, but the missiles are still on his tail. Despite some slick maneuvering, eventually the Veritech is struck, and the left arm holding Minmei is sheared off. As Minmei screams, Rick brings the fighter into a dive, matching his speed to that of Minmei's descent. At just the right moment, he opens the cockpit canopy and reaches his arm out for her to grab a hold of. He pulls her in, closes the canopy, and brings the Guardian down to a low hovering cruise on street level so they can both catch their breath.

The two have both barely calmed down before Rick manages to crash the Guardian head-on into a Battlepod peeking around the corner of a building. Rick tries to bring the Veritech to a halt but it slips right under the Battlepod's legs, knocking the pod over with its wings and somehow rolling upside-down, skidding for several yards before righting itself. The Battlepod also makes it back up to its feet, but doesn't react until after Rick notices that Minmei isn't moving.

Enraged, Rick unleashes every shot in the Veritech's autocannon upon the unmoving Battlepod. He keeps on clicking the trigger even after the gun is long out of shots, but is relieved as he watches the Battlepod's body crash to the ground.

A hatch on the back of the Zentraedi Battlepod swings open, and from it emerges a giant, clad in battered battle armor. Rick screams, and the giant lurches forward, reaching up and clumsily tossing its helmet aside. It looks almost human. The dazed giant continues towards the Veritech, crushing a car with one step of its armored foot. He nearly reaches Rick's Veritech, but a shot from behind fells him once and for all. Behind the giant, Roy Fokker's Skull One lowers its gun pod. "What was it?" Rick asks. "What was that thing, Roy?"

"That," Roy admits, "is the enemy."

Once again, the SDF-1 is nearly ready to lift off. Claudia reports that the backup rockets are fueled and ready for firing, and asks Lisa how the evacuation is going. She reports that the civilians are all safely in the shelters, and that the city is deserted. Gloval orders the boosters to be switched on, as they'll be blasting off immediately. "I hope the standby boosters work," Lisa says. "They'll work, Lisa," Gloval assures her. "They were made on Earth." He gives the order to blast off. Finally, the SDF-1 rises from its adopted homeworld and begins its first journey back into the stars in a decade. Lisa radios Fokker with the news and requests air cover. Skull One lifts off and switches to Guardian mode, then hesitates for a moment. "C'mon, Rick! Let's go! Get the lead out!" Roy snaps. "C'mon, what's the matter with you?" At that, Rick switches off the radio on his plane, folding his arms across his chest. The violence raging around him and the sight of the giant alien warrior has just been too much for him. As Fokker flies up towards the departing space fortress, Rick and Minmei are left behind in the alien-occupied city, surrounded by invaders.

Memorable quotes

to be added

References

Characters

Background information

"Countdown" was based on the original Japanese episode entitled "Kaunto Daun" (Meaning "Countdown" in English) that was aired 3 October, 1982 in Japan.[2][3]

Robotech Remastered additions/changes

to be added

Cast

Main cast

Other voices

References

External links

Previous episode: Next episode:
Boobytrap Space Fold


Macross

For the Macross equivalent, visit Countdown.

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