A Methodology for Constructing a Coherent Timeline for the Robotech Television Series (Revised 7/00) by Peter Walker (Point K section revised 9/06 by Chris Meadows) It has often been said that the haphazardness of the creation of dialogue of the Robotech TV series makes it impossible to find a self- consistent timeline by merely using cues from the show itself. We are told that only the novels or role-playing game can provide us a good chronology, or we are offered by fans their own composite timelines. Unfortunately, each of these sources is prone to the inclusion of a fair amount of speculation, and often require the selective omission of essential details from the show to get them to work. Despite the myth, it is indeed possible to generate a consistent timeline from the series, and it is rather unique--that is, within an error measured in months, it is the *only* timeline that can be generated by the show without excluding non-contradictory details given in the show. Here, I have chosen to preserve the show's integrity as a text--that is, I do not dismiss parts of the show as errors or vestiges because they do not suit my preconceived notions of what the 'real' plot of Robotech would or should have been, as others have done. The television show is a completed work--this essay attempts to analyze that work, not suggest which parts of it are right or wrong. Unless it contradicts itself, the show is assumed to be canon, regardless of what unfinished sequels might or might not have done, or whether or not a particular temporal cue got there by way of Robotech's Japanese forerunners. Internal contradictions are a more delicate matter, and must be dealt with using the weight of evidence from the show. This timeline analysis has seen many revisions and changes; but always it has had the appearance that it was approaching a real goal, an asymptotic trend toward the "true" timeline for Robotech. As more data from the show has been brought to bear, some dates have changed, but never by much--vindication, I think, of the basic paradigm--that despite its haphazard construction, and sometimes because of it, there is a great continuity in the Robotech text, and that one need not rewrite the story with one's own prejudices to have it make sense. I am indebted to numerous people, both collaborators and critics, for the research contained in this essay--to Aubry Thonon and Pieter Thomassen for their constant commentary, to Michael House and Egan Loo, for their translations of the Macross chronology in _Macross: Perfect Memory_, to Stan Bundy for his work using seasonal cues in the footage to date episodes relative to each other, and invaluable insight into the end date for the Macross era, and to Daniel George, for his observation of the upper limit to the date of the return of Mars Division in the opening episode of the New Generation saga. I will approach each era of the Robotech saga separately, with a list of the explicit cues relating to the chronology of the universe, as well as some of the more implicit ones. I. Important temporal cues in the Macross Saga: Cue Source Episode Story begins sometime in 2009. "Boobytrap" "Blitzkrieg" occurs 2 months after the "Blitzkrieg" episode "Space Fold". SDF-1 returns to Earth 12.5 months after the "Homecoming" initial spacefold. Weather is cold in Alaska but not winter in Yokohama. Two years between the episodes "Force of Arms" "Reconstruction Blues" and "Reconstruction Blues". Dana is several months old by "Reconstruction Blues". She's still being taken out for a stroll in a baby carriage, but has a very full head of hair. Rick and Minmei's first date was over four "Private Time" years before the episode "Private Time". Kyle claims to have worked "for the last four years" to advance Minmei's musical gift in the same episode. Saga ends soon after Christmas. "Season's Greetings" & "To the Stars" Saga may end in 2012, from date on Minmei's "To the Stars" photo album. A basic timeline is easy to construct from these cues, after one has sorted out the internal contradictions with regard to the end dates, as implied in the episodes "Private Time" and "To the Stars". If one assumes, as per the date scrawled on the picture book, that the show ends in 2012, one contradicts the two cues in "Private Time", which places a greater than four year span from Rick's and Minmei's meeting until that episode. Once the end date is set, however, the remaining spans of time fall almost immediately into place. Below are three hypothetical timelines. The last of the three is the timeline from the official