Episode 42, "The Legitimate Galactic Empire Government"
Synopsis: Peaceful days pass at Iserlohn, until suddenly Chairman Job Trunicht on Heinessen announces the "liberation" of Erwin Josef II and the establishment of the Legitimate Galactic Empire government-in-exile in the Alliance, sending waves throughout the base. Yang discerns that this situation is to Reinhard's advantage and that he may have had something to do with the abduction. Merkatz is in a difficult situation, as he has been named the Minister of MIlitary Affairs for the government-in-exile. Reinhard von Lohengramm announces in a public broadcast his intention to punish the Alliance.
Well, well, we finally get back to Iserlohn and Yang's merry band of outcasts and ne'er-do-wells. I've been waiting for this for a long time. We've spent a huge amount of time with the Empire lately, and I've missed characters like Julian, Schönkopf, Merkatz, and... uh, I don't know, Attenborough, perhaps. I like these folks, and I'm glad to be around them again.
The episode covers Chapter 4 of Book 4 of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels. It covers Yang's essay on alcohol, Schönkopf and Poplin's sex lives, Julian's success at flyball (the enemy's gate is down, Julian), Trunicht's address, Poplin's argument with Konev, the meeting, Merkatz and Schneider's conversation, and Reinhard's declaration. The only thing omitted from the adaptation was a bit about "August the Bloodletter", one of the Empire's past leaders. I would have liked to have seen that bit of history, and hold out hope they'll get to it later.
So the Alliance has taken in quite a number of troublemakers under the guise of freedom and justice and the whole thing is a farce. The Galactic Empire spent a century oppressing and exploiting its citizens and stamping out democratic sentiment. Now remnants of the boyar aristocrats, the most guilty of these crimes against humanity, want to set up shop in a country whose founding principles shun the very idea of autocracy? As Poplin, the best character, points out, it's absurd. Now the people who actively looked to destroy democracy want to be hosted by one for convenience's sake!
And more than that, the Alliance, in its puffed-up sense of sanctimony, is happy to take advantage of the situation, despite them totally being used by Phezzan and Reinhard as a pretext to a destructive war that will no doubt cause more suffering for both sides of the conflict. Partially because the Alliance feels justified as the torch-holders of democracy and freedom, but also because people like Job Trunicht are easily flattered and may have their own separate agendas. It's one thing to protect a young boy being manipulated for the sake of a power-grabbing autocrat, but to actually allow this "Legitimate Galactic Empire" to exist is just incredibly short-sighted and arrogant.
I'm happy we finally get a little bit of my favorite character, Olivier Poplin, in this episode. Not only is it revealed that he and Schönkopf, as lady's men, are peter-in-laws (look it up), but we get a bit of his ire at the unfolding events in a scene with his wing man, Ivan Konev. It's not often we get a scene with him speaking in this adaptation, one of DNT's failures, but he'll become more important as time passes, so we'll see and hear more of hijm in the future. My favorite ace pilot of the Alliance has a lot of great lines, like this episode's about being in a TV drama (lol).
One of my favorite scenes in this episode is the one in the meeting room where Yang is consulting his close subordinates about the situation, when Yang passes around the bottle of brandy so that it can be added to people's tea (or coffee... or other alcohol). Julian gives Yang a disapproving look, so he decides not to hog all the booze and pass it on so that the others can share in his cheekiness. Meanwhile, they're all discussing important state matters. It shows a sense of casual friendliness among the group, a show of their irreverent attitudes. It's little bits like this that make me, as the viewer, feel at home with these characters. This scene, by the way, was described in the novel, too, so it's not an addition of either adaptation.
Things are moving along at a good pace, with an episode per chapter, and things are really ramping up to the big bout between the Alliance and the Empire. I'm excited to see how this adaptation handles it.
4.5 out of 5