Hello, Whales Wars-iors. We’re in the home stretch now, week nine out of ten. It hasn’t been the most compelling of seasons—if you’ve been reading these recaps, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve pretty much gone through the five stages of grief over it. This isn’t the same show I fell in love with a year ago. But we’ve still got two episodes to go, so maybe Animal Planet is saving some dynamite for us. I probably shouldn’t expect something on the level of Pete Bethune getting arrested, but hopefully we’ll get the lite version of that.
To open Week 9, the Gojira has just come upon the Nisshin Maru. It’s the mothership of the Japanese whaling fleet. If Sea Shepherd can prevent it from loading whale carcasses onto its slipway, all whaling operations will come to a halt and the campaign will be over.
Sea Shepherd has been trying to find the Nisshin Maru for the entire campaign. They actually did find it earlier in the season but then lost it a couple hours later because the helicopter pilot needed to take a nap. For me, that makes the second time they find it a little less climactic. “Hey, we re-found it!” Doesn’t really pop.
But now, the Nisshin Maru is in sight and the big attack can begin. Hopefully it’ll be exciting, like a Death Star battle in Star Wars. And not boring. Let’s see what we get…
Like we said, it’s been two frustrating months looking for the Nisshin Maru, full of dashed hopes and unmet expectations. But now, sprits are high on the bridge of the Gojira.
We even get to hear (endure) several quips (unfunny things he said out loud) from Captain Lockhart MacLean, the quirky (autistic) member of the Sea Shepherd gang.
Mercifully, Animal Planet does not cut to reaction shots of Gojira crew members not laughing. Although that would make the scene pretty hilarious.
But then things get serious. They inspect the Nisshin Maru through their binoculars and notice a pink slush coming out of its drainage system. It’s not Lil’ Lisa Slurry. It’s whale blood.
That means the whalers are processing a whale right now. The sight is unbearable to the Sea Shepherds, and they decide to do something about it.
Lockhart realizes the whalers have not hung up protective netting around the flensing deck where the whale’s being butchered.
The Nisshin’s PA system is blasting a warning. It sounds something like, “Warning: stay away from our ship or we will be forced to board you.” Am I hearing that right? If so…Jesus fuck.
Anyway, the plan is thus: the Gojira will approach the Nisshin, get as close as possible, and launch bottles of butyric acid onto the flensing deck, spoiling the whale meat. (To the whalers, the meat is their bread and butter. If the Sea Shepherds ruin the meat, the whalers lose money, and hopefully over time will decide it’s too costly to continue).
The Gojira pulls up in front of the Nisshin. We get a sense of the massive size difference. The Gojira weighs about 45 tons, while the Nisshin weighs about 8,000. One of the Gojira crew calls it a “David and Goliath” struggle.
Yeah, but later King David raped Bathsheba. Are you calling yourself a rapist?
The crew of the Gojira ready the spud gun and begin firing, mortar-style. Bottles smash against the hull harmlessly. Finally, the gunner lofts a bottle over the bow and onto the deck. Success!*
*Assuming any of this really happened. (Do you want me to keep doing disclaimers on everything, or is it just understood now?)
The crew of the Gojira notices a pod of whales nearby. This is always a good sign for the Sea Shepherds, and not just because they like lookin’ at whales. If whales are alive and whalers are in the area, it probably means the whalers aren’t having much success. I think. True, we were just talking about the whalers carving up a dead whale moments ago, but, um…it makes sense. Whales alive means the Sea Shepherds are doing their job.
I hope you liked this scene, because Animal Planet does the exact same one in about twenty minutes
They notice the whales are swimming pretty quickly, so Lockhart goes ahead and speculates that they must be running away from something. What if they’re running away from a harpoon ship?! That means there must be a harpoon ship in the area! It also means whales know what a harpoon ship is!
If there were a harpoon ship in the area, that’d be bad news for the Sea Shepherds. In seasons past the harpoon ships have done a good job interdicting the Sea Shepherds, using a variety of tactics like water hoses, sonic disruptors, and flashbang grenades to keep them away from the mothership. If a harpoon ship showed up now, it’d make tailing the Nisshin Maru much harder.
But luckily, they won’t have to be dealing with that, because Lockhart’s speculation is way off base.
Let’s check in with the other Sea Shepherd ships…
The Bob Barker is about forty miles away from the action. The Gojira really needs them because the Bob is much bigger and made of steel, whereas the Gojira is made of fiberglass. If the whalers were to flee into an ice field, the Gojira couldn’t follow them without risking punching a hole in their hull.
Problem is, the Barker can only travel about as fast as the Nisshin, so it’s almost impossible for the Barker gain ground—the Gojira’s going to have to slow the Nisshin down.
The Steve Irwin is finishing up its planned refueling mission in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is about a five days’ journey away from the area where the Nisshin Maru is right now. While they’ve been docked, their security officer, Jeffrey Milstein has been doing some scrounging.
