The 71st episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is focused entirely on the final battle between Bucock and the Imperial military at the battle of Marr-Adetta. Before Bucock uses the full depth of his experience, the Imperial admirals have to deal with the enthusiasm of their younger members. At the same time, Reuenthal waxes philosophical on history’s thirst for blood.The episode begins with a meeting of the Imperial admirals who are preparing for a fight with Bucock’s fleet of 20,000 ships. The newer admirals thirst for a fight, while the older guard of Streit, Mittermeyer and Reuenthal are hesitant to tell Reinhard how to fight the battle. The former suggests ignoring Bucock’s challenge and attacking Heinessen again to settle matters. However, Reinhard decides doing so would be discourteous to an old man who wishes to become a martyr for a dying democracy.
I am a little surprised that in a little over a year there is a group of young admirals who are merely blood-thirsty. I would guess Reinhard’s rapid rise has inspired these young admirals (Knapfstein and Grillpalzer) who have only looked at his battles won over anything else he has done, and concluded that the only way to rise is to win battles at all costs.
On the eve of the battle, Mittermeyer and Reuenthal have another talk over drinks. The conversation becomes one about Reuenthal’s view of history. He says the history god demands blood to be sacrificed by those in battle, while Mittermeyer takes a view that if peace doesn’t arise out of the unification of the universe, then anything they have done would have been pointless. Reuenthal wonders if the quality of those who die matters more than the quantity, before an angry Mittermeyer cuts him off. They drop the matter before coming to an agreement that the coming battle is just a necessity to confirm the Alliance’s death to all.
Reuenthal definitely speaks the truth here. The deaths of millions of soldiers would not lead to peace as quickly as the deaths of military leaders or important politicians. Mittermeyer, of the belief that every life is important, clearly disagrees with that line of argument.
On the Rio Grande, Bucock is up late finalizing his tactics in taking on Reinhard. Trung is pretty sure he will not disappoint the Kaiser. Bucock says he is aware that in addition to his own death, he is also sending many other men to their deaths. When Trung suggests he becomes a doctor in his next life to balance things out, Bucock can only think of how fortunate his life has been. He’s been able to meet Yang and Reinhard late in his life, but he won’t be around to see the fall of either, as Trung thinks he will gratefully avoid seeing the Alliance’s death as well.
The next day, the battle begins in a narrow corridor of the asteroid field Bucock had decided to stage his last stand in. Grillpalzer breaks through, but Bucock’s strategy takes into account solar winds coming from a nearby star. The winds force the Imperial ships into a cluster and the Allied artillery fire is able to drive Grillpalzer back outside of the corridor. The Imperial fleet waits for Bucock to push forward, but they stay put knowing they would be crushed outside.
Reinhard then decides to change things up and have Knapfstein’s fleet take over for Grillpalzer’s to serve as a diversion for Fahrenheit attacking from the other side. Bucock anticipates this and turns his fleet around to push back Fahrenheit.
Watching this from afar, Reuenthal and Reinhard are able to think through Bucock’s plans just seconds after events happen. They think it would be wise to lay mines in the corridor, and Knapfstein’s fleet is caught in a minefield they would not escape.
Fahrenheit waits for Bucock’s fleet to come out of the corridor, but Carlsen’s fleet ambushes his from the side. Fahrenheit pulls back and hopes for chaos as the 2 Allied fleets cross, but it never happens. Reuenthal then believes the intent of Bucock could be to turn the battle into chaos. A detached Allied force could attack the main fleet from behind as the others buy time. With Müller protecting that part, Reuenthal doesn’t believe it would work.
Reinhard then asks about Yang, which prompts a little feeling of jealousy in Reuenthal. Reuenthal goes on to state that he believes Yang would try to cut off an escape back to Phezzan rather than attack them. Since they have no evidence of Yang possessing a fleet large enough to block the exit to Phezzan, Yang should not be there. Reinhard announces they will proceed to attack the remaining Alliances forces and take Heinessen before returning via Iserlohn.
It says a lot that the fact that Yang is merely breathing is enough to alter Reinhard’s strategy at any time. Reuenthal has to go completely out of his way to prove that Yang will not be there before Reinhard can take a more aggressive position. Vermillion seems to have pretty much killed his confidence on the battlefield in a way.
The battle continues with Fahrenheit struggling with Bucock and Carlsen, while Knapfstein is cutoff by the mines. Carlsen’s fleet gets behind the main Imperial fleet and manages to break through Müller’s defense line.
Thoughts: This was a fairly entertaining episode despite the virtual certainty in how the battle will turn out in the end. Experience once again seems to be superior to youth in these Bucock versus the Empire battles. Eventually, Bucock and Carlsen are going to be defeated by Reinhard or sheer numbers against them eventually. Thinking further ahead, Reinhard’s decision to go back through Iserlohn when this is all over will surely have some ramifications for Yang and de facto fortress commander Julian.