After the exploration of civil society within the Galactic Empire in previous weeks, episode 10 marked a return to life in the Alliance. A special election in Thernusen, a city on Planet Heinessen provides the backdrop to the events in this episode. Here, we are presented with a fragile democracy struggling to hold together in the midst of an ever less popular war.
The episode begins with Julian and Yang traveling to Thernusen so the latter can take part in a military ceremony he’s been ordered to attend. Julian also knows Yang wants to meet with someone else, but that is not revealed until later.
After their arrival, Yang is greeted by the press and the campaign of Raymond Togliatti, head of the misnamed National Peace Conference and the pro-war candidate in the special election. Using a girl who lost her father at Astate, Togliatti manages seemingly get an endorsement from Yang via press coverage.
Yang is furious at being used by a politician in such a way, and knows the girl resented him for her father’s death. His hopes of being able to relax for a little bit with his preferred tea and brandy do not materialize as he is confronted in his hotel room by a group opposed to the war. Just as he is about to take a beating, Jessica Edwards arrives to stop the violence.
Jessica is upset at Yang’s inadvertant photo-op with Togliatti which has given him a sizable lead in the polls. Jessica’s anti-war party was hoping to win the special election, but the chance looks to have gone with Yang’s arrival. She tries to convince him not to go to the ceremony as a protest, but he insists he has to go.
Julian and Yang then go to a restaurant that Yang frequented when he was a student. He tries to have a peaceful dinner, but as a public figure he can no longer do so. On the walk back to the hotel, Yang sees some PKC cronies beating up on a campaign worker. They rescue him, and Yang takes the worker back to the anti-war party’s campaign headquarters. There, Yang meets Jessica and James Thorndike, the candidate running in the election. Thorndike had become fiercely anti-war after his two sons died at a earlier battle at Iserlohn.
Yang and Jessica, then break into the old military academy and reminisce about their time as students. Yang had been friends with Jean Robert Lap, Jessica’s fiance until the second episode, and they both shared a lot of common values. Jean and Yang were both opposed to war in general, but both had to join the military to get an education as neither was particularly rich. Jessica, was the headmaster’s daughter, and the three would come to meet at a dance. Yang won the toss and elected to ask Jessica to dance first. He was predictably terrible stepping on Jessica’s toes on many occasions before Jean came in as the relief dancer and impressed enough.
Back to the present, Jessica then wonders why Yang never asked to dance with her again. He could not try to compete with his friend Jean who was madly in love with Jessica. Yang and Jessica looked to be getting ready to kiss before an explosion in the city interrupts them.
The campaign headquarters was hit by the blast. The campaign worker who was beat up earlier: dead, Thorndike: badly injured. What will happen in the election now?
Next, Yang goes to ceremony and looks forlornly at the tree where he embraced Jessica only hours earlier. He wants to go home, and is informed by the press that Jessica herself would be running in place of Thorndike.
Back at Alliance headquarters, the news reports that Jessica has won the election convincingly with 80% of the votes cast. Anti-war voters had come out in force desperately hoping to signal to the government to sign a peace treaty. Unfortunately, the Alliance is planning to begin an invasion of Imperial space.
Thoughts: Yang really needs a security escort consisting of more than Julian and a pistol in a suitcase…Following my description of the Empire as a fusion of pre-revolutionary France and the Late Roman Empire, I would have to put the Alliance as a combination of 1930’s Japan and modern America with a little bit of Stalinist Soviet Union thrown in. Probably way off the mark though…A 60 point swing within 2 days in the special election seems unlikely unless Togliatti had confessed to say murdering his opponent. Perhaps it reflects more on the inaccuracy of single day polling. This would also raise a question of why Jessica took the poll seriously when she really should have been looking a the 3 day rolling average which would have indicated it was still a close race…I wish my history courses could have been as easy as looking at a screen with pictures flashing up periodically.