The 14th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes continues with its look at life on the planets being occupied by Alliance forces in their invasion. Over the course of the episode, Reinhard’s strategy exposes the ineptitude of the Alliance at the top and causes the citizens of at least one village to be killed needlessly by the force that was originally liberating them from Imperial rule.
The episode begins with an Alliance fleet arriving on another planet where food had been taken. In fact, all the people on these planets simply want food more than good government. The Alliance is now feeding 50 million extra people that it originally wanted to.
Ensign Franz Valleymunt is sent in to help agricultural yields on the planet featured in this episode. The Alliance soldiers under his command get water out of the ground, and their previously barren fields look like they will recover and produce a good harvest. The village head, Wagner, wants to hold a small banquet to honor the Alliance’s arrival. Valleymunt is reluctant as there should not be enough food to hold such an event. Under pressure from one of his subordinates and Wagner’s daughter Therese, Valleymunt agrees to go.
At the banquet, Valleymunt is lost in thought as the rest of the attendees are having a good time. He leaves, but is followed by Therese on her father’s orders. Valleymunt knows Therese’s situation immediately, but when she implies she would have followed him on her own, the two walk off where Valleymunt can explain his dream. He wanted a simple life on an uninhabited planet with a wife and children. That’s why he studied botany and engineering, but he unfortunately found himself in the Alliance military. Therese replies that she had a similar dream as well.
Meanwhile at Iserlohn, some of the middle ranks in the Alliance are beginning to realize how strained their resources are. They are unsustainable without additional supplies from Alliance territory even with Iserlohn’s vast resources. They go to Admiral Lazar Lobos to request additional resources, which will eventually become a request to the government itself. At this time, they also essentially know what Reinhard’s strategy is.
Andrew Fork is also present, and he immediately dismisses the possibility of a supply shipment being attacked by Imperial forces. The request is sent to Heinessen anyway, where it is debated by the backroom committee High Council that decided on the invasion in the first place. As they did two episode earlier, Huang Louis and Joan Lebello continue to insist that the invasion is not sustainable. They are defeated though by the hawk Cornelia Windsor and poll watcher Royal Santford who convince the rest of the Council to push on with the invasion. Truniht, of course, continues to posture sensing the plan’s impending doom.
On the front lines, Yang attempts to stop the invasion by getting all of the other Admirals to voice a consensus opinion against continuing. He points out to Vice Admiral Ulanfu that the Alliance is falling into a trap similar to one suffered by Napoleon in his attempted invasion of Russia. He urges him to prepare for a counterattack if they are to pull back.
Reinhard, meanwhile, has received word of the shipment of food being sent to the frontlines. He tells Kircheis to strike, and tells him that it is for the sake of winning. As he walks out, Oberstein tells Reinhard that Kircheis is fiercely opposed to this kind of fighting. The shipment defended by a mere 26 defense ships is attacked and annihilated. Yang hears the news and realizes it is too late to pull back.
The lack of supplies at the front forces a change in plans. Fork informs some of the fleets that their new orders are to procure supplies from the front. They are at this point being forced to plunder from the people they are supposed to be liberating.
Back at Wagner’s house, a group of soldiers begins taking food that was hidden away. The banquet used earlier is used as justification for taking food away. Valleymunt is furious at the change of orders and begins to burn his bridges with the Alliance military. He fights with the subordinate at the banquet who gave the information away, and begins to think of himself as not part of the forces.
Alliance soldiers begin to take any and every source of food away from the villagers, and resentment quickly builds. Wagner assembles a group of men wielding guns and molotov cocktails and prepares to attack the soldiers to get their food back. Valleymunt urges them to stop by pointing out how well the fields are doing, but the villagers cannot afford to wait until harvest. They turn on him, but they stop when Therese begs them to.
As the soldiers are packing up, the villagers confront them asking one last time for their food back. One soldier fires his gun in the air to try to get them to dispurse, but they get rocks thrown at them in response. One of the rocks downs a soldier which turns the rock throwing into an actual battle. The two sides exchange gunfire and a couple of stray molotovs destroy the truck with the food in it.
Word gets to Yang that riots are breaking out all over the planets they are occupying. The Alliance is now in clear difficulty. The Alliance government asks for money from the Phezzan government which Adrian Rubinsky is more than happy to provide. He tells the lovely Dominque Saint-Pierre that the war is no longer about military strength, where Phezzan is extremely weak, but about economic strength. With two bankrupted powers going at each other, Phezzan could ultimately dominate both of them.
Back at the front, Admiral Bucock desperately argues with Fork over the right to speak to Lobos. Bucock informs Fork that all of the Admirals at the front are seeking to withdrawal, and that he needs to talk to Lobos to finalize the plan. Fork attacks the bravery of Bucock by comparing him to Yang. Bucock, though, stands his ground and asks for the two of them to switch places. He tells Fork that he is advocating the impossible from a safe place while having no clue about the situation the forces find themselves in. Then, he tells him that his abilities are displayed only through eloquence and not by actual results.
At this point, Fork collapses from a temporary illness called nerve blindness. He is going to have to take some vacation as a result of the hysteria that brought this on. Bucock again asks to speak to Lobos, but is told that Lobos is sleeping and is to only be disturbed if there is an enemy attack. Exasperated, Bucock accepts the absurdity of the situation.
The penultimate scene returns to Wagner’s house where the villagers are being overmatched by the Alliance soldiers. The Alliance is bringing in heavy artillery to destroy the house, which Valleymunt desperately tries to stop. Therese, though, pushes him out of the way at the last second. He asks Therese to join him on a trip to an uninhabited planet, he just wants to get away. The artillery fires on the house and it is destroyed. Therese asks why it had to come to this, but he doesn’t have an answer.
Finally, Reinhard tells his admirals to begin the counterattack. He gives them glasses of champaign to signify that they have already won the battle. They smash the glasses on the ground after drinking.
Thoughts: Yang pretty much got the comparison with France’s invasion of Russia right. He’s already prepared to battle Reinhard for a draw in the counterattack…Lobos’ naps are pretty much symbolic of a military leadership that is asleep at the wheel…Poll-watching hawks really do make terrible decision makers…Following on from Yang and Kesler, now even ensigns are finding love in the midst of explosions and starvation.