Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These ?
This episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes opens on the Dominion of Fezzan again, reviewing their manipulations but also illustrating the same points about them as last episode. That feeling of jogging in place turns out to be an issue with this whole episode, so the Fezzan bit at least keeps up the absurd theatrics from before. There's still plenty of dramatic framing and even a hilariously on-the-nose gambling metaphor presented as the camera slow-pans over a poker table. If anything, the whole of ‘Interlude’ would have done well to adopt this presentation for the rest of its runtime.
Unfortunately, most of this episode lives up to its title too well. The previous episode, expository as it was, still had a thematic through-line that led to some interesting ideas being expressed by the end. This episode still has ideas, but they're only incidentally remarked upon at a few points in the proceedings. The rest is just shockingly long-winded discussions between the Alliance about what they need to do and how they might get to do it. It almost feels like this supposedly sweeping dramatic update of the dry source material is stalling for time in places. This episode actually features a whole unbroken scene where Cazerne lists off the fleet numbers and the admirals commanding them. Several of these characters will end up shining later on in the story, of course, but dumping them all out now seems like a bad way to ingratiate them to us.
At least it's easy to follow the exact nature of the Alliance's proposed invasion scenario, beginning and ending as usual for LOGH with the raw numbers. Thirty million seems like a lot of offense just on its face, but Yang's observation that it also constitutes 60% of their overall military force immediately makes it clear to us how devastating it will be if they lose. The show does well to put issues like that in a context laymen can easily understand. The point from last episode that the council is only spearheading this invasion as a re-election tactic is also reiterated, a political observation that hasn't lost any of its frustrating real-world relevance since the original novels were written in 1982. Yang also brings up an interesting point about the dangers of his own influence and abilities. The notion that his near-bloodless victory at Iserlohn propelled the necessary confidence powering this new surge is an interesting one, contrasted with his musing that maybe things would have turned out better had he barely won with more messy results. Of course, no answers are actually arrived upon in this thought experiment, and given how this series works, the point is that there is no ‘right’ answer. Still, it's also the most compelling moment in an otherwise droll episode.
The only other point of interest amongst all this setup is the new character introduced in this episode, Falk. This star-spangled ding-dong is another military drama archetype that LOGH revels in trotting out for specific plot purposes, but the revelatory issues Falk brings to the table might do their narrative job too well, actually. On the one hand, it's actually somewhat refreshing to see a young spirited commander in this series who's making all the same missteps as the misguided older generation. Falk is also an easy contrast with Yang, clearly in love with conflict and war but already pointedly terrible at it. The most clever notion the story uses him to push is that even after several episodes of following the Alliance, thinking of them as the ‘good guys’ most likely to win in a scenario is a mistake; this isn't that type of series.
Unfortunately, Die Neue These can't just use Falk's lack of savvy to set up an ambiguous future for our invading fleet, instead jumping right ahead to outlining exactly how the current plan will lead to a defeat and even having our two clear rational characters, Yang and Sithole, bluntly acknowledge that as a foregone conclusion. As usual in this series, the attempt at realism fits well with this type of military procedural, and the show even uses this as an opportunity to bring up the importance of a pragmatic leader like Yang to temper this misguided fervor of opportunists like Falk. But treating the outcome as already decided, complete with evidence from characters we trust backing it up, does not set a compelling stage for an imminent season finale.
The series does bring the tension up, but just barely, by changing over to the Imperial perspective in its last few minutes. Reinhard's enthusiasm and levity in the face of having his position manipulated by his superiors is fun to watch and endears him to us with the same charisma we've seen from him in the past. And the episode does throw out some interesting tones of Reinhard seemingly underestimating himself even in the face of Yang's negativity. It lets the results of the coming battle seem a little less certain, especially with the episode wisely cutting off before their plan is actually explained. That saves some suspense for the next episode, even if it might not work as a game-changing surprise in the face of the Alliance's outlined failure. On its own, this episode truly is an interlude, so it doesn't stand up as a single outing. It's functional, but not independently interesting or exciting, and perhaps it makes some mistakes in the context of the overall narrative.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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