Macross Chronology, printed in _Macross: Perfect Memory_ and translated by Michael House. Of the two Robotech timelines, the first assumes that the cues in "Private Time" are correct, and the second assumes that the show ends in 2012. In both Robotech timelines, the starting month is inspired by the invitation Rick is seen to possess in the semi-canonical Comico graphic novel. "Private Time" "To the Stars" "Macross" SDF-1 folds June/July 2009 June/July 2009 Feb 2009 "Blitzkrieg" Sept 2009 Sept 2009 <unknown> SDF-1 returns June 2010 June 2010 Nov 2009 SDF-1 sent away from Earth Aug 2010 July 2010 Dec 2009 Lisa returns to Earth May 2011 Aug 2010 Jan 2010 Zentraedi truce & Holocaust June 2011 Sept 2010 Feb 2010 Dana Sterling born June 2012 June 2011 Mar 2011 "Reconstruction Blues" Sept 2013 Sept 2012 Sept 2011 "Season's Greetings" 24 Dec 2013 24 Dec 2012 24 Dec 2011 "To the Stars" Mid Jan 2014 30 Dec 2012 Mid Jan 2012 The timeline labeled "Macross" is the official Macross chronology, and has problems fitting the American show, so I have included it for purposes of comparison only. The first problem is that the time span between "Boobytrap" and "Homecoming" is only 9 or 10 months, where Lisa explicitly mentions 12 in her report. Though an error of only 2 to 3 months, this would contradict the show. Secondly, the time span between "Force of Arms" and "Reconstruction Blues" is (in Macross) approximately 19 months. This is not a major problem, if the two-year span referred to by the narrator is approximate, but is clearly inferior to the two proposed Robotech timelines, where the gaps are given to be 27 and 24 months respectively. Finally, the cues from the episode "Private Time" make the span of the show over four years in total--the span of Macross is less than three years. To construct the "Private Time" timeline, I began by examining the date implied by Rick's and Kyle's statements in episode of that name. As the show ends shortly after Christmas, the earliest available date is Dec 2013/Jan 2014; possibly later. However, as choosing any time after 2013/2014 would leave a gap of two years or more between "Homecoming" and "Force of Arms", a span of time not tenable from the pacing of the episodes. I preferred Jan 2014 over Dec 2013, to give some more time between "Season's Greetings" and "To the Stars". The other dates I filled in within reason, based upon the stated time gaps in the show. As for the accuracy of the cues, I assumed that the gap of twelve months between the SDF-1's initial space fold to her return is exact to the month, as Lisa gives that number in an official report to her superiors. The cues in "Private Time" are assumed to be approximate and accurate to six months; Rick's statement of "over four years" since his first date with Minmei turns out to be four and a half years, and Kyle's statement that he's worked to advance Minmei's musical gift for "four years"--a period that is seen to begin when Kyle moves to the SDF-1 in "Homecoming"--turns out to be three and a half years. I assumed that the gap given by the narrator for the time between "Force of Arms" and "Reconstruction Blues" was approximate: exactly two years to the month would have left far too long a gap between "A New Dawn" and "Force of Arms", and relatively little occurs between these episodes. My first attempt was the "To the Stars" timeline. I had missed cues in "Private Time" altogether, and did not include them in my analysis until they were graciously pointed out to me by Stan Bundy. I began by assuming late 2012 as the ending date of the show (as early 2012 causes severe problems in the cues in "Homecoming" and "Reconstruction Blues". I began that attempt by working backwards from Dec 2012, spacing the episodes in a similar fashion to the original Japanese Macross chronology, though "To the Stars" is less cramped in the episodes between "Homecoming" and "Force of Arms" than the Japanese version is. The two years mentioned by the narrator was assumed to be exact. Which timeline should one prefer, "Private Time" or "To the Stars"? As the difference hinges upon an internal inconsistency, it is a judgment call. After due consideration, I have altered my original position and have chosen the "Private Time" timeline. While it does have the advantage of being less cramped in the period between "Homecoming" and "Force of Arms" (a criterion Stan Bundy has suggested is essential to be met), that is not my major concern. The primary advantage of "Private Time" versus "To the Stars" is that the former is supported by two references, and