「内乱終結」 (Nairan Shuuketsu)
“Conclusion of the Civil War”
A quiet ending to an explosive conflict, not the most unexpected conclusion for Altair’s civil war. Nothing this week was inherently surprising in terms of characters and nations, but Altair (as usual) has an uncanny habit of digging awkward truths and realistic actions out of otherwise “boring” material. When it comes to matters of national survival, this show leaves no intellectual stone unturned.
As fully expected Mahmut had a free reign to determine the fates of the remaining two sultans and wasted little time in setting matters right. Given the circumstances of rebellion, replacement was the natural course of action, although the need to kill off the sultans is certainly questionable. If you only went along out of fear and coercion, why should you lose your life? The reason of course, as Mahmut correctly identifies, is the future. If you leave your enemy alive you will always be at risk of them coming back for vengeance, whether deliberately or as the (unwilling) figurehead for other parties. Eliminating them nips the problem in the bud, even if potentially introducing other irritating issues. This, however, is where Mahmut’s development comes into play marvellously. If death is such a hassle, just treat it figuratively to reap all the benefits without any of the risks. Where before Mahmut would have fought tooth and nail to prevent Fatma’s execution (because naïve idealism), now he understands its necessity while still possessing the imagination required to formulate a compromise solution. As I’ve said before, this kid is a monster in the making.
What particularly makes Mahmut’s evolution so pronounced though is how he now applies his understanding to himself. He may still be a pacifist at heart, but he realizes (with a little prodding from Ismail) that not all situations can be resolved peacefully. At some point lives will have to be spent, and all you can do then is ensure they are spent for the right reasons. This lesson is the most critical of them all for any would-be ruler because it forces them to consider cause and effect. Force of arms may overwhelm the opponent for example, but it does not engender the love or loyalty of your subordinates if used liberally at every opportunity for no real reason. As with all things violence is best used in moderation, a prominent threat used to coerce desired action rather than wantonly cause destruction. Zaganos understands this subtlety, and Mahmut by realizing it too can finally understand where his fellow pasha is coming from. Much like Zaganos’ spying and subterfuge, Mahmut hopes to keep the peace through economic means, but now realizes if the plan fails then military power (as occurred with Balaban) must be used. The only thing stopping Mahmut from succeeding is his own abilities.
With a civil war over, a neighbouring empire making ready to strike, and our pint sized pasha up a few friends, I’d say we are ready for Altair’s next big battle: economics. It may not be as bloody or frantic as previously witnessed, but never underestimate the power of money. In the world of geopolitics, the only thing stronger than force of arms is the weight of one’s pocketbook.