Wing Wednesday: So let’s talk about “Sandy”

For a starter, I’d like to introduce “Wing Wednesday.” On the first Wednesday of every month, I’ll write in depth about Mobile Suit Abridged in some capacity. I have multiple topics I’d love to talk about, but if there are any specific moments from the series, narrative decisions or simply editing choices that you’re curious about, let me know in the comments and I might just give you the answer!

To start things off, I’ve been wanting to really get into the weeds on our biggest addition to Quatre’s story: “Sandy”. If you haven’t watched episode 11 yet, you can do so here and come back. This is your spoiler warning!

The Problem with Sandrock’s Goodbye

Most who have watched Gundam Wing past their tween years have had a similar reaction to the moment that Sandrock briefly becomes sentient and offers Quatre a way out before walking forward and exploding: “Wait, what?” It’s handwaved away as simply a feature installed by Instructor H that the other Gundam scientists didn’t think of, or, if you dig deeper into post-show lore, Sandrock was originally outfitted with an onboard AI that served as a tactics generator for Operation Meteor… yada yada. The point is that, purely within the context of the show, this moment is poorly explained and because of that, a lot of the emotional impact is lost when Quatre says goodbye and goes to space.

In our parody, it was important to me to give this moment more weight for Quatre. But unfortunately, Quatre had been sidelined so often in our show that I hadn’t really built up any true connection between him and his mobile suit, nor had I hinted at any reason for why Sandrock would temporarily become “sentient” when hitting the self-destruct switch. What’s more, we’d created a phobia of Quatre’s around death to encourage his pacifist ways and make the loss of his father later down the road much worse, so the idea of Quatre just saying, “Welp, guess I’ll self-detonate!” felt very out of character.

Insert: “Sandy”

Somewhere in the planning stages for Ep.10, I’d come up with the idea of having an “onboard AI” talking with Quatre, though it wouldn’t be an AI at all. It would be a fake, orchestrated by his father and plugged into Sandrock to help convince Quatre to self-detonate, move on from his Gundam pilot ways and come back home. This would serve multiple purposes:

  • Establish a confrontational and unhealthy relationship between Quatre and his father before they meet
  • Introduce Quatre’s susceptibility to bonding with artificial voiced programs (Zero’s coming soon, bay-beeeeeee…!)
  • Give a reason for why Sandrock tries to protect Quatre, as well as why Quatre tries to blow up in the first place

The problem was that we hadn’t built up to this at all and now had to introduce the AI and have Sandrock detonate in the same episode. This could come off as rushed, forced, or even just as confusing as the original show, but with more steps. How do we stick the landing with this change?

The Perfect Voice: Iria Winner

In the original show, Quatre’s relationship with his family is rushed, to say the least. Quatre has 29 (29!) older sisters, a billionaire father, a deceased mother, and all we really get to see of any of them is in one half of one episode, when Zayeed tells him to stop being such a jarhead then goes and dies. Quatre doesn’t even recognize the one sibling we do see: Iria.

So… what if Iria were the voice of “Sandy” all along?

I liked this idea because it allowed us to give Quatre’s one compassionate family member knowledge of what’s been going on on Earth without dedicating much screen time to it. (We aren’t really “abridging” the show if we just make everything longer, right?) It also allowed us to put her relationship with their father on display to further show who Zayeed Winner really is, as we wanted to make it clear that Iria didn’t necessarily want to do this, but was for whatever reason compelled to do it.

Now, when Quatre and Iria meet, Iria will already know about Sandrock, about Trowa, about Quatre’s insecurities and the things he likes, and I think that will allow us to make a much stronger connection between them…

…all to make it hurt that much more when Quatre goes Code Red.

That’s it for this post. Thanks for reading! If you have anything from the show you’d like to see dissected, let me know in the comments and I might just do so.

See you next Wing Wednesday, on May 3rd!

1 thought on “Wing Wednesday: So let’s talk about “Sandy”

  1. JTGWfan23

    This is a cool addition as I always love learning why writers/creators made certain decisions. Ronald D. Moore’s podcasts/commentaries on BSG for example. So, cool to see this outlining how you came up with the ‘AI’ for the episode. Nice stuff! A Q for next time I guess, before even starting did you guys pick certain plot points or things you wanted to expand/change before doing the series, or is sort is it more you deal with these as they come along?

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