the latter by a single one whose context (the photo album), it now seems to me, is ambiguous. Moreover, the reference that supports the "To the Stars" timeline is a palimpsest of the original Macross chronology, whereas the data from "Private Time" is unique to the Robotech continuity. The remainder of the essay assumes the "Private Time" timeline, or something similar that gives an ending date of Dec 2013/Jan 2014. II. Important temporal cues for the Sentinels: Cue: The RDF suffered from "ten years of inactivity and over-confidence". Rick has had, according to Lisa, "nine years to prepare for this mission" to Tirol, and for their wedding. Both cues point to a departure date for the Pioneer Mission of 2022. The latter is especially telling, by the choice of mentioning the span to the year, it can only be approximate to six months. Furthermore, Rick only learned about the mission to Tirol the day of the destruction of the SDF-1 and SDF-2, as seen in "To the Stars". As this occurred in Dec 2013 or Jan 2014, the date of the Sentinels video is fixed between mid 2022 to mid 2023. This agrees with the date Macek gives in the semi-canonical _Robotech Art 3_. Macek gives the departure of the SDF-3 to be 2022. My suggestion follows; it is an intermediate date within the allowable range, but is consistent with Macek's remarks. REF departs for Tirol Dec 2022 III. Important temporal cues in the Robotech Masters Saga: Cue: Source: Robotech Masters are forced to finish the "The Robotech Masters" trip to Earth under 'impulse power', beginning 20 light-years away. Robotech Masters attack Moon Base Luna "Dana's Story" shortly after the 15th anniversary of the SDF-1's destruction. Dana is a teenager when the war begins. "False Start" Carpenter's ship had been his home for "Outsiders" 15 years. We know for certain when Moon Base Luna is attacked. It is only a few days more than fifteen years after the destruction of the SDF-1. At this point, a single mothership of the Robotech Masters has arrived behind one of Saturn's moons, and is waiting to observe the humans some more before they make their move. Luna sends a distress call, which is picked up by a flotilla of ships apparently attached to Space Station Liberty, who then briefly engage the Bioroids, and are assisted by a battle group which includes Marie Crystal. The forces engage in a short fire-fight, and then both sides pull back. Dana would be approximately sixteen by her graduation date. While that is very young, it might be an indication of the desperation of the Southern Cross to put people in the field, or of Dana's precociousness, or both. Moon Base Luna Jan 2029 attacked ("Dana's Story") "False Start" seems to take place quite some time after "Dana's Story". Dante mentions that Luna Base has been attacked by aliens called "The Robotech Masters", but there is no immediacy in his tone or in the mood of the other soldiers in the 15th ATAC; indeed, their alert status was yellow, not red. It is not only possible, but likely, that this episode takes place months after "Dana's Story". Indeed, by "Dana's Story", only one of the Robotech Masters' ships had arrived in our solar system, and the others, including the Elders' ship, would have needed additional time to arrive. In addition, the Robotech Masters also did not want to make the same mistake the Zentraedi made, and wanted to learn more about humans before they risked their civilization's future in battle with them. Likewise, all of Earth's extra-terrestrial bases had been neutralized or cut off by "False Start", and this would have taken some time. Emerson's aide seems to know what happened to Luna in some detail ("They bombed our base and killed our men"--said with an authoritative tone), but there didn't seem to be any survivors who could report in detail what happened, as Emerson said it was unknown whether or not the moon base brought the attack on herself. In "Volunteers", Liberty is heard trying to raise Luna Base, and since they weren't cut off from Earth until "False Start", they would have known about the attack on Luna Base that occurred in "Dana's Story". The fact that they tried to communicate with the base strongly suggests that by the last time they were able to communicate with Earth or the Moon ("False Start"), they believed there was someone there to hail. All this adds up to the probability that between "Dana's Story" and "False Start", ships were sent to investigate Luna Base, and there were new personnel stationed there. It would also suggest that the attack on the base was a hit-and-run strike by the Masters (as implied by the narrator), to test Earth's strength while waiting for the other motherships to arrive. 