Episode 14, "The Death of the Kaiser"
Synopsis: After the Kaiser dies with no named successor, various related parties jockey for position. Reinhard decides to side with the Kaiser's young grandson, Erwin Josef II, a puppet of the Minister of State, Lichtenlade.
You see that two sentence synopsis? That's because that's about all that happens in this episode. Oh, not that the story didn't need a breather from combat for the political moving and shaking, because it's all good, but at this particular stage, it's all just beginning, so it's not at its deepest or most engaging.
We finally get to the end of the first volume of the LoGH novels with this episode. This probably should have been the end of the first season instead of the second episode of the second one. That said, this is an extremely faithful adaptation of the last chapter of the first, except some scaling down of the talk between Rubinsky and his mysterious, Earth-loving benefactor. They added a short scene with Elizabeth and Sabine, two of the possible successors, teasing each other at the Kaiser's funeral over who would assume the throne. My guess is that in the next episode we'll see the prisoner exchange and Yang's conversation with Admiral Bucock as we get into the second book.
Oberstein's keen political insight has Reinhard siding with what appears the most official, but also most in need channel in the oncoming power struggle, which is Lichtenlade's. Erwin Josef, the ill-behaving (but at that age, who was?) little grandson of the deceased Kaiser, is the most direct heir to the throne, but the Empire can't very well be ruled by a kid. Which is to say by siding with the Minister of State, Reinhard becomes incredibly powerful in influence in the Empire very quickly. Obviously, though, there are parties none to happy about this, especially those who loathed him to begin with. It's going to be a hard road.
But meanwhile, Reinhard has some kind of scheme to keep the Free Planets Alliance busy, as to not give them an opportunity to invade again (though given how the last one went, there's barely enough resources for a tailgate party, let alone an invasion). We'll see how that comes to fruition in the near future. If you haven't seen the OVA or read the books, this is where the series kicks into high gear. There'll be battles aplenty and more political infighting, making things very interesting for quite a long time. You're in luck.
So let's talk about my favorite scene in the episode, where Reinhard's subordinates Wolfgang Mittermeyer and Oskar von Reuenthal have a short conversation in a club (a classy club that plays classical music while people get blasted... classily). The exchange itself is nothing special, just admitting Oberstein is useful, even though they don't particularly care for him, but it's what the scene represents that makes it my favorite bit: character development for Mittermeyer and Reuenthal, who've had very little to say so far. They're two of my favorite characters, and as best friends and colleagues have numerous conversations over the series of books that flesh out their perspectives and worldviews. Mittermeyer is a bit more down to Earth and earnest, and doesn't abide any hijinks or perceived underhandedness. Reuenthal is more pragmatic and sees things for the use they have. Despite their differences, they get along very well, complimenting each other's features. Here, they realize the way they feel about Reinhard and how Oberstein sees him are also different.
I'll talk more about Oberstein when a certain incident occurs in the upcoming conflict. Needless to say, like Reuenthal, he's very utilitarian, but less passionate. Or at least, differently passionate than one tends to be, outwardly.
As for that scene with Yang and Julian at the end... sometimes knowing what's coming is a burden. Though that's only if this adaptation gets that far. And it's far, far away.
3 out of 5