「犬鷲の追撃」 (Inu washi no Tsuigeki)
“Golden Eagle Pursuit”
If there was one moment Altair has been building up to, this was it. After weeks of subtle development and crash courses in reality, Mahmut has finally received the opportunity to practice what he has learned, both beating Balt-Rhein at its own game and fully understanding why war and ruthlessness often go hand in hand. It was a perfect alignment of pieces made all the better by knowing we have only seen half of this battle.
The surprise this week of course was seeing just how mature Mahmut has become. Gone is the naïve idealism and heart on the sleeve espousing, replaced by one hell of a commanding face. It has been a change slowly coming on for a while now yes, but actually seeing our little pasha boldly march on the enemy with a few of their heads on spikes quickly reinforces just how far Mahmut has come. Defeat as general Pineau mentions is often the best motivator, but few are capable of the evolution Mahmut has experienced. Such change demands a fiercely introspective mindset, you must be open to both criticizing yourself and implementing the necessary changes. This is never easy given human pride mind you, but when mixed up with honour and responsibilities too it can often be an impossible task. Military men (much like scientists) are often wedded to their pet tactics and strategies, determined to see them succeed because they have poured countless years—if not their entire working lives—into them. Simply abandoning a losing gambit is anathema when you have known nothing else, which is in part why Pineau rejected Mahmut’s call for surrender. It may have been the sensible thing to do, but when you have your entire military’s image resting on your shoulders, such choices can often be mere illusions.
Considering Pineau will assuredly lose this final fight next week (I doubt he can break the second encirclement after botching the first), the issue for Balt-Rhein will be picking itself up from its decisive defeat. As Mahmut (and Turkiye) learned through struggle, so to must the empire come to grips with the fact they no longer hold monopoly over winning strategies. For Balt-Rhein this will likely come down to their arrogance, especially in regards to their enemies who they have not taken seriously up until this point. Pineau for example, rather than smartly trying to break the first encirclement and withdraw, chose to crush Turkiye, apparently not considering that such a move might wind up backfiring badly if his stalling troops similarly underestimated their opponents (which they did). Balt-Rhein has won too much too fast, never being seriously tested over the dominance they seek, and obeying the strategy of a man who has likely never known the taste of a real battlefield. It’s a perfect storm of naivety made worse by the fact Balt-Rhein is set to lose their top commander and possesses no clear protégé waiting in the wings. Whether the empire is willing to change its approach could very well be a moot point, by having now effectively declared war on the entire world they likely have no time to find someone capable of being their Mahmut.
Makes me kind of sad knowing we only have two more episodes left to find out.