It isn't so much a matter of life or death as facing up to the inevitable for Hibito as this week's Space Brothers begins - with his oxygen running lower by the moment and rescue still some way away, surely nothing can save him now?
Thus, most of this episode occupies itself with the painful, horrifying count down to what is effectively the end of Hibito's life - as he reminisces about his time spent as Brian Jay's understudy at NASA after finding a token left on the Moon's surface by him, we also have to watch what is perhaps an even more distressing sight as near-silent control rooms at NASA and JAXA watch helplessly as the countdown on their monitors runs ever lower, in turn demanding some difficult decisions as to what - or if - to tell the waiting Mutta about what is going on.
Even as the countdown reaches zero we aren't spared a graphic example of what suffocating alone in space is like for its victim - a state of agonising delirium as the inevitable comes calling. But is this really the end for Hibito? Perhaps Brian Jay, of all people, has the ability to save him, however indirectly....
Oh, Space Brothers, what a cruel mistress you are - after putting us through several weeks of agony (to the point where I almost didn't want to even begin this episode), this instalment more than any other put us through the wringer. Even several steps removed as we are as viewers of a fictional work, it's hard to described how distressing it is to watch a man's life slip away via little more than a countdown timer on a computer screen - trapped in helpless silence where nothing can be said or done to even verify what is happening, let alone affecting the outcome. It was these scenes that really hit me the hardest - the countdown, the near-silence, the conflict of doing your job versus respecting what could be the final seconds of someone's life. All this was before our view of Hibito's oxygen starvation, in itself terrifying in a more direct way and made more so by occurring on a desolate foreign planet. Is the episode's ending a cop-out after all of this? Maybe so, but I'm sure I can't be the only one who found the tears of anguish pricking my eyes turning into those of joy at the final outcome. Never mind Hibito, even I really need to get my breath back after the end of another incredible episode.