The 41st episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on two elements for the upcoming resumption of conflict between the Empire and the Alliance. The first is the continuing breakdown of structures in the Alliance, which sees the country at what is definitely a low ebb. The second is Reinhard’s strategy for dealing with Phezzan politically and Yang militarily. Already it appears that it will take a miracle for the Alliance to survive the coming battle.
The episode begins on Odin as scores of young men have left their jobs for another chance to fight the high nobles hiding in the Imperial Legitimate Government. A rally is being held in front of the Premier’s mansion where Reinhard and Oberstein are able to see the full effect of their planning. The people of the Empire are firmly united against the Alliance who have given the nobles security.
On Heinessen, Julian complains to Mashengo about the ceremony involved in accepting the assignment on Phezzan. He is certain it could only take five minutes, but he had to wait a few hours. As they head to Bucock, they come across a queue for rationed goods. Julian comments that everything seems gloomy around the capital.
On Phezzan, Kesselink briefs Rubinsky on morale in the respective nations. To the citizens of the Alliance it seems like just another battle and no one is taking Reinhard’s declaration seriously not even those in government. Rubinsky says that it is related to control of Iserlohn, and the incompetent politicians are living off of one key victory which will come back to haunt them.The early part of this episode has clearly been devoted to again establishing who has moral supremacy in the upcoming conflict. It is worth noting that the democracy has the food lines while the totalitarian government’s people have nothing of the sort to worry about.
Back on Heinessen, Julian meets Bucock and hands him Yang’s letter. Bucock asks him how he was treated by the Livermore of the Personnel Department, and Julian says nobody said anything. This prompts Bucock to remark that Livermore wouldn’t lower himself to earning Julian’s gratitude even if it improved his standing with Truniht. Julian asks why he would be seen positively by Truniht even though he was so closely allied with Yang, but Bucock says it was Truniht himself who requested Julian’s transfer. Julian says that being liked by Truniht is a nuisance, but Bucock says he shouldn’t be so open about how he feels about that. Bucock goes on to explain that the government has been shifting people away from Yang who they feel could help him if he were to decide to take power for himself. Merkatz was moved to the Legitimate Government, Julian was moved and Bucock thinks Cazellnu and Schenkopp may be next. Julian doesn’t understand why they would weaken Yang so much, but Bucock says that factional politics is all the politicians know how to do. It creates a paradox where they are weakening the very man they have entrusted to protect them. Julian then asks Bucock to read Yang’s letter.The internal divide-and-conquer strategy is worth commenting on. At the time of this episode, Japanese domestic politics had reached a point where factions within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were more important than party identification itself. Factional politics ran the show more than anything.
Back in the Empire, Reinhard assembles his admirals for a strategy session. He tells them that they are not going to make the mistake of trying to take Iserlohn again, but instead they are to invade through the Phezzan corridor.
Bucock finishes reading the letter in which Yang predicts an invasion through the Phezzan corridor. Bucock says that in the past the Alliance would have been prepared for such a scenario, but with the vast difference in strength that is no longer possible. Yang wrote that their best hope lies in grassroots resistance amongst the Phezzani and using that to prevent Phezzan from being used as a supply base for the invasion. Bucock says that morally using the Phezzani as a shield for the Alliance is a worse crime than killing on the battlefield, but the sense of independence among the Phezzani is indominable. The only hope would be in resistance amongst the Phezzani being enough to make the Empire reconsider its direction.
Bucock says that while Yang is very good at predicting the events of the near future, he doesn’t have the authority to act on them because of the system in place. Bucock says he can’t really blame the system because he personally believes it is right for the power of soldiers to be restricted in a democracy. When the military gains too much power, it effectively becomes a nation within a nation and no longer listens to the people. Bucock says that democratic government isn’t wrong, but the system is alienated from the democratic system that it originated from.I wonder how Bucock hasn’t resigned in disgust from his post considering how much he has been undermined, or should I be asking how he has managed to maintain his convictions for democratic government through all of this?
