Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 23-26

23 Girl on the Battlefield

Ed and Al return to the battle with Scar, which finally brings Gluttony out of hiding. Ling is able to join in and capture Gluttony while Lan Fan misleads Wrath by cutting off her own arm and tying it to the back of a dog. Gruesome. Hawkeye takes Gluttony, Ed and Al corner Scar, but May Chang (Mai Goto) shows up and helps Scar escape. The crew regroups at a house at the edge of town, Ling relays the news about Bradley, and when Gluttony hears Roy is there, he goes into a rage and breaks free.

It’s another exciting, action heavy episode. This is probably the most complicated episode in terms of the characters and allegiances involved and it does get a bit confusing at one point. Ling and Lan Fan breaking off doesn’t get conveyed until after it happens. The action is great and the constantly shifting battlefields make it a frantic, exciting episode. Now that Bradley’s identity as one of the homunculi is out of the bag, it’ll be interesting to see where the show goes from here.

24 Inside the Belly

Ed, Al and Ling stay to battle Gluttony while the rest of the group heads back to Central. Gluttony is so enraged he doesn’t care about harming the Elric Brothers, so Envy shows up and a strange three-way fight begins between the three groups. Meanwhile, Roy tries to confide in one of the generals he thinks he can trust only to discover the top brass are all in with Bradley. Back in the woods, Gluttony finally gets a bite of Ling, but also ends up consuming Ed and Envy in the process.

Right after such an action heavy episode, this episode can’t help but feel a bit anticlimactic in scale. However, the surprises are what makes this episode shine. First, the depths of the government conspiracy make the show feel like it’s opening up Roy and company to a whole new ballgame. And having Ed, Ling and Envy eaten by Gluttony is quite the cliffhanger. It’s a pivotal moment in the show where the rug is completely pulled out from under the audience.

25 Doorway of Darkness

After being eaten by Gluttony, Ed and Ling discover a vast, dark realm with no clear exit. They eventually find Envy who says that they are trapped in a realm that was a failed attempt to make a Gate of Truth. Now trapped, he gloats about his past efforts, including impersonating the officer that “accidentally” fired the shot that started the Ishval civil war. Outside, Al convinces Gluttony to take him to see Father while Wrath/Bradly puts Roy in a hard spot by reassigning his most loyal officers, including making Hawkeye his personal aid.

The Ed/Al/Ling story feels like it lulls a bit here, which is probably the point, a bit of a respite after the intensity of the last few episodes. The revelation about the Ishval civil war one again grows the scope and extent of the depths of control at work. Bradley splitting up the group and Roy’s decision to stay in the military feels like it’s going to change a lot of how that story moves forward. The show is placing the heroes in a corner with no obvious route for escape.

26 Reunion

Ed and Ling fight Envy but to no real end. Meanwhile, Scar, May, Al and Gluttony all end up in the chamber with Father, who looks exactly like Hohenheim, but isn’t Al’s father. Ed sees a piece from the ruins of Xerxes and gets an idea for how to escape. Bradley explains to Roy how he was trained from birth and then injected with a philosopher’s stone in order to become a homunculus. Ed finds a way to open the Gate of Truth and discovers that Al’s body is still there. As the doors close on him, he vows to return to get Al’s body.

This episode piles on the revelations. After that pivotal episode, this feels like the episode that is going to catapult the next arc of the story. The knowledge that Al’s body is back, the revelation that Father is not Ed and Al’s father, and Wrath being fully revealed to the group feels like it’ll be the major fuel for character’s actions going forward. It’s a bit much to process all at once, but I’m sure the characters will spend time unpacking a lot of what happens this episode.

© 2015 James Blake Ewing