The 33rd installment of Legend of the Galactic Heroes was recently described to me as the Battle of the Death Stars. The description isn’t that far off and the action makes up about 90% of the episode. The rest does serve to expose the differences in how Yang’s and Reinhard’s subordinates view their missions.
The episode begins where the last one left off with Geiersberg firing its main cannon on Iserlohn. As the narrator foreshadowed at the end of the last episode, Iserlohn’s outer walls take some damage, but the defenses remain secure. Cazellnu responds by firing Iserlohn’s main cannon on Geiersberg after being told by Schenkopp it would buy them some time.
Back on Heinessen, Bucock is informed by the new Defense Minister that Yang will have to do without the services of the 1st fleet in reinforcing Iserlohn. Instead, he will have to gather independent forces because the government does not want to leave the capital defenseless. Arguing with the minister proves fruitless and Yang gets to the task at hand. He is told that he can get Vice Admiral Mouton, who saved the 9th fleet at Amlitzer, and Rear Admiral Alarcon, who was saved from a court martial for killing civilians and POWs on technical grounds. Yang accepts the fact the situation isn’t ideal, but he needs numbers however he can get them.
After that initial volley, Kempf sends in what passes for infantry in space combat to try to take Iserlohn. Schenkopp sees what is happening and insists on going out himself and leading the rest of the Rosen Ritter. They proceed to kill off a bunch of Imperial soldiers before forcing a retreat. The bodies on the surface of Iserlohn show decisively who won the encounter. Kempf and Muller are disappointed at the defeat, but aren’t surprised because they think they are going against Yang, the genius of running away.
Schenkopp and Linz return from combat with the former asking why his strategy wasn’t implemented, and he is told it is because there is a risk that some of their men could be captured. Even after the skirmish, Linz says they cannot be sure that they did not have any men captured. Schenkopp suggests that they should set a trap before Kampf can make his next move, but Cazellnu says they will observe a little longer.
On his journey back to Iserlohn, Yang begins to question the relationship between the Alliance and the Empire. He thinks the Empire should be focusing internally after their recent civil war, and the invasion doesn’t make sense unless it is insignificant. He assumes Reinhard will not be involved in the attack and that it was arranged for him to be away when the attack began. He has heard that Phezzan ordered the Inquiry and that leads him into thinking Phezzan is trying to help the Empire destroy the Alliance.
Back at Iserlohn, Cazellnu has Julian check on his family since he can’t leave his post. Konev and Poplan talk about morale as they wait for Yang to return. While Muller begins the next phase of the attack. His fleet moves around Iserlohn to the other side, which forces Cazellnu to keep the main cannon aimed at Geiersberg. Kempf has Geiersberg charge at Iserlohn, which prompts Cazellnu to fire the main cannon. Because of Geiersberg’s size, the effects of gravity cause the main cannon to have almost no effect while taking heavy damage from Geiersberg’s cannon. This allows Muller the chance to break through on the other side of Iserlohn.
With a massive hole in Iserlohn, Kempf pulls back leaves it to Muller to take the fortress and prevent the Iserlohn fleet from getting out. This leaves Cazellnu little choice but to send out fighters to prevent more Imperial infantry from attacking, and it means Julian has to leave Cazellnu’s family.
As he is leaving, he remembers a conversation with Yang where he said Cazellnu wants Julian to be married to his daughter, Charlotte. Julian is quick to point out the massive age difference, but Yang says in 10 years, when Julian is 26 and Charlotte is 18 it won’t be that drastic. Julian is quick to reply by stating that Yang is 31 while Frederica is 24. Yang looked embarrassed at the thought, but Julian sees it as indecisiveness on Yang’s part.
Meanwhile, Yang talks about Reinhard’s political situation. He can’t kill off the Kaiser since he is 7, nor does he actually have to. He has talented people around him who will keep him on the right path, though Yang expresses his disappointment at Kircheis’ death because he could have been important in the coexistence of the two nations. Frederica asks if he is hoping for coexistence, but Yang simply wants the war to end. There doesn’t need to be one solitary nation for humanity, and it does not matter if the Empire is a dictatorship. Yang says the dictatorship has allowed the Empire to reform in ways it needed to much faster than in any other form of government. The problem becomes succession and any one after Reinhard is unlikely to be of the quality of leader of Reinhard.
Back at Iserlohn, the Allied fighters launch as Poplan motivates the rest of the unit with talk of women and alcohol. Schenkopp custom orders some coffee and justifies it as one of two things he will never compromise on. Then, Merkatz asks for command of the fleet. Cazellnu doesn’t have a problem with it, nor do any of the other members of the crew since Yang trusts Merkatz enough to have him on board.
On the Imperial side, Muller and Kempf know victory is close, but Kempf is already talking of renaming the Corridor after themselves. They begin what they think will be their final assault on the fortress, but the counterattack begins quickly. The Thor Hammer is aimed and fired at Muller’s fleet. The response is to spread out, but that allows the Iserlohn fleet to get out of the base. The Iserlohn fleet retreats immediately, but Muller sees it as a trap and moves in the opposite direction, right into the path of Iserlohn’s turrets. The Iserlohn fleet turns around and traps Muller’s fleet. Muller’s fleet takes heavy damage and Kempf is forced to send reinforcements from Geiersberg to allow Muller to escape. Merkatz lets them do so.
As Muller is retreating, Kempf has him move to the rear. Muller immediately interprets this as a sign that Kempf is trying to take all of the credit. As the episode ends, Kempf is asked for an update from Imperial HQ, and simply says they are at an advantage. Muller is informed that a POW has admitted that Yang is not actually at Iserlohn, and also how Iserlohn was taken without any Allied losses. Muller is also impressed that Yang left his flagship there as to keep the Empire uncertain as to his whereabouts.
Thoughts: Poplan’s interpretation of rest is definitely one that I can probably approve of…This Yang/Frederica thing is starting to annoy me, maybe something needs to happen rather than it being implied by the other characters…Another minor annoyance, the series seems to be relying a bit too heavily on exposition, it was basically Yang’s role in the episode…My thoughts on the combat from the taking of Iserlohn still very much apply here as well.