The 83rd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes picks up from Yang’s tragic death in the last episode. After Julian discovers the body, he and everyone left in the Yang Fleet have to come to grips with the death of their leader. In the aftermath, the rest of the leaders on Iserlohn have to make a decision on who will lead them politically and militarily, leading to a surprise choice or two. However, there are also dissenters who decide that they can not continue fighting the Empire in the state they are in, and they elect to leave persuaded by the choice of another one of Yang’s men.
The episode begins with Julian discovering Yang’s body. After overcoming the shock of what he had seen, he says that he regrets not being there for Yang when he needed him most. He then remembers the times he had told Yang that he would protect him. At this point, a group of seven men from the Imperial ship walk around the corner and are spotted by Julian. Julian goes on a murderous rampage and kills all of them brutally before Mashengo restrains him and urges him to think about what to do with Yang’s body. After calming down, Julian says they should head back to Iserlohn. As Mashengo carries Yang’s body away, Julian remembers more of his life with Yang and begins crying.
Elsewhere on the ship, the Rosen Ritter stand around Blumehart who asks Schenkopp if Yang is okay. Schenkopp says that Julian was on his way to help him so he should be alright. Blumehart is comforted by this and comments that things would be less interesting from now on if Yang were dead before he dies from his wounds.
Then, Julian walks in and Schenkopp has just enough time to say that the assassins were just men in Imperial uniform before Mashengo walks in with Yang’s body. Schenkopp at first denies what he is seeing in saying that he cannot play a role in such a tragic play before saluting Yang and handing Julian a piece of Earth Church paraphernalia. Realizing who was behind Yang’s assassination, Julian begins to wonder if his investigation led to the events of the day.
Schenkopp’s reaction is pretty telling here. He had never really seen himself as a tragic figure before. He was always the one trying to get Yang to do what someone in his position wishes they could do. Now his reason for existing since that afternoon in the cafeteria is gone.
Schenkopp then ordered the withdrawal back to Iserlohn of all personnel along with a few of the living Church members and Soul, who was still clinging to life. The bodies of Yang, Patrichev and Blumehart were also transported back to Iserlohn. However, the bodies of Romsky and the rest of the revolutionary government were left behind, which was an act that would later be criticized by others.
As they head back to Iserlohn, several of the Rosen Ritter members want to take revenge for Yang immediately since they are certain they will get nothing off the Church members. After demanding the right to throw their bodies into the Ulysses’ nuclear reactor, Schenkopp placates the group by saying there is a much bigger one at Iserlohn. The group leaves the room leaving Schenkopp and Julian to talk about the future.
Schenkopp wonders how they can continue fighting, while Julian can’t stop thinking about how Yang had always done the thinking. Yang had done all of the tactics and strategies as well as giving them a reason to fight in the first place, now there was no one to take his place in Julian’s mind. Schenkopp wonders if they should just surrender since it seems natural to have a private military group collapse with the removal of its leader. Then he says even if they want to continue to fight Reinhard they need a leader to unify them. Julian says it would be impossible for someone to succeed Yang. Schenkopp then says there is another issue that has to be resolved, who will inform Frederica of her husband’s death. They both believe that Cazellnu’s wife would be the best person for this, as Schenkopp remarks that men are pathetic at times like this. At this moment, Julian realizes that if Schenkopp is struggling with his emotions this badly, there would be no telling how bad the crew at Iserlohn would take it when they found out.
A few hours later, they ships arrive back at Iserlohn where Julian is greeted by Attenborough, Cazellnu and Merkatz. Cazellnu says that if things had worked out as they should Yang would have died before Julian, so it make sense. However, he begins to break down when he says that he was not meant to see off Yang. Julian then asks where Poplan is, and Attenborough says that he has shut himself off in his room with plenty of alcohol because he had nothing to say to a dead Yang. Julian asks about Frederica, and Cazellnu says that she doesn’t know yet and he assumed Julian would be informing her. Julian says he didn’t think he could and that Cazellnu’s wife would be a better choice.
Outside Frederica’s room, Cazellnu’s wife tells Julian in front of the other officers that he must be the one to tell her. She says that he will regret not being the one to tell her more than if he was the one who did. Eventually he decides to do it. After struggling to get a few words out, Frederica comes to the conclusion on her own that her husband died because that would be the only thing Julian would struggle to tell her. He tells her the story, before Frederica tells him she should have realized earlier because of the way the others were acting. She goes on to say Yang didn’t deserve to die in the way he did, but instead she presents her own interpretation for how he should have died. He would have been an old man almost forgotten by history for his exploits who would one day die quietly sitting in a chair with a book in his lap failing to answer the call of one of his grandchildren. She goes on to say that she always thought of him as the one person who would always return from the brink of death. Then, she says it could actually be appropriate and she thinks of him bowing apologetically at Bucock at that moment because he was entrusted with the future but followed him within six months. She then asks Julian to leave so she can be on her own.
