The 46th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses exclusively on events at Iserlohn. Yang is forced to abandon the fortress he seized two years earlier, but everyone knows that he has to make that call. Reuenthal, meanwhile, begins to be caught in a battle between what he should do and his own ambitions.
The episode begins with a dream Reuenthal has while sleeping on the bridge of his flagship. His father says that he never should have been born as police take pictures of the body of his mother after she had been poisoned. Reuenthal then says that he indeed never should have been born, but since he was born he may as well. Unfortunately, his thought is cut off by Bergengrün who wakes him up to tell him Lutz and Lennenkampt want to meet with him. Reuenthal asks him if he said anything while he was asleep, and Bergengrün answers no.This was a pretty interesting start to the episode. The previous no-OP episodes from what I can remember have contained exposition or extra plot that couldn’t be fit into the 22 minutes, but here we have character development which…can also be seen as exposition.
On Iserlohn, Yang tells his commanders that he wants to abandon the fortress. Murai immediately begins questioning the decision, and Yang tells him that occupying the fortress no longer makes sense since the Empire has invaded through Phezzan their fleet would have no impact on the war if they stayed. Murai asks Yang if they could stay at Iserlohn and defend it hoping to get a peace treaty out of it, but Yang says that the Empire would just demand it back as part of the terms of the treaty, so it would make no sense to continue defending it. Murai continues to question Yang saying that it would have a psychological effect on the men if Yang was seen to be fleeing Iserlohn, Yang admits that is possible, but he sees it as something outside of his control. Schenkopp steps in and sides with Murai and says they should wait until the government begs for Yang to come back and protect them, only then would they realize how valuable Yang is. Yang responds by saying that it would be far too late and they would lose their chance at winning. Schenkopp is surprised that Yang thinks they can win, but Yang says that even though they are at a tremendous disadvantage, they still have one minute chance at success. Schenkopp asks what that is, and Yang says that Reinhard isn’t married.
On Phezzan, Reinhard is pleased that Mittermeyer encountered no resistance when entering Alliance space. He then asks for an update on Iserlohn, and he is told that the latest information has the two sides at a stalemate. Reinhard, though, is confident that Yang is preparing to abandon Iserlohn at this very moment. Reinhard is asked if he is sure Yang will abandon the base because he could be executed upon his return, but Reinhard says if Yang is executed, who would lead the Yang fleet. Reinhard says that is the only way the Alliance could win, and they wouldn’t punish Yang for abandoning the base if they did win. He is asked about that only way the Alliance could win, and Reinhard says that it is simply his death on the battlefield.The simple solution to all of this on the Alliance side now seems to be for Reinhard to simply not show up on the battlefield, but that wouldn’t be very interesting would it?
Back on Iserlohn, Yang talks to Schenkopp alone. Yang says that Schenkopp held back in the meeting earlier. Schenkopp says that he wanted to say that there is a possibility if things took a turn for the worse, the cowards in government may abandon the people and flee to Iserlohn. Schenkopp says if this happens, they should be punished for ignoring their obligation to protect the people they should be serving. He says they could arrest them and hand them over to Reinhard, or better yet just execute them. After that, Yang could become the ruler of a new Republic of Iserlohn. Yang says he approaches political power like sewage, it is something that is necessary, but should not be sought out. Schenkopp says that many do not approach it because they want to, and he points out that Yang did not want to join the military because he wanted to. Yang ignores that last comment and says that dictatorship does not always come from military lineage, and if it did result he wants out. Schenkopp responds by saying that the people are responsible for changing a corrupt dictatorship.
Finally, Schenkopp asks Yang if he knows the answer to a question he has had since he fled the Empire 30 years ago. How do you solve the paradox of a majority of citizens desiring a dictatorship over a democracy? Yang says no one can answer that question. He goes on to say that fire still exists many years after it was discovered, and in the few thousand years since democracy has existed it is still too soon to judge. Yang says there’s no sense arguing over tomorrow’s breakfast when tonight’s dinner hasn’t even been prepared yet. Schenkopp continues the analogy and says they are returning their hosts’ ingredients before they have even been prepared. Yang says that they are just returning it because they no longer need it. Schenkopp asks what happens if they need it again, and Yang says they will just take Iserlohn back. Schenkopp says that borrowing fortresses isn’t that easy, much like borrowing someone’s wife. Yang says if they ask they will just be turned down, so Schenkopp says they need to trick them. Yang responds by saying that they are going up against Reuenthal, so it should be a good challenge.
