The 58th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on three areas. The first is potential conflicts appearing within the Empire since there are no apparent enemies to fight. The second is a revealing look at Reuenthal’s personality as he ends up with yet another woman. Finally, the episode ventures to Earth and even the Church’s power structure isn’t as unified as it appears.
The episode begins with a meeting between Oberstein and Reinhard. Oberstein tells Reinhard that he believes Reinhard should be considering marriage. Reinhard deflects the proposal by saying Oberstein should be considering it too since he is much older. Oberstein says no one would be sad if his family line ended, but as it stands there will be fighting over succession until Reinhard is married and produces an heir. There could be potential problems with relatives of the bride’s family and historically Kaisers have killed the family members of their brides to head off any problems. Reinhard angrily tells Oberstein that he probably has someone in mind that he is completely opposed be consort. He points out that there are no candidates for queen at the present time, and it would be inconvenient to Oberstein if she were to become second only to himself. Oberstein rejects the suggestion before Reinhard moves on to the matter of the Mariendorfs. Oberstein says they are under house arrest because they are relatives of Heinrich. Under the previous regime, Oberstein says the whole family would have been executed. Reinhard sees the current situation as the Earth Church denying him his Secretary of State and Hilde on top of trying to kill him. He orders them released from custody and orders that this issue is never raised again.
At the War Ministry, Anton Ferner briefs Oberstein on the situation within the Alliance. Funmel had sent in a report on Lennenkampt’s actions in his new role. He reported that the governor had assigned men to monitor Yang and that there may be close ties forming between Yang and anti-government forces. Oberstein casually says that when a mob assembles they need a leader to rally behind. Ferner asks if they should act on this knowledge since he believes Lennenkampt sees Yang as a threat to overthrow the government. Even if Yang has no intention of doing so now, he may be forced into such a position by the developing situation. Oberstein tells Ferner to not interfere since Lennenkampt despises intrusions into his authority. Ferner presses Oberstein again saying that the Yang situation could trigger ill will within the Alliance toward the Empire, but he drops the matter quickly. As he walks away, Ferner wonders if Oberstein is using Yang to bring the Empire’s enemies together so they can be taken out at once or if he is trying to fracture ties within the Alliance. He also questions whether things will develop as Oberstein anticipates. Hungry mice go after a cat, so in Ferner’s mind Lennenkampt will be the first to fall. Whether long-term peace develops or chaos ensues, Ferner says the situation is well worth watching.
At the Mariendorf estate, Hilde tells her father that Heinrich had only wanted to do something important with the last few minutes of his life and that he had no intention of killing Reinhard. Hanz Sterzer enters the room and has a message with good news from Streit. As Hilde walks toward the video screen she says their release from house arrest will bring them new enemies, but she says that she will not be defeated.
At his house, Mittermeyer tells his wife Evangeline that Oberstein was being completely unreasonable about the situation. Punishing entire families was the practice of the previous regime. He then tells her that he believes Hilde would be the ideal person to serve as Reinhard’s consort and if they had a child it would be an intelligent prince. Evangeline says that would be great, but it depends on how they feel about each other first. She says that she did not marry Mittermeyer because he was an officer with a bright future, but because he is who he is. Mittermeyer jokes that he would have dressed better for his proposal if he knew that and that he had never been so scared in his life. At this point the doorbell rings and Reuenthal arrives bearing flowers.
Reuenthal and Mittermeyer begin their conversation by talking about Trunicht. Reuenthal sees him as a great business man because he was successful in selling out both the Alliance and now the Earth Church. Mittermeyer says he just deals in scorn and vigilance. Reuenthal says he is a man that doesn’t need the respect of others to live on and that he is like a parasite in this regard. With the action of informing the government of the assassination plot, he appears to be trying to get influence within the Empire.
Beyerlein interrupts their conversation with a rumor he had heard from several Alliance POWs. The rumor is that Merkatz is still alive though they are unable to verify it. Mittermeyer says the Merkatz was supposed to have died at Vermillion, while Reuenthal says that it is possible since his body was never identified. Mittermeyer says there’s no reason Yang wouldn’t know, but Reuenthal says it wouldn’t have been out of character for Merkatz to revolt. They calm down after restating that it is just a rumor and the Ministry of Internal Security can be left to investigate.
Bayerlein leaves and the conversation turns to another rumor and Mittermeyer says he heard that Reuenthal had swapped women again. Reuenthal confirms this and says this is different from the times women had thrown themselves at him and instead he was chasing after her. He says he took her by authority and with violence to the point where he was scaring himself and it could lead to being mocked by Oberstein or Lang. Mittermeyer says that is not like him and asks what really happened.
Reuenthal says that this woman had tried to kill him. One day she had waited for hours outside his house before she charged at him with a knife. He says her name is Elfriede von Kolrausch and that her mother was a niece of Lichtenlade. Reuenthal understands why she hates him since unlike Mittermeyer he personally played a role in Lichtenlade and his family’s fate when Reinhard seized control of the government. Mittermeyer asks if she knew exactly what happened back then and Reuenthal says she didn’t until he personally told her. Mittermeyer says that didn’t do any good and he asks Reuenthal why he seems to hate himself so much. He responds by saying that he knew it didn’t do any good, but he was shocked by doing that and it was driving him insane.
