The 72nd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the conclusion of the Battle of Marr-Adetta. Bucock and Carlsen come to the end of their respective struggles. In the aftermath of the battle, the retaking of Iserlohn by Yang becomes known to Reinhard and the other admirals. This leads to more hindsight and wonder if a certain person were still alive.
The episode picks up where the last one ended with Carlsen and Bucock’s fleets breaking through Müller’s fleet. They are cut off from each other and the Empire’s main fleet rather quickly. Bucock, however, has another trick up his sleeve and stalls for time until another burst of solar wind comes from Marr-Adetta. The Imperial fleets are caught out by the surprise and Bucock’s fleet is able to break through and advance at the rest of the Imperial fleet.
Their progress inevitable stops against far superior numbers, though they do force Reinhard to move his flagship back. Trung and Bucock realize they will never get to him. The situation changes a little more when Bittenfeld and the Black Lancers arrive. While Reuenthal wants him to be cautious, Reinhard overrules him saying that it would take away from the strength of Bittenfeld.
Carlsen, meanwhile, has completely run out of ammunition his flagship can no longer defend itself. He tells his executive officer that he couldn’t go to a military academy when he was younger, but because of the era he was in he was able to prove the elitists at the top of the military that he was capable. He was able to get to the position of commanding a fleet and nearly being able to fight Reinhard solely on pride and will to prove people wrong. However, it wasn’t enough and Carlsen dies with his ship.
I was never really expecting to hear much of anything important out of the mouth of Carlsen. His own personal struggle to rise up to the top of the military is admirable for his character. It also reveals that the Alliance military’s higher-ups were just as corrupt as those in the Goldenbaum-era Empire.
Hearing the news of Carlsen’s death, Bucock issues an order to his remaining ships that they can leave if they want. Bucock, of course, intends to stay behind to make sure they get away safely and can join with Yang. A few other ships stay behind believing that Bucock can’t do it alone.
At the same time, Hilde urges Reinhard to request a surrender as a sign of the greatness of the victor. Reinhard relents, but has Mittermeyer contact Bucock with the offer. In response, Bucock asks to speak directly to Reinhard.
Bucock praises Reinhard’s talents, but quickly says he cannot serve under him. As Trung pours some drinks, Bucock goes on to say that while Yang could be a friend of Reinhard’s he would never serve under him. Bucock then states his belief that democracy is about making friends on equal terms without a master-servant relationship. He says he wants to have good friends and be a good friend to others, but he could never think about a good master or being a good servant. Bucock concludes by saying he knows Reinhard would have no use for someone like him and Trung proposes a toast to democracy.
Reinhard grabs his pendant and hesitates in making a decision until he notices Reuenthal observing him. Eventually, the attacks resume on Bucock’s remaining ships. However, he is able to take one last toast before the Rio Grande is destroyed. Reinhard thinks about what Bucock says and questions aloud how a stranger could understand anything. He remembers his experiences with Kircheis again. He then issues orders for all personnel to salute Bucock as they pass through the area where his ship once was before he tells Reuenthal that he will have to fight another admiral in the same fashion in the future.
Bucock’s demise is probably my favorite moment in the series to date. In a way it is tragic. Carlsen’s struggle with the elites in the military has coincided with Bucock’s entire career in the military. The only reforms came out of circumstances rather than any real effort. Bucock spent his entire career advocating for democracy and having everyone on equal footing, but he was ultimately powerless. On a much different note, if I had to choose how to go out, I would definitely choose something like this.
Later, Reinhard talks to Emil, who says he wants to brag about his journey to his friends back home. Reinhard offers him a chance to take a vacation, but Emil says he would follow Reinhard anywhere in the galaxy, and even to another galaxy. Reinhard jokingly says that his ambition extends only to this galaxy and that Emil can control any of the others that he wants.
The victory celebration is short-lived as Lutz is finally able to contact Reinhard and inform him that Iserlohn has been retaken by Yang. Fahrenheit raises fears of some sort of coordinated strategy, but Hilde puts those to rest by arguing that the two events are independent of each other. Yang would have tried to fight at Marr-Adetta because only he would have had a chance of winning, while Bucock would have taken Iserlohn because Yang could give him the tactics to use. In addition, the sacrifice of Bucock would be unacceptable to him and would lead to a loss of respect by others. Reinhard then tells Lutz that his punishment will be issued to him later, but he will be put on leave in the mean time. Reinhard then tells Reuenthal that his accomplishment in taking Iserlohn lasted less than a year.
The rift between Reuenthal and Reinhard seems to be growing. It’s moved on from Reuenthal refusing to see any sign of weakness in Reinhard, to now actively seeking something that will give him an edge. Reinhard’s cynical comment just provides more motivation to Reuenthal to act.
Reuenthal takes this statement in a complicated way. While Lutz was immediately responsible, Reuenthal should have taken care to fully examine the fortress before leaving. Also, Reinhard could also take his share of the blame for underestimating Iserlohn’s strategic importance. This leads to a conversation between Mittermeyer and Reuenthal who find it strange that the Empire seems afraid of nothing except the name of Yang Wen-li. Mittermeyer says if Yang had a larger force, maybe fate would have favored him. However, they both agree that the situation would be different if Kircheis were still alive. Reuenthal says they would still have control of Iserlohn, while Mittermeyer says Oberstein never would have been able to exercise tyrannical control over the military as he does now.
Even 47 episodes after his death, Kircheis still casts a shadow on everything within the Empire. Reuenthal bringing him up in conversation was rather interesting. It is almost like he was trying to get Mittermeyer to confirm something that would justify making a move against Reinhard. Something that could prove he was actually superior to him.
The next day, Reinhard tells Hilde they urgently need to attack Heinessen to prevent Yang from having any sort of political control. Hilde shakes her head in disagreement and says they only have to approach slowly, until the Alliance government topples itself. Hilde argues it a bit further and Reinhard agrees and orders the fleet to move toward Heinessen slowly.
Thoughts: This was definitely my favorite episode to date. The deaths of the featured characters in this episode definitely had meaning, even where it was totally unexpected. What will be interesting to see is Yang’s response to Bucock’s death. Since they are going to take their sweet time getting to Heinessen, will the Empire ultimately be responsible for Lebello’s impending heart attack/stroke/brain aneurysm? I suppose Julian will also have to re-enter the picture, for better or worse.