The 49th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sets the stage for the next confrontation between the Alliance and the Empire. The Alliance government and its people are at the stage where they would be content with mere words of encouragement from their heroes. While Reinhard falls ill and begins to open up to a young boy while remembering his past.
The episode begins with Yang’s arrival on Heinessen. With the situation desperate, Yang was promoted to fleet admiral and because the youngest person to ever hold that record in the Alliance by four years, though that record was set posthumously. Yang remarks that he cannot turn down the offer, though he doesn’t really like being thrust into such a position. So he considers it a gift of sorts from Bucock. Frederica reminds him of the increase in his pension from the promotion, but Schenkopp wonders if Yang will live long enough to benefit.
The three of them have a meeting with Islands, who begs Yang for cooperation. He says he will do his best to defend their democracy. Islands then tells Yang that he has whatever resources he needs for the purpose. Yang tells Islands that he would like him to prepare in the event that he loses. Islands is perplexed, but Yang says that he does not plan on losing, but that if they win they would need time to negotiate and replenish the forces. Those are political areas more suited to politicians than someone in the military. Islands asks Yang to promise him he will win, but Yang says that if a promise guaranteed a win he would do so. Islands withdraws his request before Yang explains his tactics for the battle.
Yang tells Islands he needs to kill Reinhard on the field of battle. Because he has no children, there would be no figure for his admirals to rally behind in the event of his death. As a result, Yang explains, conflicts for power will break out amongst his admirals, most likely in Imperial territory, in a quest to find someone to fight for. Islands understands that it means the Empire would fall apart and it would save the Alliance. Yang says he needs the Imperial fleets to be defeated one by one to force Reinhard to come into the battle. He says the battle is going to involve more psychology than tactics on someone who values winning battles over anything else.This strategy seems simple enough, but there are so many admirals gathered at the front for the Empire, and so few quality men in the Alliance that it doesn’t look like it would work. It is rather strange to see the de facto leader of the Alliance having to beg Yang to promise to win the battle. Yang doesn’t seem to do words of encouragement very well.
Meanwhile, Reuenthal finally arrived to meet with the rest of the invasion forces. Lutz had been left behind at Iserlohn, while Lennenkampf stayed with Reuenthal. The extra forces appear to be helpful in shoring up some of the issues that were created by the lengthening supply lines and Yang’s fleet.
Back on Heinessen, Yang tells Frederica and Schenkopp that he was revealing the key element of the coming battle just to satisfy the one Commissioner who finally decided to do something. Beating Reinhard’s admirals individually sounds like a good idea, but Yang says they have to avoid Mittermeyer and Reuenthal. Schenkopp says battles are not like sports where facing stronger opponents gives you more experience for future battles. Yang agrees and says they have to try to win the individual battles as easily as possible.
They step out of an elevator and are confronted by a group of reporters. They ask Yang to promise them that he will protect the people from the evil invaders and that good will always triumph over evil. With Schenkopp pointing his weapon at the press pack, Frederica moves to lower the tension a bit by saying that Yang is tired and if the press want him to win they will let them be on their way.
The Alliance press, though, reports on another story; Julian has received another promotion and is considered a hero for his exploits in returning to Heinessen. The reporters begin comparing him favorable to Yang and take some liberties on the history between the two of them. Julian begins to worry as he watches before he spots Frederica on the street. Julian tells her that he is worried about what Yang will think about his being labeled a hero. Frederica asks if he thinks Yang will be jealous, and he answers no. She remarks that she would have slapped him if he had said yes and that she had a reputation for having a temper when she was younger. This surprises Julian a bit, but she says she had to turn it down after entering the military. Julian wonders where everyone is staying at, and Frederica tells him.
At the Hotel Capricorn, Yang is eating terrible room service food, which Julian can’t help but comment on. Yang reminds Julian that his promotion means his pension has increased, and Julian replies that Yang always seems to be focused on his salary. Yang jokingly says that his salary and pension only mean something as long as the Alliance still exists, so he says that’s the reason why he fights the Empire. The two then congratulate each other on their promotions, though Yang says Julian’s is much more noble. Julian says he is glad to return and hopes to learn more from Yang, though Yang says there is not much left he can teach him. He then asks Julian how he managed to take control of the Imperial ship, and that even though Julian said it was classified information he was going to tell him anyway. Julian just says he used the same tactics Yang used at Iserlohn. Yang then jokingly laments that he should have copyrighted those tactics, which would make his life much easier financially.
At the March Rabbit restaurant, the two are prepared to have dinner. The waiter says that even in the state the Alliance is in, hotels and restaurants are still necessary. Yang prepares to order, but the waiter says they can only serve roast beef, which Yang has no problem with. Yang starts the conversation with Julian by saying the government should have had the government pay Marinesk for the ship that was lost, but Julian says another person Yang should know well actually owned the Baryoska, Boris Konev. At first Yang doesn’t remember the name, but he eventually figures it out. Yang recalls the Boris Kid as he was known for being a troublemaker, but Julian says he heard that his childhood friend helped him in many of his exploits. Yang says they will compensate him for his shop if they meet up.The start of these scenes between Yang and Julian have bothered me a little. There is a clear dissonance between their situation and those of the people of the Alliance. Yang is able to joke about his greater salary and being motivated by money and Julian is becoming a hero to the people and they talk about using the government to pay for a ship, while at the same time eating in a restaurant that cannot get anything apart from roast beef.
