It seemed like it was never going to happen, but at last Ledo finds himself faced with what appears to be the prospect of rescue thanks to the appearance of Commander Kugel on the scene - what's more, he seems to be part of a fleet of his very own, which raises some very obvious worries from Pinion and company as the threat of their "treasure" being taken from them looms large.
Invited aboard this fleet, Ledo soon finds that his commander has also been on this planet for some time, albeit confined to the cockpit of his mech due to an unspecified disease. Despite this, it appears that his strategy upon landing in this world couldn't be more different to that of our young ensign - while Ledo went along with the way of life shown to him by his new hosts, Kugel has done the exact opposite and instead pushed the beliefs and systems of his home planet onto those he has encountered on Earth. As a result, his fleet is supposedly efficient, but also redolent of a vast class gap between those with and those without.
What's more, Kugel is insistent that the entire planet needs to follow this strategy for its own future good, and it appears that Pinion and his fleet are the next in his sights - thus, Pinion is invited aboard, tested and qualified to become an engineering officer, leading to an invitation (read: demand) that his fleet merge with Kugel's own. There's little choice but to comply with this, and while Ledo is keen to follow his old commander once again his opinions might be swaying as the next target of Kugel's assimilation comes into view: Gargantia.
Although this is a pretty good episode that takes us off in another interesting direction, I do worry that it's been a little heavy-handed in its execution - there are certainly no shades of grey between the mindsets of Kugel and those of Gargantia, and the commander is played up a little too much as being "evil" even if he's never explicitly depicted as such. Still, it's perhaps Ledo's decisions that will really make or break the final couple of episodes, and I remain keen to see how things will shake out come the end of what has been a broadly entertaining and thoughtful series.