2nd Robotech War begins Apr 2029 ("False Start") The remainder of the saga has no direct time cues, and the indirect ones mostly link one episode to another immediately preceding or following it. It has been suggested by Stan Bundy that one may use the seasons as a clue to the relative dating of the various events. This is an endeavor more easily described than undertaken. No weather consistent with winter is ever seen in this era, and the characters are never seen to don cold-weather clothing (though Sean is seen trying to pick up a woman who is window-shopping for a winter coat). The landscape often alternates radically from extremely barren to very lush even in the same episode, depending on location--making any temporal analysis of the barrenness of rocks tenuous. Weather and foliage may only, then, rule out certain months--though the lack of foliage can not do the same. In this light, the following episodes show lush and green deciduous foliage, and must occur between spring and early autumn: "Half Moon", "Star Dust", "Outsiders", "Triumvirate", and from "Daydreamer" to the end of the series. The episode "Final Nightmare" seems most consistent with late summer (Bowie and Musica spend the night without shelter--while drenched from the previous night's rainstorm). The other episodes' dates may be fixed relative to this. Here are my suggestions: "Half Moon" July 2029 "Star Dust" early Sept 2029 "Outsiders" late Sept 2029 "Triumvirate" Mar 2030 "Final Nightmare" Aug 2030 In addition, another date is referenced in the dialogue of "Outsiders". Carpenter's aide says that the ship had been their home for fifteen years at the occasion of her destruction. Once one rejects the bevy of temporal displacements caused by space folding that McKinney invoked (see below), this places the commissioning of Carpenter's ship in late 2014, give or take as much as two and a half years, to allow for possible rounding to the nearest five-year interval. This is fully consistent with the fact that the RDF had possession of the Factory Satellite for over a year by the end of 2014. It helps things to assume the date is approximate, and to give the date of Carpenter's ship as later than 2014. My recommendation is below: Carpenter's ship May 2015 commissioned Here, I have completely ignored McKinney's 5 year time-jump idea. If I were to include it, then at least five years would have to be added to all New Generation dates I establish below (and possibly ten!). However, the commissioning of Carpenter's ship (which, according to McKinney, suffered the 5-year jump on the return trip as well) would have to have been in 2004, for the crew, who were unaware of the time-jumps, to consider the ship their home for fifteen years in their time-frame. The time jump is an implausible proposal, considering the above. This also does not work with the premise that a returning REF fleet would have been able to respond to the distress call in "Volunteers", as it did in "Mind Games"--unless the span between these episodes is itself five years. This gap is extremely untenable from the pacing of the episodes. Further remarks on the return of Carpenter's ship in "Outsiders", and the return of the REF task force to assist the Southern Cross in "Mind Games", are included in an appendix to this essay. Where does the Robotech Movie, if one chooses to incorporate it, fit into all of this? In _Robotech Art 3_, Macek gives the date of the Robotech Movie as 2027. As the Robotech Movie portrays events that contradict the TV show (the downing of a Robotech Master flagship prior to the episode "False Start", when the first one is really downed in "Danger Zone"), we may want to take the movie as apocryphal. This is probably the best solution, considering Macek's disavowal of the film, and the lapse of Harmony Gold's rights to the Megazone properties. However, it is possible to explain the movie as a series of events that occurred to the first Robotech Master flagship in the days after "Dana's Story", while the others were on their way. If this is the case, it is still difficult to explain what happened to the downed mothership or why Emerson, whose people had fought a mothership before, was so ignorant of the Masters or their capabilities in the early episodes. It is not possible to make the movie contiguous with the show, because in the movie the invasion was a secret; in the show, public announcements about the invasion were made in the third