The 79th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the start of conflict in the Iserlohn Corridor. Sensing an opportunity to take advantage of the Imperial fleets, Yang forces Mecklinger onto the back foot before directing his attention at Fahrenheit and Bittenfeld. The Magician lays down another trap, but will the offensive-minded admirals fall into it?The episode begins with Bittenfeld understandably upset at Attenborough’s reply to his demand. However, he also receives another message from Merkatz which stating a desire to surrender to Reinhard and bring Iserlohn down from the inside. Bittenfeld and Fahrenheit immediately deduce that it is a trap, and in all likelihood Merkatz volunteered himself as a sacrifice to catch the both of them off-guard. They decide to wait until the next transmission from Iserlohn to act, as Fahrenheit finds himself increasingly uncomfortable in his role of calling for restraint.
Just a thought, but was Fahrenheit ever called an offensive-minded general prior to this point? It just seems natural that he would have been more like Merkatz than the ultra-attacking Bittenfeld.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the corridor, Mecklinger knowingly had to act with restraint. He had been ordered to monitor the other side of the corridor in the event that Yang had decided to move in that direction. Suddenly, his fleet is approached by 20,000 ships from Iserlohn, and Mecklinger orders an immediate retreat. He says that though they could engage with the enemy fleet now, the risk that they could break though and head directly to Odin was too great a risk.
Mecklinger had assumed that the size of the fleet from Iserlohn meant that the fortress held 50,000 ships, but in fact they were dealing with the whole Iserlohn fleet. This was part of a plan by Yang to take advantage of the massive size of the Imperial forces. Since communication lines were so long, information about Yang’s movements took days to travel from one side of the corridor to the other, which allowed the strategies on Mecklinger’s fleet as well as Fahrenheit’s and Bittenfeld’s to work well.
A few days later, Bittenfeld receives a transmission that says Merkatz is heading out to surrender to him. Bittenfeld and Attenborough then take turns trying to lure each other into separate traps before the former gains the upper hand and begins to chase Attenborough into the corridor. Watching from afar, Fahrenheit says that Bittenfeld should have contacted Reinhard first, but ultimately he has to move in to protect Bittenfeld’s fleet. He also expresses some relief that he would not have to deal with the burden of being the one who fired first.
It was at this point that I became pretty sure this was going to fail. I didn’t foresee the conclusion, but the implication of potential blame seems to signal downfall in this series for whatever reason.
As Bittenfeld’s fleet enters the corridor, they immediately run into the rest of Yang’s fleet who are utilizing the narrow space of the corridor to their advantage. Fahrenheit’s fleet then arrives and makes lateral movement impossible as both fleets take heavy fire from all sides. With the option of retreating available, Bittenfeld decides to attempt to break through the middle of Yang’s formation, which catches them off-guard but is ultimately contained. Fahrenheit’s fleet, given the opportunity to reorganize takes it before attacking Yang’s left side sensing weakness. That maneuver, combined with Bittenfeld taking an attrition strategy puts further strain on Yang’s fleet. However, with their own numbers depleting, Bittenfeld takes an opportunity to retreat temporarily and reorganize. Fahrenheit’s fleet then finds itself in trouble, which leads to Bittenfeld charging right back in and both fleets find themselves surrounded again.
I thought the exchanges between the two sides were entertaining and showcased a sense of panic that seemed to be missing from several recent battles. Yang’s trap, while entirely predictable in its results was at least entertaining in its execution.
As Merkatz orders fighters to be deployed, Katerose suddenly finds herself in the position of entering combat for the first time. She tries to put up a brave face for Poplan, who realizes that she is afraid, but after a few encouraging words from him, she is sent out on her first sortie. Motivated mainly by a need not to embarrass herself, she quickly gains confidence and begins firing on enemy fighters.
Seeing the deployment of fighters, Fahrenheit immediately deduces that Merkatz must be coordinating strategy. After remembering the last time he met Merkatz, Fahrenheit orders fire to be concentrated on one spot in an attempt to breakthrough in an attempt to retreat. The strategy works only as far as opening up space to do so, but it means they would be taking fire from all directions as they retreated. Fahrenheit orders the rest of his fleet through while staying behind to make sure the rest of the ships were able to escape.
Fahrenheit’s ship ends up taking a direct hit from fire which ends up killing most of the bridge crew and mortally wounding Fahrenheit himself. As the end is near, Fahrenheit can’t help but reflect on his life. He had to join the military in order to eat as a young boy, and in the end he had the opportunity to serve under someone like Reinhard. Before his death, another boy runs up to him begging him to escape, but sensing his imminent death, he asks for a keepsake to take to Reinhard. Fahrenheit says that living and being able to tell Reinhard his story would be enough, then he passes away. The boy is able to escape with other injured men, and ultimately Fahrenheit’s actions saved the fleet from complete destruction.
Thoughts: I suppose in the scheme of things, another Yang destroys Imperial admirals episode wasn’t surprising. He was able to use the corridor, lines of communication and mentality of his opponents to get the victory. However, I think it can be safely stated that Attenborough is nowhere near the level of Bittenfeld, Merkatz or Yang as he was lucky to make it to the 2nd phase of Yang’s trap. Also, I was surprised at the emotional effect that Fahrenheit’s death had. I suppose any admiral’s death seems to have that effect now. Moving on, I wonder how Bittenfeld is going to have to take responsibility for this.