The 104th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes focuses on the perception of the conflict between Oberstein and the other 3 admirals on Heinessen. Reinhard receives this information and moves to change the situation in his favor. Meanwhile, tensions among the Black Lancers and the rest of the Imperial military ramp up as Bittenfeld’s detention continues. Müller and Wahlen try to do all they can to prevent the situation from going over the edge. Meanwhile, Iserlohn receives all of this information and Julian’s ideological tilt, along with Oberstein’s demands lead him in an unexpected direction.
The episode begins with Streit informing Reinhard of the conflict between Oberstein and the 3 admirals on Heinessen. Reinhard then tells Hilde he never imagined Oberstein would take such a step and admits he may have made a mistake appointing him. However, Reinhard could not ask himself whether he would sacrifice a million Imperial soldiers over personal feelings. At the same time Hilde was thinking about whether it was Reuenthal or Mittermeyer who said that Oberstein was the medicine, but not without its side effects. She realized that someone who thought differently about things like Oberstein was invaluable. She then asked Reinhard if he would recall Oberstein to Phezzan, while also realizing that he wanted to go to Heinessen himself to handle things. She then proposes that the he change the situation into a negotiation where the prisoners would be used to start negotiations between Iserlohn and the Empire. He sees the positives in it, but essentially he sees himself following the same road Oberstein is. Then he says that more often than not he has followed his advice, and it almost always happens to be right, even though Reinhard himself cannot stand Oberstein as a person. Hilde then thinks of Oberstein as someone who is universally acknowledged as being right, but who no one wants to be near. Reinhard then joked about Oberstein taking power for himself if he saw Reinhard as a threat to the Empire, which Hilde took too seriously. She then allows him to leave for Heinessen. Reinhard says he would leave Kesler in charge of things while he was gone, then he could get to appointing the replacement for her father who wants to retire even though he is in his mid-50s. Reinhard then wonders if he would feel the same at that age. The narrator then says that Hilde could never think of Reinhard as an older man, nor as a father, though that was quickly becoming a reality. As Reinhard leaves, Hilde thinks about how much easier the situation would have been had Kircheis still been alive.
And so Reinhard finally reveals what he thinks of Oberstein personally. It comes off harshly, but it is probably the best thing he has said about anyone serving under him since Kircheis died. How differently things could have turned out if Oberstein had a different personality.
On Heinessen, the conflict was common knowledge despite the best efforts of the censors. Boris Konev tells Marinesk that Yang never would have seen it turn out this way. Marinesk asks if things would be easier if Oberstein were to leave, but Konev sees Müller and Wahlen working as hard as possible to keep the situation in check.
Which turned out to be the case, as the two of the worried about the Black Lancers retaliating against men under Oberstein’s command in order to free their commander. In that case, Wahlen says they wouldn’t be able to save Bittenfeld or his subordinates. A few of Bittenfeld’s subordinates requested meetings with Oberstein, but were flatly rejected. Eugen then went to Wahlen and Müller for help, but they told him they also could not get a meeting with Oberstein. They also urged him to maintain control over his subordinates as they had asked Mittermeyer for assistance. Eugen thanked them for their help and said he would do all he could on his end. As he left, Wahlen commented that Bittenfeld had better subordinates then he expected, in that they were much calmer than their commander.
Further up the chain from Eugen, the officers became more like their commander. Grebner and Harbarschdat were next to meet with the 2 admirals and started issuing threats. The latter in particular said he could not guarantee his men would accept an unjust punishment against Bittenfeld without retaliation. Wahlen countered by asking if he wanted to see Imperial soldiers fighting each other like the previous year, which quickly settled the matter.
The resemblance to Bittenfeld by the upper level officers isn’t all too surprising. These people would be close to Bittenfeld most of the time, and the combination of Bittenfeld’s influence and his success in battle would make it more likely that he would be a figure to be emulated.
The match had already been lit on the situation, however, as early the next morning, a group of soldiers loyal to Bittenfeld engaged in a fight with a unit loyal to Oberstein. This quickly escalated into a fight between regiments in the space of 30 minutes. When informed of this, Wahlen decided he had to go down and settle things as they were making an embarrassment of themselves to both the Empire and republicans. He also asked that Oberstein be called in to resolve it.
