(I am trying something a little different format-wise with this episode. If it doesn’t work out I can always resume normal service next week.)
The 70th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the conclusion of a trap laid over 20 episodes ago by Yang as he left Iserlohn. The forces led by Merkatz and selected by Schenkopp try to retake Iserlohn from Lutz. The psychological and tactical traps laid by Bagdashu eventually wear on Lutz who takes action believing he has the upper hand. But what of Yang’s trap?
The episode begins with the Imperial Fleet and Merkatz’s fleets celebrating the new year. Julian is fed a supply of drinks by Poplan and Schenkopp, but unfortunately Mashengo interrupts and begins drinking liquor like water. Julian walks away before a drunk Poplan comes over to talk about Karin. Poplan says he wants to be a life counselor of sorts and he figures Karin believes she is actually unhappy with her life. He jokingly says that she should go see Schenkopp and demand years worth of pocket money.
The next day, Lutz receives an order to depart Iserlohn and join the attack on Heinessen. Then, the day after he receives another order to stay and investigate possible Phezzani sympathizers on the fortress. Another couple of conflicting orders later, and Lutz is unwilling to move from Iserlohn even though he finally receives a real order to leave from Reinhard. Bagdashu is impressed with himself, but the rest of his team are not surprised they work with such a swindler.
This is pretty good psychological warfare, and it worked pretty well from an entertainment perspective for me. The ridiculousness of the fake orders, even the blunt one asking why they hadn’t left yet was a surprise as well. Something bad is surely about to happen to poor Lutz.
Reinhard is understandably upset that Lutz seems to be ignoring his order, but Hilde calms him down by saying if everything works out his insubordination should go unpunished. Reinhard relents and issues Lutz another order to move out from Iserlohn. Then, they come across about 1000 Alliance ships moving to cut off the Black Lancers, but with he and Mittermeyer sensing a larger main fleet, they avoid fighting the smaller fleet.
Back at Iserlohn, Lutz receives Reinhard’s order, while Schenkopp observing from afar believes one would have to be insane to see through Bagdashu’s array of orders. Eventually, Lutz decides to send the fleet out in an elaborate plan to draw Merkatz’s fleet into a trap.
Lutz’s assumption is overly-optimistic. He assumes Yang has somehow run out of talent because he is using a similar trick twice. However, it requires that Yang’s organizational ability with his fleet has somehow diminished to impossibly low levels. Maybe Lutz has gone insane stationed at Iserlohn?
The second half of the episode begins with Lutz’s fleet heading in the direction of Merkatz’s, yet the latter’s crew are celebrating victory. Merkatz takes a swig of wine then announces they will go through with Yang’s plan which relied on the Imperial fleet leaving entirely, and getting a set distance away from the fortress. Lutz then sees Merkatz’s fleet moving in and begins turning around to retreat. Meanwhile, Bagdashu transmits a message to Iserlohn’s computers which the Imperial soldiers quickly realize has disabled their control over the defensive systems and computers.
Clearly the Imperial force at Iserlohn has no clue about operating their own computer systems. Maybe the trap is so simple no one would notice?
The battle quickly becomes focused on hand-to-hand combat with the Rosen Ritter trying to gain control over the computers before Lutz can return. After a couple of close calls for Poplan and Julian, the Imperial soldiers begin to back off when they realize they are fighting the Rosen Ritter. Eventually, they take control of a small control room, and put a code into one of the computers. With the defensive systems at their control, Julian is able to fire the Thor’s Hammer at Lutz’s fleet. The blow to morale eventually causes the remaining Imperial forces to abandon Iserlohn, though the acting commander takes his own life.
Bagdashu’s suggestion on negotiating tactics is a fairly good one. It’s best not to accept immediately because it would make Julian look amateurish. Actually, at what point did Julian suddenly become important enough to make these kinds of decisions? Everyone in the room with him should be at a higher rank. Honestly?
Yang once again has control of Iserlohn, though a fair number of people were killed this time. Merkatz hails it as a new hope for their future, but the attention must now shift to Bucock and Reinhard.
Thoughts: The action is going to move back to Bucock’s eventual defeat at the hands of Yang. Was anyone else surprised by Yang’s trap the first time they saw this episode? It seems kind of dated with modern computer systems, but maybe it worked as written in the early-90s. There’s also been a trend in the last 2 episodes of ignoring potential problems due to more imminent threats. Is there any chance Reinhard’s actually comes back to haunt him? After the narrator brought up the Church disk in the last episode, we already know that will.