episode. Likewise, it is not possible to place the movie before "Dana's Story", as in "Dana's Story" the first flagship had only made it so far as the outer planets and was waiting for the rest of the fleet to arrive, while in the movie, the entire fleet had already arrived at Earth. No good solution presents itself, except perhaps to assume that the movie is either non-canonical, or (like the Macross Movie) is a fictionalized account of real events within the Robotech universe itself, a fiction within a fiction, as it were, where much artistic license was taken. IV: Important temporal cues in the New Generation saga: Cue: Source: A returning REF fleet links up with the "Mind Games" Southern Cross in the penultimate battle of the Second Robotech War. "[REF crew of Horizont] were all born out "The Invid Invasion" in deep space on a Robotech ship". Earth is "a planet none of these newest Robotech defenders has seen in nearly twenty years" "The Invid Invasion" Lunk made the promise "a year ago" to Nader, "Paper Hero" who died "during the Invid invasion after we fought the Robotech Masters". Scott was around 12 by the time Wolff had "Eulogy" departed for Earth. Wolff was sent in in the "first wave against the Robotech Masters". Carla and Lancer parted "three years ago". "The Secret Route" The cues from "The Invid Invasion" would imply that the return of Mars Division to Earth occurs approximately 20 years (assuming a young bridge crew of the Horizont), and no more, after the departure of the last major deployment. Presumably this would refer to the launch of the SDF-3. The dialogue has a tendency to round large numbers of years to the nearest five, so this would give a date of 17.5 to 20 years from the SDF-3's departure to the return of Mars Division, more than enough time for the youngest crewmen to have been born on the mission. Simply having them born on the Robotech Factory doesn't help: a factory in Earth orbit hardly counts as 'deep space'. Neither, as has been suggested, would a colony on another planet in our solar system. A colony is not a "Robotech ship", nor would a soldier who has fought Invid across the Galaxy call Mars or Jupiter "deep space". Neither would the SDF-1 apply; while it spent some years as a "Robotech ship" "out in deep space", anyone born on the SDF-1 would have spent more than a decade on Earth before the REF departed - inconsistent with the premise that these younger soldiers have never seen Earth. Furthermore, no alternate scenario can satisfy the sweeping statements--"*all* of us were born out in deep space", "*none* of [them] has seen [Earth] in nearly twenty years". The former remark may refer to the speaker's social circle, and not the entire REF, unlike the latter remark, made by the narrator, which must refer to everyone on the mission--and the only way to accommodate all of them having not seen Earth in nearly twenty years is to recognize that this refers to the time since the departure date of the REF, established above as 2022. Thus, the return of Mars Division can be firmly placed between 2040 and 2042. The cue from "Paper Hero" is problematic, as the most naive interpretation requires that it contradicts all the other cues. On the other hand, the cue from "The Secret Route" explicitly requires that the Invid occupation was well-established at least three years before that episode, almost certainly more, if Lancer and Carla spent any appreciable time as refugees. As the weight of evidence falls on the side of a later date (from inferences from "The Invid Invasion" and "Eulogy"), the interpretation of Lunk's comments can not be the simplest possible one. Lunk only tells us that Nader died during the Invid invasion, and that he made his promise to return Nader's book a year before the episode. The contradiction with "The Secret Route" can be removed it is assumed that either the "invasion" was seen as an ongoing process (as suggested by Rob Morgenstern), or--more likely--that Lunk's promise to Nader was posthumous. Lunk might have avoided going through Nader's effects for some time after Nader's death, and only found the book and a note with Nader's intention that the book be returned to his father a year before. It suffices to recognize that the "Paper Hero" time cue refers only to the promise, and does not directly bear upon the actual date of the Invid invasion of Earth, or the length of the occupation. From the date of Lancer's and Carla's parting, we can infer that the Invid were already on Earth as a well-established occupation force with a network of sympathizers more than