It could be said that the 78th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes descends into narrative farce at a certain point, but this episode is devoted mostly to preparations on Iserlohn. Bittenfeld’s message is received and a response has to be prepared by Attenborough. In the background, Julian has to deal with his awkwardness around Katerose, which allows him to bond once again with Yang. At the same time, the Earth Church’s plan for Andrew Fork becomes very apparent, very quickly.
The episode begins with some banter between Attenborough and Poplan about a slogan for the Iserlohn forces. The former laments that the best they can come up with is “Die, Kaiser!” since they seem to have to rely on Reinhard for inspiration. They then receive Bittenfeld’s message demanding immediate surrender. After listening to it, Yang debates the merits of responding and how serious the demand is with Frederica and Julian, before coming to an agreement that they will just send a minimal message in response.
Meanwhile, Romsky and one of his subordinates discuss selling out Yang. Romsky is told that luring Yang to El Facil by informing him of a deal for autonomy in exchange for Iserlohn and arresting him would secure their own future. Romsky sees it differently in that it would ruin the spirit of democracy, and based on how Lebello’s assassins were treated, they would see a similar fate. While this statement spared Romsky the same fate as Lebello, the El Facil government had to do something to save itself. So it declared the planet defenseless and moved the government to Iserlohn.
At this point I was thinking that Romsky was selling out Yang in the worst possible way. At least with El Facil functioning, Yang had an option with which to negotiate for autonomy. With every democratic force located on Iserlohn, it makes it that much easier for the seeds to be destroyed.
Yang continues to strategize alone later. He illustrates the strategic and political importance of the fortress in stretching Imperial supply lines and in providing some sign of resistance for democracy. It is therefore, an important bargaining chip for peace negotiations with the Empire; only if they can force Reinhard to the negotiating table.
Julian interrupts him and Yang begins to talk about how Reinhard views him as much better than he really is. Then he tells Julian of the offer Reinhard made him after Vermillion, and how he turned him down because he couldn’t serve an autocratic dictator. Julian makes a comment about how their fates seem predetermined, but Yang holds him up on that. He says it is too easy to call anything “predetermined,” and that it creates an excuse for failure. Yang tells Julian that he makes plenty of mistakes and wants to be held responsible for all of them. He goes on to say that he isn’t as confident about the coming battle as everyone thinks he is. He admits the best thing for everyone else at the fortress might be defeat since Reinhard would likely treat them well.
So now begins some foreshadowing in Yang stating that his existence actually poses a physical threat to the rest of the fortress’ crew. Now I’m getting a little worried about him.
Later, Julian happens upon Katerose walking through a corridor. He admires her from a distance for her ability to multitask until she walks straight into a wall. Julian stops to help her pick some tools that she dropped up when she expresses envy toward him and he responds to it by say saying he is surrounded by good teachers, with the most important being Schenkopp. She criticizes her father’s promiscuity which leads Julian to criticize her mother before the both storm off in opposite directions as Cazellnu watches.
Cazellnu later talks to his wife about Julian. He says that he seems more awkward than he thought, which Hortence blames on the people that Julian has lived around. Yang had given Julian a proper education, but taught Julian little as far as social skills. Cazellnu wonders if that is a criticism of his choice to have Julian live with Yang, but she still agrees with that decision before turning the conversation around on him by asking if he was having regrets.
Later, Schenkopp and Poplan gave Attenborough some stick about his exclusion from a party simply for being over 30. Julian walks in and sits next to Attenborough when asked. Attenborough had been deliberating over the response to Bittenfeld for some time and he felt that he should use the most powerful phrase in the universe in this situation. That being “So what?”. Attenborough believed that their situation couldn’t possibly get any worse, even if they were resorting to whim. Either way, it was not as though anyone in the fortress seemed worried at all about their situation. Attenborough says turning serious on Bittenfeld wouldn’t help him, and he says that each battle requires a different strategy. This has Julian thinking of his own strategy in dealing with Katerose.
That night, Julian arrived at Yang’s quarters and yelled out in frustration waking up Yang and Frederica. Yang asks what is wrong, and Julian says he’s realized his own immaturity. Yang offers him a drink on reaching half-maturity, and Julian coughs as he tries to down the drink. Though it seemed as though the conversation should have focused on relationships, the two realized that it would have to be left on its own. Instead they discussed their present situation and the role of public opinion in government. Yang says his goal is to plant the seeds of democracy so they can fight against future misdeeds by the rulers that follow after Reinhard. However, its revealed that this is the last time the two will ever talk through the night.
And this last line is just absolutely frustrating in that it would only be acceptable to someone watching this series as a historian. Why not just throw put up a huge graphic on screen revealing which character is going to die? A little subtlety and awareness of the drama of the situation would go far here. Yes, I also know it would be totally out of character for the series in general to place drama over information, but I will never win.
Elsewhere, De Villier feeds Andrew Fork some misinformation on Yang. He tells Fork that he is the true hero of republican democracy, and that Yang plans to join Reinhard in a unified autocratic government. De Villier then tells him that Yang has denied him the rank of Fleet Admiral that he surely would have obtained by now, and to restore his honor he has to kill Yang. After leaving the room, De Villier says he is doing Fork a favor by making his name remembered in infamy, rather than forgotten as a talentless man.
Back at Iserlohn, Attenborough presents his response for Bittenfeld to Yang and the rest of the officers. The message is crude and insults Bittenfeld’s combat history and personality. There’s some hesitancy in the possibility it could force a direct clash with Bittenfeld and Fahrenheit immediately most vocally voiced by Murai and Schenkopp, but Merkatz argues for a plan that would start a battle as soon as the message was sent and could inflict significant psychological damage on Reinhard. Yang wavers slightly before deciding in the end to go along with Merkatz’s plan.
Thoughts: I really, really dislike the narration once again. Now it’s becoming obvious that Fork will manage to kill someone important. Since Jesus Minci is Jesus Minci it means it’s probably Yang. The question for me is, will the battle for Iserlohn be decided before Reinhard even makes it to the battlefield?