Frederica’s vision of Yang’s death as an old man is touching in a way. It is completely peaceful and I think a lot of people would want to go out in the same way. It beats some of the brutal ways people have died in the last few episodes.
Later, Attenborough, Cazellnu, Schenkopp and Julian talk about the next step. Attenborough says they need new political and military leaders if they are to continue fighting for republican democracy. Attenborough says that there is only one person who could take on the role of political leader, Frederica. He says that no one else would be trusted enough to hold up Yang’s ideals than she, and if she refuses they may as well give up. Julian is certain that she would refuse and he also objects to her selection. Cazellnu says that the 2nd generation is the most important for establishing a form of government, and since Yang had always refused to take power, Frederica would be an acceptable choice as leader. Julian dismisses that idea as a silly theory before walking out of the meeting.
The others continue to talk about who would lead them militarily. Julian’s refusal to accept the choice of Frederica would make it that much harder to choose Julian as military leader. As someone who listened to Yang’s theories and advice on military strategy, he would seem to be a direct successor to Yang, but Schenkopp is certain there will be deserters, starting with those associated with El Facil. Cazellnu says that deserters are acceptable because they have to maintain the core of their operations. If people want to leave, the three agree to let them.
The next day, Cazellnu asked Frederica to become their political representative. Sensing there were no other choices, she accepted. She said that although she would not always be giving orders, she asked Cazellnu for his assistance in making sure that any directions she gave would be followed. After that, Julian was called into another meeting by Schenkopp and Cazellnu and was asked to become the head of the military. Julian is shocked by the proposal and says that Attenborough would be a better choice since he became a fleet admiral at a younger age than Yang, but Cazellnu says that Attenborough wished to remain a behind-the-scenes figure. Also, Cazellnu and Schenkopp said they wished to be the same and would support Julian at all times. Julian says he needs some time to think about it.
At this point, I thought that the decision to make Julian leader was a way for the others to dodge responsibility. They are putting their hopes on potential alone, while knowing that if anyone else led, they would almost certainly fail.
Julian goes to Frederica for advice and she asks him why he doesn’t just accept the offer. He says that he can’t replace Yang and that the talent gap is much too large, but Frederica says that the gap is personality more than talent. There are things that Yang could do that Julian can’t, but there are also things that Julian can do that Yang couldn’t. She then relates more to her 14 years of knowing Yang and says that she is taking on the role of political representative because she can’t bare to see the thing he built collapsing. She also remembers Yang saying that terrorism has never changed history. Julian decides that he cannot run away any longer, but then Frederica breaks down and says she wouldn’t care if democracy existed or the universe was destroyed as long as she could be with Yang again.
Unrest at Iserlohn began to spread after Yang’s death was publicly announced, and it was amplified further by the announcement that Julian would be elevated to replace him. A group of soldiers confront Attenborough about Julian and they think that they could have picked from any one of a number of officers whose accomplishments are greater than Julian’s. Attenborough says they need to be looking to the future instead of the past. They then dismiss him as too young and say they can’t see him the same way as someone like Reinhard. Attenborough then pounds the table and asks “so what?”
Funny how a throwaway line from several episodes previous can actually be relevant now. Attenborough said that the “so what” line was the most powerful phrase in the universe. He puts it to good effect here in immediately stopping a potential mutiny against the selection of Julian.
The next day, Murai made a visit to see Julian. He tells Julian that he wants to fulfill one last mission for the Yang Fleet. He says he will leave and take all of the deserters and other unsettled soldiers away from Iserlohn. After trying to convince him to stay, Murai tells him that he is no longer of any use to Julian, and since Fischer and Patrichev are dead he is feeling lonely. Julian lets him do as he wishes. As he leaves, Attenborough stops him in a corridor and says that Murai always had to play a thankless role as one who enforced order. Murai says that his departure will give them all the freedom he leaves, and though he may be hated by those left behind, it is a role much easier than the one that awaits Attenborough and the others.
Later, the remaining members of the revolutionary government call Julian to tell him that they have decided to disband the government. They tell him that they were mostly dragged along by Romsky’s wishes. Julian angrily asks them if they thought Romsky was a despot. They do not respond to that question, but they say that with no political or military leader they have little choice but to disband and focus on peace with humanity united under the Empire. Julian simply thanks them for their service before leaving. He understands what a thankless task Murai is doing by taking away those who want to leave.
Thoughts: The first Yang-less episode is a pretty good example of what happens with the loss of leadership. Seemingly irrational decisions on replacements lead to retroactive rationalization. Still Julian to lead the military? That seems to be the most sci-fi cliche piece of writing to date in the series. At least Frederica makes sense as a political figure. So how will the Empire deal with the negotiating power of a Julian-Frederica partnership rather than Yang and Romsky? Will conflict end immediately or will it pick up after the Empire learns of Yang’s death? Also, how will Reinhard deal with the fact that he will never be able to defeat Yang? Finally, what will be the response to the Earth Church?