The 88th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes takes place entirely on Iserlohn and revolves almost entirely around Julian. His appointment as commander remained unpopular in some areas which leads to a confrontation in this episode. Also, Julian hatches an idea to get the Empire to embrace some democratic ideas. As the fortress continues to cope with the loss of Yang, there is finally some news from Heinessen about the re-emergence of one Job Trunicht.
The episode begins with a summary of the events at Iserlohn and the fact that the Frederica and Julian are in their posts because they were the “only” choices rather than the “right” choice. This continued to lead to resentment among those remaining on the fortress.
Then, as Julian sits down on a park bench, he is approached by a 13-year-old boy who can only state his admiration for the military commander. Julian, though, says that he doesn’t see himself as remarkable, but in the process he realizes that the kid shares the same feelings he did toward Yang 5 years earlier. After the kid departs, Julian wonders if feelings are passed like torches and that it must be the responsibility of those who inherit the feelings to maintain them.
I liked this scene for a couple of reasons. First, it allows Julian to reconnect with his youth for a small amount of time in remembering a time when he could just idolize Yang instead of brutally killing enemies. Second, it establishes that he has a need to live up to Yang’s reputation and not his own.
Meanwhile, Attenborough and Poplan talk about the people still at the base. Attenborough recently kicked some men off the base who complained that they wouldn’t mind being there if Yang were still alive. He says he wishes he were like a director of a third-rate anime, where such characters could be brought back, but that isn’t possible. The two then begin jokingly talking about politics within the base with Attenborough taking on the role of the Trunicht figure with his actions. Poplan, though, is gathering support of children with a longer view for getting power. Attenborough writes a few notes down in his book, which Poplan says is typically not very good prose. Then Attenborough gets to thinking about how they are cleaning up after Yang’s festival and the fact that the Empire considers them refugees incapable of being a part of a power struggle as they are extreme outsiders.
Back at the park, Julian gets up and acknowledges an opinion similar to Attenborough’s but says that he is proud that being on the frontier of civilization gives them the freedom to choose not to be objects of obedience to Reinhard. He then runs into Katerose who tells him that it is well known that Julian goes to that bench everyday to contemplate since it was Yang’s bench. They then continue to walk together with Katerose talking about how she never viewed Yang as important until he died, yet she can remember every conversation she had with him. She says that Yang’s importance in history will grow as time passes. Then, Julian is confronted by a soldier who blames him for not preventing Yang’s death. He continues to take abuse from the soldier as Katerose becomes angry at the fact Julian is taking it passively. She interrupts the argument to state that Julian is more than welcome to respond to the comments and protect his own rights. The soldier then continues and states that Yang was useless for being assassinated by terrorists instead of on the battlefield. Julian reacts angrily and takes hold of him and questions his opinion that deaths on the battlefield are more important. Poplan then steps in and puts the soldier in his place by saying Julian is taking on much more responsibility than he is. After the soldier walks away, Poplan invites the 2 of them for coffee as Schenkopp looks on proudly from a distance.
Here’s another interesting character profile in the confrontation. Initially, Julian plays it just as Yang would, incredibly diplomatically. Katerose, then confirms that she is most definitely Schenkopp’s daughter in presenting Julian with options that most people would want to take in his position. When Yang is mentioned, Julian finally breaks from the Yang in going after the man. This is an important moment in Julian trying to find his own way in life rather than following the existing path laid by Yang.
In Cazellnu’s office, Schenkopp talks about how Julian seems determined to make up for being unable to save Yang by taking on his ideals. Schenkopp says they should get rid of anyone who doesn’t see what Julian is trying to do, but Cazellnu says that wouldn’t conform to the type of society they are trying to build. Cazellnu laments democracy’s self-restraint before moving on to the topic of history. Julian, like Yang, doesn’t look like a hero, but will ultimately have to take the same path. He also wonders if history will remember Julian as Yang’s protege, or Yang as Julian’s teacher. Cazellnu says the only thing they know for sure is that they are a bunch of people who never give up. Schenkopp can’t argue with that as he leaves.
Later, Julian tells Attenborough they should make the Empire create a constitution. He thinks that if they are forced to adhere to one, the Empire could be changed to a republican democracy through the backdoor. Julian says that though they are fighting the Empire, having one nation under a constitutional government would be the ideal situation for civilization. The conversation then turns to a military one, Julian is sure that Reinhard is busy trying to unify space with Phezzan at the center. Julian says if Yang were still alive that would be different. Attenborough, though, is glad that Phezzan is keeping the Kaiser busy because it allows them to buy some time.
While getting the Empire to stand by a constitution is a worthwhile idea, I have to say it is horribly naive. A constitution by itself is worthless without laws to back it, so ultimately it could be an entirely worthless piece of paper without Reinhard creating a framework to reinforce it.
Though the possibility of an attack was limited, the soldiers on the base continued to prepare for such a possibility. Also, there was an element among the younger generation to use the experience to escape their memories of Yang. Soul was the lone survivor, which Julian said allowed the rest of the men at Iserlohn to console themselves. The time also allowed Julian to spend time putting together a compilation of notes and memos of his time with Yang, which allowed him in a way to spend more time with him. Julian then recalled a time during the coup that Yang had danced with joy at discovering the location of the 11th fleet, only to then have the gravity of the situation hit him that he would be destroying another Alliance fleet. However, he had to defeat them because it would defeat the military coup. Julian states how much they relied on Yang, and he wonders how Yang would think of how much he hates those who killed him. The narrator fills in that Yang would say that something unable to hate is unable to love, either. Julian then reasserts his desire to coexist with the Empire because love will not solve everything on its own.
In her office, Frederica took the opportunity to have her last words for Yang. She says that everyone has to work hard for the fact that he is no longer there, and that she wishes he would find a way to come back to life even if it violated the laws of nature so that she could make sure he didn’t die again before she did. She goes on to say Yang always blamed himself for being responsible for numerous deaths, but he didn’t have to force himself to make up for those sins. She finally says that she is happier now than if she had never met him, and though he may have killed millions of people he at least made her happy. Though, she would never get a response, she was certain that Yang would have apologized at hearing those words.
Some time later, Boris Konev arrived at Iserlohn and gave the crew some grave news of Trunicht’s latest appointment on Heinessen. Frederica is angry at the appointment, but Konev spotting De Villier going into Trunicht’s mansion gets Julian thinking. Though there was no information on the disk obtained from Earth, the Terraists were the ones who protected Trunicht during the coup. Julian concludes that there is too little information to act on a potential conspiracy and he sends Konev back to Heinessen to continue collecting information. Before he gets there, though, we are told that there is an important incident that will occur on September 1st.
Thoughts: While not necessarily the best of episodes in the series I think there was a clear purpose behind it. It served as a memorial for Yang while also trying to establish a break for the rest of the characters on Iserlohn to continue the story. The revenge plot is going to be much more useful for that purpose than the constitution angle, so I expect that to be the main focus from this point on. The unspecified event on Heinessen will probably be a game changer though.