Reuenthal returns home to see Elfriede sleeping on his bed. He says his heart is warmed by the fact she hasn’t run away, but she says she hasn’t done anything wrong so she has no reason to do so. He points out that she tried to assassinate and Imperial Admiral so no one would have been surprised if he had executed her on the spot, so he is in fact being quite generous. She argues that she’s not a seasoned murderer like him before he walks over to her. He takes her hand and says it reminds him of his mother’s. He says she had never served anyone and that she used those hands to pick up her son and then try to stab one of his eyes out only to never pick him up again. Elfriede says that Reuenthal’s mother was wise and was trying to root out an evil to society. Reuenthal says that he doesn’t understand how it could be frustrating to lose privileges since they were never earned through hard work . He says there is no justice in that kind of life and nobles are nothing more than institutionalized bandits. He asks her if she can see that seizure of power through violence and through authority are the same. When she doesn’t respond he says he’s lost interest in her since she doesn’t have any redeeming features now. He tells her to get out and find a suitable man someone he says is useless trash living off a past of misusing authority and law in his favor. First, though he tells her that political power that is inherited is the one thing he cannot stand. Seizing power is better because the usurper will have had to have toiled. Elfriede responds by saying that Reuenthal is just a rebel and asks why he doesn’t try to take power for himself and go against someone he serves so well. Reuenthal points out that Reinhard is much younger than he is and controls the universe.. He says he has no desire to topple the current regime because he cannot exceed him.
The two scenes here were an interesting take on Reuenthal and then Elfriede. Reuenthal’s self-destructive tendencies make themselves evident in that he is housing someone who tried to kill him and yet he finds it interesting. He also goes out of his way to make her more angry perhaps to motivate her to act again. Elfriede, on the other hand, probably has nowhere else to go. She counted on dying at the end of her assassination attempt, but this situation was unexpected. In a way, she also gets to experience a sort of noble life serving as a conduit of Reuenthal’s self-destruction though.
Meanwhile, Wahlen had taken his time in making preparations in his sortie to Earth to the smallest detail. This included handing off his young son to his parents since his wife had died 4 years earlier. At the same time, Müller was presented with the newest Imperial flagship the Parcivale as a reward for his actions at Vermillion. The Iron Shield as he was now known was also given a promotion to just below the 3 Fleet Admirals. Mittermeyer asks him if he had thought about the Wahlen’s mission and Müller responds by saying there might not be another chance to sortie. Mittermeyer says he wouldn’t have to worry if that were true and he explains to Müller that Wahlen’s mission as well as those of Lennenkampt and Steinmetz are because they had lost to Yang and were presented with a chance to redeem themselves. As Wahlen’s fleet leaves, Hilde informs Reinhard that Education Minister Seefeld has finished a biopic on the Goldenbaum Dynasty.
There are two important points I got out of this. Reinhard is distributing roles far away from him to those who would never threaten him for power because they had lost to Yang. Reuenthal, Mittermeyer, Müller and Bittenfeld have little to do at the moment. Secondly, the biopic is interesting since Reinhard seems to want to exert his own authority on the history of the Empire.
On Earth, Julian and company adjust to the altitude on Earth before they head off the the Church. Julian and Konev talk about the Black Flag Force destroying the top of Mt. Everest and how a civil war broke out after that which reduced the population of Earth by 99 percent. They arrive at the facility which has a tragic past of its own. It was used as a base to monitor activity on Earth’s colonies until the Black Flag Force flooded it and killed almost everyone living there.
They all sit down and Julian is handed some bread by a pilgrim who traveled from Pluto. He tells her he came from Phezzan and she is impressed by someone so young. Maps are passed around to the pilgrims and there is no reference library on the maps. Poplan points out that there are no women’s dormitories so it must be co-ed, which gets Julian to say that he is envious that Poplan is able to think like that in this circumstance. They are interrupted by the Grand Bishop and his entourage walking through the room. The pilgrims all move off to the side and kneel before him.
Later, the bishop De Villier is informed on the failure of the plot on Earth. He says that they still need to proceed on assassinating Reinhard, but they first have to worry about the expeditionary force heading their way. He says the Grand Bishop has a plan and he points out that if they can get close to the Kaiser they should be able to get close to an admiral. He dismisses his subordinate and refers to foolish zealots before he gets some whiskey from a hidden spot in his room. As Wahlen’s fleet closes in on Earth, De Villier is more concerned about centralizing power on Earth.
Thoughts: That was a pretty interesting episode in developing Reuenthal’s character a bit more while also adding in potential splits within the Imperial hierarchy and the Earth Church’s as well. Yang and Merkatz were prominent despite not appearing, but it cannot be much longer before they come back into the picture.