Episode 16, "Ignition Point"
Synopsis: Hildegard von Mariendorf, daughter of Mariendorf County's overseer, determines to ally herself and her family with Reinhard before a civil war breaks out in the Empire. She sees to it that the young admiral guarantee the rights of her family and their property via a document. Powerful nobles opposing Reinhard form the Lippstadt Noble Coalition. Grenadier Commander Ovlesser is dismayed that he couldn't recruit former Chief Commander Mückenberger for the noble's cause. Mückenberger, like Mariendorf, is convinced that Reinhard will create a new age. Lippstadt leader Braunschweig recruits a reluctant Admiral Merkatz to being the commander of the coalition's military forces. After an assassination attempt fails to kill Reinhard or kidnap Annerose, Braunschweig and other nobles flee planet Odin to organize elsewhere, but Reinhard's men are able to prevent some of them from leaving.
It's amazing how so little, yet so much can happen in one episode. The first nine minutes are all about Hilda and her maneuvering to preserve her family's status and property, so that part is pretty slow-going. But then things ramp up as the Lippstadt alliance forms, Merkatz is roped into leading their military, the attempt to get at Annerose fails, and Reinhard's forces pick off as many nobles they can before they can leave. When you think about it, things have just gotten started, but so much happened in one space it was almost dizzying.
The episode is a pretty straight-forward adaptation of Chapter 2 of the second novel. The only differences are the lack of the conversation between Eugen Richter and Karl Bracke of the Reform Faction (who hope that a post-civil war Reinhard would put through their reforms) and the addition of a scene with Ovlesser and Mückenberger at the latter's stable. They also added something from the beginning of Chapter 4 to the end here, with Reinhard referring to the nobles as traitors (though in the book he refers to them as "the rebels", which is what the Empire calls the Free Planets Alliance, so maybe there's a translation problem with the subtitles). I've been diving back into the older books to keep track of these things. (Personally, I'm reading the penultimate novel at the moment.)
Hilda sure is shrewd in her actions here, approaching Reinhard before combat even breaks out, gambling her family's future on Reinhard's success. Her justification is a little shaky, just believing he has a bigger claim on righteousness, but I think a more compelling reason is that his forces are used to actually working for a living. His commanders aren't do-nothing nobles who sit around and whose tactics are predictable and worn. Still, it was especially clever for Hilda to get a guarantee in writing, but say that it's unnecessary for those who don't specifically request it. A new age is coming and many coffers will be emptied. Even the nobles who side with Reinhard will likely have less if he wins. Hilda is getting (or rather, keeping) hers while the getting is good.
Admiral Merkatz finds himself essentially threatened into joining the Lippstadt bunch, despite his protestations that the nobles even bother. Because he is a man who loves his family, he reluctantly chooses to lead their military forces, but he is exasperated at their privileged attitudes. As he says, "Privilege is the worst poison. It rots away a person's spirit." The nobles are the result of generations of such inborne privilege, it has become part of their very blood and mindset. Merkatz fears he would have become the same had he not worked with lower class soldiers so often.
Streit and Ferner, at the very least, have the common sense to suggest an assassination of Reinhard, rather than deal with his prowess as a commander on the battlefield. While hardly honorable, it is the most expedient way to secure their dominance in the Empire. Streit is thrown out of the colition immediately, while Ferner takes it upon himself to at least attempt to kidnap Annerose. However, they are met with security forces and an especially pissed off-looking Kircheis. But Reinhard is nothing if not magnanimous to the clever, and he recruits Ferner to work under Oberstein, his other cold and clever schemer. Streit would rather sit out the war entirely (likely under guard by Reinhard's forces).
I want to talk about the added scene where Ovlesser attempts to recruit Mückenberger, who stepped down a couple of episodes ago. In the novels (and in the original OVA), Ovlesser is a belligerent brute who probably wouldn't have even thought of recruiting a former high commander to lead their forces. He might have tried to challenge Mückenberger to a fight right there in the stable. It seems like the TV series is trying to make Ovlesser a little more sophisticated. Still a brute, but more of a thinking brute. So that's interesting. But more to my point, Mückenberger refuses to join the nobles because he recognizes the old days are over, no matter how much the high nobles want them to continue. He's a wise enough man to just retire and tend to his horses. The scene is an addition I actually quite enjoy. It's certainly better than the added car chase scene in season 1.
My favorite bit, though, is the round up of the nobles that Reinhard's forces do towards the end of the episode, with giant ships filling planet Odin's skies to block the path out and Reinhard's men barging into residences and ports to snag errant rebels. There's a short exchange between Oskar von Reuenthal and Marquis Licthenlade where the latter confirms the operation, but it looks much more like this is his own future at some point, likely to be taken into custody by Reinhard, even if he doesn't realize it yet. He feels like he's in control of the situation, but it isn't his ships lighting up the night. So much is said with just images and expressions in this part, I was impressed. The music pushed it even further.
Next time, things spiral out of control in the FPA, more than Bewcock can handle, the insurrectionists issue demands, and maybe we'll get to Schonkopf's proposal that Yang seize power. It depends on whether or not they'll be doing all of Chapter 3. It's a lot of events.
4 out of 5