At the shopping district that served as the battlefield, the two sides had guns drawn on each other. Wahlen arrived in an armored vehicle and parked in the middle. His glares whenever one side looked agitated were enough to prevent anything from immediately starting.
Elsewhere, Müller had been granted a meeting with Oberstein on the condition that he took up no more than 10 minutes. Müller basically tells Oberstein that he needs to quickly release Bittenfeld from house arrest to calm the Black Lancers down. Oberstein says that it is a matter of Imperial law if the Black Lancers were to act. Müller then tells Oberstein that it is also his job to try to prevent conflicts within the military as much as possible, and he also says he can get Bittenfeld to personally apologize to Oberstein.
At Bittenfeld’s quarters, a guard drops off some food and is then abused by Bittenfeld for the mere fact that Oberstein is still alive. Müller then knocks on the door and enters. As the conversation begins, Müller realizes that the mere fact he can talk to Bittenfeld represented a concession from Oberstein. He also thought this might be a chance for Oberstein to entrap him for conspiracy, but he didn’t think Oberstein would be so cunning. Bittenfeld starts the conversation by saying he is upset because Oberstein isn’t acting out of self-interest and is using that as a weapon. Müller sees his point, but then asks that he apologize as the Black Lancers were about to shame the Empire with their actions. Bittenfeld then surprisingly expresses concern that the Iserlohn leaders wouldn’t make it to Heinessen alive because Oberstein would trick them. Müller is surprised by that thought, but then he realizes that Oberstein would just have the Iserlohn men publicly executed. Müller then asks that Bittenfeld think of the Kaiser in trying to resolve the dispute. Bittenfeld finally relents and says that if he thinks of Oberstein as the Kaiser’s shadow and not as a human he could bring himself to apologize.
On Iserlohn, news of the arrests had intentionally made its way there unfiltered. This led to internal debate about what to do. Julian was stuck in the dilemma about protecting those who were endangered and sacrificing the fortress that was the true hub of democracy. Murai’s presence on the list only increased this tension as it revealed the true scope of Oberstein’s act. Schenkopp also weighed in and said they could find an ally on Phezzan, which Julian interpreted as Reinhard. As Julian’s thoughts entered the dangerous territory of asking why humans fight when there are better options instead of on political options for dealing with Oberstein, an opportunity arrived a few days later.
Julian’s internal conflict is telling in a way. He’s learned all sorts of things about how complete commitment to an ideology rarely ends well, whether on the battlefield or in running a nation, yet he seems intent on taking the same path here. A bit of Oberstein’s pragmatism would seem him improve as a leader greatly, though maybe that would make him less appealing in a different way.
Oberstein’s demands arrived and they requested the presence of Iserlohn’s leadership on Heinessen in exchange for the release of the prisoners. Frederica firmly said she had to go to satisfy the conditions. Julian had the idea that they should demand an escort from the Empire as they left the corridor, and they would likely be putting their fate in the hands of Müller rather than Oberstein at that point. As the rest of the officers began debating who would go, Schenkopp said he would, while Linz demanded he also be allowed to go. Poplan showed immaturity in Schenkopp’s eyes by announcing he was going since he was admiral-level talent. Schenkopp also said that Cazellnu would have to stay because he would be the only one capable of handling a bloodless handover of the fortress, and also because he had a family. After the rest of the room agreed, they went about deciding who would stay behind.
In the end, Julian and Frederica would be accompanied by Attenborough, Poplan and Schenkopp among others, while Cazellnu would stay behind with Merkatz who would handle the command of the fleet. As they headed to Iserlohn, the situation had already changed with the incident at Ragpool.
Thoughts: That always has to be disappointing from Julian’s perspective when the situation changes without having any sort of influence on events. Will they end up in a weaker or stronger position as a result? Also, how well will Bittenfeld’s apology go with Oberstein if it actually does happen. Finally, will Reinhard’s arrival on the scene actually work against him?