The 108th episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes sees the battle between Iserlohn and the Empire come to a conclusion. As Julian sees confirmation of Reinhard’s health, he embarks in desperation to meet the Kaiser. As his admirals request to assist him, Reinhard tells them to stand down while presenting a challenge to Julian. As the battle turns to intense hand-to-hand combat, many lives are lost both on the Brünhild and off of it.
The action begins on June 1st, or the anniversary of Yang’s death, which surely had significance for both sides. Mittermeyer and Müller were called to the Brünhild by Mecklinger where the doctors presented them with a diagnosis for Reinhard of variant acute collagen syndrome. They admitted they had never seen this variant of the disease before and only knew the symptoms. When asked if it was incurable, the doctors could only say they would need to do research, which made Müller very angry. Reinhard then called from another room and apologized to the doctors for giving them a hard time and excused them for not being able to cure every disease. He then asked them for an estimate for how long he had left to live. The admirals were shocked, and the doctors couldn’t answer because they didn’t know. Reinhard thought about the other admirals who had died in battle on both sides and thought they all had appropriate deaths.
So it appears to be some sort of incurable disease now. I suppose Reinhard would now get away with not dying in battle, but disease seems like a more tragic way to die than those he thinks of.
A call then came in which indicated that the Iserlohn fleet was retreating back into the corridor. Mittermeyer immediately thought they should give up as things were, but then he thought that he should allow Bittenfeld to pursue them so he would be satisfied with the conclusion to the battle. Bittenfeld reacted with excitement and set his fleet to surround the enemy before they could escape. On the other side, Julian saw the Imperial fleets movements and concluded that Reinhard must be seriously ill if the other admirals were acting in such an unimaginative way. Schenkopp said it meant it was a great opportunity before Julian handed things off to Attenborough. As he ran to the ship that would take him to the Brünhild, Julian thought about Yang and Reinhard, and whether it would actually be better for space if they both disappeared. He thought that the era of heroes and geniuses was ending to be replaced by one of less talented people willing to compromise and work together for the whole. Ultimately, Julian was really desperate to meet Reinhard.
At 1:00, Attenborough and Merkatz planned feint continued as Bittenfeld and the Imperial vanguard now led by Bayerlein chased them toward the corridor. Bittenfeld soon came into contact with the unmanned ships and proceeded to blast their way through. However, at 1:40 the ships self-destructed catching the Black Lancers completely by surprise. The Iserlohn fleet then advanced through the broken Imperial defense line and amidst the chaos Julian’s ship managed to force its way into the Brünhild.
On board the Brünhild, officers secured weapons for the fight, while the captain Seidlitz scolded a man for picking up a firearm before barking out orders. Elsewhere, Müller spotted Julian on a monitor and told Mittermeyer that he was Yang’s successor. Mittermeyer immediately said he was going while Müller seemed ready to join him. Reinhard then stopped them and told them not to interfere. Mittermeyer tried to argue with Reinhard about the situation, then Reinhard asked for Julian’s name from Müller. Reinhard then said that if Julian could make it to him without the interference of himself or his subjects, he would be qualified to have his proposals heard as a way of appreciating his courage. If he did not make it, then he would never have been worthy of making any demands. As Reinhard fell asleep, Mecklinger asked Mittermeyer what they would do. Despite the unnecessary bloodshed that was about to occur, Mittermeyer said they could only hope that Julian made it there as quickly as possible. Mittermeyer then thought about how uncompromising Reinhard was in his demands of the republicans showcasing their willingness to die. Müller then spoke up and raised the possibility of other soldiers making it to Reinhard first, which led Mittermeyer to think of Reuenthal before saying he would protect the Kaiser with his life.
This really seemed like a way to make the battle on the ship seem more dramatic, yet, it did not seem to be contrived at all. Full credit to the writing of this series for making it this challenge to Julian believable.
Meanwhile, Linz and Poplan were discussing the quality of the Imperial guards whom Linz said were just from the Neue Sanssouci, which led Mashengo to point out that Reinhard had never lived there. Poplan said the fact that it sounded good was enough and proceeded to hurl insults at the guards who responded by firing in kind.
Away from the ship, Bittenfeld demanded that someone fire on the ship docked to the Brünhild, which someone else pointed out would be reckless. At 2:10, Bittenfeld vowed to not let any of the Iserlohn soldiers come back alive and proceeded to charge at the Iserlohn fleet causing tremendous damage. At the same time, Eisenach stayed away from the charge, but issued an order to fan out and fire on the ships that try to flee Bittenfeld’s attack. As a result, the Black Lancers were able to show their full destructive potential.
Schneider told Merkatz that the fleet could no longer maintain a defense line, and Merkatz ordered a retreat. Then, the ship was struck be direct fire and an explosion injured Schneider while Merkatz was also wounded under debris. Schneider freed Merkatz, and told him they were about to evacuate. Merkatz then asked if Julian made it to the Brünhild, which Schneider said they did. As a result, Merkatz said he could die with no regrets since he had died in a battle with Reinhard, and he asked Schneider not to summon him again since he didn’t know if this opportunity would present itself again. Schneider apologized to Merkatz for all he had dragged him through, but Merkatz told Schneider it allowed him to fight Reinhard through “foppery and whim,” and he told Schneider to do what he liked with his life. At 63, and with twice the battle history of Yang and Reinhard, Merkatz was dead attended by his adjutant Schneider. Attenborough heard the news and paid his respects, along with Karin who was clearly worried about what was happening.
Merkatz finally got his wish of dying in battle against Reinhard. Schneider deserves a lot of credit for turning Merkatz’s fate from disgraceful suicide to a more noble death. Perhaps he is a more important character than I realized.
