The 69th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on personality. Reinhard’s personality is privately questioned by Hilde after Merkatz is confirmed to be alive. On Yang’s side of things, Julian’s undying commitment to Yang, Attenborough’s revealing of information and Schenkopp’s decision-making all come into play as they prepare to make a move on Iserlohn.Bittenfeld’s Black Lancers run into a little difficulty in heading to Heinessen as the episode begins. After beating several token resistance groups, Bittenfeld found his supply lines cut temporarily by the tactics of Alliance Commodore Bufort. Bittenfeld then attacked Bufort’s base and forced his forces to scatter. In the aftermath, Bittenfeld managed to gain some information from POWs.
Reinhard and the rest of the admirals are informed that Merkatz is still alive, which Reuenthal says means that Lennenkampt’s perceived notions were actually correct. Brauhitz says that Merkatz must be on El Facil with Yang so the situation might want to be looked at. Sauken argues against it because admirals without soldiers have little effect. Altringen says that it has worked out well for them that the Alliance’s military and Yang have become separated, since a single planet isn’t going to pose a legitimate threat.
After the meeting, Hilde talks to Reinhard about Yang. She says that Vermillion proved the limitations of his political abilities, and that he would be unable to sustain an opposition movement for very long. In addition, El Facil on its own would not be able to support a large force. She says they should not worry about Yang, and instead defeat the Alliance before waiting for Yang’s forces to burn out. Reinhard takes this as Hilde saying she doesn’t want him to face Yang again. He remembers how close he was to defeat at Vermillion, and he only survived because of Hilde’s orders to Reuenthal and Mittermeyer, but she says that Reinhard won because he had capable subordinates. She again urges him not to seek personal revenge against Yang, but Reinhard believes that silently taking control of the universe without defeating Yang would make it illegitimate, since Yang’s subordinates would make such a claim. At that moment, Hilde wondered if Reinhard would choose to be defeated by a worthy opponent.
I didn’t really get all that much out of this scene. Reinhard has been in a sort of melancholy nearly the entire season, so Hilde’s revelation of suicide-by-Yang isn’t entirely surprising. The meeting of the admirals also seemed to serve more as an introduction to new admirals more than anything.
On El Facil, Attenborough spots Julian and Mashengo at the spaceport. They greet each other before Attenborough asks where everyone else is. Julian says Konev was filling out paperwork, while Poplan is seen talking to 2 women. Julian calls Poplan over, who then proceeds to engage in banter with Attenborough about the size of the pool of women available to the both of them, and how easy Attenborough had it on Heinessen compared to Poplan’s time on Earth. They continue to banter on the ride to headquarters with Poplan suggesting a new name for Yang’s Irregulars centering around the name Olivier Poplan, with Attenborough refusing to take him seriously.
At the headquarters, the party splits off with Mashengo dropping off luggage, Poplan running into Katerose while Attenborough and Julian took an elevator on their way to meet with Yang. In the elevator, the conversation turns to Katerose. Julian says he met her at Dayan-Han, and Julian asks how Attenborough knows her and he says she is the daughter of an acquaintance. They exit the elevator and Attenborough finds himself unable to keep the secret and tells Julian that she is Schenkopp’s daughter. Julian is skeptical at first, but when Attenborough points out her age and Schenkopp’s reputation at the time in saying that he may have an army of illegitimate children. Julian accepts the possibility and believes that’s why he felt so familiar around her. When Julian finds out that Schenkopp doesn’t know about her, Attenborough half-jokingly asks if Julian would want to be the middleman in reuniting Schenkopp with his daughter. Julian, however, says he believes Katerose dislikes him. Attenborough drops the matter and says they should worry about capturing Iserlohn instead.
Since Attenborough seems unable to keep a secret, is he really the right man to be serving as a leader in the future? This is important later on.
Julian and Attenborough enter Yang’s office, as Yang studies some maps to come up with a plan. Frederica gives him some tea and after taking a sip, Yang compliments her for showing some improvement. Yang then looks up happily and sees Julian. Julian catches up with Yang and Frederica as he thinks to himself that he is back where he belongs.
Later, Yang unveils his plan to Julian and Poplan. Julian is almost certain it will work out especially since someone like Reinhard likes pincer strategies. Yang says he would use a pincer strategy if he had a force larger than Reinhard’s, and he adds that should they have enough left after taking Iserlohn, they would have the option of going into Imperial territory. Yang says Reinhard would be forced to return to the Empire via Phezzan, and he raises the possibility of a Phezzani independence group rising up at the same time, but he stops himself knowing that he has no idea about that. Yang then asks about Boris hoping to get some information on Phezzan, but he is still busy with paperwork.
