The Dark Matter Reactor's cogs tick ominously as it awaits the three remaining Reactor Mights. The body of Zoda floats lifelessly inside it, while the frozen body of Haruka is suspended above the core.
The Falcon Flyer is dawning ever closer to the Dark Star, where Black Shadow awaits them. The Galaxy Runner is also trying to keep up, reporting to the chief of the Galaxy Mobile Platoon on their progress. He's surprised to see director Tanaka along for the ride; he wishes the group the best of luck, and tells the director not to screw up.
Clank finally pinpoints the Dragon Bird's position - and with it, the whereabouts of the Dark Star. They set their coordinates and forge on ahead, ready to face whatever threat comes their way.
Things aren't any easier anywhere else in the galaxy, either. Distress signals are popping up across every planet as natural disasters and Dark Million attacks have incapacitated most cities and defences. The chief's number one priority, however, is sending all backup towards the Dark Star - the sooner they cut out the root of this problem, the better!
Not that that's an easy task - Dark Million battle stations are guarding all passage to the Dark Star, and are shooting down every ship that comes their way. Black Shadow's dream shows no sign of beng stopped.
The Falcon Flyer finally enters the atmosphere of the Dark Star, and by the time they land its hull has suffered severe damage; even the planet's very atmosphere is treacherous. The two disembark in their F-Zero machines and see the Dark Matter Reactor ahead of them... along with a long line of twisting, splintering paths leading up to it.
The two split up to try and find the best route towards it, but it seems no matter how far they travel or what way they go, the reactor is as far away as it was when they started. Ryu doubles back multiple times to get nearer to it, but it seems to be further away every time he tries.
Thunder brews in the clouds around them, cutting Ryu off from any communication with Captain Falcon... just as Black Shadow's voice booms above him. He shows him the correct road to the reactor, telling him it has been waiting a long time to feast upon his Reactor Mights. Ryu takes the road with great gusto - he's also been waiting for the chance to clean Black Shadow's clock!
He finally arrives in the heart of the reactor, where the very presence of Ryu's Reactor Mights causes the reactor's core to glow, anticipating more energy to fuel it. Black Shadow welcomes him before zooming off in his Black Bull, and Ryu gives chase.
The Galaxy Runner finally reaches the Dark Star, and the few doubtful among its crew fear is Ryu and the Captain have died already. The rest quickly bellow at them; there's no way they would have gone down without a fight! They didn't get this far only to lose hope!
A wave of Dark Million battle stations swoop in and launch an assault upon their ship; they're no match for the Galaxy Runner's laser cannon, but the enemy have their own lasers as well. More and more battle stations arrive, each of them rearing to unleash their cannons, but the Galaxy Runner needs time to recharge its own weapons and shields! It looks like their goose is cooked...
... when one of the battle stations is suddenly sliced in two... and out of the smoke flies the Fire Needle and the Excellent Queen! Their arrival gives the Platoon time to boost out of there, leaving Samurai Goroh and Lisa Brilliant to attend to these foes. They've been itching for a challenge.
Black Shadow teases Ryu for failing to keep up; obviously two Reactor Mights are too much for him to handle. Ryu'll make him eat those words, and accelerates to begin ramming him from the side. Their Reactor Mights begin to glow and fill their machines with greater energy, though the Black Bull is still top dog in the damage department; a single nudge sends the Dragon Bird scraping the barriers of the track.
Ordinary attacks have no chance of harming him so Ryu activates his Spin Booster, as does Black Shadow, and the two go at it once more. Even then, the Black Bull is a force stronger than he can deal with, and they lose their spins as Black Shadow pushes Ryu towards the track's edge. He has something he wants to show him...
... the body of Haruka Misaki! The painful sight of his frozen fiancÚ causes Ryu to clam up, allowing the Dark Matter Reactor's core to open and attempt to suck him inside. Ryu struggles to fight back, and screams his true love's name.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Runner finally docks on the planet's surface and the entire Platoon head out in their machines, Clank piloting his father's Red Gazelle. Their path is not without obstacles, however - a fleet of Dark Million's F-Zero racers await them!
They burst through the crowd in a massive explosion, the opposition being forced to turn and race after them. Lucy's Elegance Liberty is boxed in by two ruffians, but John Tanaka performs a surprise rescue by ramming the two aside into an incoming wave, exploding the lot of them.
Elsewhere, Bio Rex, Octoman, Baba and The Skull are watching with some disconcern: their orders were to stand and fight, but they're frankly a little tired of it by now. And scared. Mostly scared. It doesn't help that Black Shadow snuffed Zoda as part of his plan...
... but the sight of all these exploding drone racers is unnerving - they don't want to end up like that! They choose to turn tail and run, leaving the Platoon to progress forward with minimal conflict.
Inside the Dark Matter Reactor, the spiralling track turns into a flat plain as Black Shadow tries to push Ryu into its core. The two draw closer and closer as the dark emperor taunts his foe about his impending fate: his Reactor Mights will power the core, allowing him to fulfill his universe-conquering dream... and in exchange, Ryu has the privilege of dying with Haruka by his side.
It may seem hopeless, but he's not in this fight alone - Captain Falcon appears to give Ryu his support, flying across the room and rescuing Haruka's body from its position above the core. Free of concern, Ryu initiates his Spin Booster with the Black Bull hot on his tail...
Outside, Jody Summer catches up to Captain Falcon disabling Haruka's encasing, releasing her unconscious body. He leaves her in his sister's care as he returns to the core. "This is my final task," he tells her, giving her one last gesture before returning to his duty.
