The 25th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes marks the last switch between the two powers for the first season. The episode’s main focus is on the relationship between Reinhard and Kircheis. Once close friends, the Westerland incident and it’s aftermath have seemingly done permanent damage to their friendship. There is also further insight into their relationship from those outside. The episode also ends with one hell of a cliffhanger.
The episode begins at Geiersburg as Reinhard’s admirals regroup and Kircheis finally able to return to his friend’s side. Oberstein is worried about the fact that Reinhard continues to show favoritism toward his best friend, a bad trait for a ruler in his opinion, despite Kircheis continuing to show himself to be at the same level as Reinhard.
Reinhard wants to catch up with his friend in private, but Kircheis presses him on Westerland. He asks if Reinhard knew about the plan in advance as the rumors suggested, and Reinhard says he did know. Disappointed by the answer, Kircheis then seeks an answer to why Reinhard wants to become ruler as allowing Westerland to happen goes against what he thought was the moral reason for Reinhard to rule. The new Empire is based on the sacrifice of the 2 million on Westerland instead of the liberation of citizens oppressed by the nobility in his opinion.
Reinhard, clearly disappointed by the fact he has let his best friend down, tries to justify Westerland by saying the losses were fewer and therefore, he had no choice but to end the civil war in the quickest fashion possible politically and strategically. Kircheis responds by saying the civil war was actually a war between nobles and anything he did against them would be acceptable, but involving innocent civilians has left his hands stained in blood. He says Reinhard allowed himself to be lowered by the nobles for the sake of a short-term goal.
At this point, Reinhard tells Kircheis to shut up as he didn’t ask for his opinion or to be preached at. He now wants a relationship where he is superior and will only asks for opinions from Kircheis when he wants an opinion from Kircheis. Kircheis doesn’t let the issue die, as he asks if there is any difference between Reinhard and Rudolf von Goldenbaum if both are willing to sacrifice the innocent. Reinhard angrily asks Kircheis what their relationship is, and the reply he receives is that Kircheis is merely a loyal subject to Reinhard, nothing more.
Having realized he’s lost his best friend, he relives the choice he had to make on Westerland, Oberstein’s proposal and the aftermath of the attack. He hopes Kircheis will eventually understand that he couldn’t entirely maintain their ideals. Kircheis, on the other hand, hopes Reinhard will realize one day that what he did was terribly wrong and unnecessary.
The second half of the episode begins with Reinhard watching a message from Annerose. In it, she stresses the need to remember what truly matters and that he should consult Kircheis and value his advice. He believes that Annerose valued Kircheis’ judgement more than his own, though she may have had a point.
Oberstein walks in and Reinhard tells him to listen to a message he received from Hilde. She says Lichtenlade, now Prime Minister, has been stirring up the nobles remaining on Odin in a bid to attain more power for himself. Oberstein says that Lichtenlade thinks of the admirals as a hindrance now that the nobility is out of the way. Reinhard isn’t surprised at Lichtenlade’s attempt to stab him in the back, but he has a plan to stop him. He asks Oberstein to return to Odin ahead of him and take steps against the enemy.
Before he leaves, Oberstein wants to talk to Reinhard about Kircheis. Reinhard thinks Oberstein is going to say he’s giving too much authority to Kircheis, and that is in fact what he says. He tells Reinhard it isn’t wise to give him special treatment, especially in front of the other commanders. Reinhard, though, insists that Kircheis should be treated the same as himself, and that Kircheis would be his friend even if the whole universe was against him. The special treatment is simply a way of rewarding his long standing loyalty to him.
Oberstein backpedals a bit and asks that Kircheis be treated at the same level as Reuenthal and Mittermeyer. There’s no room for a number 2 in command in his opinion. In order to be an effective ruler, he has to wield complete authority, and not delegate part of his authority through Kircheis. Reinhard asks Oberstein to drop the issue.
Meanwhile, Reuenthal and Mittermeyer discuss the relationship between Kircheis and Reinhard over a game of cards. They think the rumors of a split in their relationship could be dangerous, but Reuenthal thinks they aren’t in a position to interfere because of a potential backlash. Then, they talk about Oberstein. They know there is internal debate over whether there should be a Number 2, where Reuenthal thinks Oberstein may be right. Mittermeyer, however, is hesitant about changing the ways of a man who has been successful to this point, especially because it involves a relationship between people. The discussion ends when the game of cards ends, with Reuenthal’s 4 Queens (Joker as a wild card) beating Mittermeyer’s 4 Jacks. Mittermeyer leaves with Reuenthal joking that a good commander knows when to retreat.
The next day, Reinhard boards Geiersburg as part of a celebration to the end of the civil war. Kircheis arrives as well, but is stopped by a soldier for carrying a weapon. Kircheis remarks that he’s never been stopped before for that reason, but the soldier says he’s been ordered to make no exceptions. Kircheis reluctantly accepts the condition and enters the main hall to take his place amongst the other admirals. Reinhard arrives with Oberstein at his side and begins by having an audience with various POWs.
Kircheis, though, remembers the events after Annerose was taken by the Goldenbaums to the present. It is essentially a montage serving as the development of Reinhard as he became more powerful over the 11 years they knew each other.
The proceedings begin with Fahrenheit being presented in front of Reinhard. Reinhard says Fahrenheit made a mistake in choosing to side with Braunschweig, but asks him to serve under him anyway. Fahrenheit accepts because he has always viewed himself as an Imperial soldier, and with Reinhard now in command, he will accept his orders. He thinks he came to that realization in a roundabout way, but he finally has clarity. Reinhard comments that Fahrenheit’s talents are much too great to waste, so he asks him to serve alongside his other admirals.
Next, Ansbach arrives with the body of Braunschweig. He surprises everyone by pulling a weapon from Braunschweig’s jacket and taking aim at Reinhard. He fires a rocket before the episode ends.
Thoughts: Surely they could have timed their cliffhanger better, like as Ansbach was walking in…Well I held off on watching the next episode preview on recommendation. It seems odd that you would put a clear spoiler in an episode preview, they didn’t even do that with the classic 2-3 minute episode previews of the late 60s/early 70s…Was this the 3rd time a weapon had been hidden on a dead body in the series?…And on the next episode, I fear I can already guess someone is going to get killed and who it will be based solely on this episode, here’s hoping I will be surprised.