Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last Exile (Episodes 7-9)

(Catch up on previous episodes here)

My journey on the Silvana continues with three more episodes in the 26 episode series. One things I love about television shows that have a defined one-season arc is that you can read the show like a novel, each episode being a chapter. Last Exile achieves this better than most other shows I've seen. It's unconcerned with giving the viewer a nicely wrapped up half-hour small story within the context of the bigger story. It treats episodes more like chapters, making sure there is action, forward momentum, and intrigue at the end.

In my last post, I noted how the story was following a lot of the traditional elements for a heroic quest story. In episode 7, Claus's role as the kid with immense potential is highlighted. The commanders of the Silvana has seen it and now a mysterious member of the Guild also sees it during a bold Guild attack on the Silvana. The episode focuses mainly on showcasing the excellent aerial dogfights that the animation captures so well. This episode reminded me of Battlestar Galactica defending against a Cylon attack. And by the end, Claus and Lavie have done a great deal to prove their worth and slowly start fitting in with the rest of the crew.

Of course, after the beating the Silvana took in episode 7, the next chapter has the ship docked for repairs at a kind clandestine Deep Space 9 casino. As with any well-written work, a setting like this should achieve several things beyond the natural adventure it produces. By having one of the Emperor's ships also docked there with its crew aboard the station, the Silvana's position in the ongoing war is subtly defined through the relationships between the crews. Also, we get to see more of Alex Row, the mysterious captain of the Silvana and discover he's looking for an object known as an 'exile'....a perfect a-ha moment where the title begins to make sense. And just for good measure, we have ship duel between the Silvana and one of the Emperor's ships, the Goliath. When the Silvana sinks the other ship, it's really the first moment when the viewer feels on board with its captain and whatever secret mission they are on.

By the next episode, Claus, Lavie and Alvis feel practically at home on the ship. They are even invited to take part in the ultimate vanship race with the aide of the Silvana mechanic crew. Of course, they are unaware that the ship has another dangerous agenda. Alex Row is there for an auction among nobles and the wealthy. He is there to bid on only one thing...the last exile--a square stone object that is said to have powers no one has ever been able to unlock. Bingo! There lies the mysterious object with strange powers, another cornerstone element of a heroic quest. It's a fascinating twist in the storytelling however that we still don't know what the quest is for.

Will he get it? Will the mission succeed? What will Claus and Lavie do when they learn they are being kept in the dark? All questions for the next chapter because every good chapter ends with the reader wanting to turn the page. A lesson the writers of this show have taken to heart.

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