While the two machines do battle, the Blue Falcon returns and run rings around the core's floor, stalling the Dark Matter Reactor from spinning; if he can keep it up, they can overload the reactor and destroy it, but he needs Ryu to take his spot! Only the power of his two Reactor Mights are capable of outright destroying the machine.
The Dragon Bird boosts and runs in a circle around the core; Black Shadow tries to stop him but Captain Falcon gives him what for. The two of them begin duelling, but Ryu has difficulty performing his task: the reactor has stopped, but he's not powerful enough!
Captain Falcon urges him to keep trying, but it's not until Zoda's voice calls from the reactor's core that he knows what to do: think of the friends he has fought for! Think of the woman he loves! Put all of his hotblooded spirit into the Dragon Bird, and the core will be destroyed!
The Legend of Falcon
The two Reactor Mights go into overdrive as the Dragon Bird turns into a whizzing golden blur, creating a powerful vortex around the reactor's core. The overload of energy causes the Dark Matter Reactor to spark and malfunction, plunging into the core and destroying itself. Black Shadow's dream has been shattered...
"BOOST -- FIRE!! FULL POWER!"
The floor begins to crumble as the Blue Falcon and Black Bull are sucked into the imploding core. Ryu calls out his name, but his mentor reminds him of what he once told him: "Only the one who surpasses Falcon can become Falcon." From this day forward, Ryu Suzaku will take up the mantle of Captain Falcon.
As his machine plunges into the light, Black Shadow flies from the cockpit bubbling with rage, and Captain Falcon does the same, the two rushing towards each other. "I won't let my dream die!"
"Looks like we're going to hell together, Black Shadow!"
Falcon's blow thrusts the lord of evil deep within the volatile reactor, disintegrating him in an instant. Ryu calls out his name, but there's nothing that can be done: Captain Falcon is too far gone, and he too disappears amidst the crackling energy...
... and the explosion of the Dark Matter Reactor concludes, its destruction seen across the entire Milky Way.
The Platoon watch the aftermath from outside the Galaxy Runner. Black Shadow has been defeated, and his malevolent scheme has been thwarted... but what of Captain Falcon? Where is Ryu? Clank asks around to confirm his idol's safety, but there's not a confident face among them. They fear the man from the 21st century has met his end.
Tanaka, however, notices a glinting shape tossed from the wreckage of the reactor - it's the Dragon Bird! They retrieve it and tear open the cockpit, finding Ryu's body slumped inside. They call out his name in the hope he'll awaken...
... and with some difficulty he raises his head, his cheeks stained with tears. Clank asks him where Captain Falcon has gone. Ryu's head sinks; the man sacrificed his life to save the galaxy. The boy is aghast and runs away to sob, but as he does so a shard of debris drifts overhead...
... and embedded in it is Captain Falcon's helmet. Clank is upset that his boss has passed on, and Jody expresses her grief for the brother she has lost. However, she passes the helmet into Ryu's hands with confidence. Her brother was an impeccable hero, and she has faith that Ryu will uphold his values in his place.
A fresh blue sky lights up Mute City, Earth and the rest of the galaxy now free of Black Shadow's reign of terror. Ryu rushes back to the lakeside park, just one of many repeat visits since his awakening, and he finds a familiar figure overlooking the water. This time the woman standing there isn't a dream...
... but instead the real deal. Haruka turns and runs to his side; it's been one hundred and fifty years in the making, but Ryu Suzaku and Haruka Misaki have finally reunited. And he's got something he's been waiting a long time to give her...
His ring of proposal - and this time it'll fit. It's been a long time coming, but the gesture is more than appreciated. The two hold each other in deep embrace. Now, their lives can really begin.
It is the year 2207. A new Mute City grand prix is about to begin as the F-Zero stadium unfolds, making way for its race track. Among the participating machines is the Blue Falcon, piloted by the new forebearer to the Captain Falcon name.
All your favourite racers are here; John Tanaka, Super Arrow, Samurai Goroh, Lisa Brilliant and the rest of the Platoon. The Dragon Bird remains among the participants, though it too has found a new pilot: little Clank Hughes, all grown up! Clash is eager to see the boy's piloting skills, as are Alias and Roy Hughes, now returned to his human body.
The Blue Falcon enters the starting grid to great applause, but the greatest support of all comes from Falcon House, where Haruka Misaki mans the bar and wishes her lover all the best. The pilots have all lined up and the race is ready to start...
... when a surprise last-minute entry barges its way into the grid. Why, it's Zoda in his Death Anchor! Baba and The Skull are scared out of their wits - why did he have to come back?! The race begins, and the pilots come roaring out of the starting grid.
The Dragon Bird gets an early lead with a boost, though the others aren't far behind, bursting out of the stadium and onto the track. Bio Rex and Octoman soon catch up and flank him, preparing to slam him from both sides...
... but Clank hits a speed booster just in time before they strike, leaving two fiery wrecks behind him. It looks like smooth sailing to the finish line, until another pilot passes him effortlessly: Captain Falcon. His Blue Falcon is a tough cookie to beat, but Clank is up for the challenge. Let's do it!
This episode plays its opening and ending credits over the show, foregoing the OP/ED animations entirely.
This episode features a unique title card.
The Dark Million drone racers are all recolours of Zoda's Death Anchor and Berserker's Red Bull.
I don't think you need to be told that the Falcon Punch debuted in Super Smash Bros., and has since become the captain's signature move in that series, though this is the first (and as of this writing, only!) time the F-Zero franchise officially recognised it.