The narrator then reveals a historian’s perspective on Yang’s calculations. He had not factored in Trung and Bucock putting up substantial resistance to the Imperial forces. If he had known this to be the case, he would have changed his calculations and likely entered into a battle with no chance of victory. In addition, Yang did not inspect the Earth Church data that Julian had brought, but it was understandable considering the prospect of retaking Iserlohn was more immediate.
At this point, I was thinking about the real complacency that seemed to exist among those present. Yang has to convey confidence in his plan since he came up with it, but no one seems to bring up anything that could possibly go wrong. The disk is also important because it could have had something on there about the Empire or anything that could be a long-term game-changer.
Cazellnu walks into the meeting and tells Yang that the El Facil government does not want him to head into battle. He then meets with Romsky and the rest of the government who have concerns about leaving the planet unprotected in the case of an attack by the Alliance or Empire. Yang dismisses this as an unlikely scenario, but Romsky says they can’t rule it out completely. Yang then says they could leave Merkatz behind just in case. Yang prepares to walk out, but is held back by Frederica.
As they head back to headquarters, Yang laments that he finds himself in the exact same situation he was in before. The El Facil doesn’t trust him to nor create a military dictatorship when they can’t watch him. Schenkopp’s comments have not helped the situation either. Frederica says it is a sugar-coated way of making him a hostage. Cazellnu says they can leave the battle to someone like Attenborough as a way to prepare for the future. Yang says Attenborough needs to stay behind and look at the battle from a bigger perspective to prepare him. Instead, Merkatz will lead the battle with Schenkopp in charge of combat operations.
Before issuing the final orders, Yang met with Konev to discuss gathering Phezzani economic support for El Facil. Konev says he probably doesn’t have enough to offer the Phezzani merchants to gain their support. Yang then says they should say Reinhard plans on nationalizing industry and revoking the rights of the Phezzani in inter-planetary commerce. Konev wonders if that is it, and Yang says they can take a look at how Reinhard treated the rich aristocrats when he came to power. Konev thinks that’s clear enough, but he asks Yang if he honestly wants to defeat Reinhard, who has not misgoverned and has the ability to rule the entire universe. He asks Yang if there is any guarantee the universe will be improved by Reinhards defeat. Yang says there is none, Konev understands but asks Yang if he is okay with the possibility that democratic government will not be revived as a result. Yang says it is about planting those seeds for a possible return. He says 200 years passed between Rudolf seizing all power and the emergence of Ale Heinessen and the Alliance. Once the roots of democratic government are eliminated, it is hard to get them back. Yang says he just wants to lighten the burden on the next generation. Konev believes this means Julian, and he expresses his concern that Julian is too loyal to Yang to surpass him. He says he showed true loyalty in not examining the Earth Church data before giving it to Yang, but that it would have been better if he had. Konev says if he had done it and the data was lost, it would at least be a part of his history. He goes on to add that Julian should show some signs of rebellion, because rebellion shows independence.
I was surprised by how important this conversation could end up being. The disk becomes an issue again, and Konev seems to imply that Julian’s personality could come back to haunt Yang. The lack of independence from Julian seems to be at odds with Yang’s ideals, and he realizes that a democratic movement cannot emerge from Julian’s loyal personality.
The next day, Schenkopp walks up to Yang at his desk and says he has a question relating to personnel matters. Yang reiterates that Schenkopp could choose whomever he needed. Schenkopp says he was choosing based on abilities and preferences, but he noticed that Julian had volunteered. Schenkopp believed that Yang would want him to stay behind, but Yang says it is dependent on Julian’s skills and preferences. Schenkopp circles his name and says he will be going with him before leaving. Frederica asks if Yang is okay with it, and Yang says that Julian lacks a rebellious spirit.
Upon leaving, Schenkopp runs into Attenborough and begins sarcastically complimenting him on the bravery of watching the coming battle from afar. Clearly upset, Attenborough brings up Katerose’s name amongst the applicants to Schenkopp. After hearing the name, Schenkopp asks if she is a beauty because that would mean she is his daughter. Attenborough says she is, and Schenkopp takes the time to go through and cross her off the list.
Attenborough cannot keep the secret of Katerose from Schenkopp, and the decision to remove her from the mission could come back to hurt him. Revealing that to Schenkopp might be important to him as a friend or something, but at that moment, it was definitely bad timing.
Later, the fleet attempting to take Iserlohn sets off amidst mixed feelings for those left behind. While on Heinessen, Trung and Bucock were departing for the Rio Grande above the planet as they made the final sortie of the Alliance Space Fleet.
Thoughts: The major theme in this episode seemed to be Julian’s personality compared to Yang’s. Yang himself is beginning to see the problems with Julian’s blind loyalty. This raises an important question. Does one really have to rebel against their teacher to surpass them? In light of Yang’s and Schenkopp’s opposite parenting decisions regarding the battle, does the scene show a realistic example of biases based on experience?