The 84th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the real conclusion to the conflict at Iserlohn. The Empire is informed of Yang’s death and it is generally received badly, except by Mittermeyer who sees the end result of being able to return home. Müller gets to see first hand how the Iserlohn survivors are dealing with their leader’s death before the fleets break off and go their separate ways in the end.
The episode begins with Attenborough and Julian breaking into Poplan’s quarters to get him to stop drinking. Poplan expresses his sadness at being unable to choose who he serves. After Julian stops Poplan from grabbing the next bottle of liquor, Attenborough officially informs Poplan of Julian’s appointment as commander, and if he disagrees with the leadership in any way he would have to leave Iserlohn. Poplan gets up and goes to clean himself up before returning to the bridge and asking not to be abandoned by Julian.
Later, Merkatz walks with Schneider and tells him that for sometime after his defeat in the Lippstadt War he thought it would be better if he had died. He says he had spent most of his first 60 years alive afraid of losing. Now, he feels he has to repay a debt to those who have helped him learn that there was another way of living.
On June 6th, a funeral was held for Yang and his death was publicly announced. Outside the corridor, Imperial ships received the message and Hilde was the one who had to deliver the news to Reinhard. At first he is stunned, but then he becomes angry at the fact that he had never given Yang permission to die at the hands of someone else. Reinhard says he has lost many friends and enemies, but he sees that as leaving him behind. He returns to Yang and says he killed many of his important admirals, but he still had the audacity to die by someone else’s hands. He then says he wants to send someone to Iserlohn to act as his agent. Hilde volunteers herself, but Reinhard says that he wants her to stay by his side before explaining that her position makes her too important to leave. Hilde noticed that she had an unexplained feeling of hope in the middle of Reinhard’s rejection of her offer. Reinhard then decides to send Müller because he personally met Yang after Vermillion.
The feeling of hope from rejection is interesting. Some part of her wants to be by Reinhard, and the fact that Reinhard felt he had to clarify his statement showed a need to maintain emotional distance from her. It’s Frederica and Yang all over again, isn’t it?
The other Imperial admirals took the news just as badly. Bittenfeld continued to believe that Yang was faking his death as part of a scheme to defeat them. Reuenthal was disappointed that Reinhard, even more than the god Odin, was not the one in control of Yang’s fate. Mittermeyer then enquires about Julian as the name is unfamiliar to any of the admirals. The find he was a Lieutenant Junior Grade and Yang’s 18-year-old foster son. Reuenthal and Mittermeyer acknowledge the tough road that lies ahead for Julian since succeeding Yang is an impossible task. Reuenthal believes this means the foundation of democracy is crumbling, while Mittermeyer says that although the conclusion isn’t ideal that at least the war is finally coming to an end.
Of the two Imperial ships that were used in Yang’s assassination, one was destroyed by the Ulysses before the other was caught by Büro’s fleet and destroyed after it resisted. An investigation into how Imperial ships came to be used was halted when ten junior officers committed suicide before they could be interrogated. This, however, revealed just how far the influence of the Terraist movement had penetrated the Imperial military.
Reuenthal and Mittermeyer discuss this matter and others over drinks. Reuenthal says he wouldn’t be surprised if Oberstein were behind this vast conspiracy, but he says that even Oberstein couldn’t wield that much influence. Mittermeyer says he wouldn’t be able to stand it if he could. Mittermeyer then asks about Iserlohn and Reuenthal says they should attack and wipe out the forces remaining at the fortress. Mittermeyer believes that Reinhard will not do so since he does not attack mourning soldiers. He then explains that the reason Reinhard attacked Iserlohn in the first place was because Yang was there, but his death could mean a change in approach. Reuenthal doesn’t see it that way and says that the change in situation does not mean that Reinhard’s initial strategy was wrong. In any case, the approach of the Imperial military would be changing from foreign expeditions to peacekeeping, which will allow someone like Mittermeyer to return home to his wife. Mittermeyer then brings up Elfriede and the child she was pregnant with the last time she was mentioned. Reuenthal says she gave birth about a month earlier to his son, but in all likelihood the son would come to be despised as much as he was and he may even have the same mismatched eyes as well. Mittermeyer tries to make him care about the child, but he can’t relate entirely because he doesn’t have a child himself. Reuenthal says it is better not to have a child because it leads to betrayal. Reuenthal says they should drop the subject.
Mittermeyer tells Reuenthal it will be much harder for them to catch up from now on because of Reuenthal’s new position. They shook hands awkwardly before leaving, before the narrator informs the audience that this will be the last time they ever shake hands or talk over drinks.