three years before the date of the episode (and, oddly enough, the trains were still running at that date). Thus, the Invid would have had to have invaded well before three years before this episode. Where was Lancer from remains an unresolved question, though a prior mission from the REF, or from a contingent of REF relief troops on the moon remain possibilities. So when did the Invid invade? It was at least three years before "The Secret Route", again, more if Carla and Lancer spent any appreciable length of time together as refugees and lovers, something implied by the depth of their bond (and the specifics of their flashback). Also, the brief flashback seemed to imply that the Invid were already quite entrenched on Earth when Lancer's fighter crashed there. If the REF mecha seen in the show came from this pre- invasion relief mission, one would require some time for the dispersal of this mecha and its adoption in preference to the remaining Southern Cross mecha. I have assigned Scott an age of 12 at Wolff's departure based on his appearance and height (relative to the adult males around him) in the flashback of him viewing the propaganda film of Wolff's departure; a range from 11 to 13 is likely. Assuming an age of 22-24 years for Scott Bernard, the cue from "Eulogy" would imply a span of 10 to 12 years from the departure of Wolff to the departure of Mars Division. This, I feel, is a reasonable assumption, as Scott had attained the rank of Lieutenant or Lt. Commander--the show is inconsistent in this regard, was apparently a squadron commander, and had an air of maturity and seniority. The arrival of Wolff's troops is not explicitly dated in the show, though he is said to have been sent with "the first wave against the Robotech Masters". As mentioned above, a fleet of ships is said to arrive "from hyperspace", responding to the Southern Cross' distress calls to the REF via Space Station Liberty. It is very likely that this is the "first wave" Scott was referring to. This would put Wolff's arrival just before the end of the Second Robotech War, around July 2030 according to my above analysis. This is consistent with the inferences from the difference between Scott's age in the New Generation episodes from his age at Wolff's departure. Wolff's arrival at Earth: July 2030 (in "Mind Games") This coincides with the remarks about Scott's age in the flashback in Eulogy and his apparent age in the New Generation episodes--since the expedition Wolff must be identified with arrivied during the Second Robotech War, ten to twelve years must have passed to account for Scott's maturation. What about Point K? This is problematic. There are good reasons to suspect that the base's destruction was relatively recent, though it's clear that whoever established it was not part of the main Mars Division invasion of "The Invid Invasion". Scott expected them to have survived from their landfall to his arrival--suggesting that he hadn't expected them to be there without attrition or resupply for all that long. The fact that Scott says it was "set down" by "Admiral Hunter" at a time when "he wasn't sure who the enemy was exactly, but ever since they arrived there's been nothing around but the Invid to attack." This suggests that the base must have been established by a wave that arrived shortly after the invasion, before the Invid had fully consolidated their control. Just what Scott meant by "Admiral Hunter set down" is open to debate. He could be using it in a general sense to apply to forces acting under Hunter's orders, or he could very well mean that Admiral Rick Hunter himself (Scott said "he" so could not be referring to Lisa) commanded that first expedition back to earth to set up Point K, returning to Tirol afterward. The fact that this did not occur in the novels or comic books does not mean it strictly could not have taken place in the animated series continuity. I suggest the following dates. Note that they are purely speculative, but they do reflect the complexity of the dialogue and visuals of that base. Suggested dates are given below. Point K established: 2030-2031 Point K destroyed: July 2042 What about the specific dates of the various episodes? Again, taking up the method initially proposed by Stan Bundy, it is possible to examine the climate conditions to date the episodes relative to the seasons and each other. Scott Bernard lands in South America, and the first fifteen or so episodes (until "Annie's Wedding") are spent south of the equator, so the month one assigns to a given season (assuming a Northern