The 2nd episode of Spiral Labyrinth features the reaction to Yang’s return from El Facil and his spending time between assignments. Yang spends his time growing cynical about the press and military as he ducks interviews with the media. With little to do as he is being protected by his superiors, Cazellnu pops up to give him an assignment which would appeal to Yang’s historian nature.
It’s All So Cynical
The first half of the episode is essentially devoted to Yang growing cynical of the people around him. He returns from El Facil and is forced to wait around for 6 hours so his double promotion isn’t officially a double promotion. After that, he hears from his commander about how fortunate he is because Ale Heinessen was working in a labor camp at Yang’s age. Following that, the military gives Lt. Commander Yang a man from their press relations who happens to be older and at the rank of Lieutenant.
With his promotions, Yang was upgraded to a better housing unit, but his phone number had already been given to the press to arrange for interviews with the hero of El Facil. He listens to 3 messages with the hooks being promoting himself as the top bachelor, meeting with Lynch’s widow and meeting his father’s first wife. On the last 2 points, Yang is informed that Lynch’s family had moved in with his wife’s parents, and he wonders what his stepmother would have thought of him back then.
Then over the next 10 days, Yang made the rounds fulfilling various media and military obligations. At the last of these, Yang is greeted by someone who claims that he would have saved him from being on his father’s merchant ship. Yang imagines that he could have been an average student preparing for graduate school if things had been different, but he cynically thinks if he really cared about him he would have paid his tuition instead. As a group of women surrounds him, other officers remark that Yang has gone as far as he can with promotions. Sitolet greets him and comes off impressed at Yang’s humility in saying that he was lucky at El Facil. Yang then begins to think of himself as a hero of sorts having saved 3 million lives.
So a few things worth noting from this part are: Yang remains suspicious of the motives of people who want him for something, the lecture on Heinessen’s history comes off as condescending and promotions seem to mean everything to all but Yang. I still couldn’t help but think that this section of the story was really an opinion on modern mass media’s treatment of people called heroes.
Like Those Documentaries Julian Watched, Only Without Events
Yang ducks out of the spotlight and begins to wallow around in his default state at his apartment. He gets calls from Lap and then Cazellnu who each offer him something, Jessica Edwards and some work respectively. Yang goes to see Cazellnu, who we are told is know for his logistical brilliance, but his personality makes him hated by his superiors and loved by his subordinates. Cazellnu starts matters by commenting on Yang always wanting to retire and then proceeds to tell him exactly what will happen to him if he did. He hypothesized that Yang would make a few media appearances then be convinced to run for office where he would be used and spit out by the political machine. The comment that really got to Yang was the fact that he had to wait another 5 years to be eligible for his pension.
The conversation then turned to promotions, and Yang thought that of the 3 talents of his graduating class Lap would get the farthest. Wideborn had the talent, but not the personality traits of someone who would climb the ranks. The topic then turned to famed war hero Bruce Ashbey, who became an admiral at an exceptionally young age and won great victories against the Empire before dying in battle. Cazellnu then has Julian bring in some letters which allege that Ashbey had died as part of a conspiracy. Cazellnu wants Yang to look into the circumstances around Ashbey’s death, but Yang worries that he could find something that contradicts the official military line. Cazellnu ultimately convinces him by arguing that Yang has accomplished too much to be given an assignment for a while and that he could end up at the War History Institute if he does well.
This whole part of the episode really could have been easily halved. The discussion of Lap and Wideborn doesn’t really seem to serve a point. Julian’s partial cameo only padded the length of the episode. I suppose they couldn’t have Yang lying on his couch for 12 more episodes.
Thoughts: I didn’t think it would be that much of a slog going through Spiral Labyrinth, but it is quickly turning out to be that way. Since the next episode is going to focus on Ashbey, maybe there’s some hope that there are some actual battles. I’m getting my hopes up too quickly.