Julian turns the conversation to Iserlohn, and asks Yang if he still had any plans for it. Yang tells him that he left a trap behind and whispers it into his ear. Julian thinks it is a rather simple plan, and Yang tells him that he is only the third person after Frederica and Schenkopp who knows about it. He tells Julian that he should make good use of that knowledge in the case that he absolutely has to use it. The meal arrives and Julian begins telling Yang about Degsby, who died on the journey to Heinessen of a disease, though Julian calls it close to a suicide.
After Julian completes his story, Yang expresses some surprise that Kesselink and Rubinsky would remove themselves from power. Yang says that since Degsby knew so much about the leadership of Phezzan, that there must be some sort of relationship between Trunicht and the Earth Cult. Julian says that nearly all of the conflict at present is being caused by the Earth Cult, and Degsby said before he died that people must not forget to appreciate the Earth. Yang sees this as reactionary, and gives a historical layout as to why that is. He says the center of humanity had drifted from place to place on Earth as time passed and battles were won. As man moved into space and grew there, the Earth naturally drifted to the periphery of man’s existence since it could no longer go back to the cradle. Even though mankind may not have grown up mentally, the desire to make the Earth the center is just an evil reaction. At the moment, Yang cannot do anything about the Earth Cult and he can only leave Bagdashu to look into the situation since he is much better at that than actual combat.
Finally, Julian asks Yang how he plans to fight Reinhard, who at the moment is in a meeting with his admirals. There, Bittenfeld argues for a direct attack on Heinessen. As an ill Reinhard looks on, Mittermeyer argues that a measured approach is necessary. Controlling Heinessen would not necessarily mean the end of the war, and they would have to be mindful of resistance.
Back on Heinessen, Yang wonders aloud what effects a victory would have on people in the Empire. They would lose their ruler, there would likely be a civil war and numerous people would be sacrificed. Julian says they should just leave matters in the Empire to the Empire, but Yang scolds him for not thinking of the enemy’s civilians in war. He says that it is easy to forget that thinking in national terms, and nations are just constructs for convenience. Yang goes on to say that things are going to get harder, but that someone once said it was darkest before dawn. Julian says that Ale Heinessen said that, but Yang is quick to say that no one knows that fact for certain. If he did say that it would be much more impressive than if it was said by a nobody, but that is probably not what he would have wanted.
Back at the front, a doctor tells a bed-ridden Reinhard that there is nothing wrong with him, but that he should probably rest for a day or two. Reinhard takes his advice and tells Kißling that the operational decisions will have to wait for a couple of days. Alone, Reinhard thinks to himself that he has gone at such a fast pace over ten years that he hasn’t been sick. He then remembers a time that happened when Annerose comforted him at bedside as a young child.
The next day on Heinessen, the Alliance admirals and commanders prepare to depart. Trung asks Bucock if they have clearance from the Defense Ministry. Bucock says that is another issue they will have to take care of after the fact. At the Legitimate Government headquarters, Lichtenlade yells angrily at Merkatz for wanting to leave, but Merkatz says that it would be best for their government and the Kaiser if he was allowed to fight alongside the Alliance in the coming battle. Lichtenlade relents and lets him go. Schneider tells Schumacher that he will be going with Merkatz, but Schumacher says that he is not leaving since Lansberg insists they not leave the Kaiser’s side. He says there is no way back to Phezzan for him, and the least he can do is take responsibility for taking the Kaiser this far. Outside, Schneider introduces the other Imperial officers willing to go with Merkatz, who tells them they are free to do what they want since they are in the Free Planets Alliance.Everyone in the military at this point seems to have freedom to do whatever they need to do as Merkatz said. It seems that only at its most desperate does the Alliance seem to begin to resemble the values it was founded on.
Reinhard, meanwhile, is interrupted in his thoughts by Emil von Secla. Emil tells Reinhard that his father was a doctor, and that he plans on going to medical school after he is finished with military school. Reinhard asks about his father, and Emil tells him he died three years earlier in battle. He was serving on board a cruiser and his ship was destroyed at Amlitzer, but Emil says he is grateful that Reinhard avenged him by destroying the rebellion. Reinhard tells Emil to get his medical license as quickly as possible so he can be his personal doctor. Emil thanks Reinhard for his words of support and wishes him luck in the battle. Reinhard tells Emil that equal skills in battle means it will come down to luck, but he has received luck from his friend. That friend also gave him his life and his future and now he has the luck of two people which should be enough to overcome Yang. As Emil walks away, Reinhard suddenly remembers the last time he had a fever was seven years ago when he was in military school, and Kircheis took care of him the whole time. He then thinks that if Kircheis were still here, he would not be having these problems because Kircheis could lead the military while he concentrated on administration.
Thoughts: Almost lasted that whole episode without the obligatory “if Kircheis were here” moment. It was pretty nice to see here how Reinhard thinks of Yang and Kircheis as equals to himself. The last part of the episode, however, showcases how little trust he has in his subordinates because he feels the need to participate in battle when he desires to run the country…This episode sets the stage for the upcoming battle. All the actors have come together in space and the goals have been established on the Alliance side.