But before we get to that, Jeffrey introduces himself as “Director of Field Operations, Maritime Security Division”. When do they need “security”? It’s not like they’re hanging out off the coast of Somalia or something. Maybe that’s why his title is so long, because he has so much time to put into fleshing it out.
Anyway, Jeffrey has scrounged up a “rapid-fire projectile launcher”, which is capable of shooting six projectiles in seconds. It looks like the grenade launcher from Goldeneye 64. It’s easily their most dangerous weapon yet.
Now he can be six times as douchey
Jeffrey fires some practice shots, and the crew cheers.
Should they be shooting stuff into the ocean? Isn’t that polluting?
But the fact is, the two most important ships are pretty far away. This year has some of the worst ice buildup of any Commodore Watson has ever seen. Ice fields are everywhere, and the whalers are more than capable of navigating them.
The Gojira tries to slow them down. How? By firing cans of red paint at the Nisshin Maru.
“No ship can have splotches of red paint on it,” according to a maritime law that does not exist.
But somehow, the cans of red paint to not deter the whalers, and the Nisshin heads straight for the ice.
There are about thirty miles between the Nisshin Maru and the ice field. The Barker won’t be able to arrive in time. That means the Gojira will have to find some other way to slow the Nisshin Maru down.
If red paint didn’t do the trick, surely the prop fouler will do something—that tried-and-true weapon with a success rate of less than 1%. Right? Right.
It used to be they would try to prop foul the whalers by dragging their fouling line across the whalers’ path. But since the prop fouler has always been TOTALLY DEVASTATING to the whalers, they’re going to change their tactics up and try something new. Now, the Gojira will speed ahead of the Nisshin Maru and sail directly in front of them, releasing the prop fouler down the Nisshin’s center-line.
If the prop fouler doesn’t work, at least the Sea Shepherds can still hurl insults at them
The plan commences, and it goes off without a hitch. Except for the part of the plan where the plan actually works. There IS a hitch there.
What, the half-inch-thick rope didn’t stop the 8,000 ton behemoth? This is terrible news for my latest invention, the dental floss lasso
The Nisshin Maru actually speeds UP after the fouler attempt. Lockhart checks in with the Bob Barker, and indeed, the Barker is actually farther away from the scene than they were earlier.
On the horizon, the Gojira crew can see huge ice growlers with increasing frequency. They’re getting close to the ice field. Soon there will be so much ice the Gojira will have to slow down to a crawl to navigate through it.
They have one last shot to slow down the Nisshin, and fortunately, Lockhart has a little trick up his sleeve.
It’s a prop fouler. Again. Only this time they’ll attach some chains to it. Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that when you’ve failed to fuck up an 8,000 ton ship’s propeller with some rope, you’ll definitely fuck it up with some rope with metal attached.
We’ll call this a Super Fouler. The best part is, they have to chop up their mooring lines and their anchor chain to make it. They have no idea how they’ll dock when they get back to New Zealand.
The thing isn’t going to work. But I’ll pretend like there’s a chance it will. Suspense! Keep reading.
Aaaaaand no, the Super Fouler does not work, and now the Gojira doesn’t have any more ropes or chains left onboard.
“Wooooooooo! This is not cause for celebration, yeah!”
Now the ice field is about a mile away. The Gojira has failed to slow down the Nisshin Maru. Really they never had a chance to do it. It’s just too outmatched. I do wonder if this is gonna lead to some kind of new acquisition for the Sea Shepherds to even the playing field in the future. Maybe an old cruise ship? Bob Barker could be cutting a check as I type this.
The Gojira tentatively follows. There are even more growlers in the water, and hitting one could be a disaster. (Have you heard of Titanic? It would be like that). The Animal Planet narrator makes a point of telling us just how dangerous this situation is.
How dangerous? It’s so dangerous they almost couldn’t film pickup shots of the Gojira dicking around with the ice field.
“Gojira Sinks While Filming B-roll For The Television Show Whale Wars, Two Weeks After Whaling Season Ended” would be the best news headline ever
Seriously. There aren’t any other boats near the Gojira right now. Who the hell shot this? The existence of this footage means they made the Gojira go BACK into the ice to get it.
Gah, I’m nitpicking again. Let’s move on.
The Gojira moves into the ice field. We get some thud sound-effects to indicate that they really are bumping into chunks of ice, (and not any visual proof), so Lockhart decides it’s too dangerous to continue. The Nisshin Maru recedes into the distance. Somewhere, Commodore Watson is seething. Would he ever give up the chase just because of some measly ice? No. He would not. And he would definitely sink his boat because of it.
All’s not totally lost yet, though, because Lockhart has noticed a thin strip of clear water nearby in the ice, which would let them to loop around and intercept the Nisshin Maru in its path.
Notice the huge field of pack ice behind that, however
The Gojira fires up its engines and loops around. They come to a stop directly in the Nisshin’s path. But…the Nisshin isn’t slowing down!
Aaaaaaaahhhhh! Manufactured drama!
Before the action continues, I’d like to make fun of the Crew Chronicles for this week again. Take a look:
There’s no way it isn’t Locky, right?
Actually it’s Peter. How is that possible?