Meanwhile, Reuenthal is meeting with Lennenkampt and Lutz about strategy against Yang. He points out that if the fortress could be taken by force it would have changed hands several times, but only Yang has succeeded in taking it. Lennenkampt still refuses to think that Yang would abandon the fortress because he would be accuses of desertion and because it would go against being a warrior. Reuenthal states that Yang knows that staying at Iserlohn would have no impact on the war, so he would have to leave. Lennenkampt, though, argues that by staying at Iserlohn he could protect his reputation as an officer. Reuenthal says Yang would stay if he were like Lennenkampt. Lutz interjects and says he would like to attack too, but says they should follow Reuenthal’s orders. Reuenthal apologizes for being too blunt, but says that there is no point sacrificing men for something they could get for free by waiting. Lutz asks if they should just surround the fortress, but Reuenthal says that would just buy time for them, so they come to an agreement to launch low risk attacks on Iserlohn.
One such attack begins, and Poplan complains about having to work when he shouldn’t have to. Yang decides after a while to send Attenborough out to chase the enemy away, but to not pursue beyond the range of the Thor Hammer. Cazellnu begins complaining to Yang about the enemy interfering with their ability to calculate what they will need to escape and the effect it is having on the health of the soldiers. Yang just tells him he sent a fleet out to deal with it. Cazellnu then receives word that a group of civilians is complaining about the situation, so he says Yang will just have to deal with that too. Yang comes across the group of them in a corridor and tells them that they are trying their hardest to get everyone to the capital. The civilians are excited to be participating in another El Facil.I found this scene somewhat interesting in that despite all the years of suffering in the war, the civilians still want to be involved in some sort of incident of note in this history of the war. El Facil was an evacuation performed under near impossible conditions, yet it has been glorified to the point that the struggle of the event has been forgotten to them.
Back in his office, Yang grumbles about the fact no one can guarantee him everything will be fine. He then bemoans the fact that Reuenthal seems to know exactly what they are about to do and it making things harder on him to escape. Outside, Attenborough stands firm in not allowing anyone to advance out of the range of the fortress. However, he still wants to ask Yang if they can advance. He calls in to Yang and says that since morale is high, they should be allowed to advance. Yang flatly rejects the idea though. Attenborough asks again, but again the answer is no.
Back on the ship, Poplan says when this is all over he wants to create a pilot’s union to prevent pilots from being overworked. Ivan Konev responds by saying he thought Poplan only wanted to chase women when he got back. Attenborough walks into Yang’s office asking the same question again, but Frederica coughs which Attenborough picks out as a signal. He then asks Yang to go ahead with a plan he says will be sure to win. Attenborough then leaves happy and Yang tells Frederica that they have enough problems as it is. She then apologizes.
Reuenthal receives information that ships have been spotted leaving Iserlohn. He asks Bergengrün what he thinks about the situation, and he thinks the ships are likely VIPs and other non-military personnel leaving the fortress. However, because Yang is commanding it all there are doubts among the two as to what the ships contain. Emil von Reckendorf interrupts their conversation to say Lennenkampt decided to pursue the ships fleeing Iserlohn. Reuenthal doesn’t have a problem with it, though Bergengrün is hesitant to allow Lennenkampt do something he could boast about. Reuenthal says that if Lennenkampt succeeds it means Yang has lost his powers, but he will just wait it out and hope for the best from him.
