The 22nd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is titled “Courage and Loyalty” and for good reason. The focus of the episode is on those two concepts and how they relate to the shambles that is the Lippstadt League. On Reinhard’s side, Oberstein’s strategy continues to pay dividends.
The episode begins with Kircheis’ fleet encountering a ship carrying members of the Terraism cult. Kircheis gives the ship some supplies and the ship’s crew members are grateful for the assistance, though one does comment that nice people like Kircheis do not live long in times like this.
Meanwhile, Reuenthal’s fleet encounters fierce resistance by a Lippstadt fleet commanded by Merkatz. With a disadvantage in numbers, Reuenthal considers withdrawing. Emil von Reckendorf, asks him to consider the impact to morale of such an action, but the withdrawal order is issued anyway. He believes the sector they are defending isn’t worth the potential loss of life.
Reinhard receives word of Reuenthal’s action and believes the job of defeating Merkatz has been dumped onto him. Oberstein tells Reinhard that Merkatz has had a reputation as a great soldier for many years, and he may be especially hard to beat if he has been given free reign. Reinhard doesn’t believe that is the case as it would be Braunschweig making Merkatz a hero.
With Braunschweig determined to be the true enemy, Reinhard decides to attack Geiersburg directly rather than attack Merkatz at Shang-Tau. Oberstein tells Reinhard that withdrawal from Shang-Tau will potentially give them a chance to take Geiersburg as part of a larger strategy.
At Geiersburg, Merkatz is congratulated upon his return. Merkatz, though, is quick to point out that the victory came more from the enemy giving up than anything his forces did. He stresses the need to not overestimate the strength of their own force to Braunschweig.
However, Littenheim has done the exact opposite. He was in the process of leading a fleet of 50,000 ships against Kircheis’ fleet of 40,000 out in the Empire’s frontier. Merkatz believes he should have been informed, but Braunschweig says he approved it as he is leader. Braunschweig then tells Merkatz that he finds Littenheim to be an annoyance when he is around him and that probably played a role in agreeing to let him go. He also says it’s the Empire’s duty to get the frontier’s desire for autonomy put down.
Either way, the men at Geiersburg are going to celebrate their victory at Shang-Tau. Merkatz, clearly frustrated, decided he would rather rest. As he leaves, Flegel calls him rude for turning down an opportunity to celebrate and Braunschweig calls him dull.
In the frontier, Kircheis tells his men that he has received word that Littenheim’s fleet is going after them. The tactics are made for the upcoming battle, and Kircheis’ centerpiece is leading a group of 800 ships after the Garmisch fortress where Littenheim is believed to be.
With the battle about to begin, Littenheim comments that he would rather be facing Reinhard than his henchman. Kircheis’ fleet takes up a diamond formation before starting, while Littenheim thinks with a numerical advantage they can disregard a formation for a full frontal attack. His forces begin firing from hopelessly far away, while Kircheis’ fleet only begins firing when they are in range. With the battle commencing, Kircheis moves his small main fleet to the right flank.
Littenheim quickly gets frustrated that his whole fleet can’t take out 20,000 of Kircheis’ fleet. He’s told that it may be due to their unconventional tactics and formation, but his response to the criticism is to deny they are an undiscipline mob in attack. Kircheis’ main fleet arrives and quickly cuts through the middle of Littenheim’s fleet. Kircheis’ whole fleet is on the front foot and in the confusion, he spots Littenheim’s flagship.
Littenheim panics and flees the battle hoping to get back to Garmisch. However, some supply ships happen to be in the path. Littenheim orders his ship to fire on his own men to clear a path for his uh, course change. The supply ships end up annihalated as they were clearly unprepared for friendly fire.
On one of the supply ships, an injured Konrad Linser comes across another survivor in the 12-year-old Konrad von Moder. The latter says that the enemy, being Kircheis’ fleet, is approaching, but Linser is quick to say that the ones who fired on them are the real enemy. They contact Kircheis and ask for an audience with him.
