Episode 15, "Before the Storm"
Synopsis: The Empire sends an convoy for a prisoner exchange, which Yang reasons will work in Reinhard's favor in his struggle against the nobles. Yang meets with Admiral Bewcock on Heinessen, where he suggests the Empire will foster unrest in the Free Planets Alliance to keep them distracted during their own internal conflict. A secret cabal of Alliance officers, including Dwight Greenhill, meet to discuss their plans for a coup, hoping to keep a close tail on Yang to prevent him from interfering. It seems that the defeated Arthur Lynch, an commander taken captive at the battle of El Facil, was injected into the returned prisoners, and has inspired this revolution on Reinhard's behalf.
You know what's lacking in this series that the OVA had? A fuller picture of Iserlohn. So far, all we see of Iserlohn Fortress in Die Neue These is the exterior, with ports, and a few rooms in the interior, mostly the bridge (which resembles a cross between a library and a casino). In the OVA, Iserlohn has blocks dedicated to residential and commercial space, full of city-like streets and town areas. There's also a favorite park there where Yang likes to hang out and contemplate. Here, Iserlohn is a tad too clinical and cold-looking. I guess that makes sense, given that it was a military fortress and run by the Galactic Empire, but I miss all the character it had in the OVA. I'd like to see more of the place, is all.
Yang shows an uncommon, almost unrealistic foresight when it comes to the plans of the Empire to disrupt the Free Planets Alliance. Not only has he figured out that Reinhard would need to distract the FPA with internal strife while he wars against the nobles, but is rather prescient in determining that they've snuck somebody into the prisoner exchange to do just that. The problem is, the prisoner exchange gave the FPA back over a million POWs, and any one of them, or several of them, could already been brainwashed or else led astray by the Empire's machinations. Hiding a tree in the forest and offering a prisoner exchange was a simple, but effective method to stir things up and Yang has no idea just how right he is.
My favorite scene in this episode is Yang's meeting with Bewcock to exchange information. Despite the generational difference, the two admirals share a common sense of down-to-earth humility, with Yang enjoying the anonymity of their meeting spot and Bewcock more than happy to oblige. A great touch is Yang dismissing Julian by telling him to keep watch, giving him something to do while the adults speak. But it doesn't come across like he's necessarily patronizing Julian, but rather that he doesn't want to worry him so soon about something he's just theorizing over.
Unfortunately, the show has utterly ruined the surprise that Dwight Greenhill, Frederica's father, is the leader of the insurrection group (joined by the likes of Andrew Fork... I mean, Falk). This is not only not in keeping with the book, but the OVA as well, as both waited for the rebellion to get going before revealing who's behind it all. It's intended to shock the reader/viewer that a stand up guy like Greenhill is behind the coup, as we find out at the same time his daughter and Yang do. Here, we see him give Yang a weird look and then a few scenes later, bam, hey everyone, here's what that meant! I'm disappointed, Die Neue These.
I will give the show credit for how haggard and stressed Lynch looks, however. His new character designs gives him a kind of wildness to it, or a disheveled, scummy vagrant appearance. He's definitely been through the wringer, humiliated by Yang, captured, barely enduring his former subordinates' scorn while imprisoned, and now given what's basically a suicide mission. The only thing the man has left is revenge, and he definitely looks it. That bit where Reinhard tells him he can just die was brutal.
Anyway, we've now started the second book of LoGH, covering the first chapter and a few pages of the second. Next time we're sure to meet Hildegard von Mariendorf and her father, and perhaps the beginning of the Lippstadt Alliance. I wonder if we'll even get an appearance by Merkatz. He's the best old officer in the series.
3.5 out of 5