Hemispheric bias) must be shifted by six months. From "The Invid Invasion" until "The Genesis Pit" we the characters experiencing warm weather with lush deciduous foliage. Since this spans nine episodes and a lot of travels, it is possible that "The Invid Invasion" may begin as early as the Southern Hemisphere spring and as late as the summer--ranging from September to January. The sheer number of episodes (comprising a third the New Generation saga) suggests the earlier date. By the episode "Enter Marlene", we are well into autumn, and in "The Secret Route", the desire is expressed to cross a mountain range before winter "really" arrives. It would be necessary, as the characters are still in the Southern Hemisphere, to date these events to around April or May of the year after Scott arrives on Earth. The season of "Sandstorms" is indeterminate, as the characters are in a desert. The next three episodes take place at or north of the equator; beginning with "Annie's Wedding", set right on the equator in the Amazon. "Separate Ways" presents a problem. Scott's perusal of the map might suggest that the episode takes place in the ruins of Rio or Buenos Aires, though his route would take the characters back through the Amazon, which is where they were in the prior episode. It is not necessary to assume that Scott meant that the starting point drawn on the map was their current location, and they could easily be further along the route he'd drawn already. Two sites drawn on the map suggest themselves for the location of the episode: Caracas or Maraciabo. If one assumes that Scott continued with the plan he voiced in "Separate Ways", to reach the northern coast of South America and then cross the Gulf of Mexico, then "Metamorphosis" would take place on a Caribbean island, possibly Jamaica or Puerto Rico. However, Stan Bundy has mentioned problems with this, and has proposed that between episodes, Scott may have changed his mind about their route, instead taking them along Central America up to the California coast. There is certainly nothing in the show that contradicts this, and it does indeed resolve several of the questions posed by their zig-zagging. It's clearly warm weather on the islands, wherever they are, and if they've just left the Southern Hemisphere winter behind, they're now experiencing a Northern Hemisphere summer--July or so of the year after Scott's arrival. There is some ambiguity about the next episode; its title, "The Midnight Sun" suggests extremely high latitudes (inside the Arctic circle) during summertime. This is reinforced by Rand's surprise that a few days before crossing into the mountains, it was still summer. Nevertheless, the "midnight sun" can not be taken literally, since we do see nighttime conditions in the episode. There is the intriguing possibility that the group used their boats to travel to Anchorage, where they were attempting to cross the Alaska Range to get into the interior to scavenge or explore the ruins of Alaska Base. If the characters did go this far north, the date is probably August, which would place "Ghost Town" in Montana or that vicinity in September, and "Frostbite" in Denver around or soon before the new year. From "Birthday Blues" to the end of the show, we are in a Northern Hemisphere spring to summer, it seems. Rand and Rook express surprise at all the spring flowers suddenly appearing around Reflex Point in "Dark Finale", so this would seem to necessarily rule out spring for this episode, favoring instead summer. This would place the end of the show in early summer, a year and a half after Scott's arrival. Here are my suggestions for several representative episodes, based on my prior date of 2042 for the arrival of Mars Division: "The Invid Invasion" Sept 2042 "The Secret Route" May 2043 "Metamorphosis" July 2043 "Midnight Sun" Aug 2043 "Frostbite" Jan 2044 "Birthday Blues" Apr 2044 "Hired Gun" May 2044 "Symphony of Light" July 2044 V: Conclusions: While there is some play in the dating of the minor events of the Robotech TV series relative to the major ones, the basic framework is rather rigidly fixed by the show's references. The following is a summary of the dates that can be fixed with certainty; noting that I have chosen "Private Time" over the photo album. The timeline mentioned below is reasonably unique; without arbitrarily throwing out cues, this is the only timeline one can get for the TV show. "Boobytrap" to "Space Fold" 2009 "Blitzkrieg" 2009 (two months after "Space Fold") "Homecoming" 2010 (twelve months after "Space Fold") "Force of Arms" 2011 (~2 years before "Reconstruction Blues") "Reconstruction Blues" late 2013 "Season's Greetings" 24 Dec 2013 "To the Stars" Mid Jan 2014 Carpenter's ship 2014 to 2016 commissioned Sentinels Video 2022 "Dana's Story" Jan 2029 "False Start" 2029 (some time after "Dana's Story") "Catastrophe" approximately a year and a half after "False Start" Invid invade more than three years before "The Invid Invasion" "The Invid Invasion" 2040 to 2042, in the Southern Hemisphere's spring "Symphony of Light" approximately a year and a half after "The Invid Invasion" Appendix: The Pioneer Mission and Cyclones Given the range of dates allowable for the commissioning of Carpenter's vessel, the latest the ship could have been launched is early 2017--still before the departure of the SDF-3. This would seem to indicate that more than one ship was attached to the SDF-3, and left either with her, or approximately at the same time as her. Also, when Carpenter's voice is heard on the radio, a Southern Cross soldier shouts "It's a ship from the Pioneer Mission!", and not "It's the SDF-3!" If the REF only left with the SDF-3, one would think that the tech would assume that the SDF-3 would be the ship returning--as it was the only one those on Earth would know about. Furthermore, when Leonard confronts Carpenter, he is shocked and dismayed that Carpenter was alone. If the SDF-3 had left alone, wouldn't his default assumption be for fewer ships, not more? There are other indications that the REF did not depart for Tirol with a single ship. In "Mind Games", we see a fleet of ships returning from what the narrator calls "hyperspace" and what Emerson calls their "mission in deep space". The narrator informs us that the ships were responding to the initial distress call sent out by Space Station Liberty (cf. the episode "Volunteers"). This clearly refers to elements of the REF, especially coupled with the fact that Earth had been trying to raise the SDF-3 from the beginning of the show, and that Wolff is said in "Eulogy" to have been sent in with "the first wave against the Robotech Masters". Though the extent of the fleet returning is uncertain (some dialogue seems to make it smaller, others larger), one thing is apparent--aside from the small shuttles, all capital ships seen in the returning fleet are identical in designs to the Southern Cross vessels then in service. This requires that at least the plans for the ships were taken with the REF, but more likely, the ships themselves were part of the initial task force. While it might be objected that the idea was to deceive the Robotech Masters with the SDF-3, and that the additional ships would ruin the deception, it is only a problem if one assumes that the other vessels accompanied the SDF-3 her entire journey to Tirol, and did not hold back or take some other action. The simple fact is that the show establishes that these ships did exist this early. In addition, the crew and troops carried by the SDF-3 is far too small to account for the fleet we see in "Symphony of Light". Assuming several troop/cargo ships accompanied the SDF-3 might almost seem reasonable, and is consistent with the show. It should be added that nowhere in the Robotech footage, or that of the Sentinels that was completed, do we ever hear it stated that the SDF-3 did leave alone. Another complication is the service entry date of the Cyclone. Scott calls it a "new" emergency vehicle, but this could be his bias as a pilot. Certainly we see Nader in a Cyclone at his death--presumably at the start of the Invid invasion. Though Rand's Cyclone is scavenged from a Mars Division ship, where did Rook's come from? She had mastered its use by the time Rand had even found his, and thus we can safely presume that she had possessed it for some time, and necessarily that this Cyclone had been on Earth prior to the Mars Division invasion. Similarly, Lancer wore the Cyclone-compatible body-armor when he crashed to Earth, as did all the old men on the Garfish in "Ghost Town", suggesting that their units had standardized their body armor to the Cyclone by the time they arrived on Earth. The flashbacks of Wolff's heroics prior to his departure for Earth in "Eulogy", on the other hand, show him in a different kind of armor, incompatible with the Cyclone. Since both the old men and Wolff arrived at the end of the 2nd Robotech War, it is probable that the Cyclone was already in service by 2030, though its installation on Veritech fighters as an emergency vehicle (and the training of their pilots in its use) was comparatively recent--c. 2040 or so.