The 98th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes takes us through the final hours of Reuenthal’s life before moving on to the impact it has on those who had something to do with it. Reuenthal takes care of some house cleaning in the form of handing over administrative functions and dealing with Trunicht. Then Elfriede arrives and Reuenthal gets to see his son for the first time. When he does die, the impact shakes Mittermeyer, Bergengrün, Reinhard, Lang and Oberstein in different and tragic ways. Finally, with Hilde’s pregnancy confirmed and her father’s future intentions, Mittermeyer’s future seems to be opening up.The episode begins with Elsheimer, newly released from house arrest, greeting and then exchanging condolences over the result of the battle with Reuenthal. Elsheimer is then asked by Reuenthal to take control of governmental and administrative affairs because they had to be left to someone. Elsheimer agrees then leaves before Reuenthal asks for the next person he has to see, Trunicht, so he can prepare for enduring the unpleasantness of death.
Trunicht is escorted in and had his handcuffs taken off. He says he is doing well thanks to Reuenthal, who then says that he is about to suffer a death no one will extol because he launched a failed rebellion against an autocracy. Reuenthal then asks for Trunicht’s views on democracy, and he answers by saying that the fact he could determine the lives and deaths of others showed democracy’s biggest weakness. Reuenthal asks if Trunicht hates democracy even if it had been his largest benefactor. Trunicht says that if he can hold power he would serve autocracy just as well as democracy. Reuenthal asks if Trunicht intends to become Prime Minister under Reinhard, and Trunicht says that is only if Reinhard wishes for it to happen. Reuenthal then says that Trunicht intends to make the Lohengramm Dynasty crumble by taking advantage of it in the same way as the Terraists took advantage of him. Trunicht then insists that he was the one using the Terraists, then he intends to take advantage of religion, political systems and even the Kaiser, who he calls an imperfect human being. He continues to rant about the Kaiser’s imperfections and how Reuenthal must have been annoyed just as well. As Trunicht stopped talking, he saw that Reuenthal had a gun pointed at him. After a few seconds of silence, Reuenthal shot him through the chest. With Trunicht fatally wounded, Reuenthal then tells him that he didn’t care what he belittled, up until he began soiling the Kaiser’s dignity. He angrily tells him he didn’t serve or rebel against a Kaiser who could be insulted by someone like Trunicht. Trunicht then dies and Reuenthal comments on the fact that the last person he would ever kill was unarmed, which was a dishonorable act.
As nice as it was to see Trunicht die at the hands of Reuenthal, it really presents the only misuse of Reuenthal’s power as Governor-General against a civilian. Knowing that he intended to do anything to get power from Reinhard, Reuenthal probably felt that he was left with no choice. However, the decision to kill Trunicht was undoubtedly made well before his return to Heinessen.
As the evening arrives, Reuenthal is disturbed by someone entering his office. He tells them he was in the process of dying and was actually enjoying it. Reuenthal opens his eyes and sees Elfriede standing there telling him that he did exactly what she thought he would do, get tripped up by ambition and lose, and that she was there just to see him die miserably. He tells her that she doesn’t have to wait much longer, then asks who brought her here. She tells him it was a kind person, but that he has no business knowing who. Then, her child begins crying in her arms and Reuenthal quickly realizes that it is his son. He asks what she was intending to do now before he starts crying as he says that someone once said that the utmost happiness is to have a friend whom one can entrust their infant when they die. He asks her to take the child to Mittermeyer because he would lead a better life their than the one he would live with Elfriede and himself as parents and whatever controls births must be incompetent or sarcastic. He then tells Elfriede that if she wants to kill him, now would be the time to do it and she could use his gun. She walks over to him and proceeds to wipe the sweat off his forehead.
What’s remarkable about this scene is the complete change in mood when Reuenthal says the quote. At that point, he realizes that he had found happiness at that moment. He has a son and a friend who would take care of him. Elfriede sees his tears and suddenly her need for revenge completely vanishes, and for the only time the family can come together and share a moment of happiness.
Later, he wakes up and sees that she has left leaving only a handkerchief behind. As he says that he is no longer worth killing, he is told that Elfriede had left her son behind and that the son should be handed over to Mittermeyer. Reuenthal then asks for 2 glasses of whiskey to be poured. He then wondered if he would be remembered as someone who became virtuous before he died. Then as he imagined Mittermeyer with him drinking the other glass of whiskey, he says he wanted to live until Mittermeyer arrived. He would be betraying his Gale Wolf nickname if he didn’t make it. Then, sensing Reuenthal was about to die, his last words were transcribed as “Mein Kaiser, Mittermeyer, sieg sterben.” Born in the same year, and always on opposite sides, Reuenthal had died in the same year as Yang Wen-li.
History recorded Reuenthal’s death as occurring at the Second Battle of Rantemario in a defeat to Mittermeyer. However, Mittermeyer took to correcting this whenever possible because while he had the assistance of Wahlen and Bittenfeld, Reuenthal had no one. After arriving on Heinessen, Mittermeyer is told of Reuenthal’s death, then of Trunicht’s death, which he knew was housecleaning by Reuenthal for the sake of the Kaiser.