Back on Phezzan, Rubinsky and Kesselink’s conversation turns to Julian. Kesselink sarcastically asks how well he was loved before dismissing Julian’s abilities because he is 16. However, Rubinsky is quick to point out that Reinhard had established a reputation by the time he was 16 as a Lt. Commander and Julian might be just behind his pace. Kesselink says that Julian is simply riding Yang’s coattails, but again Rubinsky points out that Reinhard could have been seen as riding Annerose’s coattails. This makes Kesselink think about what he wanted to do when he was 16, and he remembers making up his mind on bringing Rubinsky down. Rubinsky asks how things are going on Boltik’s end.
At Reinhard’s meeting, Boltik is presented as evidence that Phezzan is cooperating with the plan. Reinhard, though, is quick to point out that Boltik has been paid a large sum of money for his services. Bittenfeld is angry at Boltik for selling out his nation, but Boltik argues that he was merely selling off Phezzan’s formal independence which was not a reality anyway. Bittenfeld remains unconvinced as does Reuenthal who can’t bring himself to trust someone as scheming as Boltik, and Phezzan could still close off the corridor after they pass through. Bittenfeld and Reuenthal then begin to argue over a strategy should Phezzan betray them. Bittenfeld believes that the difference in strength should over come any possible Phezzani strategy, but Reuenthal thinks the losses would be too great if the Alliance turned around and attacked.
Reinhard then takes control of the meeting and points out that the decision to only invade through the Iserlohn corridor in the past was an arbitrary one made by people. It’s the preferable option for Reinhard even if it only ends up being a surprise. Reinhard then tells the admirals his plans. He wants to send a larger force through the Iserlohn corridor than Kempf and Müller had, while the main force will simply pass through the Phezzan corridor. Yang would be stuck on Iserlohn and none of the other commanders in the Alliance has any sort of reputation worth noting. Mittermeyer is still worried about Yang leaving Iserlohn and defending the Phezzan front, but Reinhard says they can surround him as he is retreating from Iserlohn and finish him off. Reuenthal wonders aloud if it will actually go that well, Reinhard simply says that he wants it to go well.
The conversation then turns to the name of the operation. Reinhard says it will be called Ragnarok, the final battle of the gods. Bittenfeld immediately asks for his fleet to be at the head of the attack and the other admirals jump in asking to participate as well.
After the meeting, Oberstein talks to Reinhard and says he should not expect much out of Boltik. Reinhard says he will be easier to manage than Rubinsky, but Oberstein doubts he has the ability to control the situation on Phezzan. Reinhard says Boltik will just have to use whatever talent he may have to overcome dissent. Should he succeed there would be resentment and that would make dealing with Boltik’s successor much easier in Reinhard’s opinion.
Oberstein is surprised that Reinhard has thought it that far out, and he turns the conversation to the position of Governor General of the Alliance after the war. Reinhard can only think of Yang because he hasn’t received the credit and adulation he deserves from the Alliance, and wonders if he would maintain his loyalty to democracy after being forced to be Governor. Oberstein is also worried about rebels and dissidents in the Empire and wants to increase surveillance.Here we get another example of highly Yang is regarded by Reinhard that he sees him as the proper ruler for the Alliance. However, part of him thinks that Yang could still be like anyone else who gets power and becomes corrupted.
Müller, Mittermeyer and Reuenthal discuss strategy when it comes to Phezzan. Reuenthal quickly turns Mittermeyer’s confidence of success into a question of strategy should their force be cut off from supplies. Mittermeyer says they would have to get them on the spot to feed the troops, but they would come to be known as pillagers, which isn’t a pleasant thought to him. Reuenthal then says there would still be the possibility that there would be no goods to plunder if the Alliance used the same scorched earth tactics they fell victim to a year earlier. Being hated from the moment of unification would be disadvantageous. Müller says that it is still up to Reinhard.
