The 102nd episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees Julian engage with Imperial forces for the first time as the head of the Iserlohn military. While trying to lure Wahlen into the corridor, Julian proceeds to lure the admiral on the Imperial side into battle as well. With the Thor’s Hammer the primary target, Julian tries to lure both admirals into separate traps. After the battle, Reinhard and the Imperial admirals react to the events with the former’s condition looming large.
The episode begins with Wahlen receiving reconnaissance from Iserlohn. The forces there were making their move, but they were heading to the Imperial side of the corridor. After his subordinates strongly suggested taking the fortress immediately, Wahlen urged caution as Yang’s successor would have been someone heavily favored by him. Leiwul then stated that they should move in to the corridor to check them from behind. Wahlen agreed and cautioned his men to watch for traps as they moved into the corridor.
On the other side of the corridor lied the fleet of Wagenseil, who saw the report of the move from Iserlohn and moved his fleet into the corridor as well. Attenborough read off the message Wagenseil sent, which called the Iserlohn fleet stray dogs, with disdain. After he rhetorically asked what the Empire thought of them, Poplan interrupted with a string of insults aimed at the fleet. While the two engaged in yet another pointless banter session, Julian was left wondering if there was any point to this battle considering the relationship that had built up between them and the Empire. However, he knew that he could not go back from this point.
I immediately questioned why Wagenseil would do this. The point has been emphasized that the next generation of Imperial military men aren’t exactly the greatest material, so maybe this is yet another attempt from someone to make a name.
Julian’s smaller fleet met with Wagenseil’s fleet later and the battle quickly started. With the Empire knowing all too well the effect of the Thor’s Hammer, Julian’s objective was to lure them into range. Almost immediately, Julian ordered his Spartanians out into the battlefield, which Wagenseil answered by sending out Valkyries. After Poplan registered the 250th kill of his career he helped Karin out of a tight situation. After that, Poplan would only lose 16 of the fighters under his command in the battle compared to the 104 Valkyries lost by Wagenseil. With that exchange lost, Wagenseil withdrew the Valkyries and hoped to turn it into a fleet battle where he could use his numbers to his advantage. Julian withdrew the Spartanians and moved on to the next stage of his plan.
This may have been the first use of fighters at this level of intensity since the battle that claimed Ivan Konev. Poplan’s reaching 250 kills seems impressive, but in a war of this duration I doubt it even ranks that high. Also, there was no way that Karin was going to be killed here.
About an hour in, Julian’s fleet began withdrawing and Wagenseil’s subordinate Vonk thought it might be a sign they were being led into something. Wagenseil ignored the plea and said that if they advanced quickly enough, the Thor’s Hammer could not be used against them. The parallel pursuit tactic wasn’t new when it came to Iserlohn as Sitolet had used the same tactic to close in on Iserlohn when it was in the Empire’s possession. Wagenseil had learned the lessons from Sitolet’s failure, but Julian had anticipated that. While Julian was receiving frequent reports about Wahlen’s location on the other end of the corridor, he taunted Wagenseil with the possibility of maintaining the parallel pursuit for 2 days and in a way proving himself a capable successor to Yang.
With the fortress in Wagenseil’s sight, Julian received the latest report and chose that moment to launch an offensive. The surprise attack forced Wagenseil’s fleet back just a little. Julian resumed the retreat, while Wagenseil urged his fleet to catch up. Then, the Thor’s Hammer made its appearance and Wagenseil realized they wouldn’t make it. At the same time, Wahlen’s fleet made it’s appearance on the other side of the fortress and prepared to attack. Julian ordered his fleet to ignore Wagenseil’s and proceed to take on Wahlen. Then, the Thor’s Hammer fired taking out much of Wagenseil’s fleet.
Wahlen rushed his fleet toward the fortress hoping to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity. As they got closer, Merkatz’s fleet attacked them from their right before Julian’s fleet attacked them from the front. Unable to breakthrough in time, Wahlen’s fleet was devastated by the first blow from the Thor’s Hammer. The second volley added to the casualty count.
In the end, Wagenseil and Wahlen were able to withdraw their fleets, while Iserlohn could take credit for the first republican victory over the Empire since Yang’s death. Julian would write about the battle that the system for judging military men was based on contradiction and hypocrisy based on his feelings having met Wahlen previously. The Empire had lost 400,000 men, but the narrator said it was the nature of war that meant this was a “small” victory.
I now have to question Wahlen’s actions as well as Wagenseil’s. Wahlen went in merely to see what was happening. Presented with what seemed to be an open goal, Wahlen ignored any possibility of a trap until he fell right into it. Wagenseil, on the other hand, was much too busy running away to serve any assistance after the Thor’s Hammer hit his fleet.
Julian returned and was applauded by the residents of Iserlohn. However, his tactical victory wasn’t enough to make him smile. He thought about what the response would be from Reinhard as he would not merely accept a tactical defeat to a smaller enemy. He then thought it was the duty of the victor to continue winning until defeat. His thoughts were interrupted by Karin, who asked what he was thinking. After he told her he was thinking about the next step, she said that being able to continue fighting was worth celebrating. As Julian looked around a little, Karin informed Julian that Frederica was busy telling Yang the events of the day.
Looking on were Schenkopp, Attenborough and Poplan, who apologized for the minimal role Schenkopp played in the battle. Schenkopp wasn’t too worried as it was merely setting the stage for the role he would shine in. That would be the reclamation of Heinessen. After taking a big swig of their drinks, Attenborough and Poplan joined in their desire to have a starring role in that act.
On Phezzan, the reaction was rather swift. While Hilde suggested Reinhard send a diplomatic envoy to Iserlohn, Reinhard said that if the republicans wanted a war they would get one. At the Supreme Headquarters, Mittermeyer and the other admirals were busy analyzing the battle. They showed a level of respect toward Julian’s tactics, while the ambush from the side was signature Merkatz. They talked briefly about how Merkatz would be important on whatever side he chose, but Mecklinger said he chose the wrong side. Mecklinger then pointed out that the problem in the battle was with Wagenseil, who should have been able to see the fleets that were out of Wahlen’s view, but were too busy withdrawing under the threat of Thor’s Hammer. Mittermeyer then lamented the lack of ability being shown by those with the rank of Admiral and lower.
With the number of inferior admirals that seem to be appointed to important posts as the series progresses, I question two things. First, who is actually promoting these guys to admiral. Would it be Oberstein’s fault, or does that ultimately lie with Reinhard. Secondly, is the point being made that the Empire was simply blessed with more remarkable military men at one point in history than the Alliance?
On February 18th, Reinhard announced an expedition to Heinessen to deal with the problems there. The next day, however, he suffered from yet another bout of fever which was worse than any that had proceeded it. His doctors were now worried about his condition.
Thoughts: That little revelation at the end has me doubting whether Iserlohn is revisited again by Imperial forces. Heinessen should take priority from a tactical standpoint as Iserlohn is still largely contained. Moving on, Julian seemed far too calm in his first battle as fleet admiral here. While not a gigantic leap in him leading the fleet, the fact that he was doing it for the first time seems almost ignored.