The 80th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees Yang take on the rest of the Imperial expedition at the entrance of the Iserlohn Corridor. Also, Bittenfeld is called in to account for his actions, while Reuenthal continues to have second thoughts about his future serving under Reinhard. Later, Reuenthal hatches a plan to break into the corridor before Reinhard and Yang can once again resume their fight against each other.
The episode begins with Reinhard learning that Bittenfeld and Fahrenheit were engaged in combat with Yang. He is livid that they could possibly think of stealing the glory for themselves, but he also knows that Yang probably succeeded in luring Bittenfeld into a fight. Reinhard’s fleet moves faster toward Iserlohn where it encounters Bittenfeld’s returning fleet and the remains of Fahrenheit’s fleet. At Iserlohn, Frederica informs the rest of the crew that Katerose returned safely after shooting down one enemy ship.
After losing over 16,000 ships and suffering over 1.7 million casualties, Bittenfeld was prepared for the worst as he faced Reinhard and the other admirals. After admonishing him for falling into Yang’s trap, Reinhard expresses some relief that Bittenfeld’s error was in character for him. He tells Bittenfeld that he must provide him his full capabilities in the coming battle with Yang because that is what Fahrenheit would have wanted. Reuenthal then asks Reinhard if this means the battle will be “victory or death,” but Reinhard confidently says it is actually victory or a more perfect victory.
Back at Iserlohn, Merkatz and Schneider openly mourned Fahrenheit’s death, which seemed to cause resentment with the rest of the crew. Attenborough then enters the room and tells Yang that he has finished placing 5 million mines at the entrance of the corridor. Murai asks if that will change the Imperial strategy, but Yang says it will not. However, for the first time Reinhard will not be able to control the place of battle in his opinion.
Outside the corridor, the Imperial admirals met to discuss strategy. The placement of mines further complicated the situation. Steinmetz said he believed that it was a case of Yang trying to buy time since even they could not fight continuously. Bittenfeld proposed that they use zephyr particles to create holes in the minefield, but Reuenthal said that would make them easy targets as they exited the minefield.
That idea wasn’t entirely dismissed as Reuenthal presented his plan to Reinhard, who was pleased with the plan and could find nothing that was missed. He later presented Mittermeyer with the plan, and he could find nothing wrong with it. As his friend was looking over the plan though, Reuenthal could not help but wonder if he really wanted Reinhard to win. Reuenthal then states his opinion that only 4 other people could defeat him; those being Reinhard, Yang, Merkatz and Mittermeyer, but with three of the best admirals united against the other two that would trim down those who could defeat him. Mittermeyer, clearly uncomfortable talking about this, tells Reuenthal that there is no point in having that kind of discussion. Reuenthal then changes topic to something they can both relate to; wine.
The next day, Reinhard took command of the fleets attempting to break through the corridor. First was Brauhitz, whose minesweepers cleared a path through the minefield in about half a day. After breaking through, his fleet was subjected to fire from Yang’s fleet. Then, five holes were made in the minefield using zephyr particles. Unable to concentrate on six points of entry with limited resources, Yang’s fleet offered little resistance as the remaining Imperial ships sailed through Brauhitz’s original path.
After it was revealed the zephyr particles holes were just feints, I was thinking that was the exact moment that Yang lost his touch. As they’ve accumulated experience fighting each other, the Imperial admirals have become better at making adjustments to Yang than he has.
Now in the corridor, the Imperial forces were met with greater resistance after the presence of the Brünhild was detected by Yang’s fleet. Mittermeyer took command of the tactics and tried an ambitious strategy to lure part of Yang’s fleet into a trap, but breaks in communication caused it to fail. He then moved up to the front in his own flagship and sent Beyerlein forward to attack. However, Bayerlein was outmaneuvered by Attenborough’s group while Merkatz kept the rest of Mittermeyer’s fleet at bay. Mittermeyer then ordered his fleet to reorganize and settle into a war of attrition with Yang, which led to a stalemate.
After last week’s mini-discussion on Attenborough’s ability as fleet admiral, I think this scene probably confirms his place at the same level as the 2nd-tier Imperial admirals, but still well below the big 5 that Reuenthal came up with earlier.
The next day, Merkatz came up with a plan that Yang agreed to implement. Attenborough, Merkatz and Yang took turns attacking the left flank of the Imperial fleet, which forced Mittermeyer to provide cover for that position. At that moment, Morino’s small force rushed desperately at the Brünhild, but were blocked by Steinmetz’s fleet. After 30 minutes, it looked as though Steinmetz would prevail, when Yang’s fleet moved in and decimated Steinmetz’s fleet from the side with the Imperial admiral ultimately perishing in the skirmish.
After Fahrenheit’s death in the last episode, where he was able to give a message to someone before he died, and able to remember part of his life, I thought that they would give Steinmetz something similar. Instead, he is left alone in his final moments calling for dead subordinates and finally for his wife. This was probably the reminder needed to show that not all deaths on the battlefield are cinematic in quality, and even tragic.
After learning of Steinmetz’s death, Reinhard instantly appointed Hilde to Steinmetz’s role as Staff Superintendent, but makes clear that her only role would be to advise him. Then, Reuenthal came up with another plan to surround Yang’s fleet. He would have the Brünhild pull back while a specialist fleet led by Alexander Waldhauser forced Yang’s fleet to move forward. Reinhard reluctantly agrees, but Yang’s fleet moves to quickly and soon finds itself right underneath Reinhard. However, Reinhard directs artillery fire at the right angle to decimate Yang’s fleet and force them to pull back, while he ordered all Imperial forces into a temporary retreat.
Thoughts: With Yang and the rest of the Iserlohn crew pretty much doomed, it looks like the Reuenthal/Reinhard angle will come to dominate much of the rest of the series. There’s still 2 episodes remaining in this season, and I fully expect them to be incredibly dramatic. The Earth Church ships still haven’t arrived, but it is only a matter of time.