Linser tells Kircheis that he can be of use because he is a witness to Littenheim killing his own men to save himself. Kircheis asks Linser if he has lost his loyalty to Littenheim, to which Linser responds by saying that though loyalty is a nice word it is abused whenever it is most convenient by those in charge. He says that the war can present to everyone evidence that there are leaders who have no right to have subordinates loyal to them. Kircheis agrees to let him join, though Linser immediately says that may not be necessary.
On Garmisch, Littenheim tries to drink away the shame of the last battle. Commander Laudisch, though, wants to talk to Littenheim about what he did. He walks toward Littenheim heavily bandaged, but also carrying the body of one of his men that died so Littenheim could escape. Laudisch throws the body onto Littenheim, then pulls a out a detonator. The resulting explosion is seen from Kircheis’ ship. The base is then seized ending a day which had seen the Lippstadt League lose its second in command and a third of its military force.
At Geiersburg, Reinhard taunts the remaining Lippstadt leaders and tells them to surrender. He generously offers to let them live while keeping a decent amount of their wealth. He warns them that continued resistance could see them meet the same pitiful fate that fell Littenheim. The nobles scoff at such an idea, however.
Outside the fortress, Mittermeyer’s fleet sits and waits for the nobles to make their move. The nobles desperately plea for Merkatz to make a move, but he tells them to be patient. Flegel, though, has no intention of doing so and launches an attack on his own. Mittermeyer’s fleet quickly withdrawals when the attack begins. When Flegel returns, Merkatz threatens him with courtmartial. Flegel appeals to Braunschweig while turning the knife on Merkatz, saying he has no pride or courage. The other nobles speak up for Flegel, which leads to Braunschweig telling Merkatz that winning was enough and morale is priceless.
The ensuing victory celebration is short lived as their enemy has returned. Flegel asks to send out another attack. Braunschweig goes one better and orders the entire fleet to be launched. Merkatz, though, is asked to stay behind and defend the fortress.
Mittermeyer receives word that Braunschweig himself is coming out for the battle. He says it reflects on the intelligence of the nobles that they would fall for such a simple trap. He also wishes he was fighting a more worthy opponent.
The battle begins and it appears Mittermeyer’s force is being defeated easily. It’s a trap though, which Adalbert von Fahrenheit is first to recognize with Braunschweig also sensing something amiss. Flegel, though, continues full speed ahead sensing victory.
Reinhard waits a bit longer, then orders the counterattack to begin. Fahrenheit is quick to order a retreat. Flegel believes the enemy is in its last throes, while being told that there are new enemy units arriving to surround them. The retreat begins and Kempf’s fleet sends out its Valkyries. Mecklinger tells his fleet to not cut off an escape route because it could cause a last-ditch counterattack. He says there isn’t a way for them to escape anyway.
Braunschweig’s ship is spotted by a couple of Reinhard’s admirals. Kesler tells his men not to let him escape even if it means killing him. Bittenfeld tells his men that whoever can finish off Braunschweig will instantly be made a Commander regardless of their current rank.
Fahrenheit decides that continuing along the current path of retreat will only lead to destruction since it seems Reinhard had deployed his forces along the expected path. He deviates from the main fleet and Flegel decides to follow.
With defeat imminent, Merkatz arrives to save Braunschweig. The prince is able to get back to Geiersburg and Merkatz withdrawals.
After the battle finishes, Oberstein tells Reinhard it is only a matter of time before they are victorious as Lippstadt League has lost nearly all of its military force. At Geiersburg, Braunschweig is furious at Merkatz for not arriving earlier.
Later, Merkatz tells Bernhard von Schneider that Braunschweig is a sick man who is symptomatic of the types of people who come to lead after five centuries of unchallenged rule. He also says Braunschweig is unlucky as he would have lived a much better life had he been around a century earlier.
Thoughts: Oberstein continued to show himself to be a brilliant tactician as he was able to quickly use defeats as part of a larger strategy…I’ve heard episode 23 is somewhat infamous, I fear on this basis I may break the 2000 word barrier on one post.