Anyway, the last act ended with a shot implying the Nisshin Maru was about to run the Gojira the fuck over. That’s what we’re TOLD. Is that what’s really happening? Not that I want to get all Grassy Knoll on you, but here’s a shot of the impending (non) collision from the whalers’ POV:
I guess this is meant to prove that the Nisshin Maru really is close to running over the Gojira. Hey, the whalers themselves shot footage of their own boat bearing down on the Gojira!
But notice the position the Gojira is situated in. Facing away from the Nisshin Maru and sailing in the same direction.
So if the Gojira really is about to be crushed, why aren’t they getting the eff out of the way?
And, how do we know this isn’t just footage from earlier, when the Gojira was trying to prop-foul the Nisshin Maru by sailing directly in front of it, in the same direction?
Anyway, to warn off the Nisshin Maru/make it look like the Nisshin Maru is the aggressor/make for some visually compelling Teev, the Gojira crew pops off a couple flares. Even though these flares are meant to be warnings, the crew still delights when they hit the deck of the Nisshin. Lockhart makes one of his non-jokes.
“Hey, it lighted a nice little barbecue up there!” har har har
At the last second (nowhere near the last second) the Nisshin Maru changes course and the Gojira is out of harm’s way.
What we have is yet another disputed event in the story of the whale wars. The Sea Shepherds say they were just sitting there in the ocean when the Nisshin Maru tried to run them over. The whalers say they were just sailing through the ice field when the Sea Shepherds jumped out in front of them. I say the Sea Shepherds definitely got in the whalers’ way, but ultimately, both sides are the asshole here.
I mean come on. This guy’s wearing a bike helmet.
While the Gojira crew watches helplessly, the Nisshin Maru plows into the denser ice field, where they cannot go. Have they lost the Nisshin Maru for a second time?
No! The Bob Barker shows up at the last second. Now the Gojira can retreat to safer waters, and the Barker can take over the pursuit.
The crew of the Barker is glad to have arrived on time, and glad the whalers aren’t killing any whales. Things are looking good for the Sea Shepherds.
And then, a blip on the radar. The Yushin Maru #3 has entered the area.
They call Commodore Watson to give him the news. When he picks up, his first question is, “Did you lose them?” There was a time when he didn’t expect the worst in his people, but that time is long gone.
But they haven’t lost the Nisshin Maru, and the only news they have is that the Yushin #3 is in the area. Nothing else has changed. They will stay on the Nisshin’s tail going forward.
A little bit later, they notice a tail fin breach the water’s surface. It’s a whale! The Sea Shepherds take comfort in the fact that whales aren’t being killed at the moment because of their efforts. Like they did earlier in the episode.
Except, these whales wouldn’t be killed anyway because they’re actually sperm whales, which aren’t among the species the whalers target. The show diverts into some background info for a moment…sperm whales are severely endangered. And even though the whalers don’t hunt them in the Southern Ocean, they do kill as many as ten a year in the northern Pacific. Also, for your edification, sperm whales were hunted to this level of endangerment in the 19th century and still haven’t recovered. Peter muses about how cruel whaling is, because whales are so darn majestic.
Except that sperm whale on the left beats his kids
But now it’s back to the task at hand. With the Bob Barker directly on the Nisshin Maru’s tail, the Yushin Maru #3 picks up speed and begins tailing the Barker. It crosses from the Barker’s port-side to its starboard side. Something is up.
The crew recalls a moment from last year’s campaign, when the Barker and the Yushin Maru #3 bumped into each other. It’s another “disputed incident”…either the Sea Shepherds smacked the whalers, or the whalers sideswiped the Sea Shepherds. One weird little detail, when one of the crew members is describing it in an interview, he says “Last year they (bleeped) us.” What’s that supposed to mean? Is Animal Planet trying to avoid prosecution by using a non-vague verb, or did he use a swear?
The Sea Shepherds are still skittish over the incident, so Captain Alex orders everyone to man their battle stations!
Are they headed for a collision?! Once again, NO!!!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!
After the final break, the Yushin Maru #3 is still dangerously close to the Bob Barker. We cut to Captain Alex’s worried face. Then the worried faces of the crew.
And then a reaction shot from a random seal. For real.
But the Yushin Maru #3 merely passes by and heads for the Nisshin Maru.
What’s going on? Could the whalers be attempting to offload a kill onto the Nisshin Maru’s slipway? Is there a whale tethered to the Yushin Maru #3 the Sea Shepherds can’t see?
The whalers breeze past the Sea Shepherds and approach the slipway. Then, they pass right on by it. There’s no whale attached to the Yushin Maru #3 this time, but the message is clear: if there WERE a whale, the whalers could easily process it, Sea Shepherd or not.
Leaving Sea Shepherd to stand there, dumbstruck. Alex quickly recovers, and says that if the whalers tried that AGAIN they wouldn’t let them get past so easily, but the message is unavoidable: the Sea Shepherds’ main anti-whaling tactic, blocking the slipway, might be a dud.
What else is new?
See you next week.