The car the three admirals are riding in is passed by a car containing a man who Mittermeyer recognizes as Lang. He was in charge of the Social Discipline Support Office under the previous regime and had been sentenced to death along with most of the other nobles. But here he was heading to the Premier’s mansion. Müller believes there is no way Reinhard could want to bring back the secret police. Reuenthal begins to think about Reinhard’s impartiality and judgement which means he has been the only one who can rule, but if things begin to change Reuenthal begins to wonder.
Oberstein meets with Lang, who immediately states that the role of government is for a small number of people to control a large number of people. Oberstein quizzes him on democracy, and Lang breaks it down a rule by a majority within a majority and says that shows the futility of democratic governance. Lang justifies his previous role by saying that it is necessary for stability in his vision of government. Oberstein says that a secret police becomes hated for merely existing and that is why Lang’s old office was broken up and why reformers wanted him eliminated for heading it. Lang says he was just trying to devote himself to the Empire and he never used his position for personal gain. He tells Oberstein that making loyalty something to be punished for would not be good for Reinhard. Oberstein says Reinhard does not care much for Lang’s existance, but Lang says that is because Reinhard is a soldier first and wants to deal in straightforward battles. However, a wild rumor could be more powerful than a massive fleet. Oberstein asks how Lang intends to repay Reinhard for his virtue. Lang says he will repay it with his loyalty to Reinhard and the state. Oberstein says they can’t simply resurrect Lang’s old office so Lang comes up with the name Domestic Safety Security Office. Oberstein nods his head in agreement.
Later, Hilde asks Reinhard if there is a way for the Alliance and Empire to co-exist. He says that if they rounded up the Kaiser and the kidnappers it would buy them some time, bit ultimately the Alliance would deserve to be destroyed for what it has done. Reinhard asks if Hilde thinks his ways are foul she responds by asking if he would be happy if she denied it.What I found interesting about this scene was the fact that Reinhard couldn’t bring himself to look Hilde in the eyes. He would have his own ideas and look for a favorable response on her part and when that didn’t happen he would temper his remarks. The most powerful man in the Empire is actually powerless against his own secretary.
At the Legitimate Government headquarters, Julian talks to Schneider who complains about everybody trying to get positions in a government with no power or influence. He jokes that Julian would be a Lt Commander if he were to join him and says Merkatz has been given the position of Field Marshal while he has been promoted to Commander despite the fact there are no troops. Julian asks how busy Merkatz is, and Schneider says that he is very busy even though Merkatz expected it. However, the state of the Legitimate Government is horrible. He wonders how they think they can confront Reinhard, if it is genuine preparedness or if they are throwing caution to the wind. Schneider does take comfort in the fact that there are several examples of ordinary people beating geniuses like Reinhard, but asking for a miracle from the start is absurd. The two then reflect on the positions that the men they serve have been put in and find common ground. Julian is then called to leave for Phezzan by Mashengo.
Later, Reinhard resumes his conversation with Hilde. He thanks her for going to see his sister and convincing her to accept more security. He says that even though his sister may now hate him, he must take on the role as the one to restore unity to the universe. He can’t bring himself to leave it to nobles decided by heredity or men devoted to profit. He says they will announce the abdication of the Kaiser tomorrow.
The next day, the Kaiserin Catherine was named as ruler of the Goldenbaum dynasty at a mere 8-months-old and likely to be its last ruler.
Thoughts: The conflict between Oberstein’s pragmatic approach and Hilde’s moral approach and their affect on Reinhard seems to loom larger than the upcoming battle…On a tactics related question, couldn’t the Alliance forces rushing to reinforce Iserlohn merely stay back? If they have so much confidence in Yang he shouldn’t really need the help anyway. I’m sure they will just rush into Iserlohn like expected anyway…Kesselink’s attempts to take down Rubinsky could be well worth watching in the longer term, but for now it seems that he has done little.