A curious thing happens when you’re in outer space, when the context of terra firma is taken from you. You realize that phrases like “left” and “right” are suddenly a lot less valuable than they once were, as the meanings ascribed to them conflict from person to person.
In space, there is no absolute direction.
The narration at the beginning of the episode was immediately interesting in that not only are we given a description of a phenomenon that occurs when in outer space, but it can be taken as a parallel metaphor for the growth and state of Marika’s character. The circumstances that have come to define her position in life currently, would be overwhelming to anyone. Her mother has not been honest with her, her father was a pirate, and she is on the verge of becoming the captain of her deceased father’s ship. The premises of her understanding of her relationships have been subverted by new revelations, but she is not disoriented. She understands where she comes from, and I feel that she understands where she’s going as well (despite her own protestations). Knowing that, means knowing your position relative to those two states.
Marika was (and is) a school girl. She will be a pirate captain, if her own nature is any indication. But she isn’t yet. Thus, she is on that path and learning what it means to be responsible enough to wield the respect to command those around her. Despite the turbulence and shakiness of her current situation, she has direction and purpose. These are what inform her actions, preventing her from becoming overwhelmed by any of this at any given time.
It’s what allowed her to take the decisive action necessary to employ the ship’s radar systems to find out about their pursuers. It’s what allowed her to further move forward and admit to the Yacht Club captain, Jenny Doolittle, about her life’s circumstances. It’s what allowed her to reflect on her mother’s teachings in the desert when Jenny Doolittle asked her what the Odette II should do. The pan over her companions was all the time she needed to think over what their course of action would be.
Her decision to defend the ship with the help of the girls and without the aid of adults struck me first as being a bit rash. But what the show is communicating is that her mother Ririka was correct. Marika already possesses the confidence and assertiveness to make decisions and assume the responsibilities of those around her. There is brashness in her word and deed here, but I don’t know if I can go so far as to call it recklessness. There’s a natural charisma that emanates from her when she speaks of the good of the Yacht Club, and she’s deft and clear enough in her use of words to inspire the passions and elicit the loyalties of those who hear her. Through convincing all that their goal is shared, and expressing unwavering confidence in the abilities of all present, Marika kindles the resolve within the girls to organize and fight back. Through her words, she recognizes fully well that she’s pulling the trigger of a larger consequence than just herself.
But neither does she delegate all duty and responsibility onto others once they’ve signed on to follow her. In a bit more of the brashness the roughens the edges of the core of Marika’s character, she lies awake through her entire sleep shift thinking up stratagems and tactics for the upcoming conflict. Admirable in her enthusiasm, she nevertheless risks her health somewhat in the hopes of devising a plan that would ensure the success of the Odette II.
The plan she does devise is summarily explained for both the benefit of crew and audience, and we are told that despite its amateurishness, it is indeed sound and impressive for a first attempt. Kane MacDougal and Misa Grandwood stand sentinel over the proceedings and act as tethers to the albatross Bentenmaru, and feign ignorance over the proceedings. There’s fantastic duality in that as well since Kane’s expressed reason for non-interference is dependent on his role as teacher and adviser to the Yacht Club, which in my mind he does to protect the pride of the girls on board. This with the scene last week where he brushed off Ms. Grandwood’s teasing in order to type up a grading rubric paints a picture of a man of integrity who is extremely diligent and thorough, seeing through his decisions to the end.
Kane is a portrait of a man who knows what he values, and seems to know the arc of the direction of the purpose of his life. He is helmsman of the Bentenmaru, but also its herald. He knows who he is and where he comes from, but he also knows the where he must go and what he must do. And the direction that he has oriented himself toward relative to those two points in his life, is Marika.
Marika stresses that she has made no decision regarding her acceptance of the captaincy, and I feel that a parallel can be drawn between the absolute direction of a decision being forced upon you, and the relative direction of you coming to and making that decision on your own. In space, one can be overwhelmed by the profundity of the possibility before you, but to come to confront that on your own terms is to know your position and where you stand at all times.