20 Father Before the Grave
Instead of having quality father-son bonding time, Ed and Hohenheim find themselves at odds. Ed overhears his father asking whether or not the boys actually transmuted their mother and Ed goes out the next day to dig up the body only to indeed discover that the corpse of the creature they summoned was not their mother. Ed talks to Izumi and discovers that she too finds out the body was not of her child. Both the brothers and Izumi find some relief in knowing that they did not truly pull a loved one from the grave to die once more.
The tone of the episode is a reminder of how heavy and dramatic this show can be in the right moments. The subject matter is already unsettling. Added with the mood struck by the music and the darker visuals this episode highlights how deep into the darkness these characters delve for a glimmer of hope. Luckily, that glimmer is there and enough to keep them moving forward instead of hopelessly lost in the darkness.
21 Advance of the Fool
A subplot running through these past five of six episodes is the quest of Ling (Mamoru Miyano) and Lan Fan (Nana Mizuki), a prince and his aid from the kingdom of Xing seeking the secret of immortality. They’ve mostly been comedic relief up to this point, mooching off of Ed and Al while waiting for the brother’s to reveal Al’s secret to what Ling things is immortality. However, the brother’s propose a more helpful plan: capture a homunculus. With Scar back in the city, Ed and Al put themselves at risk in the belief that the homunculi will come to prevent their death. They end up being right, they just don’t expect know that Ling and Lan Fan are attacked by Bradly.
As an action episode, the action is crazy and fun. It is interesting to see how these different characters with separate motivations all end up interacting: Scar wanting to kill the brothers, the homunculi wanting to protect the brothers as sacrifices, and the brothers wanting to stop the homunculi. The strong world and character-building effortlessly leads into the action.
22 Backs in the Distance
As Ling and Lan Fan experience the wrath of Bradley, Winry arrives to discover the brothers’ confronting Scar about his cold murder of Winry’s parents. Winry draws a gun, but Ed intervenes to stop her, telling her she has the hands of a healer, not a killer. Scar explains some of his past and the horrible genocide committed by state alchemists.
Up to this point, I haven’t particularly discussed the Ishvalan civil war. Basically, a certain region had a bunch of people with red eyes and one day an officer accidentally shot a young girl, which started a rebellion. The state alchemist came in and “quelled” the rebellion to the point that most Ishvalans are dead.
It’s a piece of history that defines the show, not only in terms of Scar as a character, but many of the Central characters who fought in the war. It’s also a part of the past where many of the dirty details were hidden or swept away. As more of this past is undug, it becomes a way for many characters to realize the atrocities of what has been done in the past and how it shapes the nature of the country they live to serve and protect.
© 2015 James Blake Ewing