The 44th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes takes place almost entirely on Phezzan. This episode features an assassination attempt and further insight into the independent spirit that has guided Phezzan throughout its century of autonomy with the usual Julian heroics thrown in at the same time.
The episode begins with what had been the general consensus of Mittermeyer’s actions to this point. He was guiding his fleet to Iserlohn to assist Reuenthal in finally defeating Yang. However, the uninformed front line men had not been told the true stated destination and were wondering why they seemed to be heading further and further off track. They are unwilling to say anything until Mittermeyer finally reveals that they are heading to the Phezzan Corridor. Mittermeyer says that is only the first part of their mission. They will be using Phezzan as a base to attack the rebels who dare to call themselves the Free Planets Alliance. He says that beating the Alliance will not be easy because it is a vast area and they have at least one outstanding commander, but controlling the Phezzan Corridor should give them a tremendous advantage. The soldiers seem motivated after his speech as he orders them toward Phezzan.The two men talking about being off course strikes me as yet another subtle cultural difference. They know something isn’t entirely right, but they have been socialized to simply accept what they’ve been ordered.
On an observation platform above Phezzan a shift change is about to take place. While the men seem more concerned about what they will be doing later that evening, Mittermeyer’s fleet comes out of warp. While they try to contact the fleet to convince them to stop, they all realize that it is in fact an Imperial invasion. As futility sets in, they contact Rubinsky’s office and wonder why no one knew that Phezzan’s situation had come to this point.
On the surface, civilians begin to panic as Imperial ships come into view. At his residence, Rubinsky expresses his surprise that Reinhard would have come this far this quickly. Boltik has been bought off, and both he and Rubinsky agree that he would be supported by the Imperial Government to run Phezzan, though he lacks the talent to do the job effectively.
Kesselink begins to talk to Rubinsky in the past tense. Rubinsky would be the shortest-serving ruler of Phezzan, and his age is effectively over. Rubinsky is not so sure about that, but Kesselink says that he like Boltik is tired of actors dominating the stage when they have clearly lost the right to be there. Rubinsky sees that opinion as a badge of honor that he can be harder to manage than Boltik. Kesselink laughs that off and pulls out a handgun from his jacket. Rubinsky calmly dismisses Kesselink by saying that while he was showing ambition in looking for an opportunity to take him down, he was naive in thinking this was the right time to do so. He also begins to talk down to Kesselink by calling him by his first name. Kesselink insists he can overthrow Boltik at anytime, but Rubinsky, his father, is the one standing in the way. Rubinsky again calls Kesselink by his first name, which make the latter extremely angry, but Rubinsky says he can because he is Kesselink’s father.
As Kesselink begins to formulate a response to that, two guards break through a wall behind him and Kesselink is mortally wounded. Rubinsky stands over Kesselink and tells him he was naive and knew exactly why he came to his house on this evening. He asks him why he thought Dominique San Piel was an ally. Kesselink curses her while Rubinsky continues to say that if Kesselink were less like himself he probably would have handed him control in time. Kesselink responds by saying he thought Rubinsky would never hand him anything and he was forced to try to steal it. With his last words he vows to leave his father with nothing.
His son now dead, Rubinsky’s security detail asks what they should do now. Rubinsky says Truniht was able to go into hiding during the Alliance’s coup and that he should now do something similar.After Kesselink pulled out his gun I was hoping that he wouldn’t go into lengthy explanation or delay the act entirely, alas he fell victim because he just wouldn’t fire the gun. Does that actually make Rubinsky the hero in this scenario?
As Julian and Mashengo try to make their way back to the Alliance High Commissioner’s office, Mittermeyer gives his men a list of targets to secure for the purpose of gathering important information for the invasion of Imperial space. Mittermeyer also stresses that he will not tolerate any actions that would reflect badly on the Empire, and the punishment would be execution via firing squad after a short hearing.
Julian and Mashengo arrive at the office and immediately seem like the only ones willing to do anything. Julian asks for the computers to be wiped and Henslow only agrees after Julian is willing to take responsibility for it. In response, Julian jokes that they could always leave the computers as they are and hope the Imperial forces will be lenient. Henslow’s eyes light up before Julian says he will do it.
Throughout the capital, the Imperial ground forces get to work. They start at Rubinsky’s office and find nothing. Back at the Imperial High Commissioner’s office, Julian and Mashengo return to find Henslow sitting alone with every other official having abandoned their post. Julian reluctantly tells Henslow to grab some money and change clothes and prepare to escape. He then asks Mashengo to help him assemble an automatic rifle firing device.Just as quickly as they were appointed by Truniht, his cronies are quick to leave their jobs. Obviously they could be doing something of worth, but in all likelihood they just ran away like cowards.
