|Wing Commander Academy episode|
|The Most Delicate Instrument|
|Mentally unbalanced from stellar phenomena, four cadets begin to exhibit erratic behavior|
|Air date||Oct 5, 1996|
|Previous episode||The Last One Left|
|Next episode||Word of Honor|
|Writers||Mark Edens/Shari Goodhartz|
|Notable guest actor(s)||Kevin Schol (as Blizzard)|
|Preceding episode||The Last One Left|
|Subsequent episode||Lords of the Sky|
The Most Delicate Instrument is the third episode of the Wing Commander Academy TV series.
In the TCS Tiger's Claw briefing room, Geoffrey Tolwyn is briefing the pilots about a binary star system they are about to explore. He assigns Blair and Allen Goetz as the leaders of the two Scimitar wings.
In the locker rooms Blizzard thoughtfully dresses up and wears his medallion. Lindsay Price is complaining to Gwen Bowman about their boring missions of hid and seek among the asteroids instead of action, then Blizzard comes and asks Gwen to fly with him; Price comments that it's Blizzard's way to show that he likes Gwen.
They join the boys, and psychiatrist Guthrig Andropolos on his way down to the hangar deck. He comments that Blizzard looks like having pre-flight tension, which he denies. At the hangar, the psychiatrist starts working out. Maverick scolds Maniac for being with Maya McEaddens modifying his Scimitar's shields for the asteroids; he admits that he prefers watching Maya doing the job himself.
Meanwhile, a pair of Grikaths are hiding among the asteroids and soon launch missiles against the Claw. Condition red sounds and all pilots board their fighters. The Claw's turrets destroy most of the missiles but one hits it. Archer falls down, and while she is down, Maniac finds an opportunity to fly in her stead. Maverick, Payback and Blizzard pursue the Grikaths and destroy them, Maniac is ready to destroy the last of them, but his firing control doesn't respond, and simply has to dodge. Maverick goes after it as it hurls against the Claw. The turrets manage to hit the Grikath, and Maverick scratches his Scimitar on the Claw's hull in his attempt to avoid the crash.
In the bridge, an officer tells Tolwyn that there are no other contacts, but a solar flare soon erupts. The flare engulfs both stars and the Claw, and also the fighters who are still out in space. The flare seem to affect the pilots and the ship instruments.
Once it is over, they attempt to land in the hangar. However Blizzard seems to have problem coordinating his vision and is left last. He hits his Scimitar on the border and breaks its wing, falling into the hangar in fire. The com-tech calls technicians to the hangar. Archer pulls him out moments before the ship explodes. Tolwyn debriefs the pilots and dismisses them, except Maniac, wanting to commend him for flying Archer's Scimitar.
Blizzard is in his quarters replaying a sound recording, when Archer arrives. He thanks her for saving his life, and admits that he is in love with her and offers her his medallion before running away. Archer visits Andropolos telling how she is troubled concerning Blizzard's emotional reactions, who was always cold.
Payback is in the locker room when she hears the voice of a Kilrathi mentioning her dead family. He sees him approaching her and she assaults him with a wrench, only to see him changing into Yulan Chang who angrily shouts at her for attacking him with no reason. Maverick is in his quarters talking to himself about his performance in the Kilrathi War and if they will be adequate. Payback enters, warning him that the Kilrathi re on board. Maverick goes to warn Tolwyn, only to see 3 Kilrathi saluting him.
The Kilrathi are actually Andropolos, Archer and Hyena. Archer expresses her concerns that the flare obviously affected the pilots' minds somehow and Hyena narrates his experience with Payback. Andropolos expresses his theory that the flare scrambled their minds like an electrical instrument, causing them to see hallucinations. That would also explain the Kilrathi suicidal attack. After this, Tolwyn tells the com-tech to order the four affected pilots to report to the bridge.
Upon hearing this, Maverick and Payback attempt to find someone whom they can trust. Blizzard is panicked and breaks into Archer's quarters seeking her. He sees her reflection telling him that the emotions he had been trying to hide are his real self. He is arrested by a security guard, who is then assaulted by Maniac. The four of them hide in a room sharing delusional ideas; they plan to destroy the ship and escape using Broadswords.
On the bridge, Tolwyn orders security forces to arrest the four people starting with the hangar deck. Maverick prepares a Broadsword for take off and is questioned by Maya. The secs show up but are assaulted by Maverick's friends. During the turmoil Maverick boards a Broadsword followed by Blizzard, but Maniac is hit. Archer and Hyena board two Epees and go afer them.
Archer attempts to communicate with Blizzard saying that their mind has been tampered but there is no response. After a brief dogfight and evasive maneuvers, Hyena manages to his Maverick and short his cockpit's circuits. Blizzard sees the Claw before him and locks his torpedoes against the bridge. Archer still attempts to persuade Blizzard, but at the final moment she has to shoot at him.
Back in the Claw, Andropolos performs bio-electric stimulation to the patients. Maverick mentions that Hyena's hit did the job for him.
Archer is alone thinking about her having to destroy Blizzard to save the Claw. She is joined by Andropolos, and asks him if the hallucinations mean something, to which he replies that hallucinations express things like suppressed emotions; with this, Archer realizes that Blizzard really loved her.
IIf this episode was set at ~.115 it would overlap chapter 20 (2654.114) and Chapter 21 of Pilgrim's Stars. This would not work, as both Maniac and Blair are stuck in transit on the CS Olympus at this time. There is a brief rendezvous with the Concordia on the .128, and do not get back to the Tiger Claw until .130. Even if it occurred same day as .130 that still places it into the same overlapping issue as The Last One Left Standing with the McAulliffe Campaign, or even the Gateway Campaign. The Last One Left is set at .131 and overlaps McAullife missions one and two in a different system. It also doesn't make much sense to set TMDI before The Last One Standing.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Andropolos and the cyan-haired com-tech.
- Some canonical properties of the Broadswords are heard in dialogue, like they are slower than fighters, and are jump capable.