Mittermeyer goes to Reuenthal’s office and finds guns pointed at him as he steps out of his car. Litterstolf tells them to put down their weapons because they are aiming at Reuenthal’s friend and agent of the Kaiser. Mittermeyer gets to the office where Reuenthal’s body still sits with 2 glasses of whiskey and the young man still holding on to his child. He tells Mittermeyer that Reuenthal waited as long as he could for his arrival then begins crying and is escorted out. Mittermeyer then takes an Imperial flag hanging in the office and drapes it over Reuenthal’s body.
Then, Armsdorf rushes in and says something is happening with Bergengrün. He is locked up in a room where he says that he has no joy in life left since Kircheis and Reuenthal are both dead. Buro urges him not to do anything hasty and that Mittermeyer would request leniency for him. However, Bergengrün wants a message relayed to the Kaiser telling him he must be lonely losing talented admirals one after another, and asking if Mittermeyer was next. He then asks if he thinks the dynasty will flourish if military service is punished like this. Then, the men outside hear one shot.
Bergengrün is an interesting character case. When he was first introduced, he was an unrepentant drunk who thought that Kircheis was simply riding on the coattails of Reinhard. After seeing Kircheis’ talent as a commander, Bergengrün changed into a competent officer capable of commanding his own fleet by the time of the rebellion. Kircheis’ death made him bitter toward Oberstein alone. After suffering the death of his commander for a 2nd time, Bergengrün realized the whole system was broken and he could do nothing to change it. Would he have been happier if he had never met Kircheis?
The rebellion was now over, and Mittermeyer had made good on his promise to end matters by the end of the year. Wahlen was left behind to take care of administration, while Mittermeyer left for Phezzan the same day. As they headed back, Bayerlein said he would never forget the sight of the Gale Wolf crying.
As he traveled back from Schattenburg, Reinhard was informed of Reuenthal’s death by Streit, and he wonders if Reuenthal would have been satisfied if he himself had fought him. He then tells Streit to reinstate Reuenthal’s Fleet Admiralship post-humously saying that appointing him Governor-General was his mistake. Emil walks in with tea and asks how the Kaiser is doing, while Emil is asked about the burn on his left hand. At this point, it is revealed that Reinhard’s intermittent fevers are continuing, but that his administrative work had not suffered at all.
Reinhard then plays a message from Hilde which says that Lutz’s fiance had turned down his favor, but that she is an exceptional individual who should not be punished. She then suggests that a fund be established for training military nurses. Reinhard nodded in agreement at the suggestion made by the person who had not yet answered his proposal, but that was not affecting her. He realized that Hilde was becoming an ever larger part of his life. Reinhard then stares out into space and wonders aloud how she is doing, since it is a pain whenever she isn’t there to assist the administration of Supreme Headquarters.
Now four months pregnant, Hilde tells her father the situation. He seems happy that he will soon be a grandfather, then he tells her that he plans on resigning his post early next year. She asks why, and he says that someone whose daughter will soon give birth to the successor of the Empire should not be holding a ministerial post. She asks who would succeed him, and he says he would recommend Mittermeyer. She says that Mittermeyer isn’t a politician, but he doesn’t see a problem since even he was able to fulfill the post. He goes on to say that he sees Mittermeyer belonging more to Internal Affairs than to Military Affairs within the cabinet. She responds by saying that someone with the talents of Mittermeyer could do it, but she wondered if Reinhard would go along with it.
At the Military Police Headquarters, Lang was being interrogated by Kesler with the instruments Lang commonly used in interrogations surrounding them. Lang asks what happened to Reuenthal, and Kesler tells him that he died. After laughing maniacally for an hour, Lang proceeded to tell Kesler everything from the role of Rubinsky to the fact everything was made possible by Oberstein’s tacit approval. Kesler largely ignored that last part and focused finding Rubinsky. However, Lang’s initial silence allowed him time to escape. Kesler was also visited by Lang’s wife who urged the release of the good family man that was her husband. Kesler insisted to her that Lang was arrested only for what he had done there rather than who he was as a person. As she left, Kesler could not help but note the two-faced lives people lived and that Lang was a much better family man than Reinhard or Reuenthal.
Finally, Oberstein spoke to Ferner about the rebellion. He could only say that Mittermeyer had chosen himself to be the one to defeat his friend because of the potential fissure of his loyalties. As he had defeated him, the only one he would be able to take revenge against would be himself. Oberstein thought he would be the type of man who would do it so he would not have a grudge against the Kaiser. When Ferner asks him why he thinks that, he says it is just his own interpretation. Then he realizes that he is rambling about the events, and thus he would never speak about the rebellion again.
Thoughts: This overall feeling throughout this episode was rather interesting. It starts with descent into sadness and despair at the beginning, but by the end it all seems rather uplifting as everyone can seemingly move on with their lives. It’s definitely fits the cliche of an emotional roller-coaster. There’s still some remaining plot stands left open. Whatever happened to Erwin-Josef and Lansberg? What will happen to Iserlohn now that it is once again strategically unimportant? Will Hilde answer the marriage proposal? Finally, will anyone deal with the remaining Terraists?