The ground forces get to Rubinsky’s residence and only find Kesselink’s body. They arrive at the High Commissioner’s office to find themselves fired upon by Julian’s device. Glaeser responds in kind by firing into the second floor window, he then realizes something is up when there is no return fire. He orders men into the building and they find nothing in there but empty computers. In the confusion, Julian, Henslow and Mashengo managed to get away from the building unnoticed. Julian tells the Commissioner that they have to find an independent merchant willing to send them out of Phezzan and Julian back to where he belongs, alongside Yang.
In the days that followed, Mittermeyer proved himself an able administrator. Few changes were made that were noticed amongst the ordinary citizenry. The economy was kept as is and Mittermeyer put in a regime to prevent rapid price changes to protect against Phezzan’s notoriously predatory merchants. Mittermeyer is also out to prove what he said about defending the reputation of the Empire with a public execution.
A few men had raped a civilian woman, then stole all of her belongings, and the men involved would now be paying with their lives, while Mittermeyer wishes he could pull the trigger himself. The head of their company appealed for leniency, but Mittermeyer will have none of it.
Meanwhile, Julian takes his two companions to meet Mariensk, an independent merchant and business officer who is willing to find them a ship for the right price. Mariensk is quick to point out that there isn’t much separation between the two of them. His captain, Boris Konev, and Yang were childhood friends. Unfortunately, Boris Konev is on Heinessen, but Mariensk does no another talented pilot willing to take the job because a contract is the most sacred thing for Phezzani. Mariensk asks Julian to provide payment, which Julian provides in cash from Henslow. Mariensk leaves to get the pilot, but Henslow asks if his money is worth the trust he seems to have in the merchant. Mashengo also warns Julian that he may have to kill Mariensk or the pilot if they are betrayed. Julian says he is ready to do anything to return to Yang’s side.
At St. Theresa’s Square, the public execution is being set up. Two soldiers talk behind Mittermeyer’s back about the admiral’s past. Before he joined Reinhard’s side, Mittermeyer had executed a noble-born soldier who killed a civilian to rob them. While correct under military law, Mittermeyer’s common background had the nobility outraged to the point where he was thrown in prison and nearly murdered. Reuenthal then sought help from Reinhard. The proceedings quickly get underway. The prisoners are fired upon and killed. The public in attendance can’t help but applaud at what they have seen.These character development dumps from side characters are starting to get me to wish that they used flashbacks more often. Mittermeyer was treated much worse under the previous regime and yet there is still so little we know about him.
Müller arrives on Phezzan and is greeted by Mittermeyer. The two go for a ride and talk about how easily the occupation seems to be going. However, Mittermeyer remains worried because the people seem to have accepted the current situation, but there must be some who resent it. In addition, they let Rubinsky escape, and he could be capable of organizing a resistance.
In the restaurant “Drakur,” Cary Willock expresses his resentment at the present state of Phezzan. The government did not do a very good job in gathering intelligence on Odin and because they could become officials in the Imperial government. Willock believes that the three powers will all disappear with Reinhard becoming the Kaiser of the entire universe. Willock gets up and tells the bar patrons that they are all free people who do not need a Kaiser to unite behind. An old man in the corner begins to speak about states not having the right to continue existing. Willock adds that although Phezzan may disappear temporarily, that they will bring it back by building a nation for free independent traders.
Mariensk enters the room and claps at Willock’s speech. Willock asks why he is there, and Mariensk tells him he has a job. Willock instantly accepts without hearing the details. Willock says he would accept a job from the devil if it meant not rotting in dying Phezzan.
Reinhard arrives on Phezzan flanked by Hilde and Oberstein. The assembled crowd begins chanting their love for their Kaiser. Reinhard comments that they are impatient, but he waves to the crowd anyway.
Later, Mittermeyer briefs Reinhard on the situation. Rubinsky and Henslow remain at large and they did not get any information from the Alliance High Commissioner’s office. Reinhard seems content and says there is no need for Mittermeyer to apologize. He then says he could care less about Henslow and they can get data from the Navigation Office. Rubinsky, though, remains a concern for Reinhard. Hilde says that Rubinsky has accepted defeat, but he anticipates Boltik won’t be up to the job of controlling Phezzan, and he can then turn up to take control back. Reinhard is still bothered by something else. He believes Rubinsky and Boltik know something, but aren’t telling them and Reinhard can’t put his finger on it.
Reinhard arrives at the Navigation Office’s main computer room and goes in alone. He loads the map of Allied space with its sites of older battles. He then looks down at his picture of Kircheis and tells his dead friend that they are on their way to gaining control of the universe.
Thoughts: It looks like the Phezzan invasion went pretty easily and the Alliance should be next on the agenda…I’m beginning to wonder what Reinhard will do after all of this is over. The whole ruling thing seems to be something he delegates, but without enemies will he be able to function?