The 63rd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes returns to Earth as Julian Minci tries to find clues about the Earth Church. August Wahlen, though survives an attack before engaging with the church in completely different terms. Ultimately, the sheer devotion of members of the church leaves the biggest impression from this episode.As Yang and company head back into space with Lennenkampt’s body, Wahlen’s fleet is approaching Earth as the episode begins. Wahlen is briefed on the situation on Earth. The church is located within an old shelter at the foot of the Himalayas which poses difficulties as far as terrain. Unable to approach using ships, Kamfuber suggests using missiles to level the shelter. Wahlen rejects this because he was instructed by Reinhard not to kill non-combatants. Leiwul suggests using light infantry, but Wahlen says they are unsure of the number of exits and that could lead to non-combatants being harmed as well as church leaders getting away. Wahlen then tells his officers not to rush and he offers them wine to get them to relax and come up with an efficient plan before moving.
As Wahlen relaxed after the meeting, a soldier attacked him. As Wahlen desperately fought him off, he was stabbed in the left arm before he ultimately disabled his would-be assassin. Before collapsing from blood loss, Wahlen ordered the man kept alive for interrogation. Wahlen ended up slipping into a coma, and because the knife blade he was stabbed with was poisoned, his left arm had to be amputated.
Back on Earth, ten days had passed since Julian and company had broken into the Earth Church and entered into constant surveillance. In the canteen, Julian sits down across from Poplan. The two talk about the former’s attempt to find the data bank, while Poplan says there is still a possibility this could simply be a fanatic cult. Suddenly, a follower goes mad and begins throwing tables around. Security quickly arrives and shocks him into submission. Poplan suddenly has an epiphany and runs off with Julian in tow. Julian wonders what he is doing being so obvious, but Poplan tells him they have to get to the toilet and throw up everything they’ve been eating. He insists they are being poisoned slowly since the man showed signs of side effects from ingesting Thyoxin, a drug Julian says was used in brainwashing by the Empire and the Alliance in secret. In the bathroom, Poplan adds that they shouldn’t drink the water either since it might also be poisoned. Julian realizes the gravity of the situation and says he must tell the others and they should plan an escape. Later, Julian compliments Poplan for the surprising depth of his knowledge. Poplan says he doesn’t just chase after women, but he considers himself an encyclopedia of real life experience.
The next day, Wahlen wakes up from his coma as the fleet passes Mars. He reaches for a drink before realizing his left arm has been amputated, then a doctor tells him why they had to do so. Wahlen quickly accepts the situation and asks to have his attacker brought before him. Wahlen asks the soldier who ordered his assassination, but he just says something about punishing those who defile the Earth. When asked again, the soldier says something similar before collapsing and getting taken away. Wahlen realizes he will not get anything from him and orders no further interrogation. He then asks when his prosthetic will be ready and is informed it will be a couple days. Wahlen then remembers that there is someone in the fleet with prosthetics and when he is told it is Konrad Linser, he says he wants to see him and have him lead a strike team on the church.
Meanwhile, Julian struggles with withdrawal symptoms from the poison as others sleep. A follower asks him if he should see a doctor, but Julian refuses. He believes that if he were to see a doctor the symptoms would be obvious and the dose he would be given would turn him into an addict.
On the Undutiness, Cary Willock picks up interference which he puts down to jamming that can only be from an Imperial fleet. Marinesk says they can’t contact Konev anyway, as the jamming increases.
Back in his bed, a group of followers asks Julian to go to the infirmary, after seeing the surveillance camera pointed at him, he reluctantly agrees to go. Once there, he sees Mashengo and Poplan have also been admitted. The doctor asks the 3 if there is something that seems to be making them all sick as he prepares a syringe, and Poplan says there is and he fights the doctor, eventually hitting him with a syringe in the eye. Security arrives, but Julian and Mashengo combine to subdue them. Poplan begins interrogating the doctor by threatening to administer a lethal dose of the poison, until the doctor says he will talk. Julian says he wants to know the secrets of the church, but the doctor says that he doesn’t have a clue about it since he’s just a doctor. Before Poplan can continue, the doctor faints.
Another security officer arrives to warn the doctor of intruders, but he is too late. Poplan knocks him out. He tells Julian and Mashengo to change into the robes warn by the church’s security personnel and laments that there is not the same reward as there is for taking off a man’s clothing as there is for a woman’s. Poplan then steps outside and tells Julian that sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Julian finishes the sentence by saying as time passes things sometimes get worse before he looks out the door to see Imperial soldiers fighting members of the church.
Wahlen receives the information on the exits from the church headquarters, apparently from inside sources, apparently from Phezzan, and sends his ships to the surface to attack. Inside the base, Linser calls in his information from the sources who happen to be Julian, Mashengo and Poplan who say they are just trying to find 2 of their friends. Linser accepts their word and lets them continue their search with few of his men. In the air, Wahlen orders missiles to be fired on all but the main entrance to control the escape of members. They find a spot to land the flagship, and Wahlen orders grenadiers to be sent in after they land. Though the valley they are landing in seems impossibly narrow, Wahlen leaves it up to Dunkel to land them safely, which he does.
The fighting continues in the church headquarters as the members use suicide tactics to fight off the Imperial light infantry. Linser orders a retreat since the grenadiers would be able to clean things up. This presents a chance for Julian, Mashengo and Poplan to break away and search the headquarters. They find Boris Konev and Hautetaire, though the latter is stabbed by a church member as they find the location of the data Julian has been searching for. Mashengo quickly knocks the member out.
The grenadiers arrive at the headquarters and their armor is more than enough to fight off the whatever the church members throw at them. As one of the grenadiers expresses his astonishment at the stupidity of the church members, they are quickly engulfed by other members willingly sacrificing their lives to stop them. Another member sets off explosive charges which rain down boulders which crush the grenadiers and the members restraining them. Elsewhere, other grenadiers continue to ask why the members seem unafraid of death, until the tunnels of the complex are flooded.
As Konev copes with Hautetaire’s death, Julian downloads the data he needs and sets about making sure the Empire can’t get its hands on it. In the cathedral, the Grand Bishop leads the rest of the faithful in chanting for the death of the invaders as the rest of the base begins to collapse from the explosions. Wahlen orders his men to leave and Julian escapes death with the help of Mashengo. De Villier appears to escape with a few followers in the chaos and in the end the church’s headquarters ends up buried beneath tons of rock.
Thoughts: That was a rather pedestrian episode. The church members are complete fanatics unable of thinking of anything but destroying non-believers because the drugs made them that way. There’s really not that much to add to this. Reinhard returns next episode, so things should pick up from there ideally.