In the past, I probably would have criticized the narrator again for spoiling something, but here it actually works. We know they never meet again over drinks, but we don’t know how it gets to that point or how their relationship ultimately ends.
A few days later, Müller left on his mission to Iserlohn as Reinhard ordered a withdrawal just as Mittermeyer predicted he would. While he would have attacked in a similar situation against the nobles, Reuenthal and Mittermeyer were left to wonder if Reinhard was being chivalrous or if he had genuinely changed.
At Iserlohn, there is some apprehension about Müller’s visit, but with the knowledge they have of Reinhard’s tactics and Frederica’s memory of Yang’s positive remarks about Müller they decide to let him visit. Müller pays his respects to Yang before he talks to Frederica about how Yang was the Empire’s greatest opponent before Frederica tells him how much Yang thought of him.
I thought it was rather interesting that Frederica temporarily forgot about her new role. She instinctively went to salute only to remember that her role is now political. It seems there are very few people comfortable with change.
Later, Müller talks to Julian over coffee. He unofficially asks Julian to submit to Reinhard, but Julian asks what Müller would do hypothetically if Reinhard were to die. Müller understands the point, but then notices many people below who are preparing to leave. Julian tells him the whole story before he asks Müller to guarantee their safe return to Heinessen. Schenkopp then walks in and asks if it is true that the deserters are allowed to take supplies, and Julian says only those supplies that can be replaced, since it is the least they can do since they can’t offer pensions or salaries to them. Müller agrees to Julian’s request, but asks Julian if it would be a problem if some of them ended up returning to fight against him. Julian says it would certainly make things difficult, but they have no right to denounce them. They part ways and wish each other well until they meet again on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Reinhard had to continue to fulfill his political responsibilities alone since he could not find anyone who could fulfill political duties as well as his admirals did military duties. The death of Silverberche only made his responsibilities that much harder. Hilde, due to her new position within the military, was now unable to advise Reinhard on political matters. Reinhard was in the process of implementing top down reforms meant to connect the people more directly with the Kaiser.
There’s a little irony in the fact that Reinhard put her in that position so she could be close to him if he needed help, yet because of that she is now unable to help him when he really needs it.
Emil walked in and asked Reinhard to eat some of the food that had been prepared for him. Reinhard reacts angrily and asks why he must eat something because one of his servants demanded he do so. With Emil on the verge of tears, he calms down and tells him he will try to eat as much as he could. After Emil leaves, he takes two sips of soup and was about to go for another sip before Streit interrupted him.
Streit tells Reinhard that Steinmetz had left a will to give his possessions to a woman, but felt Reinhard had to be informed first. Streit says that Steinmetz had a five-year relationship with this woman, which leads Reinhard to ask why he never married. Streit says that because Reinhard was not married Steinmetz and several others serving under him felt they could not be married. Reinhard wonders if this is yet another request for him to be married before he says that any potential successor has to have the ability to rule and not just inherit the position.
Müller returned a few days later and the Imperial fleets withdrew. At this time, Reuenthal left for Heinessen to fulfill his new duties as head of the former Alliance territories. However, Reuenthal was wondering if he was supposed to serve as the cog of the Imperial machine as he thought Reinhard would want. Mittermeyer, on the other hand, talks to Bayerlein about the difficulties they’ve had in the last six months. The Empire had lost Steinmetz, Fahrenheit and Silverberche meaning there would be a succession of funerals on Phezzan. Bayerlein remains optimistic about the rest of the year, which Mittermeyer admonishes him for. Mittermeyer then asks if Bayerlein has a lover back home. Bayerlein says that the fleet was his first love, but then tries to explain that he had tried before but was always unsuccessful. Mittermeyer then tells him that he has taught him military tactics, but there are some things Bayerlein has to learn on his own.
Mittermeyer happens to be the rare exception among the younger admirals in the Imperial fleet. He has a relatively normal life outside the military and a happy relationship with his wife. The rest seem to go from an extreme of social awkwardness disguised as retaining loyalty to Reinhard, or Reuenthal just not caring about others period.
Later, Mittermeyer writes in his diary about the prospects of republican democracy. He had thought that Yang’s death would mean the end of its prospects, but now it could mean it would live on. The biggest threat would be those who would try to use Iserlohn as a symbol to strike against the Empire more than the people currently at the fortess itself. However, Mittermeyer is still glad that he is able to return home to his wife unharmed just as he had promised.
Thoughts: It looks like things are finally calming down. Who will be the first to try to rise up against the Empire using Iserlohn, though? Will the Imperial admirals be forced into fighting each other because they know nothing outside of war? That will probably be the decisive angle for next several episodes. Also, the Church’s influence has to be dealt with at some point, but how hard must it be to track them down?