After seeing something that both shocked and confused her in the cliff-hanger to last week's episode, come the beginning of this fifteenth instalment said item has disappeared - Was it really nothing more than a hologram? In fact, how many times is Kuniko going to fall for the god-damn holograms?!
It turns out that it doesn't matter, because her stupidity can't even keep up with the ineptitude of her negotiating skills. Before they know it, a poisonous gas is released in the area of Atlas where Metal Age are fighting, but not by either of the battling sides themselves - This gives Ryoko the chance to offer a ceasefire to Metal Age via Kuniko, a cease fire which is backed up by Sergei Tarsian, alledgedly acting as a United Nations representitive. Without checking up on these credentials at all, or even asking what she'll get in return for agreeing to the ceasefire, Kuniko agrees without hesitation, at which point the poison gas also magically disappears without a trace. What, you weren't expecting Shangri-la's plot progression to make any sense at this point in time were you?
After a brief aside in which Takehiko cries manly tears into a pair of small children's shoes, MEDUSA starts to cause trouble, eventually being given free reign to do what it likes by Karin. At this juncture it decies to hack into Atlas' systems, causing Tarsian to demand that all of the government's data be deleted lest it be revealed (I suppose it beats just leaving it on a train), which in return sees Ryoko start a mutiny against Tarsian, swinging whatever undoubtedly evil plan she has into action.
While all this is going on, Kuniko and Momoko sneak off to do some sightseeing in Atlas' residential area (which is probably the antithesis of good leadership, especially after you've just agreed to a ceasefire in rather daft circumstances), ending up coincidentally having chicken stew cooked for them by Kunihito Kusanagi's mum. Some deep and insightful comments about carrots ensues from young Kuniko.
After being surprisingly generous to Shangri-la's last episode despite some decidedly weird displays of stupidity on Kuniko's part, it's once again sinking into my own thick skull that this isn't actually stupidity at all as I like to playfully refer to it as, but rather full on bad script-writing and plot progression. While some aspects of the story are genuinely becoming interesting (not least the MEDUSA side of things, which has turned from Puff the Magic Dragon into something far more menacing), it's hard to maintain any kind of level of rapt interest when the series manages to throw up stupid or simply pointless threads into its narrative - The poison gas device in this episode is a prime example of horribly contrived and clumsy writing to bring about a certain state, and as I've just proved it simply serves to make the characters involved look like idiots. When that kind of thing happens once or twice it can be an irritation, but when such clumsiness rears its head every week it simply spoils the entire agenda.