10 Separate Destinations
This is the episode we should have gotten instead of episode nine. Furher Bradley himself appears and warns the brothers to be careful about talking about what they’ve discovered. Hughes investigates the fifth laboratory while Ed, Al and Winry begin a journey to go visit Ed and Al’s old alchemy teacher. Hughes makes a major connection, but Lust and Envy, quick to hide this secret, end up killing Hughes.
It’s nice to see the show begin to expand the story involving the characters in the military even as it brutally murders the most wonderful and kind character in the show thus far. It’s a shocking death this early on and the way the episode executes it is absolutely gut-wrenching. Intercut with his death is Ed, Al and Winry wistfully enjoying their train-ride, unaware of Hughes’ fate. As usual, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood wants the audience to suffer.
11 Miracle at Rush Valley
Winry convinces the brothers to stop at Rush Valley, center of the automail industry. Initially, this is another lame comedy episode where Winry runs around gushing and fetishizing technology. The back half turns into something more wonderful. A pickpocket leads the trio to a family of automail mechanics and they just happen to arrive in time to witness the miracle of birth.
This is yet another detour episode that grinds the story to a halt. However, the back half where Ed and Al are able to forget their quest and contemplate something both everyday and amazing provides a nice little bit of grounded storytelling. It’s a little slice of life story amid the grandiose, complex, and tragic story of the Elric Brothers.
12 One is All, All is One
Returning to their mission, Ed and Al visit Izumi (Shouko Tsuda), their old teacher. Since this is the first time they visit her after their accident, it’s a harsh reunion. The story is intercut with how they first met and trained with Izumi, surviving a month on their own on an island while contemplating the titular statement of the episode. The last act gives a couple of potent revelations, the biggest one being that Izumi once attempted human transmutation.
Izumi is a wonderful character. Her brutal edge hiding a deep grief is a beautiful and poetic mirror image of the brother’s own grief, one the film uses to bond the characters in the final moment. Also, she’s a total badass and her declaration that she’s just a housewife is quite amusing. Also, seeing more of the brother’s past here is also a delight. The episode is a nice balance of past and present woven together into some great character moments.
13 Beasts of Dublith
Al gets tangled up with some bizarre creatures after they capture him. Ed ends up hunting him down and the two encounter Greed. They discover that the creatures are intelligent chimeras, successful implementations of what failed so horribly in episode four. They also discover Greed is a special homunculus granted advanced healing powers and an ultimate shield by a tattoo. Meanwhile, Ray and his crew transfer up to central.
As the show expands alchemy, it’s interesting that these new, seemingly impossible techniques are found out alongside the characters. It helps the exposition feel less forced and also adds to the core mystery of the film about the secret organization. This revelations also leads to a downright awesome fight. While it works great visually, it becomes even better because it becomes a fight where Ed has to use his wits even more than his powers to keep in the fight. And Izumi’s scene stealing scene is one of the best moments in the show so far. This feels like a game-changing episode that could help the story gain more forward momentum.
© 2015 James Blake Ewing