Lennenkampt launches his attack by planning to cut off the escape and attacking from behind with Klapstein’s fleet. When the move begins, Iserlohn’s turrets begin firing on Klapstein’s ships which begin taking heavy damage. At this point, Reuenthal decides he has to intervene. Lennenkampt’s fleet continues pursuit and eventually he decides to go after the transport ships. The transport ships, though were traps and rigged to explode. Lennenkampt’s fleet takes heavy damage and Reuenthal is forced to send Lutz’s fleet in to help. Lennenkampt calls Reuenthal’s ship and apologizes for taking heavy damage, but Reuenthal says it was helpful because they no what Yang is planning on doing.
Reuenthal explains to Bergengrün that the attack was designed to discourage pursuit when they decided to abandon Iserlohn. Bergengün asks if they should prepare to pursue, but Reuenthal says there’s no need since they can just take Iserlohn at no cost. Bergengrün is still concerned about letting Yang go, but Reuenthal says that his force alone shouldn’t have to deal with Yang alone. Also, he says that there is a saying that says that there would be no need for hunters if there were no wild animals, so they avoid hunting all of them. Bergengrün then warns Reuenthal that statements like that could be punished if they were interpreted in the wrong way.
Back on Iserlohn, Yang complains about the name of the operation to Cazellnu as not being creative enough. Cazellnu says that evacuating over 5 million people presents enough to worry about and blowing up 500 transport ships in the last skirmish did not help matters. Attenborough walks toward Yang, but after hearing Cazellnu, he retreats quickly. Cazellnu says they are being forced to transport civilians on battleships.
On the Ulysses, they recieve word they are transporting 600 babies and their mothers. An officer yells out that they are lucky because women are most beautiful after giving birth, but another man expresses worries over the sheer amount of babies.
Back on Iserlohn, Yang tells Frederica that they are planting bombs around the fortress that are there just to hide the bigger trap they have hidden. They are designed to be found quickly enough to drop their guard after finding them. Yang then says that there is a possibility that their trap won’t be successful or if they will ever need to use Iserlohn again. Frederica, though, is sure that they will need to return because it is the true home of Yang’s fleet.So there is some sort of trap that the Empire is not going to find on Iserlohn, but that could be exploited in the future. I suppose it prevents accusations of just putting in a deus ex machina in the future.
Yang’s fleet departs and Reuenthal tells his men not to pursue. Lennenkampt asks if Reuenthal is sure they shouldn’t, and Reuenthal says nothing good would come out of it. Lennenkampt accepts the decision, which Reuenthal puts down to his earlier defeat. Reuenthal then tells Bergengrün that after the fortress is secure to chase after Yang, but not to engage with his fleet. Lutz calls in to say that they should be worried about bombs being hidden on Iserlohn and they should send in an explosives team first, which Reuenthal agrees they should.
A few minutes later, Yang and his men watch Iserlohn in the hope that the bombs do not go off. Frederica completes the countdown and there is no explosion. Yang is relieved, while on Iserlohn the bombs expert explains to Reuenthal that if it were five minutes later they would never have disarmed the bombs in time. Reuenthal believes that there is something else hidden in the fortress, but he says it doesn’t matter since it would not be his responsibility and that Yang may not actually get another chance. Yang tells Reckendorf to send the message to Odin that Iserlohn has been captured.
As the Schenkopp and Poplan pay their respects to Iserlohn, the new occupying force has to deal with the matter of a soldier who misappropriated resources from the Alliance. Reuenthal put him through a rapid trial and decided to execute the man himself. The man’s last words accuse the current Admirals and High Admirals of war crimes that have been ignored because they’ve won. He says his crimes are tiny in comparison and that the world is not fair as a result. He goes on to call Reinhard a devil who is intent on taking the country for himself. Reuenthal asks the man why he doesn’t go on and take the country himself before shooting him. As Reuenthal walks away, he asks himself why he doesn’t take over the country.
Thoughts: Since Reuenthal now obviously has designs on taking Reinhard’s job at some point in the future, he is obviously going to have to wait for a chance to do so. Reinhard’s death on the battlefield would be one possibility, but as there are still 64 episodes to go I don’t see that happening…The last part of the episode seems to continue the trend of disproportionate punishment on the Imperial side, someone steals some money and they die while letting millions die for strategic purposes gets rewarded.