Back on the Brünhild, Schenkopp reunited with Julian and told him they would hold their ground at that spot. He told Julian to go to Reinhard and do what he had to do. He then told Julian his one complaint about Yang, in that Blumeheart had given his life to save Yang unsuccessfully. Julian understood the meaning, then Schenkopp called for Poplan and Mashengo to accompany Julian saying that the Rosenritter were made for a situation like this and it was an exclusive club. Julian said he would see Schenkopp again, alive, before Schenkopp could say that all he had to look forward to now was becoming an impediment in the marriage of his daughter. Julian said they would meet again and ran off with Poplan and Mashengo.
As Schenkopp prepared to resume the fight, he noticed a guard in the reflection off of a face shield, and shot him underneath his left arm. The Rosenritter howled in celebration, and Schenkopp said he had always wanted to try that since he was a kid. As he and Linz easily dealt with a attacking Imperial soldiers, the latter pointed out that it was the first time since they fought Reuenthal that they had been able to fight with Tomahawks. Schenkopp remembered that and said if the fight had lasted 3 more minutes, Reuenthal’s eyes would have been his.
As Schenkopp proceeded to kill a few more Imperial soldiers, Mittermeyer could only show his admiration for him. He pondered whether to command the guards himself before Müller and Mecklinger talked him out of it. Reinhard then asked for Emil to help him put on his military uniform. Emil tried to argue with him, but Reinhard said he had to be ready for guests and Mittermeyer told him to follow the order.
Mashengo, Poplan and Julian continued to run through dead ends trying to get to Reinhard. At one point, they were surrounded by guards, who fired on the trio. Mashengo then shielded Julian from the fire with his body before collapsing on to his knees. Poplan relieved the pressure by throwing a grenade, but the damage was done. Mashengo once again stated that man cannot go against his fate to Julian before dying. Julian laid his body down, and calmly picked up his tomahawk before proceeding to attack another group of Imperial soldiers along with Poplan.
Mashengo fulfilled his order to Yang as his fate seemed to be tied to Julian’s from that point. In a way, it really does seem like he could never go against his fate.
Elsewhere, in a corridor scattered with bodies, Schenkopp called out the names of his comrades with no one responding. He took off his helmet casually, but failed to notice an Imperial guard on the ground was still conscious. The guard then put a tomahawk into Schenkopp’s back and coward to the ground in fear. Schenkopp asked for the man’s name so he could know the name of the man who wounded him. The guard answered Kurt Zingufuber, and Schenkopp said he would show him a trick. He took the tomahawk out of his back and threw it killing a soldier who had his finger on the trigger of his gun. The laser then traced an outline around Zingufuber and narrowly missed Schenkopp before slicing through the head of an Imperial soldier rushing in to attack him. As Zingufuber asked for this mother and a few Imperial soldiers stepped away, Schenkopp asked who wanted to be the last man killed by him. As blood continued to gush from his wound, Schenkopp thought it was time to pay his respects.
Poplan and Julian were getting closer to Reinhard. Kißling tried to stop them, but Poplan threw his helmet at him and tackled him allowing Julian to get away on his own. After Poplan insulted Kißling, the latter freed himself with a well-timed punch.
At the same time, Linz found himself alone with only a small knife covered in blood. He remarked that red was the last color he would be using as 4 Imperial soldiers closed on him. Schenkopp made it to the top of a set of stairs and admired the view of soldiers looking up at him in fear, since he didn’t want to die while looking up at someone. He then proceeded to give his own eulogy, saying that he didn’t need an epitaph since only beautiful women’s tears would give peace to his soul. As he looked down on an Imperial soldier starting to climb the stairs, he closed his eyes and remembered Karin’s mother, who wanted to be called Rosa. The narrator then comes in and says that the time of Schenkopp’s death was unknown, before telling us that he was born to Imperial aristocrats before losing his homeland twice. At 37, his stormy life was at an end.
Schenkopp’s death here probably struck me about the same as Kircheis’. While the latter’s was undoubtedly more important to the whole story, they both have the same luck factor involved. They both died as a result of carelessness, though I’m surprised that Schenkopp was much more sentimental than I thought.
Julian slowly made his way to Reinhard’s quarters, when the door suddenly opened. Julian made his way in and saw Müller and Mittermeyer before him. After figuring out who was in front of him, Julian collapsed to a knee. Reinhard spoke up and told his admirals that Julian had not made it before him yet. The wall behind the admirals was moved out of the way to reveal Reinhard to Julian. Julian braced himself on the tomahawk he was holding and slowly walked past the admirals while thinking a republican could never kneel before an autocratic ruler. Julian made it to Reinhard and said he was honored to meet him. Reinhard asked for his name which Julian gave before asking him what he wanted. Julian asked for peaceful coexistence or else. Reinhard asked what he meant by the 2nd part, and Julian said he didn’t mean anything else by it except to show that it wasn’t a one-sided surrender. Julian then said that when the Lohengramm Dynasty became ill, there would be something to fix it. Julian said he wanted more time to talk to Reinhard about it since that is what Yang would have wanted before he collapsed from exhaustion. Reinhard then asks Müller to confirm if this was the 2nd man to ask for something from him before collapsing. Then he asks him to call in the doctors because while they wouldn’t be able to help him, they would be able to help Julian. In addition, he asked Mittermeyer to stop the battle saying those who had survived to this point deserved to survive. Mittermeyer promptly announced the end to fighting to all of the soldiers, which spared Linz, while Kißling and Poplan fought to a draw. At 3:00am on June 1, the battle had come to an end.
Thoughts: I’d say this was probably the most emotionally powerful episode of the series. The prominent deaths were all on the Iserlohn side, but they were both done with class and dignity. Both sides should be able to come to a resolution quickly toward coexistence, which leaves only the storyline of the Terraist cult left. The denouement to this series has been executed very well.