Note: This article is also available at Super Fanicom HERE
As happened around the battle for the Coralian earlier in Eureka Seven at the quarter-mark of the series, the halfway point has the Gekko beset by enemies and out of control; this time, Renton is missing (and has sprung the trap with his trusting nature and need for a parent figure), Holland has realised what is happening and the society that has been a constant companion for 25 episodes now is collapsing in recriminations and nostalgia.
Yet, as episode 25 was preoccupied with a dreamlike parallel world of spirituality and self-sufficiency, episode 26 begins with a flashback to happier times – a happier past that really is quite in doubt in the viewer’s mind. It shows Renton, Eureka and the three younger children on the Gekko playing together as true peers – children as a group, not the pseudo-parental role that Eureka ended up in, or Renton’s usual harried subordinacy. This is intercut with Eureka reminiscing about her own time with Renton, trying to come to terms with love as an unfamiliar emotion – everyone is coming to terms in their own way with this separation except, as is shown, the Nirvash. It is still not working properly (as has been explained in previous episodes – because Renton is away). All that can be done is to wait for Holland’s return. That the focus then shifts to the children, who cannot understand the situation because they are kept out of the loop, keeps the focus of the episode low-key; a quick establishing shot has shown the danger as an enemy fleet approaches but the crises affecting Eureka are broken toys and an absent big brother figure (for it is as a brother that Renton seems to be remembered by the children). Reassurances from Holland are no longer enough as the lies that led to the slowly building drama of this arc are now collapsing. As Maurice, the oldest child, says, Holland “breaks more promises than he keeps.”
The sense of threat here is far more real than in the previous action climax; this time it is an operation specifically to attack the Gekko and Eureka, not a mad dash for an undefined objective. Yet even though Holland has seen a strategy to survive – to escape the enemy’s blockade, avoid combat with Ray and Charles and carry on – he is reminded that this is impossible, because it would involve abandoning Renton. That he even considers going back on his promise so quickly is ultimately a defining moment of his character – he remains, to the end, self-centred and pragmatic to the point of cruelty. He is now a captain without the trust of his crew – unable to justify his actions with anything other than cold facts that nobody wants to hear. It is only when he talks to Eureka that the reason for this becomes apparent – he is scared of Charles, his former comrade. Yet in the course of the conversation the real truth comes out – he used to genuinely dislike Renton, and sees showing due concern a sign of weakness that would compromise him. He maintains that it is purely affection for Eureka that drives that, that his nastiness has been well-intentioned, but with this honesty he finally loses the trust of the last member of the Gekko’s crew that might have been there for him. Eureka, too, is then shown running from the Gekko just as Renton has – abandoning the Nirvash, abandoned by Holland. If he is to run, and stay selfish to the end, it will be alone or with only those he can coerce through rank into staying.
In turn, even Holland’s apparent cruel practicality is shown to be folly. Cutting and running – and abandoning Renton – is not the only viable option for survival as he has claimed, it is simply an obvious trap set by Charles. As the Gekko moves towards the ambush, and Eureka flees it, though, Renton is on his way back – he has reached the Gekko just too late and receives nothing but contempt from Holland. That his return is met with no concern or care, simply professionalism and authority, shows really the depths to which Holland has sunk; his promises to Talho and Eureka have been nothing but ways of keeping them quiet. He is reduced to nothing more than a screaming child, trying to evict Renton from the ship again and denying ever having shown concern – if he had failed before when he resorted to violence, and withheld information, here he has given up any kind of respectability. Yet Renton has also changed – he is now confident, and tells Holland how he only cares about Eureka – earning, in his own way, the trust of the crew who had previously come slowly to like him. This is really the first expression of open intimacy – love – in Eureka Seven that is not tinged with some ulterior motive; while Holland sees it as an attack on his authority and Renton just “talking big,” to Renton it is finally the chance to be open about his feelings.
Yet open, sincere intimacy is almost forbidden in Eureka Seven. All Renton can confess his love to is Holland, turning it into a perceived threat to authority – for Eureka has already given up hope and fled herself in an attempt to be decisive like her own new role model. She, too, ends up with Ray and Charles – in the course of one episode an entire arc’s narrative is being reversed – but this time it becomes part of the trap. Seeing the battle beginning, Eureka tries to call the Gekko but is unable to be heard – and now there is once again a focus for the fighting. All it takes is her to make everyone – even Holland – set aside their misunderstandings and take action. Her message has revealed Charles’ trap, and for once everyone’s aims are aligned. Holland’s cold fight for survival has become intertwined with Renton’s hunt for Eureka, and so once again the Gekko is driven towards its opposite number (this time a ship of a similar class, with a similar crew, that has been built up over a period in the plot as a polar opposite of Holland’s ship). This whole sequence has shown how utterly powerless and broken Holland is – yet sympathy for him is still hard to come by. What is now driving the narrative is a tension based around undoing all the damage that he has caused.
The dogfight of sorts in the clouds, between Eureka and Charles, is probably the tensest action the series has seen – and then the dramatic climax of the episode really occurs as Eureka falls from the sky while the Gekko begins its apparently suicidal attack. Much as the battle at the Coralian intercut the capital-ship action of Dominic versus Holland with Eureka versus Anemone in LFOs, here there are two completely different conflicts going on – a chase for Eureka’s survival and a fleet-scale battle between Holland and Ray. The arrival of the Nirvash – and its fight with Charles for the right to save Eureka as she falls – brings these two personal rivalries together. Eureka is saved in a way which almost makes it seem like there was no tension at all, the Nirvash is completed again – and then there is one final revelation which throws the entire sequence into a new context. Ray and Charles took Renton in apparently as parents and then betrayed him in order to try and kill Holland – but now Ray herself is pregnant. The reunion of Renton and Eureka set in the context of a battlefield – one where Renton claims he will take no lives, simply use his skills to disable enemies thanks to the power of the completed Nirvash – provides a far more definite point of closure to the narrative arc than the previous large-scale battle had. While the war is clearly ongoing, it is finally being fought by clearly-defined forces confident in their identity and allegiances. The children are free to act like children.
And, once again, this moment of personal epiphany is accompanied by the ever-present Seventh Swell, the Nirvash stepping in as an uncontrollable party to physically force an end to the conflict. This time, though, it fails. Holland and Charles are unable to accept this miracle – their fight is apparently to transcend the understanding that has finally emerged. The episode ends with both men apparently secure in their resolve – although it is a determination completely against the harmony which has finally been so close to being attained.
Note: for the first time in many episodes, and to mark the end of this plot arc, the closing “to be continued” screen has its title card read by both Renton and Eureka’s voice actors – throughout the series, this has been a significant detail with who is reading it tied to the current status of the characters.