Episode 44, "Departure"
Synopsis: Seeing that Julian is upset about being reassigned, Yang approaches him to give him a pep talk. Yang expresses his suspicion that Phezzan is assisting Reinhard in conquering the Alliance. He also wonders if the Alliance has outlived its purpose. Julian says his goodbyes to staff at Iserlohn, including Calsenes, Poplin, Murai, Attenborough, and Schönkopf. Yang still has his concerns for Julian, who is likewise concerned if Yang can handle himself alone. Julian departs Iserlohn in the company of Louis Machungo.
Yang and the Iserlohn crew get a full episode as Julian says his goodbyes after being reassigned to Phezzan. Conspiracies are sussed, sentimentalities are expressed, and alcohol is drunk. It's a pretty low-key entry.
The previous episode was a break in format, only covering part of Chapter 5 of the fourth LoGH book. But this episode is a return to format as it covers all the rest of the chapter. From Yang's talk with Julian at the park, to Calsenes' chat with Yang at lunch, to Yang constructing a letter for Bewcock, to Julian's various commiserations with members of Yang's staff, it's a pretty straightforward adaptation, only slightly rearranging events here and there, but nothing to even speak of on that matter. The only thing it excises from the chapter was a reflection on the Dagon Annihilation, a battle fought 150 years earlier. But that was too brief to be concerned with.
Aside from Yang's usual pushing-it-prescience in figuring out most of Reinhard's plan, the episode has him wonder whether or not the Free Planets Alliance has started to outlive its purpose. After all, it's reason to exist was to fight the despotism of the Galactic Empire, and while the Empire is still an autocracy, it's a far more fair one now with a benevolent dictator in Reinhard von Lohengramm. Certainly the Goldenbaum Dynasty has long outlived its significance and is clawing at whatever it can to stay above water. The concern is that it will drag the Alliance down with it. After all, as Yang expresses, not everything exists forever. Something that didn't exist from the beginning of the universe needn't continue to go on until the end of it. One wonders if the Alliance still holds some value as a representative of republican democracy in the universe. But nations are just tools to Yang. So it needn't necessarily the Alliance that holds the torch of democracy, in the end.
We get a bit of several characters in this episode, including Murai, who likens his job to making Yang look good, Calsenes, who introduced Julian to Yang to begin with, to Attenborough, who relates a tale about his past with Yang, to mah boi, Olivier Poplin. Poplin regrets that Julian won't be around long enough to teach the ways of seducing women, which leaves Julian and Ivan Konev fairly nonplussed, despite his claim to have reached triple digits. I think Poplin is perhaps trying a little too hard here. I think the OVA had some more or different characters giving advice to Julian, but I can't remember well, and don't feel like consulting it for this. The key Attenborough gives Julian is a nice touch that shows that people can trust in Yang.
Yang shows obvious signs of depression at Julian's reassignment. He begins to eat unhealthily and drink in excess the closer it comes to his ward's departure. While he justifies it with a great line about alcohol being man's friend, it's clear that just functioning might be difficult for Yang, who counted on Julian for a lot, and more than that, enjoyed his company. That last scene where Yang is alone in a dark room, about to reach for a bottle is kind of sad.
I'm not sure where this is going next. If it follows the novel, we'll be back with the Empire as they ramp up for the big showdown. But the series has surprised me before, so who knows? I just hope we eventually get something like in the OVA where Julian researches history.
3.5 out of 5